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Gap Year Ideas

Top 10 Gap Year Ideas

So, you've decided you want to take a gap year but you're unsure what you want to do. That's cool. Everyone's like that at first. That's why we've put together some gap year ideas to inspire you. You can help build an orphanage in Cambodia, trek mountains in Mongolia, work abroad in New Zealand or take a round the world trip for a year or two. And they're just some gap year ideas! We've got a lot more...

There are hundreds of gap year ideas out there and there's something for everyone. Literally. Not only are gap years fantastic fun but they'll also boost your CV and impress potential employers.

By taking a gap year not only will you be doing something worthwhile but you'll be gaining your independence. Well, that's the idea. There's a world of opportunity out there just waiting to be explored, so make sure you don't miss out! Remember, the only thing that's limiting you is your imagination...

However, if you're stuck for ideas then check out our top 10 gap year ideas (in no particular order of course) to inspire you to travel:

1. Do a ski season in Canada

Doing a ski season is a really popular gap year idea, but instead of going over to Austria, France or Switzerland, why not head further afield to Canada? Banff and Whistler are the two most popular ski resorts in Western Canada and they're teeming with ski season opportunities.

You can get a job in a ski chalet as a cook or cleaner, work in one of the many bars or learn to be a ski or snowboard instructor (which automatically makes you cool).

Imagine shredding the slopes every morning with fresh power under-foot, chilling out with a few Canadian's at a bar après ski, and explore the local towns and countryside. You can do all of this and more with a ski season in Canada.

Do a ski season in Canada

2. Volunteer and trek in Borneo

Our gap year idea for volunteering and trekking is Borneo. It's one of the most popular places to volunteer for one reason and one reason only; the wildlife.

If wildlife's your thing then you'll be very, very happy with this gap year idea; you'll be able to work with proboscis monkeys, oranguatans, hornbills (they're birds) and other weird and wonderful creatures.

There are a number of volunteering projects in Borneo, mainly in Sabah and Sarawak. By far the most popular project is volunteering in an orangutan rehabilitation centre, caring these cute critters back to health and releasing them into the wild.

You'll also be able to explore some of what Borneo has to offer. Maybe you'll take the trip to Brunei, one of the richest countries in the world, or maybe you'll get your PADI diving qualifications at Sipidan, voted one of the best dive spots in the world and considered diving heaven.

Volunteer and trek in Borneo

3. InterRail though Europe

InterRailing through Europe is one of the oldest gap year ideas around. It goes way back to the 60s and it's still as popular today as it was back then, if not more so.

InterRailing is particular popular with UK university students looking to travel in their summer holidays and Australian's coming over to see what Europe has to offer, which is a lot.

You can get a global pass, a ticket that allows you to visit 30 countries, meaning the world's your oyster! Or at least Europe anyway...

You can see travel from Scandinavia, down through Western Europe, and down to Italy. Or you could fly out to Eastern Europe and travel all the way back to the west. There are plenty of gap year ideas within InterRailing, so make sure you do your research! Whatever you do, InterRailing is an amazing gap year experience.

InterRailing through Europe

4. Take an overland tour in Africa

Many countries in Africa are hard to travel to and hard to travel around, so what not take an overland tour? That way you'll still be able to see everything you want without the hassle of organising it yourself. Now that's a gap year idea!

Safe, sociable and cost-effective, overland tours are a great gap year idea as they allow you to see places with people who'll become your second family. Also, almost everything's provided, such as tents, bedding, a kitchen and storage, so you can pack very little and keep your budget to an absolute minimum.

Overland tours are the best way to reach locations that would otherwise be very difficult to get to, and two popular places for an overland tour are Kenya and Tanzania; they take you where backpackers and tourists rarely go...

Take an overland tour in Africa

5. Backpack through South East Asia

The circuit of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia is one of the hottest gap year ideas out there at the moment. More and more people are backpacking in South East Asia than ever before, and there's a reason why this gap year idea is so popular!

Start off exploring Northern Thailand - go on a trek through the jungle and attempt a cooking course in Chang Mai. From Chang Mai you can take a river boat along the Mekong Delta to Luang Prabang in Northern Laos. No trip to Laos would be complete without stopping off in Vang Vieng for a spot of tubing. From Laos you can travel to Vietnam and have a backpacking adventure travelling from the north to the south. After that, Cambodia calls, and you can discover this little gem of South East Asia at a relaxing pace - make sure you factor in a week to chillax on a beach in Sihanoukville.

Backpack throughout South East Asia

6. Work in Australia

Working in Australia is another gap year idea that's been around for a while. Us Brits have always been attracted to Australia - it must have something to do with the sun, sea and sand. Anyway, if you're looking to work abroad then look no further than Australia.

Australia is a fantastic place to work at the moment as their economy is booming. Not only that, but businesses are on the lookout for backpackers and travellers to fill key roles, such as IT and finance. Even if you're struggling to find work in the business sector, you'll still be able to pick up work in a hostel, behind a bar or even fruit picking. It's not as bad as it sounds - you'll be working with other backpackers and you'll earn a minimum wage of £10 an hour - bonza!

Work in Australia

7. Volunteer in South America

Volunteering is a great gap year idea. Not only do you get to travel, but you also get to contribute to a society and a community. Few things on your gap year are as worthwhile as volunteering. Also, as mentioned above, volunteering experience is becoming more and more valuable in the work place and it can really make your CV stand out.

With so many volunteering companies to choose from, it's best to do a little research. However, there are a number of volunteering projects you can choose from in South America; you can volunteer in an animal sanctuary in Peru, help build an orphanage in Colombia or work in a school teaching children in Argentina. They're a few more gap year ideas for you...

Volunteer in South America

8. Go on an expedition to Antarctica

Antarctica. There's something so magical about it. Maybe it's the remoteness. Maybe it's the fact no one's been there. Either way, its one gap year idea that really stands out from the rest.

Antarctica is the coldest and driest place on earth. Scarcely touched by humans, Antarctica boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery. Also, you'll see some superb wildlife, such as seals and penguins.

Getting to Antarctica isn't easy. You set off from Argentina aboard a big boat, head down through Drake's Passage until you reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Once you're there, you can just bask in the beauty of solitude.

However, it must be said here, this gap year idea isn't exactly cheap - you're looking at around £4,000. Hmmm...

Go on an expedition to Antarctica

9. Go on safari in Southern Africa

Going on a safari is on most peoples bucket list. That's why we've included it as one of our top 10 gap year ideas. You may be thinking safaris are more for holidays, not gap years, but actually more and more backpackers and travellers are going on safari each year.

Obviously, the biggest attraction is the wildlife - your aim is to see the big five; buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions and rhinos. Imagine driving around, with the sun beating down and the wind in your hair, looking for these magnificent beasts.

However, while you're there you can travel to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, travel around Swaziland and Lesotho is South Africa and explore Namibia and Botswana. A gap year is about mixing it up...

Go on safari in Southern Africa

10. Take the Trans-Siberian railway

How about this for a gap year idea - fly into Moscow (in Russia) and catch the Trans-Siberian all the way down into Mongolia. If you're feeling really adventurous, you could catch the train all the way from London or Paris to Moscow, and then continue on the Trans-Siberian!

The great thing about the Trans-Siberian is the train's not just from Moscow to Vladivostok. You can travel through China, Manchuria, and Mongolia. After all, it's the longest railway connection in the world!

A good gap year idea is to take the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Beijing (in China) and then travel down to South East Asia to carry on your gap year! That's two of our gap year ideas in one gap year! Amazing!

Take the Trans-Siberian railway

So there you have it, top 10 gap year ideas to inspire you to do something different on your gap year. Now, all you need to do is find that ticket...


About the Author: Macca Sherifi

Marcus Sherifi

Macca is gapyear.com's travel editor and writes on a myriad of topics, giving the best travel advice in an easy-to-read style that he would describe as 'cutesy'. His two passions are travelling and writing, which is lucky, because he's a travel writer. Macca travelled for 20 months non-stop, never settling in one place for more than a week or two, living to travel and travelling to live. In his spare time, he reads about travelling, thinks about travelling, and then travels. If that fails he still harbours hopes of being a professional rugby player...


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