Our programs are the product of 55+ years of excellence in cultural exchange, educational travel, global language learning, and partnerships to navigate these uncertain times.
Whether it’s a delayed flight, a lost passport, or a worldwide pandemic, EF has the knowledge and resources to handle it all. Our extensive, multicultural network of EF staff are experts in travel. Here are some of the measures we take to provide peace of mind for our travelers and their families.
With the largest worldwide network of in-country experts and support teams trained to assist you in times of need, EF’s global presence is truly unmatched—and we don’t just work in those countries, we call them home! That’s right, EF staff live and work in every one of our destinations, meaning that we have the local knowledge to keep our groups safe and you’ll have friendly faces nearby to offer a helping hand.
EF Gap students are supported by multiple layers of staff throughout their experience abroad. Our Safety & Incident Response team is available 24/7, plus we have a network of industry experts, healthcare professionals, and government personnel who liaise with local embassies, government authorities, and health providers; additionally, your Tour Director, Gap Year Advisor, and EF’s Global Emergency Support Team are trained to support you throughout every step of your journey.
Our committed Gap Year Consultants work with students and their families plan their dream EF Gap experience, whether that’s a Short-Term, Semester, or Year program.
Consultants will help driven, growth-focused students determine whether a gap is the right fit, discuss their dream destinations, and understand their unique gap goals before beginning to plan a life-changing, custom gap program.
Additional responsibilities include collecting information like allergies or diet restrictions, collaborating on funding plans and discussing fundraising, communicating housing choices, and making a plan (if needed) for college deferral.
At the end of the enrollment period, our Consultants will connect with their students’ assigned Gap Year Advisor to ensure a smooth transition from the planning process to the program stage.
Each EF Gap Year student is be paired with a dedicated Program Gap Year Advisor who will serve as a consistent point of contact, providing mentorship and support from the pre-departure process throughout students’ time on program.
Our Gap Year Advisors work with their students to set goals prior to departure, chart their progress while on-program, and measure their learning outcomes at Wrap-Up. Our Advisors are in regular contact with travelers (and their families!), providing one-to-one support to ensure an excellent experience.
From our Field and Tour Directors, to our Local Guides and Student Life Coordinators, this division of EF’s on-the-ground support strives to provide our students with authentic, immersive experiences in iconic international destinations—think of these tireless team members as knowledgable, licensed, and trained group leaders.
These individuals are all part of EF’s global network, and their role is to look after all on-program logistics, schedules, and the general welfare of the group while conducting walking tours and visits to cultural sights, providing a local perspective, and making appropriate suggestions for free time activities that enhance the program’s educational content.
Unlike other gap organizations, we insist on overseeing all aspects of our programs ourselves—and that means having an in-house, specialized team of operational experts working around-the-clock and behind-the-scenes to create our life-changing program itineraries.
Program Operations collaborates with partners around the world to ensure that our students’ EF Gap Year experiences meet our strict standards. Their role encompasses researching and selecting destinations that offer meaningful cultural exchange and beneficial learning opportunities for both participants and their hosts. It also includes developing hands-on learning opportunities for each program module based on our G2PA method that produce concrete outcomes and, at the same time, offer unforgettable experiences that are engaging and fun.
We have dedicated Program Operations staff in our Zurich and Boston offices, with additional support from EF staff on-the-ground in 115 countries.
This team is available to all of our travelers 24/7 and trained to support students in times of crisis.
You can count on these experts, who work with a network of healthcare professionals and government personnel, to oversee proactive operational welfare measures and provide aid to our students on program all over the world—so regardless of the time zone or program, whatever the circumstance, whatever the hour, EF will be there to answer to call.
We collaborate with like-minded partners and organizations that support our commitment to experiential education and safety; in doing so, we are able to facilitate meaningful interactions and provide support to the local communities our students visit. We also partner with a global network of local, expert Tour Directors to best represent the cities, countries, and cultures our students visit.
From booking and planning to pre-departure, time on-program and post, EF Gap Year is here to help! We look forward to partnering with students and their families throughout their EF Gap experience. From the accommodations and unique itineraries we offer to our commitment to ensuring their health and wellness of our students and our expansive, international network of staff, this is EF and that’s the EF difference.
While accommodations may vary by location, module, or program, our focus is always on providing comfortable and safe places to stay. To do so, our Program Operations team completes routine evaluation to ensure our students’ accommodations are up-to-par.
This might mean a hotel during Guided Exploration; a dorm-style accommodation or homestay during Language & Culture; an eco-lodge during Service & Sustainability modules; and a shared apartment for Business & Internships. Travelers will typically share a room with between one to three other students.
All information on what’s included in program fees are represented on individual program pages; learn more about our programs here. For more information, visit our FAQs or talk to your Gap Year Consultant.
Activities on the program or specific excursions may be adjusted based on local conditions and developments. We continuously work with our local partners such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, schools, NGOs, conservation habitats, and internship host companies to prioritize our travelers’ safety.
Examples of program adjustments may include itinerary changes, smaller group sizes, avoiding crowded locations at peak times, alternate excursions or activities, special precautions when working with children at our service locations, and modified internship responsibilities in order to follow local guidance and recommendations.
Review our Booking Conditions here.
Before students begin their journey, we tap into our EF Global Safety Network to consider guidelines released by the U.S. CDC, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of State; meanwhile, our 24/7 Emergency Service team and Safety & Incident Response Team closely monitors each destination across our itineraries to identify potential risks, infection rates, healthcare accessibility, and local regulations. We then review each country to assess any border restrictions, local policies, and standards to ensure that students can make the most of their experience abroad.
Our Gap Advisors stay in close contact with students before their program; if we do need to change an itinerary before departure, students will have a two-week window to decide whether to continue with the altered program or receive a full refund. Similarly, if a program needs to change while a student is already on the road, they can decide to continue or return home with a prorated discount based on the remainder of the program.
In March of 2020, we were able to bring our EF Gap Year students home from all across the globe. We’re proud of the efforts of our tireless team, who worked throughout the night to secure our travelers last-minute flights home.
Today, our students’ health and well-being continue to be our top priority. In addition to following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and both local and federal authorities around the world, we are actively innovating new worldwide standards for cleanliness and safety. In fact, EF has earned the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travels stamp—the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed specifically to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.
We require all travelers follow guidelines around masking and other precautions on tour when required by local law, other relevant authorities, or at the direction of their Tour Director or EF staff.
While specific measures vary across program modules and locations, all accommodations and learning environments will have enhanced safety protocols. When you are touring, your hotels will practice enhanced cleaning measures, such as frequent cleaning of common areas and guest rooms between customers. If you are in a homestay, your hosts will follow mandatory local hygiene guidelines.
EF student residences will follow enhanced hygiene, cleaning, and social distancing protocols. Apartment accommodations will be thoroughly cleaned between guests.
If a traveler is diagnosed with COVID-19 or required to quarantine on account of COVID-19 while on program, EF will provide or arrange for the following, at no additional expense to the traveler, throughout the duration of any on-tour quarantine period:
💙Lodging and meals
💙Coordination with local authorities on the student’s behalf
💙Connection with local health care providers
💙Communication between the traveler and their family back home
💙Flights home, if needed, for the traveler (once cleared to return)
It’s important that our travelers are healthy before they begin their program and take the best possible precautions to stay healthy during their program. Travelers are expected to sign our Safe Traveler agreement 14 days prior to departure and comply with both those guidelines, as well as all local guidelines and regulations, throughout the program. See the current version of the agreement here.
We recommend travelers bring their own personal hand sanitizer and multiple reusable face masks for use throughout their gap program; currently, travelers who have been vaccinated and/or recently recovered from COVID are not exempt from wearing masks.
All EF Gap participants should closely self-monitor their health throughout their program. Should you feel ill on the program, your Tour Director, Gap Advisor, and EF Global Emergency Support team are trained to support you.
Sara S. EF Gap Semester Class of Fall 2019
EF Gap Year gave phenomenal support to anyone in our cohort during our time abroad. Phone calls with concerns were answered promptly and always constructive and kind. The staff at EF really just wants to see you succeed, and they do what they can to make that happen.
Alex L., California EF Gap Semester Spring 2019
If you have the opportunity to take an EF Gap Year, reach out and grab it. You could literally ask anyone for advice, and the support staff is amazing at EF; you always have someone to talk to and there's always help when you need it.