Plan My Gap Year

Why choose Plan My Gap Year?

Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer abroad organisation, offering volunteer projects in Africa, Asia, Europe & South America primarily for 17-22 year olds. PMGY provide a safe, structured and social platform with volunteer travel opportunities available from 1-40 weeks. With over 10 years of experience and expertise, PMGY is widely regarded as the global leader in affordable and trustworthy international volunteering experiences.

Our international headquarters are based in the UK & USA and we have local teams based in every host destination to ensure you have a positive impact whilst overseas. Whether you’re looking to take a gap year, give back to a local community or simply travelling overseas we are here to help organise every aspect of your trip. Are you ready for it?


Ethical Impact

Plan My Gap Year is committed to providing ethical volunteer opportunities that truly benefit the local communities. We have personally vetted all of our Volunteer Programs in every destination. We support a small network of Volunteer Programs abroad that we have specifically chosen due to their efforts being sustainable for our volunteers and the local communities alike. We work closely with each of our local teams to ensure we are assessing and adapting to ensure quality experiences for all involved.

For this reason, PMGY does not provide volunteer opportunities in orphanages in any of our locations. Research and studies have shown that visiting and volunteering in orphanages has the potential to generate an industry that separates children from their families. In turn, putting children at increased risk of neglect and abuse. Therefore, we do not support these institutions with our volunteer network.

Instead, we focus on offering alternative childcare volunteer opportunities whereby children come to and from the placement setting each day. In other words, our local teams collaborate with childcare projects which do not offer any form of residential care. These are safe, responsible, and vetted projects, where participants continue to provide valued assistance supporting local staff.


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Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience with PMGY Tanzania

I, along with my two friends, traveled to Tanzania and participated in the childcare program for 4 weeks in October 2023.

The booking process was very seamless, and the hefty handbook provided gave us all the information we needed to know, except for the many things that must be learned on-site. PMGY arranged an airport pick-up, which we were very grateful for after our long journey from Perth, Australia. It is about a 1.5-hour drive from Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha.

We were honestly surprised by the living conditions upon arrival. I believe October is a very popular time, so the house was full to capacity, and we felt a bit piled on top of each other. We were placed in a small room with 4 bunk beds on the top floor. There was very little room to put our stuff, and we shared a bathroom with the adjoining room (18 people sharing one bathroom). There are often power outages in Tanzania, but we were lucky to have a generator at the house, which is usually switched on shortly after power cuts. However, when the generator is on, there is no hot water, so showers were often cold. Eventually, we were able to move to a smaller room with its own bathroom, which is always a possibility. Keep in mind that the ‘free WiFi’ advertised on the website does not exist. However, you will be provided with a SIM card for a very reasonable price, and this can be topped up whenever needed. For us, this wasn’t available until the day after we arrived, so ensure your family is aware you may not be able to contact them right away.

The coordinators were beyond helpful with everything we needed. There was always someone around to assist us or answer our questions. There is also a WhatsApp group chat with everyone in the house and the coordinators, making it easy to communicate and ask for the generator to be turned on or order a tuk-tuk, etc.

We had an orientation day during which we visited some major sights, had a local lunch, and, of course, withdrew Tanzanian shillings from the ATM. My regular debit card worked just fine at the ATM. I spent about 150,000 TZS each week ($60 USD) plus extra for safari, weekend trips, and souvenirs.

The volunteering experience was obviously the highlight of the trip. We were able to do some fundraising months prior to arriving, which was amazing, as we were able to provide a school with painted walls, desks, windows, school supplies, and much more. I would definitely recommend setting up a fundraising page, as a little goes a very, very long way for these schools. You can switch schools at any time with good reason. Also, you can switch to the medical program from childcare/teaching for $150 USD and switch to childcare/teaching from medical for free.

I recommend packing modest clothing. As a tourist in Africa, you already draw a lot of attention to yourself, and it’s very important to respect the culture and protect yourself. You can have your clothes washed by the mamas for a very cheap price; however, we did our own washing by hand to avoid our clothes getting mixed up. Bring extra towels and lots of comfy clothes, as you will appreciate these luxuries.

The food is a set menu of basic meals that repeats each week. Some meals are better than others, but all are tolerable. You can order food deliveries anytime you don’t think you can stomach rice and beans again. If you are a vegetarian or planning on eating vegetarian, make sure you let PMGY know on your application, as the ratio of vegetarians to vegetarian food was way off, and we often went hungry.

Keep in mind that Zanzibar is a short and pretty cheap flight away from Arusha. You can go to Zanzibar during your program as long as you aren’t missing more than 3 days of placement (3-5 days is plenty in Zanzibar). You can also go at the end of your placement and potentially fly home from there to prevent extra hassle.

Being able to volunteer in Tanzania was the experience of a lifetime, and PMGY made that possible.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers on this program is to be prepared for anything. Life in Tanzania, and Africa in general is completely different from western life which can be difficult but is overall such an amazing experience. You'll be excited to go home to your home comforts but you'll always miss Tanzania.
  • Directly impacting the lives of underprivileged children
  • Meeting people from all over the world
  • Going on safari
  • Cold showers
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Yes, I recommend this program

Mental Health and Psychology associate - Ghana

I must say that it was definitely a wonderful experience! The best part was getting to know the other volunteers and creating wonderful friendships that I will definitely carry with me for life. Even just for that reason I would recommend this experience to anyone!
On the other hand, I was a little less satisfied with the project. It certainly was interesting to observe how to work in psychiatry in such a different context. The problem was that the patient interviews were not in English but in Twi. Sometimes the nurses would explain and translate to me but other times there was no time between patients to explain or they didn't feel much like it.Also, sometimes they would call me 'Obrouni' and touch my skin and hair since I am a white person. One nurse also asked me to call her brother who lives in my country on the phone and all this made me feel very uncomfortable. So, I learned a lot from the project but I would say that was more like an internship than volunteering because I couldn’t give my help. So I was a little disappointed because I thought I was going to volunteer. Nevertheless, they listened to my complain and made me chan project accordingly to my needs. They are just so flexible and available for you. I appreciated so much.

Another negative note was the food, maybe because I am used to eat very well, I didn't like the food and also it was very repetitive. Even more difficult were the hygienic conditions: the house is dirty, especially the kitchen and the bathroom. The smells are intense and hard to bear.

Anyway, the weekend trip was great and I recommend it to everyone. Also, the staff people who live in the house are all very nice and very kind, especially always available for you! The people definitely made my experience.
Although there were some downsides, I would suggest everyone this experience! It is challenging but also life changing :) if I could come back in time I would definitely do it again!

  • Meeting amazing people
  • Great communication with staff
  • Great weekend trips
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Bad food
  • Low social impact
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Yes, I recommend this program

Ghana volunteer

I’ve just arrived back from my trip to Ghana with pmgy , and my over all experience was amazing. The workers in the house made me feel at home (cooks , coordinators and taxi drivers) and would always go the extra mile for the volunteers . The atmosphere in the house is amazing and everyone always has such a good time !! Traveling to Ghana was such an amazing experience and I’m so glad I did it with plan my gap year. One off the best benefits to traveling with plan my gap year was the safety the workers provided , you never go anywhere on your own and you always feel 100% safe .

  • The culture
  • The safety provided
  • The Tourism spots
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Yes, I recommend this program


My experience in Ghana is by far the best experience I’ve ever had in my life and I would not have been able to have that without the amazing staff at PMGY. They’re so attentive and are with you the entire experience looking out for you- especially the designated taxi drivers who are incredibly friendly and welcoming! They always make you feel safe and really add to the experience of the trip. Being able to experience an entirely different culture to what I am familiar with is a once in a life time experience I am forever grateful for thanks to PMGY.

  • Experiencing a new culture
  • Meeting people
  • Self growth
  • Lack of time management
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Lack of necessities
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Yes, I recommend this program

PMGY Sri Lanka-Mental Health Project

This was my first experience with PMGY and I must say that I truly had a smooth journey from the start to end.

All the administrative works were done well with prompt reply and support, easy process with applications, in-depth details on the volunteer’s handbook, everything was structured professionally through webinars, emails and paperworks. Appreciate Josh’s and Rachel time and work(intl. team) who assisted me in the process and get my application done in a bit of tight timing.

Prior the trip, things were clearly explained on departure and arrival into the country in email , getting all volunteers in social media group to connect.

In-country team was excellent, members including everyone from the drivers, cooks and others. A special thanks to Mr Ashika and Ms Amelia who I got in touch with in terms of clarifications etc and worked closely with during my placements in Sri Lanka.

The accommodation was good, safe and was surrounded by lovely people and family at the home where I stayed in and all the essential resources were provided.

The programme I enrolled for is mental health and I enjoyed with new/varies of study placements each day into hospitals observation, mental health centre, also seeing another form of knowledge connection to mental health like Ayurvedic/Spirituality. It had an impactful learning and growth.

All the volunteers were approachable and friendly. It was also nice to know their experiences during the stay and on their projects.

Pleasant weeks of stay and placements there and with all of the members who contributed so much with care and support. I would come back again!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

Plan My Gap Year just caught my eye from it's amazing reviews and it's response to all my questions (plenty of this there was). I was encouraged to join their Facebook Group for Sri Lanka where I got to talk to past, present and future volunteers about their experience - this really cemented my choice for me!

I wanted to do something where I could make an impact and I wanted to go some where both developing and needing of the help, and slightly more untouched than the other Asian countries - Sri Lanka was the perfect location!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They assisted with everything!!

The Handbook was my holy grail. PMGY have created this handbook for your specific country which answered every question I had. We had to get Visa's and CRB checks ourselves, but they helped me and advised me with all this during the process. They even had their own insurance if you wanted it and they offered flight quotes. I took them up on this and they did everything - found a flight, booked it and sent me all the details, it was very hassle free!

Everything before I left was guided and the 'service' didn't really feel like a service at all - it felt very personal.

In Sri Lanka, the local team assisted with everything I asked for whether it was a weekend trip I wanted to take myself or transport back to the airport. Nothing was ever too much - I think thats what made the organization so special.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say to go with an open mind!! Especially as you are volunteering in a developing country; things may not be on time or may not be organized in the place you're volunteering like it is in your home country, but just be patient and understanding.

The worse volunteers were the ones who weren't understanding of the culture and the situation. PMGY did everything they could to provide us with a platform to volunteer and help the local communities, but every so often a tukuk would be late or there was a power cut so you couldn't charge your phone - but you're in a developing country... What do you expect?

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

As I did the renovation project - this was a morning project - , it would be around 3-4 hours every morning, depending on how much work you had to do.

An average day would be wake up and have breakfast at the house (pancakes on Thursday was my favourite!!) and then take a tuktuk to project at about 8:30-ish. After project, we would go back to the volunteer house for lunch which was at 12:30ish and then the afternoon's were free.

If you have your afternoons free, you are able to pick up teaching or the orphanage project as a free addition, as they are afternoon projects and the help is wanted and encouraged. This was a two week minimum commitment and I decided against doing it... However, after my first week, I instantly regretted this, as travelling and going to the beach in the afternoon was great, but I should have grabbed the opportunity to make the most of making an impact in my afternoons!!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was fearful about travelling alone. I have travelled before, but never alone, and I was wondering If I would make friends or if it would be dangerous to travel as a solo female to a developing country.

I think PMGY helped with all this a lot. Social wise, there were so many volunteers, all like minded and keen to help like me. I made so many friends and at the start PMGY made it so easy for us to do that. Even before I arrived, I used the Facebook group to meet other people who were arriving the same day as me. The local team in Sri Lanka put on lots of social evenings, like quiz nights and a Sari social, that just helped us all bond.

Not once was I ever really fearful for my safety. The local team were always so careful and aware and looked after us so well. Even before I left, I joined a 'safety webinar' that they do for there volunteers, which made me feel safe before I had even left.

Anything you would have done differently?

Like I mentioned earlier... GET INVOLVED. I had the opportunity to do the childcare program and I decided against it. They gave me the opportunity to make even more of an impact, and I didn't take it?? The childcare is a minimum two weeks commitment, so when it got to my final week, it was too late. I understand why it's a minimum two weeks: for the children, but next time I will take every opportunity they give me.

Also, PMGY always offered opportunities, such as language lessons and to ask Ash (the main coordinator/director in Sri Lanka) questions about the projects, but I really didn't get involved as much as I should have. Make sure you do... You'll only regret it if you don't.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Laine Hodges

Job Title
Volunteer Coordinator
Laine is a free-spirited American from Virginia with a love of curry & Vegetarian cuisine. She has a keen ear for Spanish, will always greet you with a smile and if you ask her about the best places to visit in Cusco, she will offer endless recommendations!

What is your favorite travel memory?

In Ecuador, I got to hang out in the Amazon Rainforest for a week, which was awesome. I learned all about the various fruits and plants there and how the community uses them for sustenance and nutrition, medicine and healing.

Probably one of my favorite parts of exploring the rainforest was hiking out to the thick of it and spending the night in a hammock. All of the sounds and sights and smells were just so captivating and beautiful.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have grown a lot in my field professionally, learning how to produce and edit videos and growing in graphic design. But I have also grown personally, just getting to meet and talk with our volunteers and learn their stories, and learning about Peru.

I think anytime you have the chance to learn about another part of the world and gain a new perspective you also have a chance to broaden your horizons and grow as a person.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I feel that we offer a very personal experience from start to finish. The moment you read about the programs on the webpage you are met with a friendly chat, from there after application there are loads of way to communicate and get questions answered.

Upon arrival there is a smiling face and a warm hug to greet you and each day following, it is no doubt an adventure.

We dedicate our time to offering a unique and secure experience to ensure that this trip across the world isn't your last! The world is beautiful and there is so much to explore.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A good team is a team with trust in each other, and lots of communication. They know and understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses and use the power of the team to balance things out accordingly, lifting and supporting each other.