8 places to spend your gap year
So you’ve decided to embark on your gap year! Maybe you’ve just graduated, or maybe you’re taking a break in your career to recharge your mind. Either way, it’s likely that this experience will mould and shape you, opening your eyes to new cultures and teaching you new skills that you wouldn’t gain in education or work.
In this article, we look at eight of the best places to spend your gap year, but first, let's consider some of the reasons people choose to travel for a long spell.
Broaden your worldview
Immersing yourself in another culture feels like putting on a new pair of glasses. Everything in front of you stays the same, but it all looks different. A fresh take on the world changes you in fundamental ways during your gap year.
Gain new skills
After your gap year, you may return to the same work or studies you're pursuing now, but your year abroad adds to your reserve of skills. For instance, fluency in another language might be just the boost your career needs.
Expand your contacts
During your gap year, it’s likely you'll meet a range of new people from all walks of life. Some may become career-long collaborators, others might become friends who crash on your sofa when they visit Australia. Speaking of which…
Make new friends
One of the first-rate benefits of a gap year is making international friends. Through your new friends, you'll develop a nuanced understanding of a different culture, significantly adding to the richness of your life and relationships.
Prepare for growth
Living abroad is humbling. You'll use the wrong words. You'll get lost on public transportation. You may even have to rely on the assistance of complete strangers. And all of these experiences will refine you and set you on a pathway to more significant growth.
Best destinations for your gap year
1. New Zealand
Best for: first-time gap year travellers
Step away from your everyday life without having to cope with a foreign language or long-haul flights.
New Zealand is a bucket list destination for many people around the globe, offering endless adventure, vast natural beauty, and a rich history. On top of all that, it’s often voted as one of the most peaceful countries in the world by the Global Peace Index, making it the perfect destination for first time travellers who may be anxious about packing up and leaving the comfort of their home.
Discover geothermal wonders in Rotorua, live out your Lord of the Rings fantasy at Hobbiton, hike up a glacier on the rugged west coast of the South Island, and kayak alongside wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands. This is just a small taster of all the mind-blowing adventures you can embark on in New Zealand.
Best for: history buffs and culture vultures
Whether you're seeking a big city experience in London or an idyllic farm existence in the Yorkshire Dales, England has you covered. Spend your gap year tracking Roman roads and visiting Viking settlements. The past is always present in old England.
Multi-cultural London is a hugely popular destination for gap year travellers, who flock to the city for its vibrant arts and culture, thriving food scene, and iconic landmarks. If you want to avoid the well-trodden path of travellers before you, check out some alternative things to do in London.
History lovers can take advantage of a National Trust membership while in the UK, which allows you to visit as many trust sites as you want during your visit, from exploring enchanted castles with grand mazes to magnificent stately homes fit for the Royals! There are over 500 places you can visit for just a few pounds a month.
London is also the perfect base for exploring further afield, with excellent transport links, whether you want to get a Megabus up to Scotland, a train direct to Paris, or a short flight over to several other hotspots in Europe.
Best for: adventurous gap year explorers
If you're ready to venture further afield, consider a gap year in Chile! With roads less-travelled than those in neighbouring countries like Argentina and Brazil, Chile is an gap year dream. Explorers relish Patagonia's jaw-dropping nature and scenery, and urban adventurers enjoy exploring the country's vibrant cities.
Expect to immerse yourself in Spanish during your time in Chile. It's easy to find Spanish language classes in larger cities like Santiago. You'll have plenty of opportunities for Spanish practice as you navigate the subway and bus systems, and shop for fresh, locally-grown produce.
Kick up your heels in a waltz-like Cueca dance on Sunday afternoons in Santiago's Plaza de Armas, or engage in an outdoor speed chess match. If it’s fresh mountain air you’re after, head to Laguna Torre or Torres del Paine National Park with its implausible vertical peaks.
Best for: digital nomads on a gap year trip
Has life ever been better for tech-based workers? It's possible to stay connected just about anywhere, including spiritual hideaway Bali.
Spend your day surfing the breaks of South Bali or exploring the world-famous snorkelling in the Gili Islands. Between Bali's extendable visas and widespread use of English, digital nomads find the perfect balance on this tiny Indonesian island.
During your Bali-based gap year, discover the iconic rice paddies, learn about the unique culture, perfect your yoga and meditation skills, or simply explore the endless tropical beaches that stretch along Bali’s coastline and beyond to the spattering of nearby islands.
Best for: universal spirits
If you'd like to fill your gap year with a little bit of everything, Croatia's the destination for you. Having a hard time deciding between sandy beaches and soaring mountains? Croatia has both. Not sure if you want to visit medieval castles or 21st-century architecture? Again, Croatia.
This small country’s popularity has been steadily rising, perhaps in part because there are several spots that appeared in the TV show Game of Thrones. Or maybe it's because of its quirky museums, like the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb.
What can you expect from an gap year in Croatia? Unlike the rest of Europe, the train system in Croatia isn’t always reliable, but they have an extensive bus service. Many young Croatians speak English, but if you want to talk with older generations, you'll need to learn Croatian, a worthy challenge for your experience.
Best for: road trippers and wanderers
With its mix of eclectic people and places, the USA offers skyscrapers, wide-open cowboy country, surf beaches and more.
Because the USA is so vast and diverse, decide what kind of gap year you want before you start making arrangements. Some travellers may prefer to embark on a cross-country, film-inspired road trip, while others will prefer a foodie adventure in some of the country’s more tantalizing cities. But no matter where you choose to land, take some time to visit a few of its world-famous national parks.
You'll already speak the language, so you can use your gap year to network, fine-tune your skills, or try something completely new.
Best for: health-conscious travellers
The wisdom of the past meets tomorrow's technology in the Land of the Rising Sun. If you'd like to spend your gap year improving your health, seek out Japan's soothing hot springs, nutritious cuisine and serene scenery.
Although it's small geographically, Japan is packed with gorgeous sites, like Mt. Fuji in the spring and the lush Shinjuku Gygap yearn National Garden in Tokyo. If all this dgap yearsn’t have you convinced, here are 8 reasons to fall in love with Japan.
Japan has a comprehensive bus system for long-distance travel, which is significantly cheaper than the fast speed bullet trains, but be prepared for longer journey times. Train stations in major cities have English signage for tourists, but some of the larger train stations can be quite overwhelming when it comes to navigating your way around, so be prepared to take your time and ask for assistance if necessary.
Prior research into Japanese culture and customs will pay off during your gap year. Many visitors love the unapologetic embrace of tradition in modern life. And the language: it's difficult, but if you enjoy learning, it's a challenge to seize.
Best for: Adventure-seeking gap year travellers
If you’re ready to embark on a thrilling gap year adventure, Canada offers the perfect blend of stunning natural landscapes and exhilarating experiences. Picture yourself exploring the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies, kayaking on the pristine lakes and hiking through lush forests. Canada’s wilderness is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, from skiing in Banff to whale watching on the Atlantic coast.
Alternatively, the vibrant cities Vancouver and Toronto allow you to immerse yourself in diverse cultures and cuisines. Vancouver offers a thriving arts scene and is a foodies paradise, while Toronto is renowned for decent job opportunities for gap year travellers. Canada’s beautiful scenery and vibrant cities, paired with the mostly-English-speaking culture make it an ideal gap year destination.
Travel insurance cover while working
If you plan on working during your gap year, we provide specialist Working Overseas travel insurance cover, which offers flexible options for your time away. Our Working Overseas policy is designed for people living and working overseas temporarily. You can buy cover from one month to 12 months, and you don’t have to be working the entire time while overseas to be eligible for this policy.
Our Working Overseas cover includes:
- Up to unlimited medical and evacuation expenses including optical and emergency dental treatment
- Trip interruptions or cancellations
- Damaged or lost baggage
- Personal items if they are stolen or damaged
- Overseas hospitalisation expenses
- Mental health treatment.
- Skiing, snowboarding, moped and cruise activities.
- Maternity care
Things to remember:
- We know that you may holiday to other countries during your time away, so it’s important to list these countries as part of your policy, either when you initially purchase your policy, or before you set off on your extra holiday.
- Remember to check that the work you’re intending to do can be covered by our policy, as there are some exclusions.
Get a free online quote so you can explore the world knowing you’ve got cover in place, should the unexpected happen.
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