Gap Year Ideas
If you still think a gap year is the right option for you, it is important that your year out is well-structured in order to make the most out of it in terms of enjoyment , personal development and learning.
If you're stuck for ideas or not sure what you want to do during your time out, our suggestions will help inspire you!
1. Travel the world
Lots of gap year students opt to take in several continents by buying a round-the-world ticket, allowing them to visit countries at all corners of the globe.
Some of the most popular destinations include:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
There are now many Gap year organisations that exist to help students plan their travelling itinerary, so this option has never been easier!
With their knowledge and experience, you can come up with a tailored route that covers everything you’d like to see and do.
2. Gain work experience
Your 12 months are valuable, so it’s worth planning it carefully to gain skills and experience that will appeal to employers later on.
You can either stay in the UK to work, or take up one of the many placements available abroad, available as contract work, seasonal jobs, temp work and year out vacancies.
Employment sectors include childcare, hospitality, teaching, nursing and conservation.
You can search for gap year vacancies at:
3. Retake exams
If you don’t achieve the A level results you are expecting, it’s not the end of the world.
If you choose not to go through Clearing and find another course at a different university, then a Gap year is a good way of buying time to consider your next move.
Find out more about A Level retakes.
4. Learn new skills
Things you can choose to learn about during your gap year include:
If you decide to go overseas to do this, you will also get to experience life in another country, as well as acquiring a new skill.
See our Learning Abroad section for further information.
This is a popular option for many Gap year students, who feel they want to give something back by helping communities in developing countries to build homes, care for orphaned children or protect endangered species.
Although most programmes are unpaid, they will provide you with the chance to gain experience in your chosen field.
For example, you could choose to volunteer with animals, work with children, or get involved with any number of conservation, community, education, medical or sports projects. Find out more about these rewarding experiences at:
- International Volunteer HQ
- Gap Force
- RSVP Caribbean Volunteers
- Youth International
- Pacific Discovery
- Conservation Travel Africa
- Global Vision International
- STA Travel
- GVI UK
- Projects Abroad
Another option is to gain new skills through an Erasmus+ Volunteering project, which can last from two weeks to 12 months. You could be involved in sports and outdoor activities, education, arts and music or cultural associations.
6. Teach English
As there's such a high global demand for English teachers, teaching English abroad has become a popular gap year option.
This option means you'll be able to earn money as you travel, with programmes potentially taking you as far afield as Thailand, China, Korea or Vietnam.
Although you don't always need to have prior teaching experience, many employers do expect you to hold a Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) qualification (short courses are available for this).
Working in schools and learning institutions, you'll gain organisation and communication skills in addition to teaching experience and independence.
You can look for TEFL courses and opportunities at:
7. Do a ski season
Options here include doing a ski season in Austria, Switzerland, France or Canada. Banff and Whistler are the two most popular ski resorts in Western Canada and they’re teeming with ski season opportunities.
You can get a job in a ski chalet as a cook or cleaner, work in one of the many bars or learn to be a ski or snowboard instructor.
Imagine hitting the slopes every morning with fresh snow under your feet, hanging out with locals and tourists at a bar après ski, and exploring the surrounding towns and countryside.
You can do all of this and more with a ski season in Canada (or anywhere else that tickles your fancy!).
8. Explore somewhere remote
For those looking to get away from it all and seek some solitude, you might consider an expedition to Antarctica, the Cook Islands, Tibet or Easter Island (to name but a few).
These remote areas of the earth are well worth the effort to get there, and you'll have a great experience along the way.
As well as the peace and quiet, you'll also be able to see wildlife, people and scenery that very few others will ever encounter.
9. Hit the railways
InterRailing through Europe is one of the oldest gap year ideas around. It goes way back to the 60s and it’s still as popular today as it was back then, if not more so.
InterRailing is particular popular with UK university students looking to travel in their summer holidays and Australian’s coming over to see what Europe has to offer, which is a lot.
You can get a global pass, a ticket that allows you to visit 30 countries across Europe.
For example, you could start your travels from Scandinavia, go down through Western Europe, and on into Italy.
Or, you could fly out to Eastern Europe and gradually travel all the way back to the UK.
There are lots of gap year ideas within InterRailing, so do your research thoroughly, and you will be guaranteed an amazing gap year travel adventure.
Alternatively, you could fly to Moscow, Russia and catch the Trans-Siberian all the way to Mongolia.
The great thing about the Trans-Siberian is the train’s not just from Moscow to Vladivostok. Being the longest train connection in the world, it also allows you to take in China, Manchuria, and Mongolia.
10. Take an internship
In addition to developing skills relevant to your chosen career, an internship also has the capability of making your CV stand out from other jobseekers.
You could consider undertaking a gap year internship in a range of areas including business, HR, journalism, accounting and marketing. These normally take between 2 weeks and 1 year, depending on the company you apply with.
An internship will allow you to gain industry experience, make new connections and improve your chances of employment by building your professional network, as well as building valuable skills such as organisation, leadership, IT, communication and problem solving.
You can find current international internships at:
- Go Abroad
- BUNAC - Intern abroad
- Global Placement
- Gapyear.com - Internships
- Pave - Internships
- Real Gap Experience
- Student Ladder
Also, international student organisation The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) has launched a website where students are put in touch with internship providers based across the globe.
Discover their latest opportunities at ErasmusIntern.org.
For more gap year advice, please see: