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Written by The Leap on 03 / 08 / 2018

Gap Year Advice

Planning a gap year is as exciting as it is overwhelming, and if you are wondering what to do on your gap year, the possibilities are endless. From once-in-a-lifetime experiences to CV building internships, all allowing you to gain some skills whilst having a lot of fun.

It’s all too easy to share travelling stories and then get travelling FOMO. That’s why I’ve narrowed it down to the top '20 things to do on your gap year' to up your game and kick your gap year into touch. Enjoy!

1. Learn to scuba dive

71% of the earth’s surface is underwater and there’s only one way to explore it… float among diverse reefs, visit long-forgotten ship wrecks and get face-to-face with giant sea turtles. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of breathing underwater. Join our South Africa or Madagascar programs to learn to scuba dive and get involved in marine conservation work.

2. Hike Machu Picchu

As one of the New 7 Wonders of The World, this 15th century Inca citadel is one of the highlights of South America and not to be missed. Join our Peru volunteer program and we’ll take you on a 4-day trek in the footsteps of the Incas, arriving at the breath-taking Machu Picchu for sunrise.

3. Hang out with elephants in Cambodia

What better way to spend your gap year than helping to care for these gentle giants in one of the few legitimate elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia. You can combine this with some teaching and community development in a country that is truly in need of your support.

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4. Become a Yoga Bunny in Costa Rica

Everyone's dragging around their yoga mat's and lululemon yoga pants, but have they found their zen in Costa Rica? Have a large slice of tranquility, having a yoga class on a white sandy beach whilst catching a tan and strengthening yourself mentally and physically.

5. Help create a National Park in Namibia

We've all got that friend who is dying to see the 'big five' and wants to plan a trip to stay outside a safari park and venture in the park at the early hours of the morning. That sounds great to us, but we are more interested in making a difference ourselves. How does staying in the Namibian desert helping build a national park which will ultimately home the sadly endangered Rhino. Not only are we getting a taste for the real outback, staying in a camp and sleeping under the star's, you'll help be a part of a seven year program which you can come back and visit later on!

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6. Swim in each ocean

The surface of the planet is approximately 71% water and contains (5) five oceans, including the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern. Why not try to complete this goal are you now have the time to travel. Each ocean varies so much in terms of: wildlife, temperature and clarity so make your own mind about which one is your favorite!

7. Unpopular opinion - ditch the Phone!

To often, we aren't experiencing or taking in to the full extent the beauty of our surroundings. Make a conscious effort to throw it out (within reason) not everyone has to know about your vegan smoothie in Bali. You'll never know what you might pick up instead of your phone.... the opportunities are endless!

8. Learn a new language - How about Spanish in Costa Rica?

Why not come out of your gap year with a few new skills… learning a new language should be top of this list. If you join our Costa Rica program you’ll have Spanish lessons each morning to help you get by on a day-to-day level and engage in the community.

9. Learn to surf in Costa Rica

There's no better place to learn how to surf than Costa Rica, complete with warm crystal water. Check out our Costa Rica Program here

10. Hike a Volcano

A bit of exercise, combined with the beauty of the view, this is one not to be missed. How about hiking one in Guatemala? Look at a program which includes this and more! Here, in the Guatemala trip.

11. Watch the sunset from a remote island in Madagascar

You should strive to watch sunrise and sunset from as many different places as you can on your gap year. A remote Madagascan island should certainly be one of them. Our Island Outreach Tour will take you to some of the most remote and untouched islands and beaches in the country where sunsets get more beautiful every day.

12. Hike to Everest Base Camp

Step out of your comfort zone and get yourself within touching distance of the highest place on the planet. This 10-day trek will take you into the heart of the Himalayas, to Buddhist monasteries and through remote villages and lush valleys. Our 8-week Nepal and India program will get this all organized for you plus a team to do it with.

13. Camp under the stars

This really is as good if not better as it sounds. Be at one with the desert, with only star light to guide you back to your tent. Interested? check it OUT here

14. Party like never before at the Rio Carnival

You haven’t been to a carnival until you’ve been here. Think 2 million people on the streets of Rio, huge floats, bright colours, elaborate outfits, music and some of the best dancers in the world.

15. Snorkel with sharks in the Galapagos

The Galapagos islands are a place of almost unrivalled biodiversity. One huge draw is the hammerhead sharks that descend upon the islands each year, with schools of up to 300 individuals. Snorkelling with these beauties is something you will never forget. Why not do this one weekend whilst taking part in our Ecuador volunteer program?

16. Trek the great wall of China

Another of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’, the Great Wall of China is awe-inspiring, something not to miss on your travels. Whether your trek it for a few hours, days or even weeks it’s definitely one for the gap year bucket list.

17. Take a photo a day to make the ultimate gap year collage

There’s no point doing all this amazing stuff on your gap year and not recording it in some way. Not only will taking a photo a day be a great memory of everything you’ve done, it will also inspire you to get out and do something photo-worthy every day. A lot of our leapers have made a 1 second a day snapshots - why not have a look at our Instagram to see what we've been up to!

18. Visit all 7 continents

Never again will you have so much free time all in one go. Make the most of this and step foot on all seven continents of the world. Yes that includes Antarctica… Get in touch with Trailfinders for that perfect round the world plane ticket.

19. Live with a local family in Sri Lanka

You won’t get a true understanding for a country and the people that call it home by staying in hostels and hotels. To do this you need to live with a local host family. They’ll put you up, feed you and treat you as one of their own. You can do this whilst taking part in one of our internship opportunities in Sri Lanka.

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20. Go great white shark cage diving in South Africa

Last but definitely not least, it’s another for those adrenaline junkies among you. The best place to go get face-to-face with these giants of the ocean is Gansbaai, just 2 hours from stunning Cape Town. An easy stop off on your African adventures.

Where will you go first?

These top 20 things to do on a gap year should give you plenty of inspiration to start your gap year planning. Don’t forget to make it memorable, step out of your comfort zone and make sure you do what you want to do.

If you need some help with your planning just get in touch, we're here to help you find awesome and unique things to do in your gap year.

It's time to get started

Now you've got some ideas of where to go and what to do, get exploring and organising that dream trip - it won't organise its self...

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