A growing trend in the United States and elsewhere is to defer college acceptance for a year after high school to travel. This year off is called a gap year, and can be a wonderful opportunity for recent high school graduates to see the world, expand their horizons, and have a better understanding of what they want to do, professionally. Unfortunately if a gap year is not properly planned out in advance, it can quickly turn into a year off spent living at home with a few weekend trips. Then, instead of adding value to your life, you’ve simply wasted a year. So to help ensure this doesn’t happen, here are a few travel ideas for your gap year.
Probably the most common destination for those taking a gap year, Europe can offer an opportunity to expand your horizons culturally while also allowing you to work on another language (or two). Speaking more than one language can open a number of doors later in life, so spending some time in Europe learning through immersion can be a great opportunity. Similarly, many careers have roots in Europe, so seeing how business is done there can give a wonderfully unique perspective. And if nothing else, seeing the history of the nations across the pond will give you new perspective on life and your place in the world.
South America can be a great way to understand nature like you simply can’t in the United States. If Biology is your thing, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer on animal sanctuaries, in rain forests, and so on. Beyond the ability to learn about nature first hand, you can also work on your skills speaking Spanish or Portuguese, depending on where you go, which can be great for your CV and resumè.
If you are interested in volunteering, there are tons of opportunities in Africa. You can help build schools, teach English, or work with organizations that distribute food and medicine. Spending time volunteering in Africa will give you a new perspective on life and appreciation for everything you have. Many have attributed time spent serving in Africa to later successes, as they changed their views on everything as a result. And if you can find the time to step away from your volunteer work, taking a safari will be an excursion you will never forget.
Something many don’t think of when they plan a gap year is that the United States is massive. Life from one coast to the other can be very different. Spending a year seeing the natural wonders of the United States can be inspiring, as can learning the history of the nation’s expansion and changes. Taking a year to really learn about the United States can help you to understand a lot about the people who live here, their unique struggles, and the various businesses that are born from them. Traveling the United States can help you as you grow professionally.
No matter what you decide to do with your gap year, be sure to use it wisely. You will never get another year to travel, grow, and learn, so don’t squander it at home.