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Published on : Thursday, August 18, 2016
Hundreds of thousands of British students have just opened their A-Level results and many will be looking forward to starting their university lives in the autumn, but thousands of others will be looking forward to planning the once in a lifetime adventure of a gap year.
In 2015, 29,000 students¹ deferred their university entry and in this year tens of thousands of school and college leavers will also be deferring and many of these will be taking a gap year trip before starting their courses in 2017.
ABTA is revealing the most popular destinations and activities for gappers and advising young people on how to make the most of their gap year as well as how to remain safe when they are on their travels.
Top gap year destinations
Some ABTA members specialising in gap year travel have reported increases of more than 20% in bookings over the last twelve months with Australasia, South East Asia, the USA and South America being the most popular destination choices. Some are also reporting an increase in interest in trips of a shorter duration.
There have been some winners and losers over the last twelve months with Australia retaining its number one spot but Thailand has taken over from New Zealand at number two and Colombia, Laos and Cambodia have entered the top 10. Countries to keep an eye on for 2017 include Japan and Indonesia, both of which having seen growth in popularity in the last twelve months.
The top gap year destinations reported by ABTA Members specialising in gap years are:
|1.Australia||6. New Zealand|
|2.Thailand||7. Laos and Cambodia|
|4.Peru||9. East Africa|
Gaining work experience and funds
With an eye on budgets and on their CVs, working overseas – including internships -remains the single most popular activity for gap year travellers. With tuition fees to pay off and an increasingly competitive jobs market, working on a gap year means turning up to college with money in your pocket, prevents there being a twelve-month hole in your work experience and also helps to maximise time spent overseas. It is also a great way to meet local people and experience different cultures.
Other popular gap year activities
After work experience and job placements, the next most popular trips for gappers are volunteering trips. These include working on a wide range of projects including renewable energy in South America, marine conservation in Madagascar and wildlife and ecological research in South Africa. Gap years are also about having fun with activity tours, including trekking, white water rafting and biking, cultural tours to some of the world’s most historic and fascinating cities, all on offer. Many gappers prefer the security and company offered by travelling as part of an organised group, particularly if they are travelling on their own. It is also a great way to make friends with like-minded people and share your gap year experiences.
Nikki White, Director of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA said: “A Gap year should be one of the most memorable and formative events in the lives of the thousands of young people who will be heading off overseas in the next twelve months. Foreign travel can present a range of challenges, especially in less affluent countries and it is incredibly important that gap year students do their research and plan in advance so they can travel safely and get the most out of their experiences. Gap year students also often pay out large sums of money to specialist companies and it is really important that they ensure their money is well spent and placed with a reputable company.”
ABTA’s top tips for gappers