Taking a gap year is an excellent way for young people fresh out of high school, college or university to take some time out to discover themselves and what they want in life. It's also an opportunity to travel to exciting places and maybe even help others.
The world is indeed your oyster if you're thinking about taking a gap year. A gap year is a unique opportunity to gain a worldlier perspective, meet new people, learn about new cultures, and ultimately grow as a person. Travellers Choice has put together a guide on how to plan for a gap year, and we give you our top five gap year destinations for 2019.
How to prepare for a gap year
Preparation is key before embarking on a gap year. First of all, get as much information as you can about what a gap year entails and make sure it’s the right choice for you. Ask yourself a few questions to help decide exactly what you want to do during your yearlong break:
- Do I want to take a gap year in another country or stay in Australia?
- Do I want to be based in a city or a remote location?
- If I want to go overseas, do I want to be in a country that speaks English or one that doesn’t?
- How will I finance my gap year?
Decide what you want to do during your gap year
Once you’re clear on the kind of experience you want, the next big question is what do you want to be doing? Some people want a working holiday type gap year and want to earn money while abroad, but others simply want to take the year to travel.
Volunteering is a very popular choice for young adults during their gap year. Teaching English in countries like China, Vietnam, or Bali are great ways of giving back and experiencing a different culture. Caring for the aged or family-based caring is another popular volunteering choice.
More physical work like building homes or working in a Kibbutz is also an option. Just make sure you choose a reputable volunteering organisation to orchestrate your gap year - one that focuses on the upliftment and sustainable development of communities and has a robust volunteering programme.
Au-pairing is a popular choice for many travellers, as it affords you an opportunity to live safely with a host family in another country and be exposed to their way of living and the country through a family setting. Many working parents look forward to hosting an overseas Au Pair to allow their children to be exposed to a person from another country and learn a new language and culture too.
If you have the financial means to turn your gap year solely into a travel experience, then there are some fantastic, safe destinations to choose from that will enrich your travel experience. Here are our top five destinations for young adults to travel to during a gap year:
- Brazil – This vibey South American hub is the home of samba and has an infectious passion to it. Its friendly people, incredible architecture and impressive natural areas will allow you to spend a significant amount of time sightseeing and partying too.
- New Zealand – A hop and a skip from Australia, New Zealand is an adventure-seeking person's ultimate destination. Spend your year travelling through its many fascinating, vibrant cities from north to south. Adrenaline junkies will always find tons to do in New Zealand including bungee jumping, sky diving, mountain biking, mountain climbing, scuba diving, and so much more.
- South Africa – If you’re more inclined to spend your year travelling through Africa make sure you start your trip at its tip, South Africa. Travel its shoreline from Cape Town to Durban and experience excellent beaches and welcoming locals. From vibrant cities to untouched natural beauty, South Africa has it all.
- USA – You'll be spoilt for choice with so many places to see and things to do in America. Travel from north to south, or east to west and experience everything the USA has to offer the young tourist. Why not work and travel through this vast continent at the same time? It's certainly big enough to fit both experiences into one year after all.
- Thailand – A popular beach destination for many a traveller, Thailand – with its blue oceans and party vibe – is a short way away from Australia and is relatively inexpensive to travel to and live in for a while. Many volunteer organisations also offer gap year students the ability to teach English in this naturally exquisite country.
No matter where you go or what you do, taking a gap year can be one of the best gifts you could give yourself. Leaving your comfortable nest behind and seeing what the world has to offer builds character and will leave you with a lifetime of memories too.