Yes! Studies show taking a gap year can lead to increased GPAs, graduation rate, and job satisfaction.
Gap Year Program Search
Go Overseas is here to take the guesswork out of finding the very best gap year programs.
What is a gap year?
A gap year is a period of time when a student, recent graduate, or professional takes time off (a “gap”) from their studies or traditional work to focus on personal growth, learning through new experiences, and travel, both locally or internationally.
Also referred to as a sabbatical (or sabbatical year), gap year means different things to different people, but is inclusive of virtually anyone looking for a break or change in their life.
Gap years typically are focused on educational, personal, or professional growth. While high school gap years and college gap years are the most common, they can be taken during many life stages.
The benefits of taking a gap year
According to the Annual State of the Field survey conducted by the Gap Year Association, students who take a gap year are more likely to attend and graduate from college, improve their academic performance, and report higher levels of job satisfaction after graduation.
Not only is a gap year beneficial for those just finishing high school and college students looking to step away from their studies temporarily, it is also worthwhile for people who just need a break from their daily routine to pursue their meaningful travel goals.
Additional benefits of taking a gap year:
- Gappers get to take control of their year without consideration of pre-arranged daily responsibilities (like homework and studying) while learning and growing through experiences beyond their comfort zone.
- Most people who take a gap year report better self-awareness, increased confidence, elevated interest in other people and cultures, and the development of new life skills.
- You can customize your gap year to support your goals! You’ll have the opportunity to focus on your passions, relationships, wellness & well-being, and/or personal growth.
- Travel experience and a global education can help your resume stand out among a sea of qualified candidates!
Travel with a gap year program
For many travelers, their gap year will be the first time they travel solo (or even travel at all!), so it can be helpful to get some expert guidance along the way. Third-party providers help travelers make the most of their intentional time off by providing a more structured gap year experience.
Reasons to travel with a gap year program:
- You’ll have adventurous itineraries planned ahead of time
- Reliable staff there to support you every step of the way
- Housing and food is typically included
- Experience field trips and unique opportunities for cultural immersion
- Earn potential college credits
- Opportunities for training and qualification programs
Popular gap year ideas
How you spend your gap year is completely up to you!
Travelers often spend their gap year backpacking, visiting multiple countries, seeing more of their home country, volunteering, learning a new language, or working abroad. Since long-term travel can be expensive, budget travel is also common during a gap year, as it helps travelers extend their adventures and immerse themselves in local cultures.
Some gap year idea to get you started on your planning:
- Learn a new language
- Do a work exchange
- Get an internship abroad
- Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about
- Challenge yourself with an adventure program
- Seek personal growth during a wellness retreat
- Live with a host family
Best gap year destinations
Popular regions include Europe, Asia, South America and Australasia thanks to the array of nearby cities and countries one can visit on a budget. Many people also opt for gap years in the United States, and there are even virtual gap year programs available. A gap year doesn't need to be taken abroad, and many gappers travel within their home countries instead.
Recently we researched top gap year countries based on reviews, popularity, and search trends, and found that the following 10 locations are top picks:
To discover the perfect gap year destination for you, browse gap year programs by country from our dropdown menu above.
Cost of taking a gap year
How much does it cost to take a gap year? The cost of your gap year can vary greatly depending on the program inclusions, length of time abroad, the destination, and the way you budget.
To help offset costs, there are also plenty of scholarships and grants available to help prospective gappers fund their travel!
How Go Overseas Works
Go Overseas is your trusted source for travel abroad programs: here you can browse and discover thousands of vetted providers. Just like a trusted travel buddy, we want to help you find the right information and feel excited and confident about your first or next culturally immersive trip overseas. We know sometimes having an abundance of options can be overwhelming, so we have a few tips on how to use Go Overseas to find the perfect transformative travel program for you.
Browse 16,000+ programs: Narrow your search results by using filters, such as program type, location, and length.
Read 46,000+ Reviews: Real people have gone on these programs, and have experiences to share. Read alumni reviews on any program that interests you to get an idea of what it's really like to be on the ground, overseas.
Read 5,700+ Interviews: For any program that really sparks your interest, read personal stories and in-depth accounts from travelers like you. If you'd like to reach out and hear more from the traveler who left an interview, let us know and we'll help connect you.
Browse community photos: Pictures of food, accommodations, adventures, and people (oh, the friends you'll make!) in program community galleries will help you visualize yourself abroad.
Wish List 💙: Not ready to commit to a program? Click the Wish List heart icon to bookmark programs and save them for later. Then, compare programs side by side.
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Frequently Asked Gap Year Questions
Is it a good idea to take a gap year?Related Content
What is a gap year?
A gap year is a semester, year, or other set period of dedicated time "off" from traditional academics or work, to focus on experiential learning, growth, and travel. Commonly, gappers will seek an enriching experience abroad, such as interning, teaching, volunteering, or learning a foreign language. Others may simply travel and see the world, or see more of their home country.Related Content
Will taking a gap year affect college admission?
If you plan your gap year wisely, taking a gap year might actually help your chances of getting into the college of your choice! Gap years can show your commitment to becoming a global citizen and lifelong learner, depending on what you choose to do during your gap year. After all, it may just give you the perfect story to tell in an application and can help you frame why you are pursuing the degree you choose!
It's also possible to defer your admission, if you apply to college before your gap year.Related Content
Why should I take a gap year?
A gap year is a great way to gain valuable life skills, travel, and try new things. Beyond academic and employment benefits, taking dedicated time off to focus on meaningful growth can provide insight into yourself, broaden your perspective, and challenge you to grow.Related Content
Should I go through a gap year program?
Gap year programs help structure gap years to make the planning and budgeting process easier, as well as offer a broad spectrum of experiences from adventure travel to volunteering, to language immersion.
With a gap year program, you'll also have support every step of the way, more structure in your itinerary and day-to-day activities, and more opportunities to meet new people who are also taking a gap year!Related Content
What should I do during a gap year?
Gap years allow you to take control of your time through experiences outside your normal academics or work. Whether you decide to spend this time volunteering in South Africa, doing a work exchange in Argentina, or learning Japanese in Japan, your gap year is completely up to you!
Here a few ideas to get started:
- Travel domestically or internationally
- Learn a new language
- Work Exchange
- Pursue passion work like photography, writing, etc.
- Adventurous activities like snowboarding, surfing, hiking or backpacking
Can I earn college credit during a gap year?
Yes! Some programs are designed specifically to combine the academic benefits of study abroad with the adventurous experiences you gain from common gap year programs.Related Content