Instead of following the hordes of Westerners to Thai beaches for weeks of clichéd Full Moon parties, why not experience new cultures, learn a foreign language, develop new skills and have the time of your life? There’s also the added bonus of having something to make your CV stand out on your return and eventual job hunt. With these alternative Gap Year recommendations, you’ll have some interesting answers to that question of ‘So, what did you do or learn on your gap year?’ besides ‘get a tan’ or ‘party for weeks on end…’.
Live With the Locals, Mongolia
If you yearn to get to know a new culture, then this is the trip for you. You’ll spend time with a nomadic family in the Mongolian Steppe, learning from the locals whose lifestyle has remained unchanged for over a millennium. Expect to ride horses, herd cows and produce foods including butter and cheese. You’ll also be playing with the kids and trying your hand at new sports, as well as teaching a bit of English to help pay your way. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll discover so many things about a new culture and about yourself that you’ll never forget this experience.
Go Wild With Wildlife, Fiji
Calling all nature lovers! For the chance to work alongside scientists conducting research into the local marine wildlife, a gap year in Fiji would be perfect. You could be placing or retrieving advanced underwater camera equipment, analysing data or even helping to tag baby sharks. If you’re even considering going into conservation later on, this would be the perfect starting point.
Culture Vultures: Flock to Peru
For those with a passion for culture and history, you couldn’t do much better than Project Abroad’s Wari and Incan Archaeology experience, located not far from Peru’s Cusco in the Lucre Valley. You’ll work alongside experts uncovering pre-Incan artefacts, and help local authorities and charities to map unregistered structures to preserve the proud national heritage. Added bonuses include salsa lessons, cooking classes and community lectures and work, so you’ll get a truly immersive experience.
Top Tips for a Great Gap Year
Make sure your passport is nowhere near its expiry date, as some countries won’t let you in unless you have at least 6 months left. On the topic of passports, bring plenty of copies! Crossing land borders between developing nations often requires a photocopy of your passport, and if you don’t have one they’ll hit you with a hefty fine. Make sure you have all the vaccinations and medications you need for the places you’ll be visiting, and bring a decent first aid kit with you just in case.
Whether you’re border hopping or lucky enough to do a few of these amazing Gap Year experiences, make sure you have comprehensive annual multi-trip travel insurance. You never know what might happen when you’re venturing into the great unknown, and it’s best to be covered for all of your exciting adventures.
Ethan Bailey is an experienced adventure traveller and insurance expert with the team at Let's Go Insure. Ethan’s passion is to inspire his clients to go just that little bit further, deeper and higher on their travels and his expertise in providing the ideal insurance cover allows them to do just that. If you're looking for the best annual multi-trip travel insurance Let's Go works with the most experienced underwriters, intermediaries and insurers to offer a range of competitive insurance without compromising on cover.