Top 10 best gap year destinations

top 10 best gap year destinations

Australia tops the poll of best gap year destinations

With hundreds of thousands of students getting their A-level results today, Australia, Thailand and the USA have topped a pool of the top 10 best gap year destinations.

According to UCAS, which manages university applications, around 25,500 school and college leavers are deferring their university place and many of these will be taking a gap year trip before starting their courses next Autumn. As a result, travel association Abta polled its members who specialise in gap year travel to come up with the top 10 gap year destinations. They are:

New Zealand
South Africa

In an effort to encourage safe travel for the thousands who will be taking a Gap Year, Abta offers the following advice:

* Choose a reputable gap year travel company with a good track record that is a member of a trade association, such as Abta, so you have a point of contact and support should anything go wrong.

* Check with your travel agent and with the Foreign Office for dos and don’ts and “no go” areas for the country you’re visiting.  They will also tell you about visa requirements and how to get relevant visas, which is especially important if you’re going to be working.

*Research local customs and culture before you go to understand more about the host destination and avoid unwittingly causing offence.

* Make sure you’ve had all the necessary jabs and inoculations; do this at least eight weeks before you travel.

* If you’re going to a country where malaria is prevalent always take anti-malarial medication and always finish the course.

* Get a good quality travel insurance policy and make sure it covers the activities you want to take part in. The cheapest policies will not necessarily provide you with the level of cover needed for a lengthy stay overseas, or for extreme sports.

* Think carefully about the kind of activity you’ll be doing; working, volunteering or learning a skill will be good for your CV.

* If you’re travelling to a non-English speaking country take some language lessons before you go, you’ll find it much easier to fit in when you first arrive.

* Tell your bank where and when you’ll be travelling to reduce the risk of them stopping your card.

* Keep electronic copies of all your important travel documents.

* Keep a list of emergency contact numbers in a safe and accessible place.

Gaining work experience and funds rather than just having an extended holiday

Although your gap year still represents an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself, increasing numbers of gappers are looking to gap year specialists to provide them with opportunities to gain work experience as well as using this as an opportunity to fund and extend their trips.

Most popular gap year activities

The most popular type of gap year requested by school and college leavers for 2014/5 are work-experience placements abroad. These include activities such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language, bar work and internships. Following these are volunteering trips, with many students choosing to work with local communities in developing countries. Booking through a reputable company is particularly important for volunteering trips as is doing your research thoroughly and committing to a project that properly suits both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Looking for adventure

Adventure gap years are also proving popular, with gappers looking to take part in overland tours, trekking, cycling and scuba diving. The more traditional round-the-world backpacking gap year still remains popular with gappers also looking for cultural options.

Victoria Bacon of ABTA says: “Taking a gap year can be one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in a young person’s life and young people up and down the country will be heading off in the next 12 months, often spending thousands of pounds of savings on their travel plans. Doing plenty of research and talking to reputable gap year travel companies can help you decide what to do and where to go – it is very important that whatever your gap year involves you plan it properly, to help ensure a safe and rewarding experience.”

For more information visit