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“Top Tips for Parents Whose Kids Are Planning their Gap Year”

So your child has decided to take a gap year in Israel. Your first thought that comes to your mind is that your child is still well…a child…and here they are telling you that they about to head out for a year without you. Although, I understand your initial fears and pain, in fact a gap year in Israel can be an amazing period of time during which your child can focus on things that they normally wouldn’t do and develop a new outlook on their world. It’s their time to have the freedom to fulfil a dream and experience new cultures. 

Whether you’re concerned about how your son or daughter will finance their gap year, manage their money or stay safe and healthy while travelling, it’s natural for parents to worry about the idea of their child going on a gap year. So, how can you help your child prepare for this amazing opportunity? This blog will try and help give you tips on how to prepare before their gap year begins.

“Expectations/ Reality”

A gap year will undoubtedly be one of the most treasured and unforgettable experiences of your son or daughter’s life. You often hear those who have returned from their travels endlessly reminiscing about the amazing destinations they have visited and the incredible gap year adventures they have had. Because of this, it’s very easy for them to get caught up in all the excitement whilst they are planning their gap year, dreaming about the freedom they will have and the incredible things that they will encounter, and forget about the realities of what they need to do as gap travel preparation. Because of this, it may be up to you as the parent to sit your son or daughter down and start realistically planning their year abroad.



Each gap year program will send a list with what they expect your child to pack. This usually includes a backpack, make sure the backpack is light, comfy and of course secure. Think, bags within bags, this will be a life-saver once they get organized. Think of the essentials like a inside their single duvet cover, passport, tickets, health and travel insurance, debit cards and any prescriptions they may take. Always pack a backup charger for all of their electronics, in addition to a universal adaptor and of course look into credit and debit cards that they can use abroad, I would recommend Capital One.  And last but not least the single duvet cover. It is a guarantee that your gapper will at times stay in some grotty places at times. The best way to keep them feeling cozy is to hop into that cozy duvet.

dont over pack


“Culture Shock”

Gap years at times can be challenging, whether this means pushing physical boundaries with adventure activities or embracing different cultures and accepting their customs.  It could be that they underestimate how hard it will be to get used to a change in climate, so make sure that they have researched this before they leave. It’s definitely worth familiarizing them with the customs and cultural differences of the countries they will be visiting, as otherwise, this dramatic change could be quite a shock to their system, or they could accidentally cause offence.

take an adventure

“Pre Travel—Knowing How to Keep in Touch”

Of course your child will be taking their phone with them. How else would they show off their fantastic gap year experience, keep in touch with their friends, Facebook and of course Instagram. Make sure pre-travel that their phone is unlocked and think about a provider, like Talknsave, we aim at keeping it easy to connect while abroad, they get a Stay Local number–which also features no international dialing and also saves them from having to learn international dialing rules, while at the same time saves you the worry about your child running out of minutes–your child will have unlimited minutes both in Israel and abroad and includes at least a minimum of 4gb of data, so you can facetime or whatsapp to your hearts content.

Stay Connected

“Stay Involved”

Get involved, make sure that you keep your child’s essential documents (most gap year programs will send you a detailed list beforehand). Make sure that you can help them with their finances, think about making yourself a “third-party mandate” for their bank accounts, so you are always able to make transfers and be able to keep yourself involved in their spending. You might feel helpless being halfway across the globe, this advance preparation means that you get to feel more comfortable knowing that you can always help them out if they do encounter any challenges.

staying involved

“Safety Fears”

Most parents are of course concerned about how to keep their child safe during their gap year and are often uncomfortable with the thought of their child travelling without them. You still see your child as that little person in first grade. But, that’s exactly why exposing them to these new adventures that will help them grow as a person, broaden their horizons and open their eyes to different ways of life. However, there is no way of fully preparing for a gap year, as you will always encounter surprising situations and unexpected events, but it is worth getting your son or daughter to face the realities of staying safe, and preparing them for what could happen while they are abroad. There will definitely be changes of plan, and there is always the risk of losing property or theft. Make sure that you keep a copy of all their important documents with you at home, and perhaps have some emergency cash hidden away just in case.

Stay Calm

“Do Your Homework”

One of the best ways for both you and your child to be prepared for this challenge is to do your research. Be aware of the local customs, economy and politics of the country your child is traveling to. This will help to reassure you that it’s safe for your child to travel to the country of their choice.

are you prepared

“Travel Blogging”

If your child enjoys writing this could be the perfect opportunity for your child to set up a blog, which acts like an online diary and is a great way to catch up with where they are and what they are doing. Today they can even set up an app on either an Android or an iPhone to blog anywhere and anytime. We encourage and are  happy for them to share their blogs with us and experience Israel’s from other people’s viewpoints.

Usually, your child will add more details on their blog as to what they are up to than if they are simply emailing you, as these pages are public, friends and family can also have a look into how their year is going. Later their blog can be added to and edited along their travels and it’s a brilliant way for them to record their journey. As well as this, they can print off the pages they have returned and keep it as a memoir to look back on in the future. You could even set up your own blog to reply to theirs, swapping stories and photographs online, so it’s a great option for both of you.

blog it

“They’ll Be Home Before You Know It”

It can be difficult to adjust to your child leaving, and you may feel like you’ve been left behind, but just remember that they’re not gone forever and will return with many incredible stories and a far more experienced outlook on life – and remember, they’ll be back home before you know it. 

Remember that your child is yearning “to find out more about themselves”. This was the top reason students wanted a gap year. Similarly, “gain life experiences / grow personally “was the top answer given. In today’s society, many students are unsure about what path they might want to explore, Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson said “Often students are not sure what particular path they want to take coming right out of high school. A gap year can give them the experience that they need to help make other life choices.”

Like always please share any comments and questions that you may have and let us know how your child’s gap year is going.

We missed you


Beth Zuckerman
Beth Zuckerman
Beth is a former Upper Westsider, who made aliyah 8 years ago. She is a coffee addict and a lover of classical rock. Beth is the content and marketing manager at talknsave, in that order.

1 Comment

  1. […] Like I have already touched upon in a previous blog “Top Tips For Parents Whose Kids Are Planning Their Gap Year.” […]

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