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Gap Year

If the end of your studies is approaching and you’re unsure about what route to take next, a great way to help find yourself is to head away on a Gap Year (cliché we know but true none the less).

Volunteering, travelling, working and exploring helps young, ambitious travellers build on their experiences, with some even describing a Gap Year as an additional year of education but in ‘life’ lessons.

As well as getting the chance to immerse yourself in new cultures and meet new people, you may discover a new skill or passion which could, in turn, open up a new career path.

This may all sound like a lot of fun, but to ensure you are fully prepared for your adventure it’s important to be covered with a good travel insurance policy and TopDog’s Gap Year cover has been designed specifically for those travellers heading away on a trip of a lifetime.

Benefits Of Gap Year Travel Insurance

Insurance has been developed for individuals wanting to backpack through places like Sri Lanka; a paradise full of bustling cities, alluring beaches and serene mountain towns. Or maybe you’re the opposite and want to spend a year studying in the cool, urban city of Berlin.

Whatever you plan on doing on your gap year, a TopDog policy offers the following benefits:

  • 24/7 emergency medical assistance helpline – a multilingual team is available year-round to ensure you receive the best care and attention should you have a medical issue on your travels.
  • Medical expenses cover up to £7.5million available
  • Cover for cancellation up to £5,000 and personal baggage up to £2,000 available
  • If you need to return home to visit loved ones or to attend a special event, a TopDog policy gives you the flexibility to do so once without invalidating your cover!
  • If you’re feeling adventurous and want to let your hair down whilst you’re away you’re automatically covered for over 100 sports and activities, allowing you to dabble in things like banana boating, deep-sea fishing or even scuba diving up to a depth of 30 metres. To see all the sports that are covered click here.
  • Gadget cover is available, enabling you to protect up to five gadgets for an additional premium.
  • If you’re studying abroad for the year, you can ensure course fees and computer equipment with our Gold Plus level of cover.

And not to forget TopDog’s Gap Year travel insurance is available to those aged between 16 and 45, so if you’re taking a break from your career this policy will offer the right protection for you too.

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What Are The Best Gap Year Programmes? 

Sabbaticals, studying abroad, volunteering or generally just escaping reality; you don’t need an excuse for a gap year. In fact, gap years are amazing for personal growth and even enhancing your CV with all the new skills, experiences and volunteering ventures.

Travelling for an extended period can seem daunting…. Which country to start in? Where to visit? What do you even do on a gap year? All questions soon-to-be travellers find themselves asking.

This is why, here at TopDog, we have composed a list of gap year programmes we think you will love. Don’t forget though… with any gap year programme, it’s very unlikely that travel insurance will be included. So, once you are booked on your chosen programme, make sure that buying your travel insurance is next on the list of priorities so you’re covered for aspects such as cancellation. And yes…. by priorities we mean booking your policy before searching up all the best nightlife hotspots!

STA Travel

Where? Worldwide

When? Year-round, you choose how long

Why? You can plan the ultimate trip with STA Travel and be as creative with your route as you like. Their travel specialists will give inspiration and advice on tailoring the perfect adventure in line with your needs.

International Volunteer HQ

Where? 40 countries worldwide

When? Year-round, duration depends on location and programme

Why? Their mission is to find you a gap year that fulfils your gap year goals. Most of their programmes offer housing, meals and support throughout the programme. Make memories that will last forever whilst giving back to the community and making lasting friendships with fellow volunteers.


Where? Various locations worldwide

When? Year-round

Why? Offer exciting gap year expeditions including multi-county extended trips. Gapforce’s mantra is to offer a thrilling and safe adventure for gap year volunteers abroad, with plenty of adventure travel mixed in with volunteer responsibilities.

Gap Year Visa’s 

Sorting out your gap year visa is a crucial step to complete. Preparing for a gap year can be an exciting prospect, but sorting the legal side of things can get slightly stressful if left to the last minute. So, remember it is always a good idea to begin the visa process as soon as possible. The paperwork side can take weeks to fully complete and sometimes a visit to the country’s embassy in the UK is necessary.

What Is A Visa?

  • A document allowing you to enter a particular country.
  • The document outlines the reason/ purpose of your trip to a particular country, as well as the length of your stay away from home.
  • Requirements for obtaining a visa vary depending on your nationality and the country you wish to visit.
  • It’s worthwhile checking the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website for the requirements needed for UK citizens.

Types Of Visa For Your Gap Year 

The type of visa you need to apply for will depend on what exactly you’ll be doing on your gap year.

If you are solely volunteering in one country the process should be fairly simple. It is when travelling between multiple countries, carrying out various work placements that the process becomes more complicated.

We would also suggest getting in contact with the embassy of the country you are visiting to double-check their exact visa requirements. This way you can ensure you are completing the process to the highest standard and minimise your worries when travelling.

  • Tourist Visa – If you are only travelling and not working then this is the visa for you. This type of visa allows you a limited period of leisure time, usually up to 90 days and is much less complicated than others to apply for.
  • Working Holiday Visa – This type of visa is compulsory for countries where you want to work to earn some money; either to help fund your travels or generally for the experience. Many gap year travelers usually decide to spend part of their trip in paid employment, such as teaching English in China, or manual work on farms in Australia.
  • Student Visa – This type of visa gives you permission to study in a particular country for a set period of time. To be eligible for this visa you need to be enrolled on a course at an academic institution such as a college, university or language school.
  • Au Pair Visa – If you enjoy working with children, as well as experiencing new cultures, then an au pair role may be the route for you. An au pair visa usually lasts for up to two years allowing you to live and work for your chosen family for an extended period of time.
  • Voluntary Work Visa – Many countries require you to have a voluntary work visa if you are going to be involved in a volunteer project whilst travelling. To obtain a voluntary work visa you must show that the work is completely voluntary, it’s for an approved organisation or registered charity and that you intend to leave the country after the project’s completion.

Pre – Departure Visa Checklist:

Once you have decided on the visa that is most suitable for you, then the last step is to check that they are valid for all your gap year plans. Below is an FAQ for just that, providing you with the questions to ask yourself as a newbie gap year traveler and to help make sure everything runs smoothly for you.

Why Choose TopDog Insurance?

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Up to
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£7,500 Cancellation Cover Per Person

Gap Year Travel Checklist For Parents 

If you’re concerned that your son or daughter has missed a crucial step in preparing for their gap year then don’t be as we have created a checklist to give you peace of mind that your precious loved one has sorted all of the essentials before they fly off on their adventure of a lifetime.


  • Ensure you have a copy of your son or daughter’s travel itinerary, showing the dates of when and where they will be.
  • Give them a list of phone numbers they might need whilst away, and in return ensure they give you all the contact details for any gap year companies/ agencies they are using.
  • Make sure they have set up a way of staying in touch. Whether that be a weekly phone call through a pay-as-you-go SIM or via email.
  • Ensure your daughter or son has their finances sorted, whether they have a good amount of cash to keep them going or a pre-paid cash card which can be used in multiple countries.
  • It is essential that your son or daughter is covered by quality travel insurance (take a look at our Gap Year travel insurance from all the information above).
  • Ensure your child has all the relevant visas they need prior to travelling.
  • Make sure they have visited their GP at least six to eight weeks in advance of travel to ensure they are up to date with any relevant vaccinations needed or medication.
  • Lastly, ensure they have taken photocopies of all essential documents needed for the trip, including passport, visas, tickets and insurance documents. And that you have copies of all of these too.