Everything You Need to Know about Plan My Gap Year: An In-Depth Review


Plan My Gap Year is a U.K.-based charity and travel organization, sending more than 4,000 volunteers overseas each year on safe and extraordinary adventures throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America. Its award-winning, structured programs are available for travelers not only taking a gap year but also who are just interested in a meaningful trip overseas.


Philip Russell, a former volunteer traveler, founded Plan My Gap Year in 2011, after extensive research into volunteering overseas. A company of volunteers for volunteers, Plan My Gap Year works with communities in developing countries toward long-term sustainable goals. When you volunteer with Plan My Gap Year, you know exactly how your payment benefits the host community thanks to its policy of 100% transparent fee structure.

You’ll also know that your project is meaningful, having been hand-selected because it is need-driven and sustainable. This means the work you do overseas contributes to the long-term development of a community. Program participants can rest assured that they’ll spend their gap year volunteering in ways that are impactful, positive, and truly needed.

Support is available 24/7 by Plan My Gap Year team members in its host destinations. Its U.K. team regularly conducts independent risk-assessments on all projects, vetting them to ensure safety for all participants. They carefully inspect all details, from vetting the living conditions, checking out the neighborhoods you’ll be staying in, to trying the food you’ll be eating. This rigorous protocol is extended to regular appraisals of its staff as well.

Teams in-country consist of experienced coordinators who have worked with international volunteers for years, and are prepared and trained for emergencies, if they arise. Plan My Gap Year also maintains constant communications with local embassies and the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, allowing them to identify potential problems or dangerous situations abroad, and to act accordingly.

Safety and responsibility go both ways. Because Plan My Gap Year works with vulnerable populations, all volunteers must provide a criminal background check before they travel.

Feeling overwhelmed with figuring out how to plan a gap year? Don’t worry! When you volunteer with Plan My Gap Year, you’ll receive a detailed Volunteer Handbook that guides you through preparation for your trip, from what to pack, how to obtain a visa and even a local language guide. You’ll learn about emergency procedures, how to use local transport, and how to anticipate and respect cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, which is strongly suggested so you’re able to contact the team at all times. All volunteers are provided with a list of important contact numbers, and the U.K. office is just a phone call away.

Volunteer Experience


Upon arrival, you’ll be met at the airport by a Plan My Gap Year team member, who will escort you to your housing and help you become acquainted, and provide you with an orientation. Plan My Gap Year team members have all stayed in the accommodations you’ll be lodged at, so they can tell you exactly what to expect. In many destinations, Plan My Gap Year owns the volunteer house, ensuring participants live together and build a strong social connection. This naturally lends itself to many volunteers traveling together on weekend excursions and building lifelong friendships.

The costs you’ll need to cover in addition to your registration and program fees include flights, travel insurance, visa cost, immunization costs, background check, and spending money.

Plan My Gap Year registration fees cover:

  1. Staff administrative costs
  2. Regular program visits
  3. Full financial protection
  4. 24/7 support service

Plan My Gap Year program fees cover:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Meals
  3. Airport pickup
  4. Local transport to the project
  5. In-country orientation
  6. In-country team support

Internships and College Credit

Many travelers with Plan My Gap Year are doing exactly that – planning their gap year travel. But some people are interested in internships or programs abroad that can be used as a university or college placement. Project staff is able to sign off on the paperwork, and students can find work in the areas of medical, childcare, psychology, and nursing.

Under 18s and School Trips Abroad

School trips abroad can be challenging and fun experiences – but can be stressful for adults planning the trip. Plan My Gap Year offers volunteer trips for schools, handling the complicated task of organizing details from flights and insurance, as well as pre-trip training. A helpful bonus is that teachers travel free – just one perk of choosing a Plan My Gap Year expedition.

With the all-inclusive, tailored trip, Plan My Gap Year can suit a variety of needs with all housing and meals included. Pre-departure training includes information for teachers, students, and parents, and an experienced U.K. team member will accompany the school group throughout their trip abroad. With financial protection through the Travel Trust Association, your money is 100% protected; the organization also is a member of Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL).

Once in-country, student travelers are supported 24/7 by the U.K. and local teams and placed on meaningful projects where they can make a true impact. There also are adventure opportunities Plan My Gap Year can organize, from trekking to sightseeing, and even camelback riding!

Still wondering how to plan a gap year for younger students? Learn more about under 18 volunteers abroad projects here – or if you’re researching travel options for your school, check out Plan My Gap Year’s great offers here!

TEFL Express Course

If you’re interested in teaching abroad, then completing a TEFL course can help you improve your teaching skills and prepare for the experience. TEFL Express with Plan My Gap Year allows you to complete your certification in a 60-hour online course – a great introduction to teaching English overseas.

Work at your convenience and your own pace, with up to 75 days to wrap up studies. You’ll gain experience as well as an internationally accredited certificate – this is a great way to find out if teaching is for you. Once you’re certified, you’ll have a foundation to work toward a future qualification and a paid English teaching position abroad. Modules include:

  1. Principles of Teaching English core module
  2. Understanding language
  3. Key English grammar points
  4. How to teach grammar in the classroom
  5. Survival teaching
  6. Teaching with limited resources
  7. Learner-based training
  8. Cultural awareness

Become a Team Leader

If you’re interested in traveling abroad, consider becoming a Team Leader by enlisting your friends and family: recruit 10 people to take a Plan My Gap Year trip so you can travel for free! Your housing, transfers, meals, and in-country support will be included. If you can recruit 20 travelers to sign up, the company will even pay for your flights!

The minimum stay is one week – this is a wonderful and creative way to enhance your resume, showing you are organized, social, dedicated, and financially savvy. After completing the program, Plan My Gap Year will even provide you with a reference.

Interested? Here are simple steps to earning an all-expenses-paid trip abroad:

  1. Choose a Plan My Gap Year trip
  2. Recruit travelers from your friend’s list, your family, or even through social media
  3. Confirm the trip with all parties and with Plan My Gap Year
  4. Collect everyone’s registration fee of $200
  5. Fundraise for the trip

Plan My Gap Year handles the rest from there – have fun!

Round the World Encounters

Spend 12 weeks (or more) abroad on a Round the World Encounter that takes you across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with everything organized for you. Perfect for first-time solo travelers, all you have to do is enjoy the experience!

This stress-free opportunity allows you to volunteer as you travel, without worrying about the details. Plan My Gap Year takes care of extensive pre-departure support service, airport pickup, orientation, meals, housing, project transportation, and local support.

Choose from the following trips:

  1. Real Africa Encounter: $2,185 for 12 weeks in Ghana and Tanzania
  2. Real Asia Encounter: $2,038 for 12 weeks in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka
  3. Real South America Encounter: $2,374 for 12 weeks in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru
  4. Real South East Asia Encounter: $2,293 for 12 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bali
  5. Real Taster Encounter: $1,328 for six to 12 weeks in India, Sri Lanka, and Bali
  6. Ultimate Round the World Encounter: $6,503 for 36 weeks – takes you to nine spectacular destinations

Programs and Destinations

Plan My Gap Year’s volunteer programs begin twice each month throughout the year, with placements available for up to 24 weeks, depending on the trip. Travelers are provided with extensive pre-departure support service, airport pickup, orientation, meals, housing, project transportation, and local support.

Plan My Gap Year is a Duke Of Edinburgh activity provider, allowing you to complete your residential section on overseas volunteer experience. They also work with the insurance company Endsleigh to offer an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy for volunteers. This optional policy ensures volunteers for all their travel essentials.

Choose from the following volunteer programs:

  1. Childcare Volunteer Abroad Projects
  2. Community Volunteer Abroad Projects
  3. Duke of Edinburgh Overseas Residential Projects
  4. Teaching Volunteer Abroad Projects
  5. Medical Volunteer Abroad Projects
  6. Mental Health Volunteer Abroad Projects
  7. PMGY Encounter Volunteer Abroad Projects
  8. PMGY Experience Volunteer Projects
  9. Under 18 Volunteer Abroad Projects
  10. Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Projects

Or choose from the following destinations:

Volunteer in Bali – Tabanan

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, Medical, Wildlife Rescue

Program fees: From $240 (1 to 16 weeks)

Volunteer in Cambodia – Takeo

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching

Program fees: From $322 (2 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Costa Rica – Coronado suburb of San Jose

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching & Language and Immersion

Program fees: From $375 (1 to 12 weeks)

Volunteer in Ecuador – Quito

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, Language and Immersion & Medical

Program fees: From $255 (1 to 12 weeks)

Volunteer in Fiji – Suva

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching

Program fees: From $348 (1 to 12 weeks)

Volunteer in Ghana – Kumasi

Projects: Childcare, Disabled Children, English Teaching, Medical, Mental Health

Program fees: From $335 (2 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in India – Faridabad

Projects: Childcare, Disabled Children, English Teaching, Medical, Women Empowerment

Program fees: From $295 (2 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Morocco – Rabat

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching

Program fees: From $200 (1 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Nepal – Chitwan, Pokhara, and Kathmandu

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, English Teaching to Monks

Program fees: From $335 (2 to 20 weeks)

Volunteer in Peru – Cusco

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, Language and Immersion, Medical

Program fees: From $255 (1 to 12 weeks)

Volunteer in South Africa – Cape Town and Port Elizabeth

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, Wildlife Conservation

Program fees: From $295 (1 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Sri Lanka – Ambalangoda

Projects: Childcare, Elephant, English Teaching, Medical, Mental Health, Turtle Conservation

Program fees: From $268 (1 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Tanzania – Arusha

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, Medical

Program fees: From $335 (2 to 24 weeks)

Volunteer in Thailand – Pathum Thani

Projects: Childcare, Elephant, English Teaching, Wildlife Rescue

Program fees: From $322 (1 to 12 weeks)

Volunteer in Vietnam – Hanoi

Projects: Childcare, English Teaching, NGO

Program fees: From $388 (2 to 24 weeks)

Ready to Travel?

Plan My Gap Year offers amazing volunteer adventures at affordable prices, and if you’re interested in being a leader, you can even travel for free. Students who volunteer with Plan My Gap Year experience new cultures, form lasting friendships and make a positive impact by improving the communities in which they serve. Each placement presents its unique challenges, but most programs do not require any specific skills or experience. Medical programs and some NGO work require educational qualifications, so we recommend checking the organization’s website for more details!

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