Have you ever dreamt of taking a break in formal education and travelling the world, but you don’t know what you can actually do on your journey? Choose some activities that will not only make the trip joyful, but also interesting and, in a way, educational. Learning is fun; the point is to do it the right way. Travelling is not only learning in itself, it’s also the process of learning how to learn. As chaotic as it sounds, it’s true. Travelling is exciting, isn’t it? It’s adventurous and captivating. You meet people, find out new things and get to know some facts. You see how fascinating it is to gain knowledge and skills. You learn how to learn with joy. That’s why, if you allow the journey to inspire you, everything will seem different and more interesting even when you get back home. Here’s a list of 6 amazing things you can do during your gap year travel.
This will bring benefits to you and those you will work with. First of all, as a volunteer you can do something useful, support people or spread great ideas. Secondly, you get a chance to learn a lot, develop skills and interests, boost your curriculum, find out what you like doing and what you don’t. Volunteering is not only about giving, it’s about receiving too. There’s a variety of projects, just find something you’re enthusiastic about, be it working in a German kindergarten, teaching English in Cambodia, organizing a rock festival somewhere in US or helping out in a nature reserve in Iceland. Keep one thing in mind though: check the organization carefully. Volunteers are not workers and they shouldn’t replace them. You’re supposed to help, not do someone else’s job. Make sure the program makes sense and it’s brining something good to the local community instead of damaging it. Unfortunately, many organizations try to make a business out of volunteers, while it shouldn’t be this way. After all, it’s volunteering, not vacationing, but don’t be discouraged! Just stay cautious, think twice, choose right and enjoy, it can be a wonderful experience.
The first benefit is obvious: earning money. Who doesn’t need it? Most of students surely do. So get to work, save some money, then spend it on travelling, pay tuition fees or rent for the first months in a dorm. Choose a nice place, so that you could combine the hard work with some great experiences. What about being a waiter in the bustling city of London? Or an au pair in Canada? Make it an adventure. Find a small farm in the rural areas of Ireland and take care of animals. Be a tour guide in Australia. Pick grapes in France or sell your paintings on the streets of Vienna. You’ll come back with a collection of memories, new practical skills and more mature attitude towards life. Besides, your future employers will surely appreciate the fact you’re an active, courageous person.
Dance on the streets, sleep under the starry sky, climbs striking mountains and taste exotic fruit you didn’t even know existed. Travel from one place to another and explore each destination. Backpacking is enjoyable, but it’s more than just fun. It’s a great lesson too: you learn how to be independent, open-minded, how to ask for help and share with others, how to deal with stressful situations, be flexible, strong and decisive. Through meeting many people you get more social and confident, so looking for a job, dealing with lecturers, teachers and co-workers will surely become easier. Institutions are not the only source of education, travels are too.
Learning a language
Everyone knows how useful it is to speak foreign languages and how many doors it opens: to work places, houses of new friends and numerous opportunities. You can attend a course, live with a host family and take regular lessons. You can also simply learn while travelling. Pick a language and go to the place where it’s being spoken. Want to be fluent in Spanish? Go to Spain, work, volunteer, travel around and speak with people. Is Japanese your thing? Japan then, try to get a job there or an internship.
Doing something creative
Paint your journey or write about it. Make a video. Start a blog. Find some art communities around the world and join them. Conduct a science project or anthropological research. Count stars, rocks, flowers, describe or draw them. Participate in pottery classes or sustainable architecture course. Whatever creativity means to you, develop it. There’s plenty of things you can do while travelling, just think of all your hobbies, or perhaps some activities you suspect might become your interests soon as you try them out, ask yourself how can to combine them with travelling and do it.
They can inspire you. Pay attention to everyone you encounter. A conversation, even a few words heard from a stranger can change a lot. When you travel, you meet lots of new people all the time, you’re exposed to a variety of ideas, attitudes and points of view. Perhaps a granny who will take a seat next to you on a bus will tell you a wonderful story of her life and, as you come back home, you’ll feel like to ask some questions to your own granny. Perhaps a boy you’ll share a dorm with in a backpacker hostel will tell you about how he’s just arrived from Thailand and you’ll decide it should be your next destination. You might find out what you want your future career to be, because of someone’s positive influence, discover a new passion or share yours with a new friend. Unless you go on a lonesome trip though a jungle, people will be an important part of your journey.
Hopefully, this will motivate you to plan your own gap year travel. The world is huge, there’s so much to see and do. Go and explore it, enjoy the journey and the fact you’ll get back as a smarter, more open, resourceful and independent human being.