July has arrived, which means that the University academic year has come to an end until September or October. Whether you have finished your degree and are graduating in the coming weeks, or are expected to return for another year or two, a gap year can be one of the best experiences of your life. You’re only young once, so whilst you’re not settled down with a full time job and a family, why not break for a gap year to get in some travelling?
There are so many places to visit in the world, so it can be a little tricky deciding where to go on your travels. Join us as we share ten dream destinations to visit on your gap year.
Australia is the world’s largest island, with a variety of different sights and places to discover, enjoy and peruse. For instance, on your trip down under, explore the lifestyle of the Aboriginal people, relax on one of the many luxury beaches, take a walk through the bustling cityscapes and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
Take a trip to Brisbane to experience its lovely year-round warm climate, go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef situated off the cost of Queensland, or visit Sydney for the famed Sydney Harbour Bridge or Sydney Opera House. Australia is also famed for its surfing, so plenty of gap year students come for this reason.
If relaxation and exploring natural beauty is what you’re after the most in your gap year, then Fiji is the best place to go. The islands of Fiji truly are beautiful, packed with lush jungles and waterfalls, to white-sand beaches and coconut palm trees. Regarded as one of the friendliest places to visit (the locals are on the whole, very approachable), it’s impossible to dislike this place.
From the clean, lush beaches, to the open-air markets, traditional food and the country’s Indian heritage in places such as the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, gap year students can come to indulge in a completely different, relaxed and spiritual place.
India stretches from the summits of the Himalayas to the tropical landscape of Kerala, and in between you will encounter a range of landscapes and cultures. Recommended places to visit include the magnificent Taj Mahal, the abundance of markets and spiritual temples. India is a place full of life, which you will experience the moment you step off the plane.
For those of you looking to gain some volunteer experience, India is a key place for this, due to the mixture of cultures, and the need for English speaking teachers in classrooms. Add in hot temperatures, beautiful landscapes and bustling cities, and this is truly going to be one of the most varied trips you have ever been on.
An island nation in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is filled with high-rising cities, palaces, mountains and parks, shrines, temples, good food and traditional and modern Japanese culture. Like India, Japan also embraces a mixture of cultures, bringing together an eclectic experience you will truly remember.
Tokyo, Japan’s capital, is the place to go for shopping, neon skyscrapers and its colourful, fun and totally unique pop culture. In contrast, Kyoto offers a more sedate and beautiful part of Japan, with its Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, gardens and beautiful blooming cherry blossom trees. Situated 2 and a half hours from Tokyo, Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful castles to find in Japan, and it is definitely worth a visit. The national dish of sushi is available to indulge in everywhere in Japan, along with other delicious offerings. As a gap year student, Japan is an excellent place to travel to volunteer and teach English to students.
Famed for its savannah safaris, Kenya combines deserts and alpine snows, forests and open planes, tribal cultures, coral reefs and plenty of natural beauty. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, there are plenty of opportunities for working, volunteering and exploring whilst on your gap year.
Top places to check out are the wildlife safaris in places such as Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, the surfing, snorkelling and fishing past times on the beautiful beaches of Malindi, or trek up Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.
New Zealand’s status as a popular tourist destination increased after Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies was filmed there. Whilst the country capitalises on this fact (even the Airport instructional video was at one point Lord of the Rings themed!), it is the natural beauty and its culture that are the main draws.
In New Zealand, we advise visiting Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, for strolls around the park, shopping, city tours, art galleries and museums and if you’re feeling brave, even an opportunity to bungee jump off Auckland Bridge. The Bay of Islands boasts gorgeous beaches that are perfect for indulging in water sports. Also, you can take a trip to the White Island, where the most active volcano in New Zealand is located. Many tourists pick this destination as the place for a scenic helicopter ride.
Peru effortlessly blends traditional Peruvian heritage with modern life. This blend is evident in Lima in particular. But if history is what you are after, head off to Cusco, a beautiful colonial city that was once the heart of the ancient Inca Empire, and is surrounded by mountain landscapes and ancient ruins. Due to the abundance of mountains, Peru, with Cusco in particular, is an ideal place to visit for hiking adventures. The most familiar destination to visit is the world-famous Inca Trail, which hosts the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu Inca citadel. To continue the history trip, head to Chan Chan to visit the Valley of the Pyramids.
Peru is also the perfect place to go to explore wildlife, landscapes, beaches and culture.
South Africa is bustling with impressive cliffs, distinct forests and lagoons, beautiful beaches, a warm climate and their own interesting culture. It presents a host of volunteering opportunities, but it is also a fantastic place to visit to see some fantastic sights.
We recommend visiting Cape Town and Cape Peninsula for its beaches and scenic beauty, along with a visit to Johannesburg for tours, exciting nightlife and shopping. Visit places like the Wild Coast, Robben Island and Durban Beachfront for more of South Africa’s beauty, or experience its wildlife at Kruger National Park.
A truly beautiful place, Thailand provides the perfect blend between tradition and modernity. This is particularly evident in Bangkok, where traditional temples and the indulgent Grand Palace effortlessly mix in with skyscrapers, bars, clubs and shops. Ko Samet and Ko Chang archipelago host beautiful white sand beaches, whilst the Khao Yai National Park revels in the beautiful floral and fauna of Thailand. Check out the River Kwai used during World War II, or popular tourist destination Phuket.
There are plenty of places to explore in Thailand, with a variety of work and volunteering opportunities at your disposal too, to ensure you have a truly fulfilling and memorable experience.
With 50 states to choose from, The United States of America is the perfect place for a road trip. Whilst the obvious places stand out as excellent tourist destinations (Orlando, Florida for Walt Disney World, New York for shopping and buzzing city life), America is filled to the brim with a variety of cultures, landscapes and experiences.
Visit Chicago for museums and culture, New Orleans for the jazz and musical vibes, and places like Seattle and Portland for varying landscapes. Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, is ideal for sightseeing opportunities, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial. The Grand Canyon provides one of the most inspiring views America has to offer. For something a little more glamorous, take a trip to Las Vegas.