5 amazing gap year travel ideas

The year off, also known as a gap year, is the year spent between high school and university or after university and before getting a job. People usually take a gap year to travel and explore the world. It’s the year you set aside to become an explorer and have fantastic experiences doing something you’ve never tried before. It’s when you break your routine and do something completely different!

There are so many gap year travel ideas, from volunteering in a wildlife reserve in Tanzania to learning Spanish and doing kite surfing in Ecuador! And for those on a tight budget, working abroad can help pay for the gap year travel programs you find attractive.

If you’re thinking more about your future, there are thousands of overseas internships that will give you hands-on experience in your field of study, look great on your resume, and give you a great excuse to do some gap year travel. You could also spend a year or a semester as an international student at a foreign university to earn credits for your degree at the same time. Or you might prefer to spend time learning to scuba dive in Fiji while working on an environmental conservation project.

Gap year travel ideas are infinite, but below you can get a little glimpse of some of the most famous ways to spend your year off!

1. Volunteer overseas during your gap year

There are literally hundreds of organizations and charities out there that put volunteers on projects around the world during their gap year. Community projects and environmental projects are the two main categories of voluntary projects.

Community projects include teaching English and other subjects in local schools, building projects such as building houses or wells in small communities with scarce resources, or serving in health care facilities, among other issues.

Environmental projects, on the other hand, rely on being involved in nature, either studying extinct species or working to protect endangered ones.

NGOs tend to send volunteers into communities where one can really get to know the people they’re working with. Accommodation and meals are generally provided as part of the package, and there are often side trips and excursions scheduled for the volunteers.

Volunteering abroad for free can be an incredibly rewarding experience and a great way to really get involved in the society you’re living in. Not only are you trying to do a good thing for others, but you’re going to have great stories to tell when you come back from your gap year travel experience

2. Gap year travel ideas for adventure lovers

Adventure travel is a fairly vague term, but this genre contains the kind of gap year travel that gives you an adrenaline rush! Have you ever experienced scuba diving? Sky diving? Kite-boarding? Surfing? Skiing or snowboarding? How about going to the Patagonian mountaineering school? Well, now’s your chance!

If you’re passionate about scuba diving, you could go to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia during your gap year. Spend a couple of months there, get your PADI certification and improve your skills.

Or maybe you’re a surfer in your bones, but you were raised far away from the sea. Why don’t you travel to learn from the best surfers in Costa Rica, and pick up a little Spanish along the way?

Or, if you enjoy the cold, you could spend a while studying to be a ski instructor in the great Alps in Switzerland!

Travel adventures help you really test your strengths and weaknesses. It also gives you the opportunity to discover something meaningful about yourself and the world around you. Most adventure travel companies will offer packages that include accommodation, meals, and training for an amazing gap year travel adventure.

gap year internship
Gain work experience during your gap year

3. Gain some work experience during your gap year

 So you’ve finished school and now it’s time to get a job, but you don’t have any experience to put on your resume! A year-long internship is a perfect way to gain experience. Spending your gap year as an intern will prepare you for the workplace and you can improve the overall experience by doing it overseas!

Europe is a particularly popular place to do internships these days, but it’s best to go where your industry shines. For example, fashion interests can be nurtured by doing an internship in Italy, the home of some of the world’s best designers. A business internship can be done in China, which is a great asset to have behind you when you later apply for a corporate executive job. From engineering and graphic design, there are all kinds of great companies out there searching for eager young people who want to get their feet wet. Internship programs usually include room and board. They often include language lessons to help you get familiar with the new culture as well.

4. Take advantage of gap year travel programs and study abroad

If you are interested in taking a gap year to travel, but you’re reluctant to take a break from your education, you should try studying abroad!

Talk to your own school or university and ask for guidance on the transfer of credits. Educational institutions tend to respect the value of travel and almost always grant credit to such programs.

Imagine spending a semester in Italy or Spain! You get to learn a bit of the language, stay with locals, enjoy the traditional food and pursue your studies at the same time. A gap year abroad as an international student can only increase your employability later.

There are many student travel programs to choose from. Some of them concentrate on a certain area of study, while others focus on ties with different institutions. Consult your own school for credit information.

gap year work and travel
Work and travel during your gap year

5. Work and travel during your gap year

A lack of money is a poor excuse to not take a gap year to travel abroad. If you can earn money at home, you can also do it abroad. No matter where you go in the world, restaurants always need waiters and offices need someone to answer the phone. There’s no better way to see how the average person lives in a foreign country than by working beside them for 9 to 5!

Of course, you can be a little picky about it and not take just any available job out there. It’s best to choose a job that’s similar to what you do at home. That way, you can surround yourself with people you’d normally hang out with.

Don’t work too hard, though! After all, you took a gap year to travel. Make sure you leave enough time to spend your money on sightseeing and side trips.

There are a lot of jobs open to tourists, so you can easily apply and secure a job before you travel to a destination. Jobs may or may not include your room and board, and that will directly reflect the salary you’ll earn.

As you can see, gap year travel ideas are endless, and there’s certainly one for every individual. A year off abroad is the perfect way to see the world, discover new cultures, meet different people, and also learn some new skills. A gap year to travel can be emotionally enriching and at the same time a great experience to boost your resume for when you return home.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

Other travel blog articles you should read on The Travel Bunny
Advice for international students: 9 student travel tips
Packing for a semester abroad: Top 5 things to take with you
How to prepare for your first backpacking trip to Europe