If you’ve just passed out of your high school/ college, and thinking ‘What Next?’ – then you’re quite lucky because the pandemic is on the verge of coming to an end (and most countries across the globe have effectively carried out the vaccination drives).
Graduating in itself is a big leap. Well, for the past few years, your dreams have been made of graduating with good scores and putting your best efforts into that – but now is the time for an amazing gap year abroad! And the first step towards making your year-off a brilliantly vivid experience, you need to know about the best of gap year destinations around the world and add them to your bucket list, one by one. Here’s for you, the list of the best countries for a gap year in 2022.
Ready to get your fix of adventure?
A backpacker’s heaven, traveling in Thailand is mostly about experiencing an amazing culture and soaking in the authentic vibes of the land. And the best reflection of that is their delicious cuisine and absolutely lip-smacking food items that’ll make any foodie go crazy and make you suffer from a food-coma! You can explore the crazy life of Bangkok, or head off to the beaches, for some beautiful times by the turquoise waters, on the white sands! Thai elephants are quite popular and volunteering experience in an elephant village of Surin has become somewhat quintessential for a Thai gap year!
Bangkok’s hustle and bustle, sacred monasteries, amazing islands & beaches – Thailand surely can be rated as a favorite amongst travelers and adventurers. Go for a quaint retreat in the Northern Thai villages, spend some time exploring the hilly areas, and meet the famous Karen tribal folks! And of course, how can you miss the Full Moon night parties in Koh Phangan?
India is another name for diversity – be it culture, language, cuisine, geography, climate, or people! Relaxing beaches, lush mountains, sprawling deserts, metropolitan cities, wonders of the world, and centuries-old mysteries – India’s what you call a one-stop gap year destination for all adventure lovers out there! From the mind-boggling architecture of Taj to the wondrous colors of South India, from idyllic backwaters of Kerala to the mind-numbing parties of Goa – a gap year in India is the best kind of sensory overload that one can ever ask for
The quaint spiritualism of India is yet another thing that attracts travel bugs on sabbaticals from all around the world. Hundreds of intrepid travelers flock to India every year, not only to travel but also to volunteer for community development programs, contributing something back to Indian society. The biggest pro of choosing India – it’s fantastically cheap and a perfect choice for travelers on a tight budget!
A piece of paradise tucked between India & China, Nepal is one of the most gorgeous nations in the world, housing 8 of the world’s highest mountains, including Mt. Everest. A Himalayan abode, this is also the most budget-friendly destination in the world, according to the Lonely Planet, and it can be a perfect gap year destination for those who are looking to spend their days amidst solitude. Blessed with rich culture & heritage, Nepal will welcome you with wide arms and you can traverse through the cities, soaking in the beauty of the places & people. You can opt to volunteer for a meaningful program, hike along the Himalayan trails, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, learn to cook authentic Nepalese delicacies and meet some amazing people from different parts of the world.
Furthermore, you can choose to volunteer for a meaningful cause in Nepal and serve society in the most effective manner. If you are still looking for reasons to spend your gap year in Nepal, then let me tell you that this journey will surely change the way you look at life and turn you into a more humble & compassionate human being.
A tiny tear-drop-like island on the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has some seriously beautiful golden shores on offer for you! Whether it’s the Hikkaduwa Beach that has undergone a complete makeover since the 2004 Tsunami had affected it or Negombo Beach where you can enjoy scenic boat rides with spectacular views, leisurely strolls along the shore, and even a glimpse of a local fisherman or two – Sri Lankan beaches can never bore you! Life on this little island is so vibrant, that you’ll always be on your toes to explore more.
Spend a few weeks by the Mirissa Beach – one of the best places in the world for spotting blue and sperm whales, who migrate around Sri Lanka’s southern coast. In case you are in the mood for volunteering, you can also join the Turtle Conservation Project at the gorgeous coastal town of Kosgoda, around 96 km from the capital city of Colombo. Travel to Sigiriya and Dambulla, explore the oldest caves in the country, walk around the tea estates of Nuwara Eliya, take a train ride to Ella and live in Kandy to soak in the colonial vibes. Absorb the richness of the Buddhist culture, binge on local delicacies, visit the National Parks and UNESCO Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka during your gap year adventure.
In recent years, Costa Rica has become extremely popular among gap year travelers who are looking forward to exploring Latin America! And it’s mostly nature lovers, who are flocking there, to either work at the Amazon Rescue Centers or to volunteer for Turtle Conservation Programs.
As called by the Ticas (natives of the land), it’s a nation of pure life – and you’ll get to sense it from the moment you step in! With ample greenery and virgin, unexplored place – what more can one need to unwind? Hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, zip-lining – if you’ve got all these on your travel bucket list – then Costa Rica is the perfect destination for you!
The mystical Inca city of Machu Picchu looking over the Urubamba Valley is a wanderlust essential for every traveler, and trust me when I say this, it’s a long trek to feast on a view of a lifetime! From the rich historical heritage of the ancient civilization of the Incas in Machu Picchu to the inexplicable mysteries of Nazca Lines, from the awe-inducing floating islands of Uros to the Oasis town of Ica, Peru is full of amazing things that are sure to tickle those little grey cells of yours while you are on your gap year.
The Rainbow Mountains in the Peruvian Andes is yet another unique God’s Creation, the beauty of which is beyond explanation, and travelers are going gaga for it! Make the most of your time in Peru soaking on the authentic cultural vibes, polish your Spanish skills, binge on delicious Ceviche, and make the most of your gap year in Peru by being a responsible traveler.
A paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, Kenya is a gorgeous East African nation that can be a perfect destination for gap year travelers who are looking forward to doing something incredible during their journey! A developing nation that has several pockets of underprivileged people still living a tough life, you can share a hand and help in making lives a tad bit easier for them, by volunteering for a meaningful program. Nature lovers can also choose to work with professional conservationists, learning more about Big Cat Conservation, while living a life amidst wilderness!
And of course, you’ll have ample scope of experiencing thrilling game drives, to spot some of the rarest species in the world. You can also head off to the beaches on the East, bordered by the Indian Ocean, and spend a few days learning scuba diving! Indulge in knowing more about the land where humankind originated from, binge on delicious Swahili cuisine, meet the Maasai tribal folks, and live life to the fullest while you’re there in Kenya!
In case you are a beach lover bitten by the wanderlust bug, you can choose to head towards Spain – a country that’s surrounded by the Balearic Sea, the Bay of Biscay, and the Alboran Sea. Spain boasts miles of stunning coastlines, as well as a few Spanish-governed islands. No matter whether you are looking for secluded beaches, luxurious getaways, or bustling crowded beaches – you’ll find everything in Spain!
While there are the world-famous beach destinations of Ibiza & Costa Brava, you can rather choose to spend more time at the less crowded places for a deeper cultural experience and do something that would make your gap year more meaningful. You can join a Spanish Language Learning Course or attend cookery classes to learn how to cook delicious Paella, explore the famous monuments and museums apart from chilling and getting tanned at the beaches!
If you are also contemplating traveling overseas during your gap year, then now is the best time to start planning. Make sure to add all that you wish to experience to your bucket list, and get going. This time of your life is never gonna be back – so make the most of it, my friend!
Author Bio: Riyanka Roy is a traveler who is keen on exploring different parts of the world. An Indian who did her Masters in International Relations, Riyanka has taught in the rural tribal schools in Rajasthan, India, for a considerable period. Riyanka mostly focuses on volunteering trips and responsible tourism. She’s a freelance blogger who’s equally passionate about photography. Her quest is to turn all her journeys into beautiful stories. Being a die-hard ‘mountain-aholic‘, her favorite destinations are all around the Himalayas! She can spend days gazing at the snow-capped mountains, binge on Maggi and lemon-honey-ginger tea, and reading Ruskin Bond books. You can read more about her adventures on her blog – RoyTellsTales.