Or any round the world trip… you don’t need to be in your early twenties to take off and travel the world.
I recently posted about the things I would change if I was to do my gap year again, however, I didn’t think about adding any other stops to it. In hindsight of that post I don’t think that’s totally true because if I was to plan a gap year now I’d want to visit much more than just New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia.
So if you’re currently planning your gap year, here are my suggests on where to stop and why.
15 Places to Stop on your Gap Year
Before we get started I’d just like to point out that I’ve not included Europe as I was planned this from the point of view of someone who lives in the UK and has Europe on their doorstep. I’d obviously 100% recommend stopping in Europe but with risk of this list being ’25 places to stop on your gap year’ and several thousand words long I left it out.
I’ve listed the countries in the order I think would make an amazing trip but you could easily do it in any order. I have suggested if I don’t think it’s a good place to stop first though.
America > Canada > Peru > Brazil > Argentina > Australia > New Zealand > Thailand > Cambodia > Vietnam > Sri Lanka > India > Kenya > Tanzania > South Africa
This is a huge country and has a vast amount of things there are to do. You’ll find many of the main highlights on opposite sides of the country too, we’re talking a good six+ hour flight apart, meaning you could easily spend months travelling across the States.
However, I’d say there probably isn’t a need to visit everywhere (unless that’s your number one bucket list item). Just pick a few spots that you’ve been dying to see and use Greyhound buses to get between each spot. American has some of the most amazing natural beauty as well as man made cities.
You can’t visit America and not head to Canada. This further north country is full of amazing landscapes, incredible adventures and of course some fantastic cities. Having only visited Toronto I can’t write about where you should go based on experience but I know if it was me I’d want to go everywhere.
There are some awesome Trek tours which will help you to see as much of America and Canada while travelling as a group and getting to make awesome friends. Perfect if you are heading out on a solo trip and as part of the start of your trip!
This is one of the spots I haven’t actually visited, however, it has been at the top of my bucket list for the longest time. Probably for the same reason anyone wants to come to Peru – Machu Picchu. A trek to this historic village full of Inca ruins has become an experience sought after by many travellers.
Much of South America is okay to navigate by yourself using planes and buses but if this is going to be the first destination of your trip then you might want to look into taking a group tour. If that sounds like your thing then Flying the Nest have a whole series on their group tour.
This is one of three South American countries I’ve added to the list and for very good reason. Brazil is huge and has such a diverse landscape as well as culture. Although I didn’t stop here on my gap year, I met many people who did during my time in Rio. There are many highlights of the country but my number one stop would be Rio.
The city is one of the most beautiful I have ever visited and if you can time it right for carnival in February you will see just how amazing the people and culture is too. Of course you always need to be careful for your safety but as long as you don’t stray off the beaten path you should be fine.
Argentina is similar to Brazil in many respects but it also feels very different! Speaking Spanish instead of Portuguese is the obvious but even the cities felt more European, more Mediterranean. The influence of the countries that occupied these places in very obvious.
That being said there are so many great spots in Argentina to explore as well as food and drink to sample. Think steak, red wine, Buenos Aries and Iguaçu Falls as the base of your trip. Like most of South America this is a budget friendly destination.
This is one of the most popular spots for a gap year and for good reason! You can grab a working holiday visa for Australia allowing you to earn a little bit of dollar while in the country. It also allows you to stay a whole 12 months if you fancy extending you gap year. Another reason is because Australia is such a huge country and has so many highlights to explore, it would be hard to run out of things to see and do while in Oz.
The only downside to visiting this fabulous country is that it is expensive to travel around. To make Australia more affordable I’d recommend working while here or stopping here while you actually still have money left!
New Zealand is another great option because you can get a working holiday visa here too allowing you to do all the things I talked about with above. It is also a country that is so far away from most places, except Australia. If you are visiting one you might as well ‘pop’ to the other too.
There is also so much to see and do across the two islands, it is ideal road trip territory come winter or summer. Expect amazing scenery, breathtaking sunrises, worthwhile hikes and a wealth of activities to take part in. Again the only downside to this spot is that it isn’t the most budget friendly option.
This was one of my favourite gap year stops. It was everything I had hoped it would be after dreaming of visiting here for years, I blame Adventurous Kate’s blog. Thailand has a lot of different spots of interest, Bangkok, Chang Mai in the north and islands in the south.
It’s a relatively easy country to navigate around using buses, trains and boats making it possible to take in a lot of the country. It’s also a well known backpacker route making it a good place to make friends if you are a solo traveller.
Cambodia is easy to access through the land borders from both Vietnam and Cambodia. It is a country known for it’s recent history and I’d recommend educating yourself during your trip. It’s also home to the most famous temples in Asia (probably), you’ll easily be able to spend a few days exploring them.
My favourite part of Cambodia though was a remote island in the south only accessed by a rather unsafe ferry. Koh Ring is full of beautiful beaches and that island paradise way of life. From what I can tell it’s still a relatively undeveloped island at the moment.
This was a country that I felt we saw a lot of in a small space of time. Travel in Vietnam is very easy using the buses making it possible to travel from north to south or south to north. Each stop has it’s own highlights but I’d highly recommend Hoi An, a beautiful old town with a multitude of tailoring shops.
The highlight of Vietnam of course is Halong Bay, reached from Hanoi in the north of the country. You’ll be able to organise a junk boat to take you to the bay for a few nights allowing you to explore different parts and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
I only recently discovered Sri Lanka but it is a great country to explore especially if you are heading to India; most people call it Little India. It’s relatively cheap like much of Asia and is easy to explore using trains (or so I’m told at least).
It has a wealth of different activities from city nights in Colombo to surfing on a beach in the south or taking a safari in the national parks. You won’t be short of things to pack your time with in Sri Lanka.
I debated putting this one of the list, it’s a place that I’ve always wanted to visit but I know it gets a lot of bad rep for not being easy to travel in. I decided that as long as you didn’t make it your first stop on your gap year then you’d probably be okay.
If I was to travel India I think I would take a group tour to help with navigating the country, understanding the culture and not feeling so overwhelmed by it all. Timing your visit here with a festival could be pretty cool too.
Kenya & Tanzania
Finally, I couldn’t leave Africa out of this list. I’ve picked Kenya for it’s amazing accessibility to safari trips from Nairobi. These would also take you into Tanzania making sure you had stops at the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park. From here you could head to Mount Kilimanjaro before heading south to Zanzibar island.
The above are two countries I’m yet to visit, however, Helen has visited many times and now even runs tours. Check her out to help plan your trip.
To finish your trip head all the way south to Cape Town. A city that was one of the first I visited that wasn’t in Europe. I’d liken it to Rio in beauty and wealth of things to do: climb Table Mountain, learn about Nelson Mandela at Robben Island prison, see penguins, explore Bo Kaap and much more. It’s also a city with a great backpacker vibe and plenty of budget friendly options, which lets face it will be needed after this trip.
I hope you found this post useful, I’d love to hear what stops you’d include.
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