Though I have never taken a ‘gap year’ myself I have had so many people emailing and asking great locations to do this. A lot of people want to do something fulfilling and worthwhile with their time, not just sightseeing – they want to make a real difference and gain some life experience. There are so many cool ways to do this, from volunteering for women’s charities to teaching English abroad – here I have made a small list of just a few ideas for you if you are considering a fulfilling gap year!
Teach English abroad
Native-speaking English teachers are a sought-after commodity and, if you have the right skills, teaching can be a great way to travel the world. Tefl runs 120-hour courses for first-time English teachers, which is enough to secure work abroad. Courses usually cost from £359, but if you book by midnight tomorrow they are reduced to £234. Most of the course is conducted online, but there are 20 hours’ classroom teaching. Once qualified you can teach in schools and summer camps. There are jobs in Mexico, Bolivia and Spain — none requiring a university degree.
Work in New Zealand
There are a growing number of organic farms in New Zealand and many are in need of extra hands. Willing Workers on Organic Farms (wwoof.co.nz) pairs volunteers with farms. There is no pay, but for four to six hours’ labour a day the hosts provide food, lodging and opportunities to learn about farming. There is also the chance to help with building projects and, on some farms, wine and bread-making. Flights are not provided and the length of stay varies.
Sign up to one of two Raleigh International (raleighinternational.org) programmes — Expeditions and ICS (international citizen service) — and you could find yourself helping out on a life-changing project in Tanzania, Malaysian Borneo, Nepal, Nicaragua or Costa Rica. The projects can be joined throughout the year, with the volunteer programmes lasting between five and ten weeks. Costs range from £2,350 to £3,450 although Raleigh will help with fundraising ideas. Travel, training support, food and accommodation, ground transport and specialist equipment are all included in the price. Projects range from working to build earthquake-resistant homes, installing water tanks in off-grid villages and helping to construct sanitation facilities.
Help out in Cambodia
Work with non-governmental organisations and local charities in Cambodia as they tackle issues such as poverty, abuse and domestic violence. During the 12-week programme you’ll learn about international development and human-rights work, as well as working on education and rehabilitation programmes. There are two bases — Phnom Penh and Siem Reap — and projects include vocational training for women, working with children from slums and orphanages, helping refugee or trafficked women at rehabilitation centres, and assisting with psychological therapy for women in need.
Work down under
Australia has always featured near the top of the gap-year tick list. Instead of ambling around on Greyhound buses and surfing, why not earn cash (and enhance your CV) at the same time? The Australian Working Holiday visa programme makes it easy. You must hold a British passport (or one from 18 other eligible countries) and be between 18 and 30. The visa allows a stay of up to 12 months, but you can only work for one employer for up to six months (two over the course of a year). The visa costs from £349 and can be arranged through STA Travel (statravel.co.uk).
It’s a great idea to help do your bit around the world with some spare time you have. Have any of these ideas really excited you? Have you done anything like this and want to share your experience or can recommend a location to do something similar? Let me know on the contact page! Gracias!