Which celebrities have donned their backpack to go travelling?

It's been said many times here at gapyear.com, and by god we'll gladly say it again, taking a gap year is an unforgettable experience that will ultimately change your life forever. However, recently there has been some backlash on gappers with some so-called experts having gone as far to suggest that gap year students are "more likely to have skipped school, smoked cannabis and earned less by the age of 30."

Just to prove how utterly ridiculous such a statement is, listed below are just a few former gappers who have gone on to achieve great fame and success in their lives. We hope that these fine celebrities will give you the extra courage and motivation you need to go on your own adventure of a lifetime. Who knows, the experience may change you so much that you go on to become a celeb yourself! These people have done it; so can you...


Prince William

He may be a member of the Royal Family but the man who's second in line to the throne is no exception to the lure of a gap year - and what an impressive gap year indeed! After completing his studies at the prestigious Eton College, The Duke of Cambridge's gap year included: training with the Welsh Guards in Belize, working in English dairy farms, visiting several charities in Africa and taking part in a ten week volunteering programme in southern Chile where he helped to construct a school and taught English as a foreign language. Prince William learnt a lot on his gap year... unfortunately he didn't learn how to make porridge though.

The Beatles

Before changing the face of music forever, the Beatles were a band of five young lads from Liverpool covering songs of other artists and trying to make it in the industry. Although technically more of a musical 'apprenticeship' rather than an official 'gap year', the Beatles had left the UK to pursue their interest in music in Hamburg, Germany, shortly after completing high school. The early days in Hamburg proved to be vital as it was here that the Beatles refined their musical skills and adopted that iconic mop-top hairstyle. John Lennon once famously said of his Hamburg days with the eternal line:

"I was born in Liverpool but grew up in Hamburg."

J.K Rowling

The author responsible for making us all wish we'd attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry spent her gap year teaching English in Portugal. In 1991 J.K Rowling was experiencing a difficult time with her mother passing away. Hoping to escape the pain, she relocated to Porto, Portugal, after reading an advert in the Guardian newspaper, bringing along with her an uncompleted manuscript about a boy wizard named Harry Potter. While in Porto, J.K Rowling would teach English at night while spending her days slaving away on her novel. She said:

"Nine months after my mother's death, desperate to get away for a while, I left for Portugal. I took with me the still-growing manuscript of Harry Potter, hopeful that my new working hours (I taught in the afternoon and evening) would lend themselves to pressing on with my novel. The manuscript had changed a lot since my mother had died. Now, Harry's feelings about his dead parents had become much deeper; much stronger; much more real, somehow.

"In those first weeks in Portugal I wrote what has become my favourite chapter in the Philosopher's Stone, 'The Mirror of Erised', and had hoped that, when I returned from Portugal I would have a finished book under my arm. In fact, I had something even better: my daughter, Jessica."

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman, known by many die-hard X-Men nerds such as myself as Wolverine, spent his gap year working in Rutland, England, as a teaching assistant at the prestigious Uppingham School. Hugh Jackman's former colleague at Uppingham School, Richard Boston, remembers the Hollywood star as "a great guy" and "as a fresh-faced, young gap year student." While filming Les Miserables last year, Jackman made time out of busy schedule to revisit his old workplace. What a guy.

Hugh Jackman @ Uppingham School

Mike Myers

The Canadian funny man who introduced the world to the likes of Wayne's World and Austin Powers spent his gap year in the land of his ancestors; the United Kingdom. After having just completed high school and immediately accepted into the Second City, the prestigious comedy home to many great comedy actors, Myers fled to the UK in 1985. His gap year saw him tour the country, become a founding member of London's the Comedy Store Players, as well as staring in a British children's TV programme.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Before becoming BBC's Sherlock and the hauntingly cool antagonist in the upcoming Star Trek Into the Darkness, Benedict Cumberbatch (aka the man with the greatest male porn-star name ever), took a gap year to teach English at a Tibetan monastery. Of his time, he said to the BBC:

"I had a real yearning to make use of the opportunities I had at school. When I heard about the gap year of teaching English at a Tibetan monastery, I knew I had to do something about it really quickly otherwise it was going to get allocated.

"I worked for six months to drum up the finance as it was voluntary - there was no income. I worked in Penhaligon's, the perfumery, for almost five months and I did waiting jobs.

"The monastery was a fantastic experience; you lived your life by very limited means, although you were given board and lodgings. While I was there some of us went to Nepal for two weeks and did white water rafting and we camped out under the stars."

Benedict Cumberbatch after his gap year

Nigella Lawson

The sultry queen of home cooking once spent her gap year in Florence, Italy, where she worked as a chambermaid with a friend. In an interview with the Radio Times, Nigella had this to say about her Italian gap year:

"You forget how brave you are when you are young. My school friend and I went everywhere asking for work, and we ended up [as chambermaids] in this little place on a road that leads from the Duomo to the Piazza della Signoria. We shared the job and a room that was so small you had to climb over the bed to get to the loo."

Nigella's time in Florence proved to be influential in shaping her passion for Italian home cooking; so much so that she even wrote a cookbook and shot a cooking series inspired by her time in Florence.


Further Information

One person who has become famous from his gap year is Matt Lacey, aka Orlando Chamon. Read all about his Gap Yah parody to see what he really thinks of gap years.

Also, if you're short of ideas what to do on your gap year then read our article aptly titled Gap Year Ideas.

And finally, don't forget to jump on the message boards to talk to your fellow travellers!


About the Author: Brendan Wan

Brendan WanBrendan is a 20-something writer from Melbourne, Australia. During his second year of university Brendan spent a year in Kumamoto, Japan, where he ate raw horse meat and developed a deep hatred for wasabi. After graduation, he took another year abroad but this time in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where he studied Chinese and rode around the southern half of Taiwan on scooter. He is currently on his third gap year working and living in London, UK, where he now proudly adopts the British custom of drinking tea. You can follow Brendan at Wanders of the World and on Twitter.