So, you’re not going to university this summer. It’s not the end of the world; in fact, the whole world has just opened up for you.
You’ve bought yourself a year of freedom! You can go anywhere! Do anything! Taking a gap year is the perfect way to banish those niggling fears about (whisper it) real life.
Dave from youth travel specialist Gapyear.com has put together a few suggestions for how you should spend your year of adventure.
Island Hopping in Thailand
Thailand is one of the world’s favourite gap year destinations, and for good reason: it’s paradise! Head south and you can hop between islands including Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phangan, and Ko Samui (to name a few), lounging on white sand beaches and swimming in turquoise seas, before hitting the vibrant nightlife hard.
Thailand’s well-established tourist trail makes it easy to get around and meet people, but a little research will open up escapes to remote islands, empty of civilisation. Sublime.
Road Tripping in Australia
Australia is really big. But you probably knew that. Hopefully.
This means it has a ludicrously diverse range of road trips to fit all stamina levels. The most famous is the Great Ocean Road, a relatively short 250km of picture-perfect coastline in the southeast. The Cairns to Brisbane route in the northeast holds the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, and Fraser Island, and, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could hire a camper van and drive straight across the forbidding Outback, stopping by Uluru on the way.
Trekking the Inca Trail in Peru
‘Trekking’ might not sound like the most relaxing way to spend a gap year and... well, it’s totally not. The Inca Trail takes 4-5 days to complete, and you need to be in decent shape. But it’s worth it.
On the way, you’ll see cloud forests and alpine tundra, climb some 4,200 metres high for unrivalled Andean views, and at the end of it all is an official New Wonder of the World. Machu Picchu is a stunning Inca ruin overlooking a mountain valley, surrounded by clouds, peaks, and the occasional llama. This is an adventure you will never forget.
Extreme Sports in New Zealand
Amazing scenery, The Lord of the Rings, yes, yes, we know. New Zealand has all that. And then it lets you experience it while falling off a bridge with a bit of elastic around your ankles, or jumping out of a plane 15,000ft above shimmering Lake Taupo, or clawing your way up the frozen, craggy face of Franz Josef Glacier, or... well, we could go on.
Just Google ‘zorbing.’ New Zealand truly has endless ways to get your blood pumping, without a Hobbit in sight.
InterRailing in Europe
Remember, you don’t have to go too far from home to have an amazing gap year. An InterRail pass gives you total freedom when travelling on European trains, so you can plot any journey you fancy.
Tick off some big names by cutting a swathe between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, and Milan, or head north to ride the rails between Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, and Helsinki. Or don’t listen to us, and go somewhere else entirely!