Gap year. Abroad. Meaningful.
If the words alone get your heart racing and your mind rushing to catch up already, you’ve come to the right place. And now you might start to think…what would a meaningful gap year abroad look like? And what is it, exactly? The answer is really up to you! The possibilities are endless. If you can imagine it, you can do it.
Traditionally, a gap year is taken in the year between graduating from secondary school (high school) and starting college or university. It’s a year to explore, travel, and learn. A year to breathe. A reprieve from a studious schedule. Or rather, a different kind of learning — the kind that involves the world outside of your classrooms, engaging all of your senses, and stumbling upon new words and sights and tastes daily.
Oh yeah, did we mention adventure? Lots of adventure.
So what if you’re 50? What if you just got married and want to experience a honeymoon that lasts beyond a week in Cancún? What if you just lost your job, are soul searching, or in-between careers? What if you just want to travel and to see the world?
We’ve got you covered. Call it whatever you want. Take it whenever you hear the call. We’re here to provide the fuel you need to make it your very own. Here are some of our favourite ideas for how to make it the most memorable and meaningful year (or two or three) yet.
1. Unplug and meditate in a Buddhist education centre in Myanmar
In need of some quiet time and serenity? This Buddhist meditation centre nestled in a Yangon village might be just the place for you to reset and recharge. Join group meditation sessions and discussions with nuns, experience Burmese and Buddhist culture while helping with gardening, creating artwork, and teaching English.
2. Care for horses on an old Viking island in Sweden
Are you thinking about vetrinarian school or working with animals as a career? Animal lovers, find yourself at home! This family practices a lifestyle of respect and trust in their relationships with both humans and animals. They welcome volunteers to help care for their horses and also several dogs and cats!
Experienced hosts, they’ve had over 120 visitors stay with them and have great feedback from fellow Workawayers. Besides becoming a horse whisperer, you might even pick up some Swedish or Finnish while you’re there!
3. Posh up your CV by developing some professional (photography, marketing, videography) skills in Taiwan
This local tour company is looking for help guiding tours in English or Mandarin, website design assistance and more! Hone your travel photography and get published on their website and social media while learning the ins and outs of managing a local tourism company. Enjoy the creative freedom to truly leave your mark on this project while exploring a new culture.
4. Surf and SEO in Morocco
Delicious food, plenty of waves for surfing, and the chance to volunteer with an international team of experts! Welcome to paradise, Moroccan style. Need experience teaching or paddling? Help out at the surf camp or with digital marketing needs at this family run surfing school. Soaking up some sun and practicing new skills at the same time = major bonus.
5. Learn the art of craft beer brewing in Chile
From participating in local community activities and organizations to teaching volunteers all about craft beer production, these hosts are intentional about everything they do. Gain a whole-picture perspective with hands on training of the step-by-step process of brewing artisan cerevsa. In your free time, enjoy plentiful activities like trekking, fishing, cycling, and bird watching. There might even be a nearby beer festival to attend so you can show off the latest brew!
6. Cultivate change and grow in South Africa
A perfect Workaway for healthcare students or professionals, this couple started a non-profit that gives workshops to educate and encourage young women in the community about their health. They also run a sustainable, organic farm and collaborate with the community to develop and train new growers in the area. For Workawayers interested in a longer term stay with an interest in horticulture, organic practices, or learning about community organizing, this is the place for you!
7. Practice the art of adaptation with a Bedouin family in Jordan
Experience authentic hospitality and the traditional Bedouin way of life. Explore the desert, ride a camel, learn Arabic and become part of the family while helping Raad build his website and online presence. This Workaway provides a truly unique opportunity to learn how to thrive in new environments and is for those ready for an adventure!
8. Lend a hand renovating a cultural center in Slovakia
This community project is focused on creating a home for all of the arts: cinema, philosophy, literature, music, and more. Hoping to gain experience starting a social initiative in your own hometown? Want to become more handy and contribute to a wonderful cause? Step into a place of historical and cultural delight while gaining practical experience you can take with you anywhere.
So, now you’ve made up your mind to take a gap year, right? Whether you call it a gap year, sabbatical, mid-life crisis, or an adult recess, just go! And when your friends and family start to give you weird looks, just tell them it’s going to be one of the most meaningful years of your life.