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Gap Year Ideas

Gap Year IdeasTaking a gap year is a big decision and sets in motion a sequence of other decisions that can be made off the back of it.

There are all sorts of things you could do and far-flung countries you could visit, and the best thing of all is that you can fit in plenty of experiences into 12 months if you make the most of your time.

If you’re interested in taking a gap year but have yet to formalise your plans, take a peek at our gap year suggestions.

And remember, you don’t have to break the bank to have an unforgettable gap year!


Taking a gap year – travelling

A very common gap year idea is travelling. Many students seize the opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons or ‘find themselves’, and this may be the only time in your life that you’ll have the luxury of being able to spend an extended period of time abroad without work or family commitments.

Needless to say it can be expensive, but if the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ isn’t an option, you can work for a few months and save up before heading overseas. Offering your services for odd jobs and household chores no one likes doing can be very lucrative! 

Once you’ve got your funds together, if you’re an active person, gap year expedition operations might appeal. There are hundreds of companies around that offer everything from hiking through the rainforest in Borneo to helping build a well in rural Nicaragua. There are also some organisations and businesses that provide financial support for those taking a gap year. Such funds tend to have strings attached, ie you have to be doing something worthwhile, so have a Google if you’re intending to do some gap year volunteering.

Student case study

Student case studyJames, who took a year out between finishing his biology masters and starting work, says, “I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad but was initially unsure if I could afford it. I stumbled across an organisation that offered grants and it ended up making all the difference between being able to go and not.”

Learn a new language

For those looking for gap year ideas that encompass self-improvement, why not learn a language? There are plenty of language exchange programs which allow you to study a new language in the country itself, or if you’re more of a free spirit you could always move there and immerse yourself!

Learning a new language will add skills to your CV, and if you’re living in a new country you'll grow and develop as a person. A second language is a hugely valuable skill that will be a valuable asset to every international organisation or business.

Student case study

Student case studyElla, an English graduate, highly recommends learning a language as part of your gap year experience, she says, “I decided to bite the bullet and move to Spain for eight months.  Having a second language is such a useful skill and I thought if I didn’t go when I had the chance, I’d always regret it. My advice to anyone who wants to do the same would be to just do it; it’s a bit of a leap of faith but you’d be surprised how quickly you settle into a new country.”

Earn during your gap year

If you’re wary of being plunged into debt before you start your postgraduate or undergraduate studies, then you could consider earning money during your gap year. Teaching English abroad, being a helper at a summer camp, doing a ski season with a tour company (note – you don’t have to be a pro skier to get involved, tour operators also need hotel reps, chefs, bar/waiting staff), all pay a good enough salary to live on and even save for future endeavours. Or you could look for a year-long job or work placement abroad/at home in a field of work that could be of interest in the future. If you can earn some money during your gap year and avoid taking out loans, it will keep the cost of your postgraduate study down over the long term.

Try something new

In taking a gap year you have time and space to try different things without having to fully commit yourself at this stage in your life. There are almost too many gap year ideas to choose from but working out what activities or skills you want to prioritise should start reducing your options, leaving you with a year that’s stimulating, interesting and fulfilling.


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