African adventure leads to book deal for young traveller
Taking a gap year to go on trips to Africa and other adventurous destinations is not just an exhilarating experience, it can also open up a wealth of opportunities.
For some, it can even change their entire lives, something Australian traveller Nikki Lovell discovered following her gap year experience in Uganda.
"I wanted to go somewhere very far away," she told the Australian Associated Press.
"Some people went straight to university, others took gap years mostly to Europe. A friend went to Thailand for ten months, but she's the only other person I know who did something similar to myself."
Lovell was so taken with life in the small east African nation that she decided to return twice more, setting up her own charity in the process.
Called One Village, the organisation has so far sponsored about 100 Ugandan students through their secondary and tertiary education, as well establishing community vegetable and fruit gardens and hosted health awareness days in schools.
Now, aged 25, Lovell is publishing her first book based on her experiences in Uganda.
"I was speaking at a fund raising dinner and an editor heard me speak and he asked me if I'd ever considered writing a book," she said.
"Afterwards I submitted chapter outlines and the first two chapters and based on that they made me a contract."
But you don't have to become a published author or charity leader to enjoy the benefits of a gap year.
According to Paul Redmond, head of careers and employability at the University of Liverpool, they can also help people in their academic and professional lives more generally.
"Employers and academics tell us that [those who have taken a gap year] are often more committed and focussed on their courses," he says.
"It is not just a case of having a year off, but thinking about it from a strategic perspective."