Planning a gap year is as mind-boggling as it is exciting. With such a huge world out there to explore and a million and one opportunities to seize, there's always the worry that you're not going to make the most of your time away. Spending extra days in one place means fewer days in a new and different one. Comparing notes with travelers you meet along the way may even lead to a severe case of travel envy.
Beat them to the punch! If you're having trouble coming up with a game plan for your awesome #RTWtrip, look no further.
We've got 101 awesome ideas right here to make sure that every minute of your gap year is well spent. Whether you want to chill out or change the world, you'll find 101 nuggets of inspiration to help you when you take the leap and plunge into that ocean of opportunity better known as the world itself!
Devoting full time to floating!
- Eat your way through Vietnam's street markets - there's plenty more pho where that came from!
- Take a helicopter over Sao Paulo, Brazil - the city of choppers.
- Get your PADI Open Water certificate so you can dive anywhere around the world.
- Hire a campervan and drive across the Australian outback to Uluru.
- Witness a sea of pink flamingoes gathering at Lake Nakuru in Kenya before swimming in a sea of pink water at Lake Retba in Senegal.
- Explore sea caves while kayaking off the coast of Hawaii.
- Eat waffles in Belgium.
- Find an outdoor yoga class in a city you're visiting and join in.
- High-five a stranger in every city you visit.
- Work as a summer camp counselor in Europe.
- Volunteer at an Olympic Games, FIFA, or a similar sporting event.
Get involved with international sports
- Rock on at a British music festival. Glastonbury tops the list.
- Get splattered with tomatoes the world's biggest food fight.
- Be the first person in the world to welcome a new day by watching the sunrise on the Pacific Island of Kiribati.
- Volunteer at a lion sanctuary in South Africa.
- Float in the buoyant Dead Sea.
- Go on assignment with a travel photography course.
- Couchsurf wherever you can to meet locals and bond with other traveling folk.
- See Central Asia like never before: take a motorbike along the Silk Road, from London all the way to Beijing!
- Set up camp in a yurt/ger in Mongolia overnight.
- Take a puma for a walk in Bolivia.
- Learn the art of film at a summer school in New York.
- Earn free rent by becoming an au pair in Europe.
- Visit all 58 national parks in the USA (psst...the parks have free admission on these days!).
Here kitty kitty!
- Stay overnight in a temple in Asia.
- Become a boxing coach in Ghana!
- Tap into your inner "qi" and learn the ancient art of Kung Fu at Nam Yang training camp.
- Find and take part in a flash mob.
- Pick up a new language! Zulu, Chinese, or Welsh may be fun!
- Catch the waves while surfing on Bondi Beach.
- Work a ski season at Whistler in Canada (apres-ski, anyone?!).
- If you've got $60,000 to spare, then visit the Titanic in a submarine.
- Sky dive in the home of adrenaline sports - New Zealand -
then become an instructor.
- Help conserve populations of orangutans in Malaysia.
- WWOOF around the world and gain free food and accommodation in exchange for helping out on a local farm.
- You could be the next Dewey Finn! Volunteer at a rock music academy in Chennai, India.
Write a gap year ballad!
- Gain international journalism experience in Africa.
- Walk the entire Appalachian Trail (okay, even part of it would be amazing!).
- Make friends and sip on vodka while riding the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia.
- Raise money and trek across the Great Wall of China for charity.
- Get Arabian sand in your pants on a dune buggy adventure in Dubai.
- Learn how to make the perfect gelato on an ice cream course in Sorrento, Italy.
- Write a novel about your travels and publish it as an ebook on Amazon.
- Learn how to DJ in a course on the Spanish island of Ibiza.
- Sail the seven seas as a crew member for a boat or work on board a cruise ship.
Make your gelato and eat it too!
- Tackle the world's tallest sand dunes at Sossusvlei in Namibia.
- Grab a Eurail pass and hop between trains around the historic cities of Europe.
- Take a photo-a-day on Instagram and collage your images at the end of your trip.
- Relish in history by studying art in Italy's most beautiful cities.
- One word: safari.
- Try your luck at tango in one of the many plazas in Buenos Aires.
- Practice your wheelies while cycling across Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.
- Eat a big breakfast in the morning in England (complete with stewed tomatoes and baked beans) before taking the Eurostar to France just in time for lunch!
- Train for the coolest career in the world: do a 3 month surfing teaching qualification down under.
Tibetan prayer flags in the Himalayas
- Slip your warmest jacket on and hike up the Nepalese side to Everest Base Camp.
- Leave a lock on the Pont des Arts in Paris and throw the key into the Seine below.
- Take on the polar bears in the ice and snow of Norway. Keep your eye out for Santa's elves!
- If the North Pole doesn't tickle your fancy, head south. Way south. Take an Antarctic cruise and see these little guys!
- Learn how to build your very own floating island out of reeds on Peru's Lake Titicaca.
- Haggle for sparkly slippers, ornate rugs, detailed pottery, among other souvenirs in the busy, colorful markets of Marrakesh.
- Enjoy a high salary while teaching English in Korea.
- Sleep in a tent hanging off the edge of a cliff. Srsly...
- Collect a beer coaster from every pub or bar you drink in on your travels.
- Swim in an infinity pool on the rooftop of a skyscraper in downtown Singapore.
Save room for souvenirs!
- On second thought, why swim in a pool of water when you can swim in a pool filled with beer?
- Participate in a homestay for full immersion.
- Sing along to yourself while rocking out at the world's largest silent disco.
- Sleep in an ice hotel in Sweden, a cave in Turkey or a sewage pipe in Austria. No, really...
- Set a world record (or three).
- Wear Patagonia in Patagonia.
- See evolution up close: volunteer on the Galapagos Islands.
- Try your Muggle luck at Platform 93/4 in Kings Cross station in London.
- Help build a home for people in Malawi.
- Get away from it all on the Seychelles islands. Need we say more?
- Travel overland (no planes allowed!) from London alllllll the way to Australia in this 26-week adventure!
Give back while you're traveling.
- Spend time with treasure hunting in Australia at an opal mine.
- Visit the world's newest islands: the Zubair Islands, in Yemen.
- Detox and relax at a luxury spa in Bali.
- Run a marathon through your favorite city. Consider joining a local Hash House Harriers group when training!
- Check out listings on Craigslist and become a Hollywood film extra.
- Help save the sea turtles in Mexico.
- Stay up late to see a moonbow form across Victoria Falls, Zambia, (then wake up early and hang over the edge of them).
- Zoom down historic Route 66 on a Harley. Pit stop for chocolate malts at any diner along the way.
- Be in Haro, Spain on June 28 to participate in an epic wine battle.
- Visit every country on Earth without flying (just like this guy).
- Everyone likes a person who knows their way around the kitchen! Take cooking classes at the Cordon Bleu.
Say 'au revoir' to Ramen noodles.
- Are the hills really alive with the Sound of Music? Find out.
- Gasp in awe at the statues of the Moai on Easter Island.
- Take a photo of your feet in every place you visit.
- Take part in a kava ceremony in the islands of the South Pacific.
- Create a dance like "Where The Hell Is Matt" (and do it EVERYWHERE!).
- Light a candle to celebrate Diwali with your new friends in India.
- Climb above the clouds: reach the summit of the African continent, Kilimanjaro, at sunrise.
- Scale glaciers while ice climbing in Iceland!
- The last frontier? Fly into outer space and experience zero gravity. Don't forget to "phone home."
- Bungee jump like James Bond off the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland on your year. Gap year.
- Grab your floaties and go swimming in the world's largest swimming pool in Chile.
Tons of fun on your gap year in Cambodia
- Be the first of your friends to zipline over rumbling volcanoes in Costa Rica.
- Get picked up by an elephant's trunk when volunteering at animal camps in southeast Asia.
- Race the planet on the world's most prestigious footrace, 4deserts.
- Of course, write and review your working, volunteering, interning, studying, and traveling adventures on Go Overseas so future gappers can have as much fun as you!
A hundred and one ideas should help you get the idea ball rollin', but remember that with a gap year, anything goes! The single most important thing is to do what you want to be doing. Don't follow someone else's dreams, chase your own!
Photos provided by Cameron Banga, Anna Urish, Megan Lee, Mitch Gordon, Cultural Embrace, and Thms.nl.