How to Have an Awesome Birthday on Your Gap Year

Profile picture of
Vicky Philpott

View Profile All Posts
Written by: Helen Winter

Whether you’re going away for six months or a year, you might find that you’ll be coming back different – and by that I mean one year older! Depending on your trip you’re going to want to plan accordingly to make sure that you have the most memorable birthday ever. Yes, it’ll make all your other birthdays seem underwhelming afterwards, but it’ll be totally worth it.

Birthday bash at the beach

If you find yourself near the coast on your birthday then you’ve lucked out! It doesn’t take a genius to work out that beaches are usually the tourist hotspot for more or less every country, but with every tourist location comes great excursions, so you won’t be left bored on your special day. You can try surfing at Bondi Beach, or paddle boarding in Fiji, or if you know that you’re going to be near open waters on your big day then ask for the money to do something great. Get your parents and friends to chip in on a PADI diving course, or a kite boarding license. If you’re not too exhausted from the day’s activities then fill your evening with getting boozey at the beach bars!

beach bar

Partying in the city

Just because you’re not on a paradise island when the big day rolls around, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be left disappointed. In any city you go to you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of bars and clubs to choose from. And, being the special celebration of ‘you’ day, treat yourself to the more sophisticated drinks. If you’re in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then grab one of those pricey cocktails, or if you find yourself in Berlin, Germany, then let loose – the Germans will be going just as hard. Of course, if a city birthday party is what you’re hoping for, surely there is nowhere else you’d want to spend it than Las Vegas. If it’s not too far off your route and you’re celebrating your 21+ birthday then you can’t deny that Las Vegas has everything to make any birthday amazing. With the shops, casinos and amazing atmosphere, you can’t really compare it with any other city. And who doesn’t want to take home a novelty Eiffel Tower you can drink from?

Las vegas

Getting wild in the outdoors

If you’ve ended up in the natural landscapes on your birthday, then you’re most likely doing something you love. Of course, national parks are a hub for adventurous activities and can offer some of the most memorable travel highlights and they’re definitely the places to go for an experience. Enjoy a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon or take on the challenge of climbing Mont Blanc – if that doesn’t beat the gathering at the pub you had last year then your local must be amazing!

Festivals and events

It’s always a great idea to research what is happening where when you’re planning your travel route. I mean, you don’t want to go all the way to Brazil and miss out on the Rio Carnival by one day! More importantly, it’s not a bad idea to check if there is anything incredible happening on your birthday – that way you can pretend a whole city is throwing a party just for you! Hoard some glow sticks at the Full Moon Party in Thailand, or go crazy at Belgium’s biggest festival, Tomorrowland.

If you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time

If you’ve missed your flight, or spent a few extra days in that one place that surprised you, you may find that you’ve ended up not exactly where you wanted to be for your birthday. You might look around you and see that you’re in the middle of nowhere. But, don’t worry! You can still make the most out of it. If the locals seem friendly then go up and start talking to them – as best as you can if neither of you know the native language. Once you’ve both got comfortable, I’m sure they’ll be eager to give you a shot of the traditional ‘drink’. You might even find that the local villagers are quite the party goers, treating you to a completely unique birthday bash. And if that doesn’t work, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities for a belated celebration later on in your travels.


Check out these top travel experiences


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

from £800

26 days


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

Europe Tour with Gapforce

from £1,500

14 - 28 days

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

14 days


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

30 days


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

69 days

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

39 days

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

37 days

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

57 days

Brazil, Guyana

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

Find more articles like this

[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]