It’ll be one of the best experiences of your life, without doubt, but the question is: do you do it all on your own or do you take a friend along with you for the ride?
Go it alone!
For: Aside from the reassuring fact that most volunteers opt for solo adventuring, the wonderful thing about being on your own has to be the independence. This means you can do pretty much what you want to do, and you don’t have to make compromises. Because of this, there’s also a phenomenal potential for self discovery, where you can learn all about your skills and limits as well as getting a clearer picture about your life path. It’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll make friends along the way anyway – if you’re in a volunteering placement then it’s inevitable!
Against: There are some negatives though. Safety is a key aspect; if you’re volunteering with an organisation then this needn’t be a worry, but if you’re travelling on your own then you must stay as safe as possible at all times and keep in regular contact with someone in case of an emergency. Being on your own also makes it difficult in times of emotional need; for example, if you’re pining for home and your loved ones, it’s hard to say this to someone that you barely know. There’s a lot of support out there, of course. But it might be nicer to have a friendly face in this case.
Go with a friend!
For: Friends make everything better. Having an adventure together will allow you to become better friends as well as allowing you to have a constant source of entertainment and conversation. It would be hard to get lonely if you had a friend around and if you are feeling homesick then you’ve got someone’s shoulder to cry on. Financially it may well be a wise idea to have a friend with you as it shares the burden of money managing and overall makes the trip cheaper for you, as well as having an extra pair of hands to do any chores!
Against: The downsides to this, however, are obvious: human beings fall out. Even if you considered each other best friends, it’s still perfectly natural to fall out once in a while and annoy each other. People work through issues like this every day, but it may well start to interfere with your overall experience at some point. Fundamentally, though, a gap year is all about learning new things and with someone from home with you, it might feel as though they’re dragging you down and you can’t experience as much freedom as you could otherwise.
At the end of the day, there are many reasons for both and there’s no obvious answer. It’s entirely up to you who goes (or doesn’t go) with you, but ultimately you have to question what you want out of your gap year and how you’re going to achieve that.