Gap Year

A Gap Year is typically taken by students in between the year they complete high school and the year they start university or college. Often, students and professionals take a year off, but there’s nothing set in stone about the length of time a Gap Year should last.

Although it’s a commonly sought after option, a Gap Year doesn’t necessarily involve traveling to an exotic destination and laying on the beach. There are many different things Gap Year hopefuls can engage in while enjoying a break from their studies such as volunteering and humanitarian projects (both locally and abroad), work placement programs and internships, language studies, employment, and more. According to Wikipedia, some students and professionals like to refer to this time off as a sabbatical year.

Taking a gap or sabbatical year is widely encouraged more and more all of the time because it gives students a chance to gain some independence while experiencing new and interesting things, both close to home and abroad. Many students report gaining a better sense of what they want to pursue for their future education and careers after taking some time off from their studies.


Gap year travel is not by any means a new concept. In fact, one of the first known educational volunteering charity projects was organized in 1967. Wikipedia reports that the project sent three volunteers to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. We found similar projects taking place in countries like Cambodia and Africa and they are organized a few times a year.

After 1967, other organizations and companies were formed and followed suit by using the educational volunteering and charity platform. Over the years, these programs have evolved into some amazing opportunities for young people.

Countries and Regions

Below, we have listed some of the countries most commonly visited by gap year travelers each year.


There are many opportunities to volunteer and help build up local communities in Africa. Due to its poverty-stricken pockets and regions, a diverse amount of projects have been put together to help alleviate some of the conditions experienced by the people there. There are also opportunities to get involved in anti-poaching projects and don’t forget about having the opportunity to go on an African Safari.


Similar to Africa, the challenges and needs are much the same in terms of getting clean drinking water, food, safe shelter, clothing, and education. There are a lot of different countries and regions to choose from in Asia.

South America

Some of the more popular volunteering programs in South America are building and fixing up poverty stricken communities and wildlife conservation. This of course is not a comprehensive list, but should give those interested in taking a gap year to this region an idea of what to expect. The rain forest is also an interesting and enchanting place, so a visit to a South American country should be on any traveler’s list.

Recommended Resources and Sites