Short Gap Year Ideas

Weeks rather than months!

If you’ve only got a few months, or even just weeks, to fit in all the adventures of a gap year, a short gap year is perfect for you. A month-long gap year – or shorter, or longer – is a great idea if you need to fit it in around school, university, or work. Short gap year programs are also an excellent idea if you’ve not quite got the healthy cash flow you’d like, or simply can’t bear to be away from your friends or family for so long.

We know it seems a bit silly to call shorter trips a gap year, but travel isn’t about how long you’re away, it’s about what you do with the time you have available. It isn’t just a holiday if your short gap year is easily as epic as a whole year away. Opportunities are available year round, and a short gap can contain anything that a whole year away would.

Even just a short time spent out of your comfort zone can have a life-changing effect on the most hardened of backpackers. If you’ve got big gap year ideas but a small window of time and a tight budget, short gap year programs are for you.

Check out these mini gap year ideas and experiences

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Ultimate Thailand

from £560

11 days

Thailand

Explore Bangkok’s temples and night life, wake up in the jungle on our floating raft houses, see baby monkeys in...

Travel Laos & Cambodia

from £1

27 - 365 days

Cambodia, Laos, Thailand

Travel in a loop, with Bangkok as the start and finish point on this comprehensive trip around northern Thailand, Laos...

South Ireland Adventure

from £630

10 days

Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way, Galway, Croagh Patrick, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Kilkenny, Inis Oirr, Glendalough

South Island Mountain Bike Tour

from £1025

7 days

New Zealand

The South Island is renowned for its outstanding beauty and adventures. Plant your feet on your pedals as you take...

Northern Wanderer – North Island

from £905

8 days

New Zealand

If you’re coming to the North Island and have limited time, read on! The Northern Wanderer tour is a jam...

Spring Break Ibiza

from £105

3 days

Spain

Stay at our beach-side hotel on the world’s best party island, Ibiza for your Spring Break! We come here not...

A Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand

from £1295

11 days

Thailand

Join us on the Ultimate Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand - mountains, trekking, hill tribes and much much more!

South America Coast to Coast via Patagonia

from £1895

51 days

Argentina, Brazil, Chile

Join our expedition truck through some of South America's most spectacular National Parks, the vast wilderness of Patagonia, Iguazu Falls...

3 Island Explorer

from £269

7 days

Greece

Tick 3 of the most popular Greek Islands off in one go! Enjoy the natural beauty, laid back lifestyle and...

Wild West – South Island

from £860

8 - 9 days

New Zealand

This trip is a hidden gem demonstrating just how beautiful and diverse new Zealand can get. Part of this trip...

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Japan Highlights

from £2839

Japan blends a mix of traditional and ultra-modern in Tokyo, temples and geishas in Kyoto, and culinary capital Osaka. Robot...

Explore Peru & Bolivia

from £3091

Travel from Lima to La Paz and explore the best of Peru and Bolivia on this adventure through ancient ruins,...

Antarctic Explorer from Ushuaia 10 days

from £6825

Experience an adventure tour of Antarctica and explore the unique conditions at the end of the Earth. Embark from Ushuaia,...

Discover Sri Lanka

from £1569

Become enchanted by Sri Lanka on an unforgettable 12-day journey. Explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress and refresh your spirit at the...

London to the Mediterranean on a Shoestring

from £2215

Like history? And art? How about beaches and pubs? Then say hello to Western Europe on this three-week tour of...

Journey to the Antarctic Peninsula

Fierce, cold and stunningly beautiful – explorers since Shackleton have grappled with the contrasts of the Weddell Sea. Experience this...

Cape Town, Kruger & Namibia

from £3949

Gazing out over Cape Town from Table Mountain, the panorama alone is worth the trip to southern Africa. Then again,...

Kailash Saga Dawa Festival

from £3059

Journey overland to Tibet and cross the "roof of the world" to Kailash – Asia's most sacred mountain – in...

Central America Explorer

The ultimate exploration of Mayan culture for those who want the complete experience but prefer a more comfortable option. Explore...

Spirit of Shackleton

from £8999

Experience vast penguin rookeries and seal colonies on this awe-inspiring voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. This...

Inspiration and advice on shorter breaks

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How long is a short gap year?

Short gap year programs are as long or as short as you want them to be. It’s easy to think that for travelling to be worthwhile you need to be away for at least a year, but that simply isn’t true. If you travel somewhere outside of your comfort zone and get fresh perspective on the world, it is every bit as valuable an experience. So if you only have a weekend, why not fly to one of Europe‘s incredible cities and take a day tour of all the best sights alongside like-minded travellers?

If you have a week before going back to school, you could arrange an epic road trip across the United States. If you’re lucky enough to have a month or more, you could head out to Australia‘s beaches or New Zealand‘s unbelievable natural landscapes, spending some time on organised tours as well as exploring by yourself. Whatever you want to do, there’s a trip to match the time you have available, your budget, and your style.

What can a short gap year include?

Absolutely anything you want it to! A long gap year is usually made up of multiple different countries and activities, so a short gap year allows you to experience one or two of those component parts, and focus on what travel goals really matter to you. So you might spend some time volunteering in a local school in Africa or on a conservation project in Costa Rica, or spend a season working at a ski resort, carving up the slopes in your free time, or InterRailing across Europe, getting as far across the continent as possible in the time you have. Whatever your ideas for a gap year, a short gap can accommodate them.

Where can I go on my short gap year?

Where can’t you go on your short gap year?! It all depends how much time you have available and how healthy your budget is looking, but nowhere is off the table for a short gap. You might choose to stay closer to Europe, getting a pass for InterRailing to ride the trains on a cultural adventure across Europe, or you could go further afield: a quick jaunt to North America to visit New York and San Francisco, or to drive legendary Route 66; South America to party in Rio de Janeiro and eat your weight in steak in Buenos Aires; South East Asia to follow the Indochina loop or hop around beautiful (and cheap) Thai islands. There are plenty of established routes for short gap year travellers. The difficulty is in choosing where you want to see the most.

Are short gap years cheaper?

How much you’ll spend on your short gap year depends greatly on your spending habits, where you go, what you do, and how long you’re going for. Generally speaking though, you will spend a lot less than if you were going away for a whole year. Provided you don’t have a penchant for 5-star hotels, anyway. Depending on your trip, here are some things to factor into your budget: flights, transport on the ground, visas, food and drink, accommodation, and activities. Looking for affordable gap year ideas? Interrail Global Passes start at £158, and give you near-unlimited train travel across Europe. Get a cheap coach over to the continent, and the whole of Europe is at your mercy with only the cost of food and hostels to worry about.

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