So you’ve aced your exams (hopefully), but you’re not quite ready to get back into study mode just yet. So forget packing your bags for uni come September, and head off instead on the ultimate gap year adventure. Whether you’re lucky enough to have money to spare, or you’re on a super-tight budget, I've gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure these are the five best ideas for memorable gap adventures, whatever your circumstances.
1. Help Crew a Tall Ship
Ahoy there, sailor! If taking to the seven seas sounds like the best idea ever, make the first port of call (yep, pun totally intended) the Tall Ships Youth Trust. If you’re fit, able and 16-25 years old you can become a crew member on any of their fine vessels.
Admittedly, trips can be on the pricey side - but there is sometimes a bursary available if you really need it. Join a voyage in the summer and you could sail off all round Europe, while winter journeys go as far away as the Caribbean, Azores and Canary Islands. It’s a great way to learn new skills, boost your confidence, and feel a real sense of achievement. Plus, you can even try for your RYA Start Yachting Certificate.
2. Teach English Abroad
Ok, so you’ll need a TEFL certificate first, but once you’ve got this the world is your oyster. Jet off to Ecuador and pass on your English skills to budding students, or head over to buzzing Tanzania and teach English to eager pupils there.
There are plenty of teaching abroad agencies that offer help, courses and information on how to start your teaching abroad adventure. The Leap is one of them of course, but not-for-profit agency CIEE is great if you fancy other destinations that we don't offer.
If you want to teach in Japan, the JET Programme also comes highly recommended.
3. Be a Chad
This doesn't mean changing your name to a – let’s be honest – rather cheesy 1990s American moniker. Instead, we’re talking about becoming a charity adventurer – or Chad for short. Chads get to plan their own adventure and seek sponsorship from companies and individuals. By being a Chad you get to choose how wild and crazy (or tame and easy) your gap adventure is.
The more crazy, though, the more PR potential (not just for you but your chosen charity too). It’s a great way of raising awareness for a charity and getting out and seeing the world to boot.
For example, in April 2013 South African adventurer Matt Silver Vallance became the first person to float from Robben Island to Cape Town using only helium balloons. He made the 6 kilometre cluster balloon flight in an attempt to raise $1million for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund to help build a children's hospital in Johannesburg. Here's the video:
4. Do a Phileas Fogg
Huh? No, I'm not talking about the crisps. I'm talking about the Jules Verne character who went on an around the world adventure in 80 days. Forget circumnavigating the globe in old Victorian vehicles though, and accept only the best planes to get you to your stop off points.
So an ‘around the world’ adventure may be the most obvious of gap adventures, but there’s no denying the excitement on offer. Check out STA travel for great deals specifically aimed at students. How else could you take in all your favourite destinations in one trip?! Oh, and by the way – you don’t have to do it all in 80 days.
5. Volunteer Overseas
If your idea of a great gap adventure is one that not only benefits you, but that also benefits others, then volunteering abroad is the answer.
If you’d rather stay closer to home why not become a Wwoofer in the UK? You’ll learn about organic farming and sustainable living in a totally hands-on environment.
There are loads of volunteer gap adventures out there to be experienced. If you've got any awesome ideas about how to spend a gap year that I haven't covered, let us know in the comments below.
on 29 / 10 / 2013