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What Does Your Choice of Gap Year Destination Say About You?

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 15 / 03 / 2016

Gap Year Advice

Where you choose to explore on your gap year says a lot about you...

We all know that the deepest depths of the Amazonian jungle certainly pull a different crowd to that of happy hour in Cambodia, but research from the Journal of Research in Personality has actually concluded that your personality type directly influences where you enjoy to spend your time whilst on your gap year.

Whilst they have discovered that extroverts are drawn to beach locations and introverts prefer mountainous areas, I have gone one step further and taken a sample of countries from across the globe and explored what they say about you as a person.

So where are you headed? What sort of person are you?

Ecuador Is For Goat-Huggers


Famous for its stunning Galapagos Islands (you can visit the Galapagos Islands on the cheap!) , the incredible variety of environments, cultures and of course not-to-be-missed Salsa bars – brush up on your technique with this great article from Addicted to Salsa.

The traveller who wanders the Andes hugging goats, or hangs out on the coast with a beer, will be one who is more interested in a cultural experience than just boozing it up.

Now the explorer of Ecuador loves a drink but they enjoy to hang with the locals and learn their ways. They are less inclined to be around all-British tourists with a big fish bowl but would prefer to spend their days seeking adventure and adrenaline pumping activities, whilst embracing the local lingo.

Does this sound like you? Why not go on an adventure packed trip to Ecuador! 10 Weeks in Ecuador: Andes + Amazon + Galapagos + Adventure Week Spend ten weeks in Ecuador living and contributing in remote communities in the Andes, jungle, Amazon and on the Galapagos...

I'm Interested, Tell Me More!

France (Paris Especially) Is For Lovers


One of the most popular European destinations, per The Telegraph'sarticle is also home to the original “Language of Love” (see my post about Learning a Language on Your Gap Year to get some tips for learning the lingo.

Our traveller can be found wandering “des rues” - a romantic, a lover of art – no, a lover in general. They will have a taste for finer things in life, spending their days wandering around galleries and ogling the architecture (take some tips on Time Out's Paris Architecture Walks for inspiration. They find themselves fascinated by the details of the past and the stories of the world around them.

You will also come across a similar type to that of the Canada traveller. Found further South, they can be spotted whizzing down the mountains (of which there are many to choose from).

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The Netherlands Is For Carefree Souls

Famed for its legalisation of cannabis, the Dutch have more going on for them than drugs and debauchery - there is a huge amount of culture and some beautiful scenery to behold.

Those who travel around are truly carefree souls, they are cultured and love to have a good time. They revel in the libertinism of the city while also taking in its cultural icons. Check out the top culture and events in Amsterdam to see just how much is happening!

Our traveller loves when the two come together in the amazing Heineken Factory. They are so laid back, they are almost lying down but get talking to them and you will open up a cultural fount of knowledge.

Spain Is For Wine Connoisseurs

Tapas, Siestas, Bull fighting and stunning scenery (see the video above) all help to conjure an image of Spain in your mind. All of these our traveller is a big fan of.

They are not as interested in the finer ways of life through art and architecture (though Barcelona has a architectural gems), and whilst they are happy to explore the sights, they also love to partake in beautiful riojas and tempranillos per this basic guide to Spanish wine.

Our traveller loves a nap. They feel more than at home in a country where sleeping in the afternoon is accepted and almost enforced. After they rise from their kip they are ready to go and partake in the wolf whistling on the streets and the rowdy crowds of the bull fighters.

In short, they’re after a good time with plenty of relaxation.

Namibia Is For Limit-Pushers

Off the beaten track and with lots of hidden gems, Namibia is not your most common Gap Year destination but it offers a lot to those who love to explore.

The traveller to be found cruising down fish river canyon is the adventurous – the Christopher Columbus’ of the world. They balk at the idea of the "Gap Yah" stereotype and will do anything to ensure this is not them.

They are not afraid of working hard to get where they want to be and reveal in a great sense of satisfaction once they reach their final destination.

They love to push the limits.

Those limits can be pushed on Ian Craig’s conservation reserve, where you can spend 6 weeks helping to conserve Namibia's landscape.

South Africa Is For Appreciators Of Beauty


The greatest wildlife playground on Earth and home to the all-time favourite safari. South Africa offers the chance to walk with cheetah, dive with sharks and even kiss hippos.

With so much nature around to bask in, our traveller places high value on inner peace and zen. They appreciate the beauty of life and use their time resting in a tree house in the presence of Mother Nature to recharge their batteries.

They are the people who their friends rely on to have a good rant to. Their inner balance is great at soaking up others’ agitation and crafting a logical and mature answer to many of life’s problems.

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I'm Interested, Tell Me More!

Madagascar Is For Inquisitive Adventurers

Malagasy - Trip to Madagascar from Hugo Macedo on Vimeo.


Another adventurous location and home to plenty of wildlife, this beautiful island, made famous through the amazing movie trilogy, many conjure up an array of talking animals all out on an adventure.

The traveller who frequents Madagascar is one who has a subconscious need to stand-out. They feed off knowledge and their curiosity levels are sky-high. They revel in exploring the path less travelled.

There is nothing more enjoyable to them than new revelations that are not common knowledge and discovering little gems few are aware of. With the fact that "ninety percent of the plants and animals found on the island of Madagascar evolved there and nowhere else" per the National Geographic Guide to Madagascar there are endless opportunities to discover.

This traveller loves to forge their own path and will go to any length to ensure they leave nothing but footprints.

Thailand Is For Party Animals

Where to begin with Thailand? One of the most popular backpacker destinations and famed for it’s incredible full-moon parties(see the video below), delicious street food and all round party-vibe.


The traveller seen wearing neon body paint and constantly holding a bucket of booze will be the the type that treats every day as their last. They truly embrace Carpe Diem and spend their life throwing caution to the wind.

Though seen by most of us as a party destination, like our traveller, Thailand has a hidden, calmer side, as shown by The Guardian's Guide to the Lesser-Known Thailand.

In conclusion, our Thailand traveller is headstrong and at times stubborn, but they are always true to themselves and live the life they want to lead.

Cambodia Is For Culture Vultures

Whilst most flock to Angkor Wat, Cambodia boasts a lot more than this one religious monument.

From Pub Street in Siem Reap through to Elephant sanctuaries, there are a huge range of experiences to have in Cambodia.

The traveller you will meet will be a similar type to those found in Thailand – often doing a tour of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Regularly sighted on motorbikes and in highly dangerous situations.

They are young, care-free and most-likely European or Australian. They love a party and a wild one at that, but they also love to delve into the culture of the country and soak up the temples and blessings on offer – there are a lot of them.

India Is For The Open-Minded (Hippies)

And finally we come to India...

India from That Jam on Vimeo.


A very popular destination, India is not one for the light-hearted but the rewards to be gained are, some would say, life-changing.

The traveller found amongst the rivers and hindu temples - here is a fantastic guide to How to Visit a Hindu Temple - is one, that most fits, that Gap Yah type. They’ve come out to India to find themselves. On their way they’ve found their love for yoga, extremely baggy pants and lots of flowers in their hair.

They are the hippie type and certainly are not afraid of a few travel bugs. They’ll occasionally live in their own head and spin fantastical stories to make life that little bit more interesting.

They are truly open-minded, flexible and open to change.

Over To You...

So there we have it, the types of people often found in different locations across the globe. I should probably note these are subject to change and you may find anomalies.

Where have you already been? Where will you travel next? Did we get it just about right or do you have types you’d like to add? We’d love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below.

Whilst I have taken generalisations here it is really important to think about the type of gap year you want and where might best suit you.

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