What is a Gap Year? A Gap Year is a blank slate for you to create!

A Gap Year is like a tasting platter of the world. It’s the time to go and see what you’re into, and what you want to prioritize moving forward. A Gap Year is time away from studies and work - and the best part is that you design your own brilliant version of what that intermission might look like! 

'Gap Year’ might be a bit of a misleading term. It’s not always a year, it could be a semester or a mini semester. Some people called it OE, or overseas experience. It’s a bit of space you find somewhere between highschool and the end of college to take a chance to breathe, collect yourself and go out exploring. It might be two months, or it could be 14 months. You might work for half of it, and volunteer and travel the other half. You might travel on an organized program for part of it, then launch into independent travel. You might work in your hometown, or go and work at a surf camp in Portugal. You might do a program hiking through New Zealand followed by learning to sled with husky dogs in Alaska. The choice is yours and the possibilities are endless! This is the time to step out of line, take a chance and do something different. If you travel when you’re young, it will likely become a priority throughout your life. 

Gap Years have become popular in the past fifteen years or so, with top-ranking universities realizing their value in recent years. Colleges are encouraging students to get out there for some real-world experience before launching into committed study. It’s a no-brainer in many ways. We all need some time to spread our wings, explore our identity, and get some lived experience out there in the big wide world. It helps us become better decision-makers and responsible global citizens - and moreover, it’s a tonne of fun! 

Where should I go on my Gap Year? 

Sit down and have a think about why you want some time off? Do you want to stay close to home and duck over to Hawaii or Costa Rica? Do you want to push your comfort zone and go out camping in the mountains? Do you want to get as far away from home as possible and immerse yourself in remote communities? Are you looking to surf in Australia or Indonesia? Are you looking to practise Spanish in South America? Do you just want a group of friends to travel with? Maybe there’s a country you’ve always wanted to visit? Contemplate your desires, and then jump into the huge pool of options. 

Important considerations include time and money. Gap programs are between 30 to 70 days with Pacific Discovery, and you can even combine programs to make it a year abroad. It will be filled with adventure, travel and service learning regardless of where you go. Each program has a bit of a theme. If you’re not sure which program is for you, find your personality type below and connect it with a program!

Best Countries for Foodies: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

Picture steaming noodle soup with fragrant thai basil and markets that feel like the center of the universe. 

Program Options: South East Asia Gap Semester or Thailand Mini Semester

Best Country for Adventure Enthusiasts: Costa Rica 

Kayaking, rafting, hiking, surfing - what more could an adventure lover want? 

Program Options: Central America Gap Semester or Costa Rica Mini Semester

Best Countries for Pristine Wilderness and Outdoors Lovers: Australia and New Zealand 

Camping on mountains and beaches with insta-worthy backdrops galore. 

Program Options: New Zealand and Australia Gap Semester, New Zealand Gap Semester, Polynesian Journey Gap Semester or Australia Mini Semester

Best Countries for Sustainability and Nature Types: Hawaii 

Grounding service projects that are all about connecting with the Aloha spirit. 

Program Options: Polynesian Journey or Hawaii Mini Semester

Best Countries for Ocean Swimmers and Summer Worshippers: Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand 

Coconuts, diving and learning to live in remote island ecosystems. 

Program Options: Polynesian Journey Gap Semester

Best Countries for Personal Development: Nepal and India 

Buddhist monasteries, hiking in the Himalayas, checking out the Taj Mahal and colorful Rajasthan. 

Program Options: Nepal and India Gap Semester

Best Countries for Culture: Ecuador, Peru and the Galapagos 

From swimming with seals to service in the Amazon to hiking around Machu Picchu. 

Program Options: South America Gap Semester

Best Program for Coastal Road Tripping and Beaches: Australia and Bali 

Check out the quintessential stops on the east coast of Australia in your group van and hop over to the laid back islands of Bali. 

Program Options: Australia and Bali Gap Semester

Best Countries for Animal Lovers: Thailand or Costa Rica 

Elephant sanctuary or sloth bear rehabilitation center; which do you prefer? 

Program Options: South East Asia Gap Semester, Thailand Mini Semester, Central America Gap Semester or Costa Rica Mini Semester

Every Gap Year is unique, and the life lessons learned vary between individuals. You will emerge with more independence and confidence wherever you decide to go on your Gap Year. The programs spark curiosity and the adventurous spirit within. They also give you the tools and skills to travel independently. Many of the skills honed during programs are transferable to life back home and your future career.  

Why Should I Do It? 

Now more than ever before we are looking inwards and asking the big questions. Gap Years exist at the intersection of higher education, careers and big decisions. Intentionally positioning yourself in a safe and wholesome shared space with skilled mentors will set you up for the next chapter in your life. Come and dip your toes in the sand and find some purpose, shared connection and epic memories.

Check out all of our upcoming programs here.



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Author Orla O'Muiri Posted

Category Gap Year Planning Departure Spring 2023