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What Your Teenager Needs For Their Gap Year

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For every teenager about to experience a gap year, the trip to the airport cannot come quick enough. For most it will be their first experience living and surviving on their own, the first steps into adulthood, and one they can’t wait to get started on! However, it’s a different story for you (the parent) who will have to suffer a year with no taxi-ing, nagging for money (maybe!), and one less mouth to feed, sounds horrible right? To make sure your son or daughter makes the most of their time away and you can rest peacefully, use this as a guide to packing!

The Essentials

1. Passport, Travel & Health Insurance, Emergency Numbers, Transport Tickets

Your teenager won’t be going very far if any of these are left at home.

Make them take a few photocopies of every important document, and have a set in every bag they take. Be sure to keep a set at home as well for emergencies.

2. Money

Pre-Paid/Travel cards are becoming more and more popular with travellers now, here’s some advantages of using a Travel Card:

  • Easily topped up online – you can send your child money with the click of a mouse!
  • Come with a pin offering more security
  • Not linked to a bank account – meaning they can’t run up a debt!
  • If stolen, identity theft will not be possible unlike if a debit/credit card is stolen.

Be sure to get all your teen’s bank and card details before they go. We also recommend taking $200 as universal money if travelling to more than one country.

3. Backpack

Take your teen to a store to try out a few and see what they find the comfiest. Try to get a bag that has most of the following features:

  • Wide shoulder straps for extra comfort
  • Waist and chest straps for extra support
  • Back supports – a sore back can ruin the trip!
  • Detachable day pack
  • Side pockets

Keep reminding them that comfort is the most important thing and not the colour of it! They’re going to be living out of it for a year so try plenty on and even put some weight into it, so they can get a feel of what it will be like when they are away. Don’t forget to ask a shop assistant to help your teenager choose! Usually around 65 litres capacity is an ideal size.

4. Sleeping Bag

Make sure they look into what type and season of bag will suit them best for their destination. Having a bad sleeping bag and getting little sleep can ruin the trip! There are hundreds of different types of sleeping bags to choose from.

5. First Aid Kit

Here at Pyramid Travel Products we sell 2 First Aid Kits. These are for the use of a trained medic but are a vital piece of kit for your teen even if they don’t have any first aid skills, this is because our First Aid Kits are 100% sterile, meaning they can be used by doctors in hospitals when their equipment may not be sterile.

Sterile Medical Pack

Be sure to get the following for their trip:

  • Paracetamol
  • Skin closures
  • Surgical tape
  • Plasters
  • Blister treatment

6. Clothing

If your son or daughter took the wrong type of clothing it could make their first few weeks hell! Here’s a few things to remind them of when they begin the packing process:

Hot Climates

  • Lightweight loose clothing
  • Fleece or hoody for colder days and nights
  • Long sleeve t-shirt or shirt – good for keeping cool and visiting religious sites
  • Smarter set of clothing for eating out or having dinner with a local family, attending a ceremony etc.
  • Poncho – very versatile – can be used as a cover up or a ground sheet.

Cold Climates

  • Good, high quality jacket.
  • Top and bottom base layers.
  • Fleeces – mid layer – less bulky than a jumper
  • Waterproofs

Stefan With Other Course Participants

Stefan Cameron with fellow gap yearers, at the Basecamp snowboarding instructor course in Banff, Canada. 

A good tip to pass on, is to pack half the clothes they were planning to take. Buying clothes when they arrive can be fun and usually a lot cheaper. Also remind them that they don’t have to fill their bags – the more free space, the more room they will have to buy!

7. Footwear

The correct footwear is necessary for an enjoyable trip. Consider the following:

  • High boots – A must have if a lot of walking is going to be done. Will take up a lot of room in the bag if not used often. Buy in the UK for best quality.
  • Mid-Ankle boots – Good all-rounder and offers much needed ankle support for those difficult treks.
  • Trainers – Comfiest for general use but unlikely to last very long.
  • Flip-Flops/Sandals – From walking on hot sand, to walking to the dreaded hostel toilets at 4am.

It’s a good idea for them to wear-in the footwear they plan on taking before they go, there is nothing worse than getting blisters in the first week!


1. Money Belt

Might not be the most fashionable thing for a teenager to wear but definitely safer than carrying a wallet or purse around everywhere.

2. Universal Adapter

Great for when your teen is planning on visiting more than one country, as they will only need to bring one adapter with them.

3. Mobile Phone

Good for keeping in contact with you and taking pictures, but can run up sizeable bills without the user noticing, and will be top of the list for pick-pockets! Consider telling them to buy a cheap phone and a local pay-as-you-go SIM card when arriving.

4. Mosquito Net

An essential if your son or daughter is travelling to a malarial area, if not it can still come in handy to stop bites from other insects as well as mosquitoes. For gap-year travellers who are planning on moving around a lot we recommend our Compact Mosquito Net


5. Water Treatment

Biox Aqua Tablets

Should always be used if there is a slight concern over water quality. Water bottles with built in filters can be bought but if your teenager is going to be using a hydration pack we recommend Biox Aqua Tablets for simplicity.

6. Head Torch – Great for midnight bag searching and in power cuts!

7. Solar/Wind Up Chargers – Not everywhere will have electricity.

8. Camera – So your teen can relive the experience with you when they get back.

9. A pen – For writing those postcards home!

10. Duct Tape – For fixing bags, holes in mosquito nets and can even act as a waterproof dressing!

Remember expensive watches, jewellery, gadgets etc. are a no go area. Anything that they can’t afford to lose is not worth bringing. Even if your son or daughter fits everything into their bag on their first attempt, get them to unpack, get rid of half the clothes, and then pack again!


Post by Stefan Cameron, Marketing Intern at Pyramid Travel Products 2014. Currently enjoying a fantastic stay in Banff, Canada, learning to be a snowboarding instructor. 

Written by Stefan


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