Backpacker and Gap Year Pros and Cons

As with anything in life there are the ups and downs, advantages or disadvantages or putting it bluntly the pros and cons.

Gap years are becoming increasing popular and initially seen as a great idea. But before you embark on your year out you might want to think carefully about why you want to do it.

Taking a gap year after finishing your exams, can give you that much needed break and give you a fresh outlook on the remainder of your studies. A gap year may give you opportunities to travel that perhaps after university you may be unable to do for a while or it may allow you to earn and save for your time at university giving you a feeling of social and financial independence.

Ensure that you make your gap year count

It is very important that you plan your time out and weigh up the pros and cons and these may vary depending on what exactly you are looking to do on your gap year.

Below we have listed some pro's and cons and grouped them into selected categories, just look at what you are hoping to do and see whether we can encourage you further or just put you off at the first hurdle.



  • You will develop self confidence
  • Generally learn new skills
  • Often learn a new language
  • Earn some money while getting useful experience in a work environment
  • Improve your C.V.


  • Your study skills may become rusty. After a year out from studying will you be able to get back into the routine of studying.
  • If you don't plan ahead part or all of your gap year may be wasted.
  • If you've chosen to spend the year working you may have become used to the benefits of a regular wage. It may not be easy to get used to the hardships of student life.
  • Some courses want students straight from A-levels, especially Art & Design & Applied Sciences.

Expeditions and Conservation Programmes


  • You will more than likely travel to a part of the world you wouldn't normally go to.
  • This type of programme will certainly keep you fit and probably get you even fitter.
  • If working on a conservation programme you will be helping Mother Nature in a green and ecological way.
  • You will generally be working in a group and so will meet many new people.


  • To explore or conserve can cost a lot of money.
  • These activities are not for the faint hearted and a reasonable level of fitness will generally be required.

Voluntary Work


  • If working abroad you will often get the chance to work in some exotic places.
  • You will often be working within a group and so this will give you an immediate social life.
  • You will see a different side to life.
  • It will make you feel good with yourself and give you a radical new perspective on life in general and yours in particular
  • You may receive pocket money/expenses.


  • Voluntary work means no pay.
  • You will often have to pay the organization arranging the work.
  • You may only be provided with living accommodation, and will often have to cover your living expenses.
  • You may end up in under privileged location and living in poor conditions.
  • Your daily food may be different from what you're used to.