Despite the economic gloom, the gap year is still seen as something of a rite of passage. Rather than simply being viewed as a hunt for the world’s best beaches, modern young people are taking the chance to combine travel with learning. And wise they are too – a recent survey by YouGov revealed that 63% of human resources professionals agreed that a constructive gap year makes a job application stand out.
Working while abroad is a great way to earn money and gain something for the CV at the same time. The type of job available depends on the country being visited and the skill-set of the traveller. As a general rule, opportunities for teaching English, manual labour and agricultural work are available everywhere and to anyone. Other relatively easy-to-access roles include work in bars and the hospitality industry. Check in advance what a country’s visa requirements are for legally working there.
For those who have yet to find their niche in the job market, voluntary experience is a great way to road-test various careers. Volunteers don’t face the same pressures as paid employees so can use the chance to fully explore a role. Whether it’s in medicine, social work or conservation, the best experiences are those planned far in advance. This enables volunteers to find an independent placement and cut out expensive third-party organisations.
Learn a skill
Acquiring a skill while away is a popular alternative to working or volunteering. Many courses can be obtained for a fraction of the cost, and the setting is often more conducive. For example, young people’s travel specialist STA Travel offers a 24-day ‘Learn to sail in the Whitsundays’ course, which teaches travellers the skills needed to sail a yacht. PADI dive centres around the world teach scuba diving up to instructor level, as does the RYA. Aside from water sports, travellers can use their time to pick up a second language. Click here for more information.
Not everyone can afford the luxury of taking an entire year off to see the world. According to the Telegraph, the number of people taking a trip of more than four months has ‘fallen by 69 per cent in the last five years’. So-called ‘snap year’ breaks are filling the gap, providing short and sweet getaways for those with limited time and budget. STA Travel says that Asia and North America are the most popular destinations among those opting for a mini gap.
Whether you spend your gap year doing volunteer conservation work or taking German courses in Germany, find a way you can enjoy the experience while learning valuable skills.
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