Super Celebs Who Have Taken a Gap Year

Written by: Brendan Wan

It’s been said many times here at, 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.


Check out these top gap year experiences


Big One – 26 Days Across Central and East Coast of Canada

from £800

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Experience it all. Great outdoors, national parks, epic citiesm quant towns. Gaspesie, Laurentians, Algonquin, Bay of Fundy, and Cabot Trail....

Europe Tour with Gapforce

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Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, N...

Don’t travel alone, join our fun group every June and July to explore Europe with our UK leader.

Toki 14-day tour of Japan

from £1990

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From Tokyo's futuristic neon lights and the rice fields of Izumo, to Kyoto's ancient temples and pristine beaches of the...

Nippon 1-Month Tour of Japan

from £4520

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From Tokyo's futuristic neon lights and Kyoto's ancient temples, to trekking through the forests of the mountain mystics and enjoying...

Yamabushi 16-day tour of Japan

from £2500

16 days


Not your average tourist experience, this tour is specifically designed for the nature lovers out there. See a completely different...

Southern Trans Oceanic Quito to Rio via Buenos Aires

from £2475

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Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru

Explore the Amazon Jungle, Hike the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, view the stunning Iguazu Falls and spend time...

Colombian Adventure Cartagena to Lima

from £1895

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Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

Experience the flavours, curiosities and contradictions of these three fascinating South American countries.

Andes and Amazon Quito to La Paz

from £1750

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Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru

Experience the Amazon rainforest at first-hand in a jungle lodge, follow the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, stay overnight with...

Peaks and Plains Lima to Buenos Aires

from £1675

35 days

Argentina, Bolivia, Peru

From trekking in the mountains to dancing the tango, this trip has it all.

Tropics of South America Rio to Manaus via The Guianas

from £3175

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Explore some of Latin America’s most vibrant and colourful cities, pristine coastline, rich and verdant landscapes and search for diverse...

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