Not being able to speak the local language is one of the scariest aspects of travelling. If just the thought makes you nervous, you could instead just travel to one of the 65 countries that speak English as the official language. That way there's no need for you to stress about learning the local lingo.
If I was to relive the glory days of first-time backpacking, these are the English-speaking destinations I’d try.
Except for the state of Quebec, it’s English all the way in Canada. This means you’ll have no problem yelling to your ski instructor on the Banff slopes, navigating the Rockies or understanding an ice hockey game.Definitely tops my list of English-speaking places to visit in 2017.
From New Orleans to Nashville, Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, the USA has so many amazing places for you to explore, and being British is certainly a bonus. The locals may not always understand you but they'll love the accent, so much so you’ll soon get used to being called ‘the adorable British person’ and occasionally blag a freebie.
This Caribbean island was once part of the British Commonwealth, with the obvious giveaways being the cups of tea and love of cricket people have here. Check out Bridgetown’s colonial buildings and Sunbury Plantation House to see more of the British influence, but also make time to forage in the beautiful flower forest to get material for those all-important Instagram pics.
British Virgin Islands
The clue is in the name with this set of Caribbean Islands. Although it’s not typically English to be lounging by the beach boulders, exploring Sage Mountain’s rainforest and yachting around the four main islands, it’s still the language spoken here. You might have to do a few more hours of work to afford any kind of gap year here, but we can dream.
If you’re a lover of reggae, rice and Rastafarians then Jamaica is the perfect place for you to explore. Start in Kingston, home of Bob Marley, before moving onto Montego Bay, where you can see the British influence in the architecture before basking on the beaches. This would be such a cool place to go on your gap year, right?
If you want to backpack through Central America but your Spanish isn’t up to scratch, then Belize is a great option. Right on the eastern coast, it’s ideal for adventure seekers who can dive the barrier reef, snorkel the Great Blue Hole and swim through the caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal. English is widely spoken here, but with that Caribbean twang.
St Kitts and Nevis
Monkeys, volcanos and old sugar plantations make St Kitts and Nevis another exotic place to explore. It’s located right between the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean and the locals all speak, you guessed it, English.
Made up of over 300 islands in the South Pacific, Fiji is utter paradise and ideal for a trip of beachside sprawling. Unlike any British landscape it’s got twinkling waters, dreamy coral and pretty palm trees – perfect for hooking up a hammock and kicking back.
It may be on the opposite side of the world but sunny Australia speaks the same lingo we do, so you’ll have no problem backpacking around the likes of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. It’s also a top spot for backpackers, so you’ll definitely make a friend or 50 along the way.
New Zealand might seem like it’s a million miles away, but the fact they share our mother tongue brings it that little bit closer. The Kiwis do have a slightly different accent (just ask them to say ‘pen’ or ‘chips’, you’ll see) but you’ll be able to order your Waipara wine and catch the Kiwi Experience buses without any mix-ups using the language skills you have.
South Africans speak many different languages but, luckily for us, English is one of them. Head there for a week-long safari, stay in the treetops and climb Table Mountain all while chatting with ease to the residents. Plus the extreme sports possibilities are insane.
The Seychelles may not immediately spring to mind when you think of your gap year, but the country does offer great opportunities for volunteering. The fact that English is the country’s official language means it’s easy, plus there’s a chance those giant tortoises the country conserves may even understand you. Or not.
Another African gem, Botswana, is home to the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, making it an amazing place to explore on a gap year, especially if you’re an animal lover. Grab your selfie-stick and binoculars before trying to spot hyenas, cheetahs and giraffes. Any English-sounding screams and cries of awe will be easily understood.
Hong Kong is one of the few places in Asia where you’ll have no trouble communicating. It’s a vibrant hub of international activity so you’ll be able to order your noodles and visit the temples, no problem.
If you don’t want to travel too far then Malta is just in the Med. Practically our neighbour. If you also happen to speak Ancient Greek then you’re in luck, as it’s brimming with ancient ruins, fortresses and burial temples – a paradise for history buffs.