Canada is a massive country, full of unique experiences and places for you to explore. The country stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and deep into the Arctic. Canada's inspiring landscape is truly unparalleled, so think big and be prepared for the exploration of a lifetime during your gap year!

Why take a gap year in Canada, you ask? We say, why not? You can take a semester or year in between the end of high school and the first year of college to take a much-deserved break from studying. It can be a time to travel to see Lake Louise and play hockey, while also shaping your perspective on the world and how you want to impact it. Maybe you prefer to spend your gap year with purpose, volunteering to preserve parks, or passing on your awesome shredding skills as a ski instructor. The sky is the limit! Plus, your gap year can make you stand out on job and grad school applications and makes for great talking points in interviews.

Read on to learn about volunteering, traveling, and interning during your gap year in Canada. We'll also explore how much your gap year program might cost, what visa you need to enter Canada, and how to stay safe and healthy while abroad.

Ski or Snowboard Instructor

Training and working as a ski instructor is one of the most popular gap year activities to do in Canada. Not only can you share your skills with kids and adults, but you also learn how to teach, manage groups of people, and effective communication which can all help you in a future career. And, you can carve the mountainside at any time you want and improve your own skills! A few programs that offer training and certification include Timberline Academy and EA Ski & Snowboard.

Volunteering

Conservation organizations offer opportunities throughout Canada, protecting and enhancing parks and other natural areas through a variety of activities. Volunteers are crucial in assisting these organizations to help reach their goals. These organizations work to offset our carbon footprint by researching and informing the public of environmental devastation.

Other volunteer programs aim at offering a safe place for children, working to channel their energies into positive, challenging activities that encourage personal growth, learning, community involvement, and healthy living. There are plenty of after-school and weekend organizations that provide invaluable support to parents, children, and their communities.

Adventure Travel

There is no lack in adventure travel around Canada. Visit the stunning Niagara Falls in Ontario. Travel the pedestrian bridge that links Canada with the United States without the inconvenience of border patrols! Canada is great for sightseeing. Visit popular spots such as Quebec, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Explore Canada’s stunning crystal clear lakes, thousand-year-old glaciers, and breath-taking mountain ranges. But remember to bring a coat! Canada is the Polar Bear Capital of the World and sightings are year-round. You can also see stunning Beluga Whales and catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in Churchill.

The cities have adequate public transit, but the countryside is widespread. The distance between one to another can be daunting. Renting a car is always a good option. And remember to look up times for train rides and long-distance bus rides.

Internships

Internships are a great way to spend your gap year in Canada. The experience allows you to create extensive social networks that go a long way towards building a career. In Canada, qualified participants can be placed in a variety of locations, including Vancouver and Toronto. Participants can live in home-stays or hotels if they’re taking part in hospitality internships. Applicants must be at least 18, and certain nationality restrictions apply in regards to visa procedures.

Internships are often flexible, lasting 6-12 months and are available year-round for interested students. While you're interning during the week, you also have time to travel during the weekends! Students are encouraged to research available internships in Canada ahead of time.

Advance and spur your professional development! There is no better way to gain an edge in the job market than by gaining professional experience in an international setting.

Visas for your Gap Year in Canada

Depending on what you plan to do and how long you plan to stay for your gap year in Canada, it will change which visa you may need to apply for. If you plan to travel and do a few weeks of volunteering, you may be able to get a visitor visa that allows most people to stay in the country for up to six months. Your gap year program coordinator will most likely tell you which one you need or will help you figure out which visa you qualify for. Canada also has a Working Holiday Visa option, which provides young people between the ages of 18 - 30 from certain countries to get paid and travel for a year.

Cost of Living in Canada

Canada has a strong middle class and the cost of living is similar to the United States. Taxes tend to be high since there are many social programs like healthcare. Doctors are affordable and the streets are clean. Depending on where you live, your average income can seem lower than what you’re used to, but you can still live comfortably in Canada. Public transit is affordable and Canada’s steady economy provides many opportunities for students and travelers alike.

Rent can be expensive in Canada. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is likely to be around $1,300 per month and a night out at a restaurant can be between $16 - $70. Some gap year programs in Canada may provide housing as part of your program fee. Your accommodation may range from hotels to apartments shared with other participants. For more info on cost of living in Canada, visit Numbeo.

Culture and Etiquette in Canada

Canada draws influences from a broad range of constituent nationalities and policies. These policies promote multiculturalism and constitutional protection. While distinct from the United States, American media and entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada. When meeting a Canadian, many of the same standards apply as with the U.S. Eye contact is important, smiling brings a sense of security and friendliness, and shaking hands firmly is the norm. Greetings are generally friendly, but formal.

Health and Safety in Canada

Canada provides universal healthcare to its citizens, the system is always changing in little ways, but the basics remain the same - meeting everyone's basic healthcare needs. Physicians are readily available but rarely needed for the young traveler. If you are not a citizen you will need to buy health or travel insurance before taking your gap year in Canada. Your gap year program should be able to provide the information you need to get this completed.

Canada generally doesn't have widespread diseases. So if you’re scared of needles, don’t be afraid, you don’t need tons of vaccinations to visit the country. However, you should always take precautions as Canada’s weather can be intense and hypothermia is a real concern. Stay warm, stay dry, and know your limits when traveling throughout the country. For more info, visit the Health Canada website.

Gap Year Programs in Canada

Want to take a gap year in Canada? Check out these programs!
Displaying 1 - 15 of 47 programs
NOLS
NOLS Semester in the Yukon
Canada
10 •2 reviews

An action-packed learning adventure, this semester begins and ends in...

BUNAC
BUNAC: Work in Canada
Canada
10 •3 reviews

Your Canadian working holiday will have you living in a picture...

Global Work & Travel
Working Holiday in Canada | The Ultimate Gap Year to Work & Travel Canada
Canada
9.75 •4 reviews

Hands down, Canada has the best scenery in the world! With the...

EA Ski & Snowboard
Ultimate Gap Year Ski Instructor Training Program
Multiple Countries
9.8 •5 reviews

Do you want to spend a winter gap year in the world's top ski...

Up with People
Up with People On Tour Gap Year Experience
Multiple Countries
9.85 •75 reviews

Are you ready to turn your dream of travel into a reality? Travel with...

Alltracks Academy
Gap Year Ski Instructor Course with Alltracks Academy
Canada
9.75 •4 reviews

The ALLTRACKS Academy ski instructor course is the ultimate gap year...

Alltracks Academy
Gap Year Backcountry Skiing Course
Canada
10 •2 reviews

The ALLTRACKS backcountry ski course aims to take confident resort...

Timberline Canadian Alpine Academy
Timberline Academy - Ski & Snowboard Instructor's Program
Canada
9.69 •13 reviews

The Instructor Internship Program is designed for someone looking to...

Basecamp
11 Week Ultimate Ski & Snowboard Instructor Course in Canada
Canada
9.82 •11 reviews

One of the most inclusive courses available, the qualifications you're...

MentorU Inc.
Purposeful Gap Year Program - Discover Year
Canada
10 •8 reviews

Discover Year is an accredited Canadian post-secondary education...

Clear Sky Retreat Centre
Karma Yoga, Mindfulness and Community-building in Canada
Canada
9.8 •5 reviews

Are you looking to bring more meaning into your life? Integrate your...

YES Tours
Ski Instructor Course Whistler - 4, 7, 11 Week Options Available
Canada
9.83 •6 reviews

Do you love to ski, do you love the mountains, do you want to immures...

Ocean Passages
Spend your Gap Year at Sea with Ocean Passages from Canada to Cuba!
Multiple Countries
9.57 •7 reviews

Navigate the waters of change from Canada to Cuba aboard our 131-foot...

Ski le Gap
Ultimate Ski & Snowboard Instructor Courses in Canada
Canada
9.29 •7 reviews

Est 1994, Ski le Gap is the original provider of instructor training...

International School for Earth Studies
Fall Gap Program - Explore Canada
Canada
10 •3 reviews

You want a Gap Session that increases your environmental literacy...

New Jobs

View the latest job postings on our job board. A great way to earn work experience during your gap year!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of gap year programs are available in Canada?

    There are a lot of different options for gap year programs but some of the most popular include volunteering in conservation, teaching as a ski instructor, traveling the country, and interning in the hospitality industry.

  • How much money do I need for a gap year in Canada?

    The cost of living in Canada is similar to the United States. You will need to budget enough money for your gap year program fees, housings, meals, and additional travel. You will probably need at least $1,500 - $2,000 per month to live in Canada, which you can subsidize with a job or by applying to grants and scholarships.

What People Are Saying

Before I started this program I had no clue who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. This program helped me discover my values, and helped me gain the confidence to follow my own path in life...

Top of the rock

There is no way I can adequately describe this program in 500 words, however, I will try my best. Before this program, I was broken, lost and torn apart by the idea of living my life for others. This...

Went hiking in Argentina for my travel period of the program.

The programs that Timberline have are all once in a lifetime opportunities, whether it's a summer or winter program you are choosing they will meet and exceed your expectations making it almost...

The day most people had to leave :(

Popular Gap Year Articles

Related Gap Year Articles