Updated December 9, 2020 by Clarisse
Coming up with gap year ideas can be a pain in the butt. It is mainly because there aren’t very many ways to do a gap year, especially if you want to travel.
This sentiment is especially true when you want to do a gap year after college. As a recent graduate, you most likely do not have too much money saved up. I know I didn’t.
Luckily, the highlights of this article will either help you earn money or will help you cut down on major costs.
These top 5 gap year ideas are also relatively easy to get into, as you won’t need much of an experience.
Now, I do have to let you know that I’ve only done one of the items on this list. But the other ones are either on my next things to try or I’ve met others who have done something similar.
The working holiday visa program, which is the first topic we will discuss, is my favorite. As you will see below, this is the one that I’ve done and the gap year that changed my life.
The other four are great ideas for those that want to try something a little different. You know, before jumping into the world of 9-5 (that is, if you choose to come back at all).
1. Working Holiday Visa
A working holiday visa (WHV) is a program where you can go to a country of your choice for one year and be able to live and work. The highlight of this program is to encourage cultural exchange among younger people.
In its simplest term, it will allow you to experience what it would be like to be a local of that country.
Each place will have its own set of rules for those wanting to travel there. This means that not everyone would be able to go to the country they desire. Most of the time, this is a reciprocal agreement.
Luckily for Americans, there are two eligible countries available: Australia and New Zealand.
The WHV is perfect for those aged between 18-30, and want to take a gap year after college. It’s great because there are unlimited ways to earn money while living life abroad.
For my gap year back in 2018, I chose Australia. One of the biggest reasons was that more backpackers were residing there. Thus, making it the best place to start for first-time travelers.
The application process is pretty easy to follow. I finished mine within one day and received my acceptance letter within a few minutes.
Now, please know that the timeline for this will be different for everyone. But, for the most part, it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.
It’s good to keep in mind that everyone will have their own unique experience.
But a WHV is the easiest visa to apply for if you would like to experience what it’s like to live in these two countries.
To be honest, this trip changed my life and it is the biggest reason why I am still traveling to this day.
Most people even use their gap year to earn as much money as they can to save up for new adventures after their year is up.
It is a great program that I 100% recommend. It is something you should consider if you want a gap year without needing to tap much into your savings.
2. English Teacher
Teaching English abroad is another great way to earn money during your gap year. In fact, for most backpackers, this is their favorite way to start their traveling journey.
Why is it that most globetrotters prefer to take this route? It’s quite simple.
Travelers from English speaking countries get the chance to experience life abroad. Think about it. You can teach something you’ve learned all your life and already know while getting paid to do it.
You will immerse yourself in the everyday culture of the country of your choice. All the while needing to meet only a few requirements for an English teacher’s role in a foreign country.
What are those requirements? Let’s take a look.
First, most places will only hire you if you have the following:
- A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate from an accredited program
- Passport from an English-speaking country (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland)
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject
It’s not to say that it’s impossible to get the job without these, but you may have a much harder time doing so. If you are eligible, teaching English is a viable option worth looking into.
For the TEFL course, it sounds a lot more formal than it is. You can take the course online by doing a quick google search. Most of them will take you 2-3 months to finish on average.
Personally, I recommend TheTEFLAcademy if you want to check them out.
This is where I got my TEFL certificate, as they are an accredited program with excellent reviews.
As I checked out the reviews of several companies over the course of a few days. I chose them for their quality, accreditation, and price.
Please note that most courses average about $300 depending on which one you choose to do.
I’ve met many au-pairs along the way during my gap year in Australia. It’s a great way to earn a little bit of money on the side while receiving free accommodation.
If you are good with kids and have a knack for taking care of them, this gig is perfect for you. Now, most people in au-pair programs tend to be on a working holiday visa. But, some people will take you in as an au-pair and make the payments in cash. It will depend on you if you are comfortable with this arrangement, but it is possible.
The best place to start is to do a quick internet search. You can also join several Facebook groups dedicated to matching families and au-pairs.
Internships are perfect if you are still an undergrad or if you are in graduate school. I know a couple of my friends have interned in different parts of the world, and they immensely enjoyed it.
In fact, I met one of my German friends during her time as an intern in Dallas. If you are a student, ask your university if they have a program that will let you intern abroad.
You could also go a different route and see if they have any semester abroad programs as well. I spent almost three months traveling through Europe at the end of my University days. The best part is that every dime was paid for with scholarships through the school.
You never know what you’ll find, and it never hurts to ask.
There could be programs you’ll find that your school is providing that might pique your interest. So yes, go into the office and find someone that can help you figure out options. Discover the possibility of spending a few months to a year abroad while you’re still in school.
5. Farm Work
Have you ever heard of WWOOFing? It stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The principle of this organization is pretty simple. Their purpose is to create cultural exchanges between volunteers and farm owners.
While this will not be a paid program, it is a great avenue to dip your toes in the traveling lifestyle. Plus, you will learn so much through your volunteering efforts.
WWOOFing will provide you with accommodations and food during your stay at the farm. Of course, this will be in exchange for a specified hour of work for the duration of your time there.
If you visit their website, you will find that there are many countries to choose from. Make sure that you take the time to familiarize yourself with what you’re getting into.
Farm work is not going to be easy. But if you do a quick internet search, you’ll find that most people enjoyed their time doing it.
I’ve also met a few people who worked on farms, and most had positive things to say about their time.
For sure, you will gain fond memories to look back on and a unique story to tell that only a few in the world would have.
If farm work isn’t your thing, you could also look up a few other organizations online that you could volunteer for.
Just remember that out of the five choices here, volunteering is the one that won’t give you a chance to earn money.
But, it is still a great way to give back to the community if you are up for it. All the while gaining experiences that will add to your life and allow you to travel the world.
Take Your Gap Year Now
The five gap year ideas I’ve highlighted above are the most popular ones amongst backpackers.
These options will give you a chance to work either in exchange for cash or accommodation. Either way, they allow you to become a part of something different. There is no better time for you to start exploring everything that the world has to offer than right now.
Yes, these are not glamorous jobs where you’ll get to set sail on a round-the-world trip in a private yacht, drinking and partying all day long. But, they will give you unique experiences that will be worth the stories of a lifetime.
Taking the gap year to Australia changed my life. I hope that by writing this, I have inspired you to go out and take on your life-changing adventure too.
As always, I want to say a big thank you for being a part of LiveLifeOTBP!