Category Archives: GAP Year

GAP Year

With decisions lurking around teh corner, some students are rethinking their fall plans, perhaps to take a year off instead. But what to do during your GAP year? Phillips Andover keeps an impressive set of links

Want to go to some far flung corners? Try Thinking beyond boarders offers more than just cultural and travel immersion. Their unique TBB program “immerse you in an unparalleled learning environment to examine the roots of our world’s biggest problems. You’ll determine how your talents and passions can become valuable tools in creating meaningful change.”

Go Overseas offers student centric reviews. Other helpful websites include


  • American Gap Association – As an independent non-profit, AGA is leading the industry by offering accreditation to gap year program providers that meet rigorous safety and quality standards. You can find a list of accredited programs and various other resources on their site.
  • TeenLife – Includes brief descriptions and links to program providers, categorizes them by interest area, and offers links to gap year consultants.


Other interesting programs 

Forbes Magazine on Bridge Years

Gap year advice: “If terrorists finger you, break out singing “O Canada”!

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF over at the New York Times serves up 15 ways to stay safe when traveling abroad. He is a big advocate of real world experiences:

If colleges provide credit for dozing through an introductory Spanish class, why not give credit for a “gap year” in a Bolivian village? If students can learn about microfinance while sitting comatose in 9 a.m. lectures, couldn’t they learn more by volunteering with a lender in a Bangladesh slum?

In fact he offers a free trip contest each year.

GAP Year idea #8: Live Vicariously

Bebo has launched a new reality TV series on the net following a group of young people on a GAP year experience. The participants are Canadian Andre Tardiff (24), New Zealander Lewis Whaitiri (22), American Cara Cioni (24), Roxanne Hughes-Monteiro (18) from Ireland, Dave Brett from the UK (19) and Amy O’Connor from Australia (23), and were drawn from more than 400 applicants.

GAP Year Idea #7: Project Trust.

Project trust bills itself as the original gap year experience, operating in 22 countries around the world–The Americas, Asia and Africa. They ahve been around since 1967, so their longevity should give you some trust. They have four main objectives:

To give young people the opportunity to learn about a wider community than that in which they have lived so far, in a country with a different culture to their own, and for a length of time which enables them to appreciate the complete cycle of the seasons.

To let them learn to use their imagination and skills by undertaking work which they may never have done before, to take up new interests and to utilise their initiative and resourcefulness to help others.

To return with an objective appreciation of both the community they lived in overseas and their home community, to use their newly learned skills to benefit others and to have a clearer picture of what they want to acheive in the future.

To help others at home to understand the culture of countries outside their normal experience.
Read more here.

Here is a lovely news article about a student coming to China with project Trust.

GAP Year idea #6: Top ten must sees

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Must-Sees for Gappers
Lonely Planet has their top ten list…and I offer my perspective on their choices:

  1. Uluru (Ayer’s Rock, Australia): The mystical read heart of Australia. My Take: I spent a year in Australia on my gap year and never made it here. I was poor boy and it was a long way from pretty much anything. I did get to travel from Cairns all along the coast to Sydney and all the way to melboune not to mention several weeks in New Zealand. The big red rock held some allure, but not enough to get there. I would love to do it along with the Northern Territory adn Western Australia.
  2. Angkor Wat (Cambodia):A world wonder of extensive temples built by the former Khmer empire. My Take: Just a few years ago NASA satalites revealed another series of buried temples in what is one of spectaluar and inchanting places on Earth. An absolute must of you a photographer. How did this empire rise…and fall. Look into our own horrow staring back at you from the glass pagoda with skulls from the killing fields a reminder of Cambodia’s more recent horrific past.
  3. Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail (Peru): This classic trek takes you to one of the wonders of the ancient world. My Take: YES. The trail is even better than the fable los city. And the lost city is very good. There is a two day trek or the more classic four day trek, but I am more curious about the 8 day high trecks and even getting to the other Inca trails that dot the Andes. I loved this trip so much I brought a group of students to do it on my second journey.
  4. Lhasa (Tibet): The Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and bruised heart of Tibetan culture. My Take: This one is breaking my heart. I have always wanted to go…and especially on the train. But with recent problems, I suspect it wil not be accessible for the independent traveller until the spring. Actually my friends tell me the Tibet culture is very much alive in Yunan and Sichuan and a few of the boarding provinces.
  5. San Francisco: The nation’s most un-American city is also it’s most beautiful, outrageous and fun-loving. Great city. Great beauty. Great chowder.
  6. Dogon Country (Mali): A stunning escarpment forms the backdrop for a unique animist culture. My Take: I have not yet hit Africa…but I really want to. Friend who lived in Ghana did a road trip here and loved it. The music is amazing.
  7. Dubrovnik & Dalmatian Coast: Jaw-droppingly beautiful coastline and a fabulous 1300-year-old walled city. MY Take: Maybe I need another gap year, yet another place I have not yet gone.
  8. Petra (Jordan): Spectacular rose-coloured city hewn from the rock amid stunning scenery. My Take: My sister used to run a pension in Turkey. She loved this place. And Indiana Jones found immortality there.
  9. Central Kyrgyzstan: Gorgeous highland lakes and valleys, where you can visit the Tash Rabat caravanserai, a 15th century inn on the old Silk Road. I have hit the Chinese side of the Silk Road and found it fascinating. Actually, like the Inca Trails there are many silk roads, so it is worth exploring.
  10. Kathmandu (Nepal): The ultimate backpacker hangout, with bars and temples. Year ago, I wrote a piece about Katmandu that was published in the student newspaper at Simon Fraser University, the peak. Read it here

12/05/97 — the lastword: Outside the big weird in Katmandu

Every intersection provides a focal point of activity. Shrines and temples allow congregations of men to have smoke and swap stories of different times. The women are rarely seen in these places unless they are selling things. A man walks buy playing a Violin type thing. It sounds very cool- very Nepalese. I try and play it. It sounds very awful–very much like a cat caught in the wheels of a rickshaw. Beggars with no fingers ask for money. Everywhere I turn someone is asking something of me. I am part of the great tourist trade that puts money into their pocket and feeds their families and educates their children. Nowhere am I more aware of the sheer poverty of a country, than here. Dirt ground into skin not washed for days. teeth yellowing with decay. Hungry eyes connecting to hungry bellies. I know I should bargain more, but what is another dollar to me?

GAP year idea #5: Top ten tips

Charlotte’s 10 Tips for a Great Gap Year

  1. A successful gap year is a well-structured gap year.
  2. Spend 12 months planning your gap year and saving up.
  3. Unless you’ve got lots of rich relatives, fundraising can be a time-consuming waste of time, most gappers these days get well-paid jobs or work all the hours under the sun to save for their gap year.
  4. Do not neglect to buy travel insurance
  5. Do a fi rst-aid course or a survival course before you depart
  6. Don’t be afraid of going on your gap year alone – you’ll meet many more people that way.
  7. Use an online diary to keep in touch – they’re fab – interactive maps to plot your route, you can upload your photos and you have a messageboard to keep in touch.
  8. Only pack the essentials and plan to buy much of what you need on the road.
  9. Buy your backpack six weeks before you go so if it breaks on the road, it is a road in your home town and you can take it back before you depart.
  10. Don’t underestimate the power of the international phonecard to save you money when keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

From the Lonely Planet

GAP Year idea #4: Live Vicariously

Bebo has launched a new reality TV series on the net following a group of young people on a GAP year experience. The participants are Canadian Andre Tardiff (24), New Zealander Lewis Whaitiri (22), American Cara Cioni (24), Roxanne Hughes-Monteiro (18) from Ireland, Dave Brett from the UK (19) and Amy O’Connor from Australia (23), and were drawn from more than 400 applicants.

Gap Year Idea #3: Heifer International

The International Counselor is a big fan of Gap years….and serials. So in yet another serial posting over the next few weeks I hope to profile various GAP year ideas. I have many more listed in the back pages…click here.

Today’s profile:

Heifer International has three ways to volunteer:

Community Volunteering

Learning Center Volunteering–hands-on way to experience sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty while working on a experimental farm. Residential volunteers, who must be at least 18 years of age,
facilitate much of the educational programming that teaches and
promotes sustainable solutions. Residential volunteers at each center
benefit from on-site housing, stipends (minimum one-month commitment)
and a strong community connection with other staff.

International Center Volunteering

heifer international promotional video