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Gap Year Travel Ideas

If you are thinking about taking a gap year, it can be a hard decision on what exactly you’d like to do – especially as there is so many options to choose between!

The most important things when considering what to do is whether it suits your objectives, interests, and how it will develop your skills and character, after all, not every destination can cover everyone’s needs!

It’s worth checking out the Foreign Office specific travel advice for the country you want to travel to, so you can be aware of any issues, as well as checking for any specific entry requirements or visas that you might need to enter.

Timing is also essential, as you would want to be back in time for the start of the new university term, but you may also need to consider whether any hurricane or rainy seasons would affect your plans.

So, where should you go? We’ve put this list of our top ideas to help you decide.

1. Fiji

In the heart of the South Pacific, Fiji is the ultimate tropical paradise; sandy beaches, azure seas (and skies!) and palm trees, but that’s not all it has to offer. A gap year in Fiji is a great opportunity to volunteer and make a real contribution.

It’s a remote location, with a diverse culture, so you need to learn skills to manage this, but at the same time, by sharing your life experience with the communities you can work with, you can make a lasting, and sustainable, difference.

Similarly, as it’s home to some of the worlds most magnificent coral reefs, you can also volunteer to help with programmes in Marine Conservation, which can be a helpful CV addition of you are taking your degree programme in a similar area (such as ecology, marine biology etc), or are about to embark on a career in a similar field.

2. New Zealand

New Zealand is the perfect place for gap year travellers who want an outdoor and active travel experience; it’s home to diverse landscapes, from active volcanoes, to glaciers, so whether you want to tick off things from your bucket list ( like sky diving) or just want to hit the open road, and see something new every day, there’s lots of options.

It’s also a great destination for a working holiday; with visas available up to 23 months for 18 – 30-year olds who live in the UK, it’s a great option for an extended gap year.

A gap year agency can also help with arranging work and visas, to take the stress out of making plans, if you think you might need some help.

3. Peru

If you’re looking to travel somewhere a little different, then Peru could be for you. Deserts, beaches, jungles, ancient civilisations; it has it all, and with so many different experiences, you can pack plenty into a 6-month trip, if you are looking for a shorter period travelling.

It’s different enough to offer something quite different from the traditional gap year destinations, but has remained relatively safe, when compared to the reputations if some of its neighbours, such as Columbia.

4. USA

As part of one of the largest land masses on the globe, the diversity in places to visit, and things to do, really does mean the world is your oyster if you travel to the US.

If you’re looking for an active travel experience, then the US has lots offer. Similarly, if you are looking to work or volunteer, then there is lots of options, too.  And with a host of cities to visit, if bugs and walking boots aren’t really your thing, then you’re also catered for.

With so many different ideas and places to consider when planning a trip to the US, it’s worth considering a planned programme if you are really are stuck on what to do, but with the familiarity of a similar culture and language, when compared to the UK, it’s easy enough to make your own plans.

A 90 day visa is widely available, however, if you are looking to stay longer than that, things can get a little more complicated.

Working holidays are also an option, with ski instruction, summer camps and au pairs common ideas, but the US is also great for more “alternative” options such as a placement on an internship in a US company, or even things like a ranch hand or golf course attendant if you were looking for something really different!

5. InterRail Europe

If you are looking for a cheaper option, that has all the familiarities of being closer to home, then Inter-railing across Europe could be for you.

It’s also an option if you want to take a shorter trip as you travel anything from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on how much you want to spend, and where you would like to see.

With so much to see, it’s probably worth focussing your travels on specific area (with single country passes being particularly budget friendly, being as little as £56), and making several shorter trips, to make sure you get the most out of your travels.

It’s also one of the most budget friendly gap year options, especially the further east across Europe you decide to travel.

6. Trans-Siberian Railway

As the worlds longest railway, a gap year travel experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway can be an exhilarating and thrilling change from traditional gap year options. It’s also considered as one of the safer options, if this is something that is important to you.

Generally, you begin the journey in Moscow, with the final destination being Beijing or Vladivstock, depending on what route you decide on and with the whole route being able to be covered in as a few weeks, and with two different routes to discover, there’s something for everyone, and every budget, with both luxury and more basic options for travel available.

One thing to note if this idea appeals to you, is that Visa’s are an important area to factor into your planning, as they can be a little tricky to organise!

7. Japan

Japan is a country of contrasts, modern vs ancient, city vs country, there is so much to see on a gap year to this interesting country. Basically, no two days are ever the same!

Whilst it’s certainly very different to a lot of western cultures, by going with an open mind and a respect for the culture and traditions of the country, it’s a great way to expand your horizons.

Home to some of the worlds most impressive mountains, which are set next to vibrant and buzzing cities, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, if you are looking for a great place to travel and soak up the sights, Japan could be for you…however, it’s also a great option for a working holiday.

Teaching English is one of the most popular jobs to take on, with lots of vacancies available, however, there are also options for more outdoor roles, such as ski instructors.

8. Canada

Last, but not least, on our list is Canada.

Whether you love sprawling, beautiful wildernesses to wander in, or enjoy a cosmopolitan city with plenty of cultural delights to savour, Canada has them all.

It has a cool, laid back vibe, and is a great working holiday destination, with opportunities available in traditional gap year roles, such as resort workers or ski instructors, all the way through to temporary office work in some of Canadas biggest cities – there is an option for everyone, and snow definitely doesn’t have to feature if you don’t want it to.

The country has a favourable visa programme for gap year travellers from the UK who want to work whilst there, so you’ll often see plenty of brit and aussie travellers working in similar roles.

Further information