For many people, taking a gap year is a chance to get out and see what the world has to offer. From travelling to exotic locations and seeing world famous landmarks to teaching English or building houses on a volunteer programme, there’s no limit to the things you can do. Most experienced travellers will testify that gap years were the best times of their lives, and it’s easy to see why.
Travelling is a bug you can easily catch, and before you know it you’ll have been to all corners of the world and have made some great friends and had some incredible experiences. Everyone who has been on a gap year will have no end of stories to tell, and it’s the freedom to do whatever you want that’s so addictive!
While many people see a gap year as a time to take it easy and relax, at the end of the day you get out what you put in. Doing something of value is much better than sitting there letting time pass, and it can have a big effect on things like employment further down the line. Think about it, wouldn’t you prefer to say you’ve trekked to Everest Base Camp or helped build a freshwater well in Tanzania as opposed to having sat at home for 12 months?
Gap years are character building and life changing, and there are so many different places to go and things to do you’d need 2 lifetimes to fit everything in. The ideal experience would blend travel with some form of voluntary or paid work, so you can visit new countries and see new cultures while making a difference, no matter how small.
Without doubt the most popular activities to get involved with on a gap year include TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language), community development or assistance, sports coaching and ecological conservation. Whether you’re helping a group of young children learn the alphabet in Cambodia or helping preserve a coral reef in Fiji, you’ll have a fantastic time for sure.
Adventure holidays are also incredibly popular and involve putting you outside your comfort zone. Trekking the Himalayas or Sahara desert, mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains or kayaking down the Amazon, you’ll be pushed to your limits and beyond. It’s only then that you can see what you’re really made of, and you’ll take that confidence into any other aspect of your life.
There are also options for professionals to take career breaks or ply their trades in other countries. Medical personnel in particular are highly demanded in countries like Laos, Kenya or Peru, so whether you’re a registered nurse, doctor, physiotherapist or dentist, there’s always somewhere to go where your skills are greatly needed. There are also opportunities for office professionals and just about any skilled trade out there. If you can do something and do it well, why not take those skills abroad for a few months?
The fact remains that gap years are fantastic experiences and anyone looking for a change should take one. Travelling the world, meeting new people, experiencing new things and having your eyes opened are all parts of the experience, but there are loads more. There are opportunities for students, graduates and even professionals, so if you fancy a change, the world is quite literally your oyster!