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Plan My Gap Year

About

Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer travel organisation, offering life-changing experiences across 17 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
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Whilst in Ghana, I spent two weeks volunteering at the local hospital, Manhyia Government Hospital in Kumasi. This trip was the first time I had ever done something like this and travelled alone, however PMGY made me feel completely safe and gave me support from the start, even from booking to after I had arrived home. Any worries, problems or queries I had regarding my trip were quickly answered by the amazing pre-departure team. PMGY allowed me to experience so many amazing new things and gave me the opportunity to work and learn about Ghanian healthcare.

I was able to shadow in the Operating Theatre and watch numerous cesarians and complex surgeries as well as viewing Ultrasounds in the scan room, and learn about neonatal care. Whilst the role was mainly observational, all of the staff at the hospital were incredibly kind and extremely willing to teach us and get us involved in the project.

Whilst living in the country, you will stay at the volunteer house with the other volunteers and you are looked after by the staff. The people I met were some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and we are already talking about all returning together in the near future. Furthermore, the staff at the house really go out of their way to make you feel so at home and comfortable. The project exceeded my expectations in every way possible.

Each of the projects are well worth doing and incredibly rewarding! To anyone considering participating in one of Plan My Gap Year’s programmes, I would highly recommend and jump at the opportunity. Thank you PMGY!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
As this was my first time travelling alone I found it terrifying at the start, but PMGY were there to support me at every step!
Default avatar
Portia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time spent volunteering in Ghana was the best 6 weeks of my life. So many unforgettable memories and life long friendship made.

Prior to my departure I received copious amounts of helpful information and my questions were always answered by either Josh, Seth or fellow volunteers. I felt very prepared for my trip thanks to the PMGY team.

The PMGY house in Kumasi is basic but has everything you need. Including some amazing workers who will become your family within a short period of time. I felt very comfortable in the house as all the staff made me feel so welcome and I knew I could go to them if I ever had any questions or needed help. The food was incredible. We got a mix of local and Western dishes. I really enjoyed getting to try the local food.
PMGY coordinators Florence and Dennis were always super helpful when it came to planning things to do on weekends or afternoons, organising transport to and from places and were also great company. They always put your needs before their own and go above and beyond to make sure your experience is incredible.

I spent my time volunteering at the New Life Home which I thoroughly enjoyed. A typical day volunteering involved leaving the house at 6:30am and then getting straight into work once we got to the home. Transport to and from the orphanage was very cheap and easy to get. Once at the orphanage I spent the morning getting the kids changed and ready, I fed them, washed up the morning dishes, also helped with laundry, but most importantly got to spend the day cuddling and playing with the gorgeous children that just adore having someone to play with. These kids stole my heart very quickly. I admire the sisters at the orphanage and feel so grateful for the time and effort they put in to making sure the children get what they need in order to live a normal and happy life.

The weekend trips, Mole and Cape Coast, were definitely well worth the money.
At Mole you got to go on a Jeep Safari as well as a walking safari, which although there wasn't a whole lot of variety in terms of animals it was a fun experience. Beware of the baboons at the national park! They WILL come into your room if the door isn't locked!
We also got to go to Kintampo Falls where we got to swim, which was beautiful and refreshing. Then we went to the monkey sanctuary where you get to hold and feed the monkeys which is super cool.
Cape Coast was more of a relaxing trip but still heaps of fun. The first day we went to Kakum National Park for the board walks, stroked crocodiles, and went to the Cape Coast Castle which was very interesting. The Hide Out Lodge was amazing accomodation right on the beach so you could hear the waves crashing as you fell asleep. On the second day we got to go surfing, the instructors are very helpful. We also had a bonfire and got to sing and dance which was lots of fun.

To everyone considering going to Ghana I highly recommend you do so! The people over there have become my 2nd family and I have taken away so many amazing memories with me. This trip gave me a new outlook on life which I'm so grateful for.
Be sure to make the most of your time in Ghana. Speak to the coordinators to find out how you can get more involved, what you can do in your spare time (I guarantee there is always something), help around the kitchen, get to know the staff and the local families.

Thankyou to PMGY for creating such an incredible experience. One that I will never forget. I will be back Ghana ☺️

What would you improve about this program?
I thoroughly enjoyed this program so don't believe anything needs improving. It was an incredible experience and I will definitely be going again
Default avatar
Shiloh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PMGY- honestly what an experience!!

I have just finished my programme with Sri Lanka and now am currently traveling the country.

The company- could not fault them and their support. Before I left I was very nervous- my first time travelling to a less developed country but Philip was my point of contact and he was so responsive to all my questions. The volunteer hand book we got had EVERYTHING you could need and answered all my questions. They even did a live webinar where the coordinator in Sri Lanka -Meena, spoke to us live online and answered any questions I had- it was nice to see a face who is out in Sri Lanka as a form of comfort for my arrival!!

I did the renovation programme and helped to paint the pre-school that PMGY are building. The pre-school is for the orphan's who are too young to go to school and for children of the local village who's parents need to go away to work during the day and need looking after. It was incredible to see how much impact I made during my time there.

All the local staff were super helpful- Emma and Ash were always around when I needed help and advised me on my travels that I am doing now.

I will definitely volunteer with PMGY again, I felt supported, I felt safe, I felt looked after! Also the accommodation and food is sooo nice, the sisters are really lovely, so thats a bonus!

Would advise anyone to volunteer with PMGY, the fee's are so transparent and the UK staff were all previous volunteers as well so they really knew how we were feeling and what we wanted!!

What would you improve about this program?
No improvements but I would lovee some photos of the pre-school when it's completely finished!!
Default avatar
Manouk
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered this year in Bali with Plan My Gap Year as an English teacher. I volunteered with PMGY before in Cambodia and I also volunteered in India, I had such a great experience with PMGY before that I just knew I had to go again. I am so so so glad I decided to go to Bali because this one might have been the best so far! I already knew that PMGY is super affordable and helpful throughout the whole process, because I've been with them to Cambodia so choosing them again was a no-brainer for me. They answer all your questions, big or small within a few hours and I felt that they were always happy to help. Getting my visa for Indonesia was a bit more difficult than expected but I just gave them a call and they walked me through the whole process and gave me tips. They are also very clear about their fees which is really important to me, you know exactly how money goes towards covering your project and stay and I love how honest they are about this. It's something that I miss from a lot of other volunteer organizations. They also provide you with a volunteer handbook which literally contained all the information I needed, packing lists, weekend tips you name it! I felt that I was well prepared before I went to Bali also because I joined one of their pre departure webinars which gave me a chance to ask any additional questions I had.

My stay in Bali was absolutely phenomenal! If I could have given it a 11/10 I would! The volunteer accomodation is so beautiful that it almost looks like a hotel, it has a pool, an amazing rooftop terrace to watch sunset (and sunset if you want to get up really early, I did it once and it was worth it ;) ) and a lot of communal areas to chill around with other volunteers, all the rooms have AC as well! The food they did was so tasty and delicous as well, a lot of different options and also some western food once or twice a week. I am a vegetarian but this was no problem here! I've had the best fake chicken (tempeh :P) wrap here so far! The ladies in the kitchen are so nice and they are always happy to assist you if you want to cook something yourself or if you just want to cut up some fruit or whatever. Ketut (the host 'mom' ) always told us that we shouldn't go to bed hungry so we could always ask for some more if we wanted. Ketut is such a lovely lady who really felt like my Balinese mom, I was afraid I might feel a little homesick but she's is always there if you need help with anything or if you just need a chat or a hug. The rest of her family is also really helpful and nice, Indra (her son) and Rush (her husband) helped us arrange transport if we wanted to go out and they would also help with planning weekend trips etc. I felt like they welcomed me into their home which was such an nice feeling. Because the family lives next to the volunteerhouse we still had our privacy but it was nice to know that they were always there if we needed anything.

I volunteered at Akasa School which was established by Ketut to help the community, she told us that this has been her dream for years to be able give back to her local community and to teach the children English so that they can grow in life. I think it's so nice that she actually wants to give back and help, you could tell that she is so passionate about this and she is so grateful for every volunteer who comes and helps her continue her dreams! The kids at the school are so sweet and smart, they kept suprising me with how good their English was, it was so nice to see them enjoy learning and see their knowledge grow week by week! There's a lesson planning session every Monday to help all the teaching volunteers prepare their lessons and you could also get supplies like books and pencils from the local team, since I already had some experience teaching abroad I didn't really need help but it was nice to know that I could use all their supplies and printer to use for my project.

All in all I had an amazing experience and I'm already thinking of going back next summer to Bali! The island, the people, the food, the chill vibes, everything is just perfect in Bali! Because Bali is relatively small compared to other islands you can do a lot in just a short amount of time, I spent 8 weeks in Bali and got to do everything that I wanted: Canggu, climbing Mount Batur, watching the dolphins in Lovina, going to Nusa Penida and Ubud.
I got real ' eat pray love ' vibes wherever I went and I just felt so relaxed and happy exploring this beautiful island while also giving back and helping the local community!

I would definitely recommend the Bali Teaching program to anyone who wants the best of both worlds: volunteering and traveling!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing - the teaching program is well established and the volunteerhouse is just amazing!
Default avatar
Meena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I travelled to Nepal in May 2018 with Plan My Gap Year. I have volunteered with this company twice before in Ghana and India, therefore when wanting to volunteer in Nepal, I wanted to go with a company I knew and trusted.

The support from PMGY before arriving in the country is always so responsive and puts me at ease. Any questions I have are answered so quickly and their knowledge of Nepal and the projects were reassuring. As I was already travelling Asia at the time of booking the programme, Philip assisted in booking my flights for me and advised in getting my Visa.

We were picked up at Kathmandu airport as arranged (although I have been with PMGY before this is always a scary process as I always question- will somewhere be at the airport to pick me up??). The first few days were spent exploring Kathmandu and we were given 'orientation'. We were shown around the city and learnt a lot about the local culture, history and the language. After a few days in Kathmandu we were given the opportunity to choose the project we wanted to do- you can choose to volunteer in three cities in Nepal- Pokhara, Chitwan or Kathmandu. Our coordinator called Asim explained the programmes in each city and where more help was needed. We chose to go to Pokhara as there were no volunteers here and they needed help building the children's orphanage.

Everything was quite structured and it was very clear what we were doing and what was expected from us. The project was so eye opening, we were building in the day and in the evenings playing with the children from the orphanage and helping them with any homework they had to do. As the orphanage was being built it had no running water at the time therefore for the children's to wash we would walk them to the river nearby and everyone would go for a wash and swim.

Impact wise I felt as though I was making such a difference. I felt as though our presence was needed and even though some evenings there was no homework to go through or the children didn't want to play sports, some would just want to sit and chat and attempt to improve their English. I have recently seen photos of the completed orphanage and it just makes me so proud knowing I was apart of building it.

Whilst in Nepal we wanted to do some trips and explore and our coordinator in Pokhara was so responsive when we asked to do something and very helpful in arranging things for us. Some incredible things we did that was recommended to us is; rowing the lakes in Pokhara, the Panchase trek, Chitwan national park, watching sunrise over the Annapurna mountain range- we did this on my birthday and was truly incredible!!

I felt very safe in the country and although we were staying in a home stay we always had contact with our country coordinator and he checked up on us regularly. The homestay was an incredible experience, I would highly recommend that if you get the option to choose the homestay as you learn so much about the culture and you get to immerse yourself completely into the local lifestyle. All meals were provided and cooked by the mother of the homestay, dhallbatt is what we ate regularly- the traditional veggie curry and rice. Sometime's if we felt a bit tired of dhallbatt we would buy the mother looking after us some chicken and she would cook it for us- if you're not happy with something its definitely best to act on it rather than leaving unsatisfied!

If I was to advise anyone going to Nepal with PMGY, I would say go with an open mind and be pro-active!! Read the handbook- that was so useful and be flexible when you’re there, as their culture may mean things aren’t as structured as you expect them to be.

My experience with PMGY was overall extremely positive and the support from Plan My Gap Year is amazing. The company is organised and I couldn't recommend them more. I have volunteered with PMGY three times now and I will definitely be going a fourth time!

Programs

Displaying 10 - 15 of 15

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.