Researching your gap year placement

So you've got a gap year placement and you're all excited. You can finally travel the world and gain work experience while you do it. But how do you know that your placement’s legit? That’s where we come in. Here are some important questions you should ask before making any gap year decision, whether it’s a paid gap year placement or otherwise.

A young woman is researching a gap year placement. This is a wide-angle image.

The number of students taking a gap year placement or deciding to travel the world and live and work abroad is steadily increasing (with a temporary break when the world kinda shut down). Most people use organisations or charities to find their placements. And, in some cases, they ask you for a lot of money to arrange them. 

Straight off the bat – NEVER assume that because they operate from a UK address, provide paid gap year placements or produce impressive, shiny brochures that everything is guaranteed to run smoothly. Don’t just judge a book by its cover – even when that cover looks great. So before you commit yourself, sign anything or hand over cash, make sure to thoroughly them out.

For more gap year support, check out our FAQs about gap year work here.

Questions to ask about a gap year placement

About gap year travel

  • What are the travel arrangements? Which airline will you use?
  • Furthermore, are there any local covid restrictions in place that will affect your travel, such as a quarantine requirement?
  • If you have to return early for whatever reason, can you transfer your ticket?

On your gap year accommodation

  • Do you have the address of where you’ll be staying?
  • Have they given you a clear idea of the quality of the accommodation? Is it what you’re looking for?
  • If you’re staying with a local family, do you have to pay them? Why are they letting you stay with them?
  • How far are you from the nearest town?
  • How far are you from where you’ll work?
  • What specific dangers or problems are there around that area

Being prepared is often key. Make sure to work out if the streets are safe after work, if it’s safe for a single woman or man to walk alone, and the political situation of the country beforehand. You can contact the Foreign Office Travel Advice Unit (020 7270 4129) for more. Plus, you should read our safety tips for travelling alone here.

About your gap year work

  • How many hours do you have to work and how much free time will you have? Is it basically gonna be a working holiday?
  • If they offer paid jobs, like au pairing, how much will you get and when? Weekly, monthly? In arrears?
  • Will you need a working holiday VISA? 
  • If you’re teaching English, for example – who will you be teaching, how many in a class and what age range?
  • Will you get any support materials, or will you have to take your own? (this is especially important if you wanna be a ski or snowboard instructor at a ski resort. In which case you’ll most likely have to take part in a programme like ea ski)
  • Sadly, in some societies, women (including foreign visitors) have a subordinate role at work and at home. Could you cope with this?

About the role of the gap year organisation

  • What kind of insurance do they provide? Does it cover repatriation and personal injury? Have you seen a copy of the policy?
  • Will there be an English-speaking representative of the organisation close by?
  • Do you get an induction or briefing course before you start work?
  • Will you receive adequate training for the work?

About the values of the organisation

  • If you’re paying, where does the money go? How much goes on travel, accommodation and administration? Is it the best value for money?
  • If they are a charity, why and when were they founded?
  • Who is the organisation benefiting?
  • Do they serve the interests of the local population?
  • Will your activities be welcomed by the local people? If not, why?

If you receive consistently vague or unsatisfactory answers to any of these questions, you should think twice about going. It’s your trip, so you should be happy with what you’ve planned. 

Three golden rules of gap years

  1. Get everything in writing.
  2. Speak to someone who has used the organisation within the past year.
  3. If in doubt, contact your local Careers Service for advice about your gap year job.

Check out the rest of resources on gap years, work and studying abroad here.

This article was supplied courtesy of

Next Steps


gap year

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 03-Jun-2022