10 Gap Year Ideas

We all want to travel. It seems like everyone wants to get out there and explore the world.

Thank god for that! It’s about time we all broadened our horizons, ventured out beyond our borders and had the collective time of our lives.

It can be tricky, though.

You may well be reading this from under a huge pile of assessment schedules or you’ve stumbled upon this magazine while sorting through letters from Scottish Power and the TV licensing people.

Never fear! Student Rag is like that friend you have who never gets too drunk and always helps you home after buying you chips: we’re here to help.

And on that note, RICHARD JONES suggests the 10 best travel ideas (that you can do in cheap-ish fashion) this summer.

Just remember to send us a postcard…

1) KIDS STUFF

There’s huge scope for going abroad, having an amazing time and keeping costs to a minimum.

One of the best ways to pack all that into one adventure is to do some au-pairing. As an au-pair, you work as a live-in child minder with a family that you choose.

You’ll get paid, which means you’ve got to get abroad yourself, although it is common for the family simply to cover your travel costs instead of paying a wage.

Depending on your hosts, you may need to know at least a little of their language, unless they speak English.

Don’t know anyone abroad? Don’t fret!

Websites like Workaway or AuPairWorld help you plan all the details and even put you in touch with hosts all over the world.

You contact them and work out a plan that suits you both.

Be careful, though, my friend’s sisters routinely ran out of money while au-pairing in Madrid, so it might be worth while taking some savings with you.

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2) MAKE IT OZ-SOME

IF you’re partial to stunning beaches, tropical reefs or untapped wilderness, then why not head Down Under for the summer?

Australian working holidays are popular mainly because the visa process is pretty simple and there’s a heap of websites, such as Smaller Earth, that help set you up with jobs, visas etc.

Just think, in a few short months you could be picking grapes in Western Australia’s vineyards, busting a gut on a ranch in the outback, or serving cocktails in Sydney.

Another plus is you’ll be earning money the whole time.

You will, however, have to spring for Visa costs and flights before you leave.

(Student Rag is not responsible for the sharks, snakes, spiders, crocodiles and scorpions that call Australia home)

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3) it’s good to talk

IF you’re looking for more of a cultural learning expedition, then why not spend your summer teaching English? It’s an option a lot of people are off doing.

Not only will you get to travel and learn a bunch of new skills, you will also get paid for your sterling efforts!

Programmes like TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) make it very easy to get involved, and many countries don’t even require you to have extensive knowledge in their language: they’ll teach you!

There are also lots of charitable organisations, such as Project Trust, that’ll set you up with placements round the world and you raise the money yourself.

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4) camp it up

Camp America is a non-profit organisation which links you up with an American summer camp, which you work at for the summer.

What’s an American summer camp, I hear you ask?

I could tell you all about it, although I’m pretty lazy so I’ll probably just copy it from their website: “Every summer, children look forward to spending anywhere between 1-9 weeks at camp and, for many, this is their time to break loose from every-day life, try new activities and really enjoy themselves.”

If you’re an outdoorsy, sporty, enthusiastic kind of person then CA is almost certainly for you.

It costs about £787 for the whole experience (which is pretty cheap considering the time you’ll be abroad) but everything is included.

For the fee, you’ll get help with visas, flights to New York, food, accommodation and all the free pens you can nab from the camp.

Oh, and possibly the time of your life as well.

It all starts from an application you can download from CA’s website.

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5) JAMAICA, MAN!

Alright, this one might not be to everyone’s liking, although if you’re willing to take a leap of faith it could be incredible.

Yerba Buena Farm (and others) in Jamaica offers limited internships beekeeping in the Caribbean.

If successful, you’ll learn a whole host of new skills and get to see some of most stunning destinations in the world in your spare time.

Not only that, you’ll be given all the necessary equipment for free and get to meet other travellers doing the same job.

There’s a catch, though, you’ll have to pay $1,500 per month for food and board.

Just head to their website for more.

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6) CHARITY BEGINS…

THE world needs your help, badly.

If you’d like to raise money for charity while having an experience you’ll never forget, there’s a host of organisations you can apply to.

International Citizens Service will set you up with a placement in Africa, Asia or South America working with locals.

You can also get involved with wildlife conservation or environmental projects based in impoverished nations.

Most are charitable organisations, so you raise the money yourself by doing bake sales, car washes and the like.

It can take a lot of planning, but in the end you could have an incredible experience while making a real difference.

7) HORSE AROUND

MY friend can attest to this being a seriously fun way to spend your summer.

If some serious adventuring is right up your street, then strap yourself in and head to North America.

In US states like Montana, Colorado and Arizona there are hundreds of dude ranches where you can try your hand at wrangling horses and cattle drives, there’s even jobs based indoors as chefs or housekeepers.

Further North in Alaska and Canada, there are hundreds more that offer activities like mountain climbing and hiking.

You’ll learn new skills, meet new people and get to marvel at some seriously natural beauty.

The downside is that there’s a lack of exchanges programmes that will set it up for you, but nothing stops you from sending out a few CVs.

You’ll have to spring for the flight and visa as well, but it might just be worth it.

 8) GET RADICAL

IF money is an issue (What’s your problem, money? Why must you always be an issue?) then you might be concerned about the cost of heading abroad.

There’s no guarantee of getting a job, so why not get creative and invent your own?

I’ve not gone crazy, so here me out.

One of my friends took a chainsaw course (paid for by a government scheme) and now gets paid a very handsome figure to clear old trees from millionaire’s estates.

Chainsaw-ing is perhaps extreme, but my sister managed to blag herself over $1000 for painting someone’s house while travelling in Australia, with absolutely no experience or qualifications.

Whether you’re planning on staying at home or fancy a trip abroad, get creative with capitalism.

Word of advice though, make sure you know the law wherever you are and don’t bite off more than you can chew, it took my sisters ages to paint that house.

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9) WE’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER

IF you really want to go on a proper adventure and do something seriously different, then this is the one for you.

A kibbutz is a traditional community in Israel where everyone involved works, farms and gets stuck in.

In return, they’re given free food, board and sometimes a modest wage.

John Carson, an English backpacker who spent two years in a kibbutz, says on his website “I have been a kibbutz volunteer four times on three different kibbutzim in the Negev Desert region and by the Dead Sea. Having lived in Israel for just over two years, I can attest to this being the best experience of my life.”

There are a great deal of websites that’ll help you organise your trip but kibbutz life isn’t for everyone.

You spend most of your days working hard and the conditions can be extremely basic.

You will, however, get to meet incredible people and experience something truly unique.

10) PARTY TIME

Sun, sand, vodka. Feel the excitement growing?

How does Ibiza sound?

If you want to be the life and soul of the party for a few months then apply direct to companies like Thomsons or Club 18-30 for repping jobs.

Alternatively there are sites like Air-Pro that will help you organise jobs in resorts such as Tenerife, Aiya Napa, Magaluf and Zante.

It all sounds too good to be true and my old grandad always used to tell me that means it probably is.

It will be a constant party, but don’t be fooled by all the glamour.

Reps spend most of their time organising the party rather than getting involved.

You will, however, get paid, around £400-£800 per month with commission on top, and you might even learn some Spanish.