21 Apr 28 awesome gap year ideas
Chomping at the bit to go on a gap year, but have no idea how to spend it? Let us take care of the mental heavy lifting – below, you’ll find 28 awesome gap year ideas that will make the most of what will be among the most memorable years of your life.
Embrace the ski bum lifestyle
Does the sight of falling snow fill you with joy, even as others groan? Instead of following your peers to the tropics, base yourself in the peaks of the Canadian Rockies for an unforgettable winter of shredding pow.
Yes, Canada can be an expensive place to live, but with plenty of jobs being available through snow resorts and in the hospitality sector, you’ll have plenty of ways to fund your frosty adventure.
Become a divemaster
If the thought of spending six months in a snowy, cold part of the world makes you depressed, make for tropics instead. Just know that while lying on the beach beneath swaying palms can be loads of fun, it does get old after a month or two.
If you are looking for some awesome gap year ideas, we suggest learning how to dive. As you do, a whole new beautiful world will open up to you. Many continue their education after getting their open water certification, becoming a divemaster. These professionals get paid to introduce others to this amazing sport – how awesome does that sound?
Learn how to speak a second language
As ubiquitous as English is around the world, only a handful of nations around the globe claim it as their dominant language. Picking up a second language will unlock large parts of the world to you – Spanish will allow you to travel almost anywhere in Latin America comfortably, while French will come in handy throughout large parts of Africa, parts of Canada, and France.
Learning a different language will also expose you to differing points of view and enhance your employability, making this challenging endeavour well worth the effort.
Teach English as a second language
As useful as it can be to learn a second language, English’s status as the lingua franca of business is undeniable. As a native speaker of the world’s most sought-after tongue, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to teach it around the world.
The chance to rack up some serious cash (South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are the best markets), and the fact that you’ll gain invaluable experience instructing others makes this one of the most awesome gap year ideas out there.
Do a circle tour of Australia
Australia may be a big place, but that doesn’t stop scores of gap year travelers from exploring as much of it as possible. They buy a cheap campervan soon after arrival Down Under and they hit the road. Many set an ambitious goal – to visit every state during their stay.
If you are motivated and prepared to pick up odd jobs, this is totally doable – just don’t forget to take plenty of pictures along the way.
Explore Europe by rail
Of all the travel destinations around the globe, no continent captures the imagination of the average American quite like Europe. With amazing culture, natural wonders, and with plenty of people being able to trace their ancestors here, its nations log some of the highest visitor numbers in the world.
A compact continent with many urban centres located close together, Europe’s rail infrastructure is the best on the planet, making it easy to glide from one city to another in just a few short hours.
Buy a Eurail pass in advance of your trip and you’ll save money as you make many awesome gap year ideas a reality.
Help save the turtles
Overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change have put a major strain on many marine species. Sea turtles have been one of the most impacted – this has led to a worldwide effort to bolster the numbers of this gentle giant.
From Costa Rica to Malaysia, you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer with conservation organizations, which have set up camp at nesting beaches. The placement of eggs in incubators, supervised releases of hatchlings, and rehabilitation of injured adults are all activities where you can render assistance, allowing you to do your part for the planet.
Work as a summer camp counsellor
Love kids? Consider yourself a talented athlete? Spend part of your gap year teaching and mentoring youth at a summer camp. From coaching baseball to simply being a counsellor, there is a myriad of ways you can touch dozens of young lives.
In addition to having fun on the job, you’ll also get hang with other camp staff off the clock – this job attracts chill people from around the world, making one of the truly awesome gap year ideas on this list.
Care for emancipated elephants in Thailand
Ever dream of riding elephants in Thailand? We beg you to reconsider, as many elephant camps in this country routinely abuse these intelligent creatures in order to make use of them in the forestry and tourism industries.
Volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park instead – a reserve situated 60 kilometres south of Chiang Mai, they routinely purchase the freedom of elephants from lumber camps and tourist outfits.
Allowed to run free on their land, you’ll still have the chance to interact with them – washing these lumbering giants will prove to be an unforgettable memory for you and your travel friends.
Travel overland across Africa
At first glance, this sounds intimidating – however, travelling across some of the poorest nations on Earth is not a dangerous task – it is often just an exercise in humility.
Start in South Africa and make your way to nations like Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, and Mozambique – along the way, the natural wonders you’ll see and the people you meet will leave a lasting impression on your soul. For this reason, this is one of the most awesome gap year ideas.
Teach underprivileged kids soccer in Brazil
Know how to play the world’s most popular sport? Help aspiring but devastatingly poor kids in Brazil realize their dreams by volunteering your time as a coach.
By giving them guidance their parents can’t afford, they will have a chance to join teams in their area, keeping them out of trouble and granting lessons that will serve them well as they move through life.
Live the cowboy/girl lifestyle
Want to experience the cowboy/girl lifestyle? If you are traveling to Wyoming or the Australian Outback, you’ll have the chance to get a job as a ranch hand. Follow experienced cattle rustlers as they round up livestock and you’ll tick another experience off your list of awesome gap year ideas.
Serve as an au pair in Europe
Time is at a premium for some parents in Europe – to ensure their kids are cared for while they excel in their careers, they employ an au pair or nanny.
While this can be a challenging task to manage at times, you’ll gain valuable insight into what parenthood is like and whether a career in childcare is for you.
Follow the Banana Pancake Trail
Want to get your feet wet in the travel world? There is no better place to go during your gap year than Southeast Asia.
Of all the awesome gap year ideas, this one gets done the most. Home to well-developed tourist infrastructure, you’ll won’t have to do much research when it comes to destinations and transport, as there are scores of established places to go and numerous options that will get you there.
Named the Banana Pancake Trail for the ubiquity of the popular dessert across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, you’ll have no shortage of possibilities for adventure during your time here.
Get a job on a cruise ship
Want to explore places like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and other dream destinations, all while getting paid at the same time? Consider working on a cruise ship. With positions open for everything from hospitality staff to activity directors, chances are good there is a role straight up your alley.
Work as a bartender overseas
Love socializing with others? If you are looking for a way to refill your bank account while on your gap year wanders, ask bars and pubs if they are in need of a bartender.
Not only will you get the chance to earn a regular wage for several months, you’ll also get the chance to meet tons of people and embed yourself within the local culture.
Chase adrenaline highs all over the globe
Use your gap year to push the envelope of what you think is possible by signing up for every adrenaline activity you can find during your travels.
Start by riding a zip line, then strap on a pair of skis and throw yourself down a mountain. Soon, you’ll be trying out more extreme sports like bungee jumping and skydiving – when all is said and done, this is one of the awesome gap year ideas that will help you see fear for what it really is – an illusion created by your mind.
Learn Muay Thai
Enjoy combat sports? Don’t miss your chance to practice Muay Thai during your trip to Thailand. A martial art which utilizes the feet, knees, elbows, and fists to strike blows, it is a tremendously exciting sport and an excellent workout.
Some programs include the opportunity to compete in competitive matches – these are marvellous spectacles filled with enthusiastic fans, transfixing music, and tons of adrenaline – you won’t ever forget your first match!
Antarctica – the final frontier. It may one of the most expensive of the awesome gap year ideas (about $5,000 to go on a budget cruise), but the financial cost and enduring the heavy seas of the Drake Passage will be worth it once you lay eyes on the glistening glaciers, soaring mountains, and penguin colonies of this austere place.
Become a rafting guide
Want to treat fellow travellers to the time of their lives while working an entire summer amidst some of the world’s most spectacular natural scenery? Tame your fear of rapids and become a rafting guide.
You’ll trade in your shoes for sandals, get soaked by ice-cold water on a regular basis, and get to work with some of the most chill people on the planet.
Sample cuisine from around the world
Have an especially deep love for good food? Of all the awesome gap year ideas, making it your personal mission to sample the world’s best cuisine will have you smiling from ear to ear.
From market fresh sushi in Tokyo to juicy al pastor tacos in Mexico, the world is filled with amazing eats – try and document them all on your blog for the world to see.
Go on a meditation retreat
Having trouble focusing on what matters? Our minds are often plagued with competing thoughts, a problem which has only gotten worse in the information age. In countries like Thailand or Sri Lanka, you’ll have many chances to sign up for meditation retreats.
For a week, you’ll live like a monk, with virtually all of the aesthetics of modern life stripped away. With distractions removed, your master will teach you how to quiet your mind, a skill that can only help you in this day and age.
Serve as crew on a yacht/sailboat
Ever walk past a superyacht moored at a dock? These luxury-focused ships require a dedicated staff to keep them in tip-top shape for their owners. While proper decorum on board may be tough to learn at first, the discipline it will instill and the connections you’ll earn make this job one you should pursue.
Trek in the Himalayas
If you love hiking in the mountains, you owe it to yourself to walk amidst the world’s highest peaks while your body is at its healthiest. Not only will you get a chance to gaze up at some truly amazing mounts, but you’ll also get a chance to immerse yourself in the local Nepalese culture along the way.
Live it up in the hottest nightlife destinations on the planet
Koh Phangan. Ibiza. Buenos Aires. These destinations and others have a vibe that will supplant the wildest party you’ve experienced to date within the first five minutes. Buckets, fire dancing, world-famous DJs, foam parties, dancing the tango until dawn – power hour back home won’t quite feel the same.
Whip yourself into shape
Scrawny? Have a few extra pounds clinging to your abdomen? Make your gap year about getting into the best shape of your life. Hire a trainer, change your diet, start running, hit the weights – all these things will make a noticeable difference not just in your body, but your self-esteem as well.
Engage in free learning
The internet has made learning about virtually any subject easier than ever before. Before shelling out a ton of money on a degree, spend your gap year dabbling in different subjects on the web.
Start a business
Have an idea for a business stuck like a splinter in the back of your mind? Use your gap year as an opportunity to try it out – you’ll learn a ton about value creation in the process and you might end up creating an enterprise which will either pay for your college education or negate the need for one.