22/01/2013 08:37 GMT | Updated 23/03/2013 05:12 GMT

Five Reasons Why You Should Take a Gap Year

A gap year is all about doing something new and exciting. It's about experiencing new cultures and societies, experiencing new sights and attractions, and even experiencing a new way of life.

A gap year really can be anything you want it to be, whether that's travelling, volunteering or working abroad. Maybe you want to learn a new skill, like becoming a ski instructor or teaching English as a foreign language, but the real question is, why should you take a gap year?

It's a good question and I'm going to look at five reasons as to why:

1. New Experiences

I've already said that you're going to be experiencing new cultures and societies, but I really think this is one of the most important things about taking a gap year.

Let me paint a picture for you. Image going to a night market in Malaysia because you've heard it sells some of the best food around. You arrive and see there's stall after stall selling the strangest little things, things you've never even seen before. All of a sudden, a local Malay asks if you'd like to try a deep-friend scorpion, free of charge. You're a little confused and unsure whether you should accept, but you do because you don't want to offend. It's crunchy and doesn't taste all that bad, a bit like chicken salt. You thank the vendor (in Malay of course) and buy a fruit shake to wash it down. When you get back to the hostel, you bump into the guy who recommended the night market in the first place, and he asks how it was. You say "it was like nothing I've ever done before. It was a completely new experience."

And that's what's so great about gap years. This isn't a one off. This will be happening to you day after day, week after week, month after month.

2. The Food

I was once faced with the dilemma on my gap year; travel to somewhere new or travel back to Thailand. Usually, I would always travel to somewhere new. However, on this particular occasion I remembered how good the food was in Thailand. And do you know what, I thought "I need some pad thai, I need some massaman curry," and I spent 10 days in foody-heaven, eating fresh fish every day and gorging myself mad.

If you love your take-away, your curries, your Chinese, even your kebabs, I can assure you they're simply out of this world in their home countries. You just need to get there.

3. The Language

I can say hello and thank you in more than a few languages; I can order food in Chinese; I can ask for directions in Hindi. This may not seem that impressive (and it really isn't), but it does make you feel good about yourself.

Don't go to a new country and be ignorant. Learn how to say hello and thank you in the local language. The more you learn, the more the locals will respect and like you, and once you've won their respect, it opens up new doors. Who knows, you may even be invited out for beers with the locals!

4. The Weather

When I travelled on my gap year I chased the sun. There came a point where I couldn't remember the last time it rained, or even the last time it was cold. It may be self-indulgent to laze on a beach soaking up the rays, but why not? If you want to to tan for a couple of weeks, then tan!

If you research your trip then you really can chase the sun, much like I did, and get away from the grey and dreary weather that is undoubtable outside your window right now as you're reading this.

5. It's good for you

One of the reasons why people don't take a gap year is because they can't see any value in it. Well, let me clear that up. There is value in taking a gap year and it really can be good for you.

Taking a gap year is a great way to gain life experience and employers are encouraging it.

In a survey, 85% of the UK HR professionals agreed that relevant work experience was more valuable to a job-seeker than an average non-vocational degree and 63% said that a constructive gap year spent volunteering or gaining work experience overseas made a job application stand out. It really can make a big difference.

So, they're just five reasons why you should take a gap year.

People will forever want to travel, to experience and to share. After all, life is short. Why waste your time doing things you don't enjoy, so go out and have some fun...