Just received your exam results? Finished your degree and unsure about diving into the world of work? Maybe life has just given you a cause to pause and give some thought to what you want to do.
Whether you are eighteen and just left school, or twenty-eight and looking for a career break, these crossroads in life can leave everyone feeling a little lost: the world beckons.
A gap year is one worthwhile route to consider, and providing you make the best use of your time overseas, your year away could boost your university application, improve your future employment prospects and provide you with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Here is our pick of the greatest annual itineraries, alternative activities and exciting challenges we have found to help fill your gap year with experiences you will never forget.
Making it meaningful
Why not contribute to a community up in the Bolivian Andes?
Supporting a cause by volunteering or fundraising on your travels can be a rewarding way to give back to local communities, and to gain a greater understanding of the places, people and cultures you encounter.
Voted as one of our top centres for volunteering, our hostel in El Villar, Bolivia presents a whole range of different community engagement projects, and clustered on a rugged mountain ridge soaring 3000 metres into the Andes, there are few better ways to see one of South America’s most intriguing, naturally beautiful and diverse countries at purse-friendly prices.
El Villar hostel allows you to explore Bolivian roots through local intercultural exchanges, whilst offering work experience in education, health care and conservation. They can even provide Spanish courses to help you brush up on one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
In your down-time, there is no need to feel stranded – immerse yourself in history and embark on an incredible Inca trail up to the Manchachi ruins or ride on horseback through the Andean valleys. Visit the colonial capital, Sucre, and marvel at the echoes of old Andalusian culture through its grand, whitewashed architecture.
So give it a go and give something back – it’s all in a year’s work!
Wanderlust work experience
In 2011, a study was conducted by Projects Abroad which revealed that 60% of business managers believed that gap years were just as important or more important than degrees when shortlisting candidates for interview.
Australia beckons: a lucrative move for money-making and adventure
It’s a popular gap year choice for both well-seasoned travellers and first timers… and for good reason. As the New York Times reinforces, Australia is in real need of gap year goers to fuel its surprisingly suffering tourism industry:
“The country is in the midst of a mining boom that has lured thousands of young workers into resource-related fields, leaving tourism, manufacturing and many other sectors of the Australian economy short of skilled labour.”
There are various marketing campaigns flying through the cyber stratosphere and beyond to try and capture eighteen to thirty year olds from dozens of different countries who want to live and work in Australia for a year, and if you’re grabbed by Aussie lifestyle (who isn’t?) you can even extend for another year. By fulfilling certain requirements, you can currently apply to extend your visa by working in agriculture (such as fruit-picking) for a certain amount of time, but take a look at the official immigration website for some important information.
Make sure you save a pretty penny (sorry, dollar) to go home with by opting for our budget-friendly accommodation. If your heart’s set on Sydney, find your feet at our hostel located in the city’s kitsch, leafy suburb of Glebe.
Doing it with a difference
Only the brave – the real seekers of alternative adventure – should feature this balmy Indian excursion on their gap year itinerary. We can’t pitch it any more eloquently than The Adventurists do:
“A 3,500km pan-Indian adventure in a 7 horsepower glorified lawnmower. The Rickshaw Run is easily the least sensible thing to do with two weeks.”
Embarking on this trip does come with a genuine warning tag – the Rickshaw Run is a dangerous feat, and so requires a lot of research, and a lot of care. As always, we have accommodation dotted along the route and across the sub-continent, from Delhi to Bangalore, all the way up north to Manali.
We know two weeks hardly dips into your year, leaving fifty left to plan, but why not chat to charity Slum Aid about the fantastic opportunities they offer to contribute towards some of India’s most impoverished people.
At HI, we think the term gap year wrongly implies a certain vapid emptiness. Use your time wisely and your gap year can be full to the brim – with precious memories, life-long friendships and invaluable future prospects.
Are you doing something exciting and a bit different for your gap year? We want to hear about your plans! Just scroll down and leave us a comment below.