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Plan My Gap Year

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Plan My Gap Year has decided to pause some of their upcoming programs temporarily and may be offering flexible booking options as well. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

About

Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer travel organisation, offering life-changing experiences across 15 countries in Africa, Asia & South America. PMGY provide a safe, structured and social platform with volunteer, travel and immersion 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?

Founded
2011
Headquarters

1517 12th Ave Suite 101
Furnace Lane
Seattle, WA 98122
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Mafalda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This July I spent a month volunteering through PMGY with CSDS in Vietnam and I can honestly say that it has been the best month of my life. Initially I was supposed to go to Sri Lanka but with the terrorist attacks I thought it was better to change destination and, throughout that whole process, PMGY was very helpful. I ended up going to Vietnam, which was a country that I had always wanted to visit, and I had a fairly good idea of what to expect of it due to the handbook that was given to us before our trip but even so I was still amazed by what it had to offer!! Vietnam is amazing and so complex and, even better than only being a tourist in it, I was able to have a great volunteering experience with CSDS in the Sakuranbo Kindergarten teaching children between the age of eleven months and seven years old. My coordinators were amazing and super helpful in every circumstance. I will be forever grateful for the experience that Huyen, our project coordinator, provided me and my friend Rita and for her availability and kindness towards us in every circumstance. The accommodation was also amazing despite being in one of the secondary houses. For the future volunteers I would advise you to go to these projects with an open mind and determination! I recommend this experience to everyone who wants to get to know a beautiful and rich country while making a difference!

Default avatar
Mafalda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This July I spent a month volunteering through PMGY with CSDS in Vietnam and I can honestly say that it has been the best month of my life. I had a fairly good idea of what to expect of Vietnam due to the handbook that was given to us before our trip but Vietnam still was able to amaze me!! The country is amazing and so complex and, even better than only being a tourist in it, I was able to have a great volunteering experience with CSDS. My coordinators were amazing and super helpful in every circumstance. I will be forever grateful for the experience that Huyen, our project coordinator, provided me and my friend Rita. The accommodation was also amazing despite being in one of the secondary houses. For the future volunteers I would advise you to go to these projects with an open mind and determination.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment that I experienced in Vietnam was when me and my friends were in Danang in the Banna Hills park and we had to go to Hue to catch a flight to Hanói but we couldnt catch a grab dont know why and so we started calling every taxi company that we had heard of in Vietnam! It was one of the most stressfull moments of my life!!!!!
Default avatar
Rita
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In July of 2019, I traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam to embark on what would be one of the best experiences of my entire life! Through Plan My Gap Year, I volunteered in Sakuranbo Kindergarten for a month, teaching English to children between the age of eleven months old and seven years old.

Initially, I was supposed to go to Sri Lanka. However, taking into consideration the events that had taken place months earlier, I was not able to volunteer in that country. Plan My Gap Year was amazing in helping me change my destination and making the change as smooth as possible.

Although I did not go to my first chosen destination, I am so incredibly grateful that I went to Vietnam and was able to get to know its culture and beautiful places. When I arrived in the country, I stayed with a local organization: CSDS. They were great and helpful with everything I could need. I would like to specifically highlight my project coordinator, Huyen. She was so sweet and always willing to help me and my friend Mafalda, whether with things related to our project or other personal issues. I am incredibly grateful to her.

Overall, I am extremely happy with my decision to do volunteering through PMGY. It was one of the best experiences of my life! Not only did I have the opportunity to discover amazing Vietnamese places and explore its culture, but I also met incredible people along the way, both Vietnamese as well as other volunteers from different parts of the world. 100% recommend!

Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was my first time away with PMGY but it certainly won’t be my last. I had the most amazing time away in Sri Lanka, for three weeks in November 2017 on their Elephant Experience Project. From the beginning, there was nothing to worry about. I was swiftly accepted onto the programme and they were very responsive with any questions which I had.

The handbook was full and thorough with great knowledge which meant I had a full understanding of the cultural differences, and what was available to me whilst there. They had a recommended packing list which was useful too. There was a pre-departure webinar which was really interesting and helpful, which eased any worries. A week before I left they sent a very useful email with the contact details of the place we were staying for relatives, and a reminder of the pick-up information.

Once out in Sri Lanka, the local team over there run by Ashika were professional and very helpful. The weekend trips which are organised were fabulous and totally worth every penny. They even planned the Maldives weekend trip at short notice for us – they really are a great bunch of people. We were able to help release Turtle hatchlings one evening which was wonderful, and one of the highlights of the trip. This certainly will not be my last experience with them. I’m now looking into the possibility of helping out on projects in Nepal, Bali and/or Fiji in the near future. Who knows which one?! Thanks for an amazing experience which I will never forget.

Default avatar
Sonora
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did childcare in Bali for 3 weeks and I have to admit these were the most life changing weeks in my life so far. Before I even came I was anxious about the pick up, because I was arriving late in night, so I assumed nobody's going to be there, because you know it's outside their working hours. But I was wrong, staff 10000% will pick you up, no doubt. Also, they will help you to settle in, move your stuff in the house and make sure you are having a good time. In my opinion, accommodation was better than I expected. Really nice rooms, I d want to say even luxurious + they have a pool + you can also sunbath. The food was amazing. You will get to experience 10/10 Indonesian food. For breakfast we had variety of fruits (e.g. Dragonfruit(which personally I am big fan of), watermelon, papaya, pineapple and others). Fulfilling lunch and dinner. Therefore, the house is near from famous Bali night markets(like 7min walk), where you can get everything very cheap and have a good time and maybe bound with your fellow Co-volunteers. I was suprised by the working hours. Childcare was from around 8am till like 11:30am and then lunch break + rest time and then second period from like 2pm till 04:30pm, which, in my opinion, are great working hours and you don't get worn out. Which makes me think that PMGY cares about your well-being. Big shout-out for that! Therefore, you have free time from Thursday evening till Sunday evening, where you can explore Bali!!! How amazing is that?! In fact, if you consider to childcare in Bali, I can promise you it's gonna be one of the most rewarding experiences! Indonesian children are the sweetest and kindest children you will ever meet. I loved spending time with them, playing, being silly, teaching simple English throughout games etc. Staff is great there, they will help you out no matter what! If you consider to do Bali childcare DO IT! I promise you won't regret!P.S. 3 weeks for me flew away so quick, I wish I was there for longer❤️😭

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Indonesian food is very authentic and if you like spicy foods - it's a place for you. I personally, don't enjoy spice as much, but I do love fruits. One of the most unfamiliar fruits I ate was a snake fruit. Its hard to describe how it tasted. It's like a combination of a pear and something else. Try it :) Also, I really liked papaya, dragon fruit. I highly suggest you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and experiment with cuisine over there.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 15
110 reviews
Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Ghana from $375
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9.78 •110 reviews

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Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $270
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9.5 •105 reviews

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the lovely...

Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Bali from $270
Indonesia
9.52 •27 reviews

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in Tabanan...

Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in India from $360
India
9.29 •24 reviews

PMGY offers 2-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in India’s...

Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Vietnam from $465
Vietnam
9.26 •19 reviews

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Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Thailand from $435
Thailand
9.93 •14 reviews

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Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Tanzania from $375
Tanzania
9.57 •14 reviews

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Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Nepal from $375
Nepal
8.92 •12 reviews

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Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in South Africa from $435
South Africa
9.6 •5 reviews

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Alumni Interviews

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

Shiloh Jones

Shiloh is a University student at Portsmouth Uni who is studying International Development. Her passion for travel combined with her eagerness to help others made PMGY the best program for her.

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.