The Telegraph reports on the collapse of a gap year company, leaving students stranded up Mount Kilimanjaro.
Those who have yet to travel have had their gap year plans put in jeopardy. The Telegraph notes that the company was taking payments just days before it went into receivership.
We wish we could help those gappers, but we can't. What we can do though, is help you avoid the same fate.
Make sure your gap year company is on this list
The Career Break Site has the strictest vetting and approval system across the whole of the gap year and career break industry. Our list of approved organisations is here.
We also approve partner organisations - have a look for our 'Approved' logo.
Not having the logo or being on the list doesn't mean the organisation sucks - there are many decent ones who haven't applied to our approvals process yet. But this system does give you an extra layer of reassurance. You can read more about our approvals process here.
Check the gap year company's other memberships
Many are members of the Year Out Group, ABTA and/or are ATOL-bonded. If a company claims to be a member of these organisation (or is part of our approval scheme), double-check with the relevant site. The ATOL-certificate of the company that collapsed expired in April, so customers who booked after that aren't protected.
Get gap year travel insurance
We can't stress the importance of travel insurance enough. We hear of so many people who travel without it and get into trouble (or worse, have an accident) and their parents and friends have to scrape together the cash to get them home. You can read about travel insurance for career breakers here, and to avoid pitfalls, here are 5 things you didn't know about travel insurance.
Book your gap year experience with a credit card wherever possible
Your credit card gives you an extra level of security when buying any big-ticket item (or experience) and, under certain circumstances, you can reclaim your money from them. "Which?" has a comprehensive explanation on credit card refunds here.
Talk to other gap year travellers
When considering your gap year options, talk to as many other gappers as possible. Ask the company you're thinking of booking with if you can speak to previous gap year travellers - most of the ones we deal with are more than happy to put you in touch with former customers. Have a look online as well - there are gap year forums and review sites to help people just like you.
Finally, try not to worry about your gap year too much
If you're the parent of a gapper reading this, I know that's nigh on impossible! But the truth is, very few things go badly wrong on a gap year. We've been in this industry for over 10 years and can count on the fingers of one hand the things that have gone wrong (that includes reports that we receive about bad gap year companies). The vast majority of gap year companies are responsibe, honest and genuinelly want gap year travellers to have an awesome experience, while benefitting other parts of the world too. So relax and enjoy your gap year!
If you have any questions or worries about a gap year company, email firstname.lastname@example.org in total confidence.