'Gap months' becoming a popular alternative to a full gap year
Going away for an overland adventure for a few weeks or months could be a more attractive option to many of those taking time off before heading to university rather than going away for a full year.
According to Phil Murray, director of gap year advice site GapAdvice.org, the economic downturn, increasing competition in the jobs market and rising university fees is changing the nature of gap years.
It is becoming increasingly common for those taking a year out before going to university to spend more of that time working in order to save money for education costs.
However, they can still get the excitement and sense of adventure that comes with travelling by taking a shorter trip, perhaps travelling around South America or heading on Central America tours for a few weeks or months, before continuing their studies.
"Nowadays in particular, [students] have got a 15 month gap [if they are attending university a year later]," said Mr Murray.
"What they're doing in those 15 months is actually working for a year to get a pot of money to take to university, then they will have a much shorter break.
"Years ago they used to go abroad for a year, now the trend is [to take] much shorter [gaps] - possibly because they are raising money."
Splitting a gap year between working and travelling could also help young people improve their employability.
Employers will often like the fact that a candidate has a good level of experience of working life, while travelling adds an extra dimension to CVs and suggests the applicant is independent and responsible.
"You have got to think backwards and say 'when I go for a job, how is an employer going to look at these 15 months?' So they are thinking much more about what they can add to their CV to make them more employable," Mr Murray commented.
"They are more financially focused and focused on shorter overseas trips - that is almost certain."