If we are honest, gap years can be either be a huge hit or a dissapointing experience depending on what you do. It, really depends solely on the person and their intentions for the year/years.

While a gap year could turn out to be one of the best decisions of a person’s life; giving them the space to find themselves, identify their passions and help them to mentally and emotionally mature; it can also mean a year of laziness and stagnation for many others - especially those who don’t have a plan.

In order to make a gap year work for you, it’s vital that you are clear about what you want to achieve within that time, and why. Entering into a year without a clue of what you want to do, what you want to achieve, and why you have decided to take a year for yourself, is the quickest way to ensure you get nothing substantial done.

So, before you jump onto the gap-year bandwagon, use our helpful list to help you pinpoint what to do , and how if it will benefit you in the long haul.


What Do You Want to Achieve?

Your goals for your gap year will of course be personal to you, however, here is a checklist to help you identify what yours are.

The reason why most people decide to take a gap year is to:

  • See the world and learn about different cultures
  • Make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate
  • Identify passions and explore talents
  • Improve skills
  • Gain work experience

Find out which one appeals to you can really shape what you do and where you go.


Make Plans that Align With Your Goals

Do you want to see the world and learn about different cultures? Here are some great options:

Travel to Africa

If you’re eager to see a very unique part of the world and are serious about experiencing the beauty of different cultures, then a gap year in Africa is for you.

In fact, you’ll get more than you bargained for when you visit this exceptionally diverse continent because you’ll also get to feast your eyes on the world’s most coveted wildlife species; raw beauty that’s unlike anywhere else on earth and experience, first hand, one of the oldest cultures known to man.

Whether you spend time in the developing cities of Africa, or whether you venture into the majestic African bush, you’ll be deeply moved by the hospitality, the beauty, and the life-changing experiences that Africa is known for.

Tour South East Asia

South East Asia is a hotspot for anyone who's interested in rich culture and exotic travel. Just some of the places in Southeast Asia, include: Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam - all of which are highly popular destinations.

If you’re eager to earn some cash while on your journey, there are many opportunities to either teach English in Asia, help on organic farm s- or, you could get paid for your skills - especially if they could assist tourists, such as translating.

For just exploration, you might want to check out adventure tours in Asia.


Make a Positive Difference

Whether you want to have a positive impact on the lives of the less fortunate, help animals or do good, these are some popular avenues to explore:

Charity Work

There are many ways to improve the lives of others and make a positive difference. One way is through helping charities - giving up your time for the greater good of the community, or through spending time helping orphans and the elderly, who are in need of support, attention and love.

Surprisingly, there is a lot to learn from both children, and senior citizens - they’re usually very wise. And, there’s even more to learn from those that are less fortunate. The experience will give you a greater perspective on life and will help you to realise your blessings.


There are many places which have been badly affected by natural disasters, as well as other factors such as extreme poverty. Some countries are always in need of help in the form of international assistance, donations or volunteers.

There are organisations worldwide that recruit people to volunteer abroad to help areas in need. Some recommended companies to check out include IVHQ and Projects Abroad who place thousands of participants on global programs.

An opportunity of this nature will certainly teach you invaluable life-lessons, while giving you the chance to see different parts of the world.


Identify Your Passions & Expand Talents:

Want to expand your talents or improve your learning? Consider...

Take up part-time classes in a subject of your choice

To identify your passions and talents you’ll have to try many different things that interest you. Your passions are usually hidden in your interests.

The best thing to do is to write down all that is of interest to you (it doesn’t have to be something you do 24/7, it can even just be an area that intrigues you).

Then, learn more about these subjects by either reading books, going to seminar’s or taking up a part-time class that gives you the chance to dig a little deeper in this field.


Improve Skills:

There are lots of ways to improving your skills and experience, one popular way is:

Sign up for a short course

Improving your skills is one of the greatest investments you can make. The best way to better your skills is through signing up for short courses. Some examples include: a basic computer course, an excel course or even a public speaking course.

You will definitely use these skills in your future, whether it be in your career or in a personal capacity, and what’s great is you can add these courses to your resume - which will definitely better your chances when it comes to securing work.


Gain Work Experience:

Keen to make money or boost your experience?

Look for a job

Most young people struggle to find a fairly good job straight out of school because they have no work experience. Sometimes, all you need on your resume is to have at least one or two jobs that you’ve held, even if they weren’t fantastic roles. Most companies want to see that you are capable of, at least, responsibility.

Therefore, looking for a job abroad during your gap year can benefit you, especially when you want to secure a job within a corporate company.

If you want to stay local and not go overseas then the best part time jobs to consider include: store assistant roles, sales roles or even a waitering role.

Or if you are keen to pick up experience for your CV consider internships abroad - a great way to spend a productive gap year.