It might seem disingenuous to try and offer a definitive list of what you should do on a gap year, as the whole point of backpacking is to see the world your way. Still, you need some kind of plan before you jet off, right?
Chances are you’re not going to pack everything here into a single trip, so consider it the beginning of a beautiful bucket list that’ll keep your wanderlust stoked for many years to come.
10 things you should do on a gap year
1. Dance the night away at a Full Moon Party
It’s not a gap year without a trip to Thailand, and there are few more significant backpacking rites of passage than a Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. As the moon rises, revelers drenched in neon and wielding buckets of beverages flock to the beach for a party that doesn’t end until the sun comes up (or your body gives breaks down).
2. Surf Bondi Beach in Australia
While we’re talking about beaches, Bondi is arguably Australia’s most iconic. Easily accessible from Sydney, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to don your board shorts and carve some totally choka waves/wipe out flat on your face and embarrass yourself. Or maybe just work on your tan and watch the pros do it.
3. Bungee jump in New Zealand
You know all about its photographic landscapes, but New Zealand is also the home of extreme sports and activities. The world-famous Nevis Bungy in Queenstown takes you in a cable car across a canyon 134m over the Nevis River, leaving you to plummet to the water’s surface (and back). If you can handle this, you can handle anything New Zealand might throw at you.
4. Drive Route 66 in the USA
Taking a gap year is all about freedom, and hitting the USA’s most iconic highway behind the wheel of some classic American muscle (or sensible gas-conserving alternative), friends in the backseats and Springsteen blasting from the speakers is the most liberating feeling in the world.
5. Go Inter-railing across Europe
Europe is so crammed with famous sights and cities that seeing it all in a single trip can seem impossible. An InteRail ticket gives you near-limitless train travel across the continent, so you’ll have the freedom to plot a unique itinerary to see all the places you really want to see, from Paris through to Turkey and everywhere in between.
6. Spot the Big 5 on safari in Tanzania
Camera at the ready, because going on safari in Tanzania is all about sighting the famous ‘Big 5’ game animals: elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, lions, and leopards. You’ll also see zebras, giraffes, and maybe even a flamingo or five. Practice your best Attenborough voice and prepare for your Instagram to look amazing.
7. Sail the Whitsundays in Australia
Australia is the ultimate gap year destination (and also unfathomably huge), so we just had to feature it twice. You can’t ignore the Whitsunday Islands, a series of paradisaical havens famous for their crystalline waters and pristine white sand beaches littered with bronzed tourists begging to never have to leave.
8. Meet Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a must-see gap year destination, and if you’re there you literally can’t miss Christ the Redeemer standing tall over the city. Climbing (or getting the train) 710 meters up Corcovado mountain not only allows you see the statue up close, but also offers spectacular panoramic views across the sprawling, vibrant city.
9. Chase the Northern Lights in Iceland
The natural wonders of Iceland make it a bit like visiting another planet, especially in the frozen grip of winter. Spend your days marveling at geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes, and then as night falls seek out a clear patch of sky to glimpse the otherworldly Aurora Borealis, ribbons of spectral luminescence oscillating across the sky.
10. Stretch your soul with yoga in Bali
A gap year – and the *ahem* excesses involved – can wreak hell on your fitness plan, and make you feel tired out to boot. A trip to Bali in Indonesia is the perfect way to recharge and get in touch with your spiritual side with a course of early morning yoga. The backdrop of romantic beaches and dreamy sunrises makes it all worth it, trust us.
Regardless of where you decide to go, let us help you get there! Check out our flight deals, and save that money for once you get to your destination.