Taking a gap-year between school and university or work is a common thing in Britain and a growing trend in other European countries. The choices are endless, ranging from volunteering on an Orangutan rehabilitation project in Borneo, through teaching English in South America, to simply travelling to experience the world before settling down to life.
Here are a few of the popular options, plus an in-depth view of the most popular choice – a gap-year in Australia. See also the first-hand experiences in the YouTube videos embedded below.
The top ten gap-year choices are listed below*:
For a more mainstream approach:
- Work in Australia in one of many types of job, from harvesting, through hospitality industry roles to crewing on a sailboat (see below).
- Be a chalet girl or ski-instructor in Europe, Canada or the USA. For ski-instructor experiences in Canada, have a look here.
- Teach English in one or more countries around the world. Have a look at the courses and jobs offered on the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) site.
- Volunteer on a community or wildlife project, whether building an orphanage in South-East Asia, working as a Conservation Assistant in Southern Africa or on a wildlife rehabilitation project in Borneo, amongst others (check out Greenforce as one source of expeditions)
- Go InterRailing around Europe.
For the more adventurous:
- Go on a scientific expedition to Antarctica or to Chimp project in Africa look at National Geographic adventures.
- Develop your journalism skills on the Journalism Bolivia programme or go to China on an internship and learn Chinese at the Hutong School.
- Experience Siberia on the trans-Siberian railway or see India by train.
- Travel on an expedition across Africa – one example can be found at Footprint Adventures.
- Work as a medic support volunteer in Tanzania, India, Thailand or the Caribbean.
Focus on Australia
Australia has always captured the imagination of the newly free school-leaver or university graduate. It is far enough away from parents and obligations to represent a blank canvas where you can discover yourself and explore, but it is an English-speaking country with a great lifestyle, sunshine and opportunity.
Perhaps best of all, it is a country that recognizes the opportunity in receiving gap-year students and so makes fantastic provision for you in the form of organized access to work, specific working-travel visas that can be renewed for a second year and an information portalthat provides a one-stop shop for all you need to know.
The country has several very different regions, with Sydney and its environs being the best known, followed by Brisbane and the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns, but lesser known areas such as the farmlands in several regions, wilderness areas right across Australia, the coast at Perth in the west, as well as the vast Northern Territories, all offer a host of diverse opportunities too. These regions all have opportunities in the regular jobs any community must fill, as well as in more specific roles in the tourist and hospitality industries, with great, unique travel experiences besides.
The Australian Department of Agriculture even co-ordinates harvesting jobs that can give you a unique insight into rural Australia, shared with like-minded people on a great adventure. Current jobs listed, amongst several hundred, include Orange Picker, Grain Harvester, Administrator, Weighbridge Operator and more.
It is not just about work experience either. This is a travel opportunity and while some people relish the chance to explore Australia through work experience, others see the work as simply a way of making the money for travelling. Others have the funds and just want to tour and experience this fascinating part of our planet!
It is well worth doing some detailed research and planning beforehand to make sure you know what is on offer. The biggest regret I hear from past gappers is that they discovered afterwards they had missed experiences or opportunities through not researching their trip beforehand – and it is easy to slip into an alcohol and relaxation mode, doing nothing in particular, if you have nothing planned!
Take a look at the following clips, be inspired and start planning your gap-year now! It’s a great opportunity that can change your life.
Anna summarises her experience in 60 seconds:
Lauren lives through her music:
Erica tries 3 jumps:
Lisa loves her yachts:
* Please note that while we have tried to list or link to only well-known providers, we cannot take responsibility for the services or quality of service of any of the organizations listed.