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Taking a gap year

Photo: It's important to make sure you are prepared and plan your year off in advance

As a deaf young person, taking a gap year and travelling in general is a great way to increase your confidence, make new friends and learn more about the world. It can also bring specific challenges.

What can I do on a gap year?

There are lots of different things you could do on a gap year. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Volunteering
  • Travelling
  • Getting a paid job
  • Work experience
  • Part-time courses.

If you choose to travel abroad during your gap year, read our tips below to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

What if I miss important announcements on the plane, train or in the hotel?
  • At the airport - arrive early and keep checking the departures board. Tell the person at the boarding gate you’re deaf and need to be notified when it’s time to board. There are also apps available for real-time alerts for changes in flight plans.
  • On the plane - tell the flight attendant you’re deaf and may need in-flight announcements in person.
  • At the station - if you see lots of people on the platform move away, ask someone what’s going on. If in doubt, check with station staff
  • At the hotel - inform the receptionist that you’re deaf so that they can alert you in case of emergency. Major hotels may have alerting devices which flash or vibrate strongly when the fire alarm goes off.
What if I don’t hear what tour guides and activity leaders are saying?
  • Tour guides will usually help by writing information down, pointing or using hand gestures. Book the tour in advance and ask for a transcript if possible.
  • There are some deaf tour guides – the sign language might be different but at least they’ll be deaf aware.
  • If there are activities you want to do with an interpreter, check in advance about disability access on the company’s website.
How will I get information or help if I need it?
  • Visit the information centre and get lots of leaflets. Ask staff to make bookings for you.
  • Go online or download apps (Expedia, Trip Advisor, airlines, etc.) to make bookings.
  • In some countries, there are services for deaf people such as typetalk.
  • Write things down if necessary.
Is there anything I need to do to look after my hearing technology abroad?
  • Make sure there’s space in your luggage for your hearing equipment, and don’t forget spare batteries.
  • Consider buying a dehumidifier for drying out your hearing aids.
  • As with any other precious belongings, lock up your hearing technology when you’re not using it. 
What will I do with my hearing technology when I'm swimming?
  • You can buy a waterproof bag to keep your hearing technology safe and dry on the poolside or beach while you’re swimming.
  • If you’re with a group of people, ask one of them to guard your hearing technology while you’re swimming, and take turns in the water.
What are the benefits of taking a gap year?

There are plenty of benefits to taking a gap year - probably too many to list here, so here are just a few reasons to get packing and go for it:

  • explore new countries and discover new cultures
  • step outside your comfort zone, get confident and be independent
  • learn new skills by volunteering
  • meet fellow travellers, make new friends from around the globe
  • take a break and return refreshed and ready to focus on your education or career
  • add a unique experience to your CV.
Where can I find more information about gap years and traveling abroad?

Forums, blogs and social media can be a great place to find tips and learn from other people’s experiences of gap years.

UCAS have links to different organisations where you can find gap year opportunities and ideas. 

Prospects have ideas and tips for what you can do on your gap year and use it to get work experience.