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Gap Year Ideas

Gap Year Ideas – Go Abroad Volunteering

Are you wondering what the best way to spend your gap year is? There are so many possibilities it can be more than a little confusing. After all, until now, you have probably followed the traditional path through school and college, and this is your first opportunity to make your mark on the world and develop your own inspiration. While a gap year program is an exciting adventure, it can also be a little frightening, but rest assured, chose the best gap year program for you and you will return as a more fulfilled person with a much-improved CV.

The best place to start is by exploring your own ambitions. What is the most exciting idea you can’t get out of your head? Do you have a burning desire to visit a specific part of the world? Do you intend to volunteer? What really inspires you? Let’s explore just some of the fantastic opportunities a gap year can offer.

Planning your gap year

Planning your gap year requires some careful thought. We encourage you to take a gap year quiz which will help with many of the crucial decisions. For instance, some of the questions you need to answer, include:

  • Gap year goals – what do you wish to achieve in your gap year? Is it learning new skills, enjoying new experiences, or just time away to make plans for your future? Setting your personal goals is a crucial part of planning your gap year program.
  • How much time will you devote to your gap year and when would you like to travel? What do you want to spend your time doing? Do you intend to work, volunteer, or pursue your personal interests and hobbies? Are you looking to bolster your CV?
  • What are the opportunities out there? Are you considering an organised gap year program? How much will it cost and how are you going to finance it? You should set yourself a realistic budget and try to stick to it. Don’t forget to take out proper medical insurance and ensure you get the appropriate vaccinations.

Gap years don’t need to last a year

Remember, although we are calling it a gap year, your gap year experience doesn’t necessarily have to take a full year.

Perhaps you only have a few months of free time. Neither must you decide on a single gap year experience. You can mix and match several similar or very different experiences. You can consider back to back gap year programs or take a break, for instance, to earn some money to finance your next gap year experience.

Gap year program ideas

What do you want to do?

While gap years are likely to involve travel, they are not always exclusively about travel. There are many kinds of gap year experiences to explore and many ways to spend your gap year, for instance:

  • Volunteering – Why not spend your gap year helping other people and improving the environment? There are almost countless opportunities to volunteer and indeed contribute.
  • Travel – Explore the planet, experience different cultures, and become more independent. They say travel broadens the mind, and it really does.
  • Paid employment – you might prefer to spend your gap year earning money and developing new skills. There are opportunities to combine your wish to travel with paid work.
  • Internship – if you are aiming at a particular career, then gaining some of the necessary skills through an internship or work experience can help you fulfil your ambitions. Again, you might be able to combine this with travel.

Top gap year destinations


A massive benefit of a gap year is exploring far-away places. There are some fantastic gap year destinations to visit. According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), some of the most popular gap year destinations in 2019 were:

  • Australia – considered to be the original gap year destination, a gap year in Australia will be action-packed with beaches and glorious weather.
  • India and Nepal – with its hugely varying landscape and sheer vastness, a long trek through these countries is a perfect gap year adventure.
  • South Africa – an excellent choice for gap year students seeking to volunteer, explore and see amazing wildlife.
  • Cambodia – fascinating history, scenery, beautiful beaches and towering mountains. Cambodia is a gap year student’s dream destination.
  • South America – a destination with breath-taking natural beauty, all the countries have unique features to discover. There are ample opportunities to volunteer and a wide range of gap year programs to satisfy everyone.
  • Peru – of all the South American countries, Peru is one of the most popular gap year destinations, especially for adventure-seekers. Visit the Amazon, follow the Inca trail, take up volunteering opportunities.

Every one of these destinations is a massive draw for gap year students and you will find a wide range of exciting gap year programs for each one. But these are just some examples; it is impossible to list them all. Take our gap year quiz to home in on the most suitable destinations to spend your gap year.

When should I take a gap year?

Traditionally, people tend to take a gap year after finishing their A levels and before starting university, but it is becoming popular to take a gap year after finishing university. Both have their pros and cons. However, if you are uncertain what to study at university, taking a gap year can help you decide. In fact, 60% of people taking a gap year stated that doing so helped them with their decision. While some people worry that taking a gap year early will compromise their education, 90% of gap year students go on to university after they return, and 66% of university students said taking a gap year made them take their academic work more seriously.

If you are thinking of taking a gap year before university, then that shouldn’t stop you from applying for university. You simply apply for a deferred entry, which means that you are considered for the following year, or you can ask for a deferment after you have received an offer. Around 7% of UCAS applicants defer their entry to university. However, deferments aren’t always granted so its best to enquire first.

Taking the plunge

Volunteer in Tanzania; protect turtles in Guatemala; scuba dive in Madagascar; explore the cloud forest in Costa Rica; experience the amazing culture of Peru; help create a rhino park in Namibia; enjoy the incredible flora and fauna in South Africa; take care of deprived children in Sri Lanka; have a fantastic adventure in Australia; trek thousands of miles in India and Nepal; these are just some of the amazing experiences to enjoy on your gap year.

Are you ready to take the plunge? We hope these ideas will have at least whetted your appetite for a life-enhancing gap year experience.

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