Walking the Franz Josef Glacier

Escape the economic downturn and find yourself a new skill or career on the way. For university graduates who can’t find a job, or anyone taking a career break through no fault of their own, then turn to our gap year top five for travel with a twist. It could change your life!

New Zealand

Kayaking in Abel Tasman, New ZealandKayaking in Abel Tasman National Park
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Host of the Rugby World Cup next month, this super-active country has a plethora of sports to try, is relatively cheap, and is keen to offer people under 30 a short-term work permit. Volunteer and paid jobs are still available for the world cup, or if you love an adrenaline rush, you can train to be an adventure sports guide on the Franz Josef Glacier. On days off, visit the Abel Tasman National Park. It has golden beaches and a coastal track with astounding views. Just off the coast you might catch a glimpse of a giant sperm whale or dolphins, and it's also possible to work on whale-watching tours.

Top Tip:
If you’re ready to go now, interested in adventure, and want to try a new type of job, New Zealand has lots to offer, so get yourself a work visa and away you go.

South Africa

Safari in South AfricaSafari in South Africa
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If you've always wanted to track a rhino, drive a Jeep through the bush and live in the wild, then why not sign up for a game ranger course? There are loads of safari parks in South Africa and many of them offer the chance to work on wildlife projects and reserves. Opportunities such as the Enkosini Eco Experience offer plenty of wildlife conservation activities, including anti-poaching, game tracking and animal rehabilitation. From the wilds of the national parks, take time out to discover Cape Town's cosmopolitan vibe. From here, take a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in a tiny cell for 18 of his 27 years behind bars.

Top Tip:
Don’t forget your mosquito jabs and repellent.


Croatia, EuropeRelaxing in Croatia
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See the wilds of Warsaw or the edges of Estonia, while travelling by train. InterRailing in Europe is a great way of seeing the continent at ground level. You can stop off wherever you want, and there is always a possibility of learning a new skill along the way. Before hopping back on the train, why not drop into a language school and learn the lingo? Croatia also has job opportunities in hospitality and watersports, due to the growing tourist industry. Before you leave, you might want to investigate the possibilities of becoming a holiday rep, and do some research on the country you'd like to work in while you travel.

Top Tip:
To save your pennies, head for Eastern Europe to get more bang for your buck.


Bamboo rafting in ThailandBamboo rafting in Thailand
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Whether you choose to help protect the elephants from exploitation or lend a hand to the victims of the 2004 tsunami, Thailand has tons of choices. Working alongside the largest land mammal on earth can be an extraordinary experience. Alternatively, volunteering in a remote Thai village can be equally rewarding. This can be combined with activities such as trekking though the jungle, bamboo rafting and elephant riding. The lure of Thailand's idyllic islands is too tempting to resist so travel south for a real heaven-on-earth experience. One of the most popular is Koh Samui. The island has a short ferry link over to Koh Phangan, well known for being home of Thailand's famous full-moon parties.

Top Tip:
Why not impress your friends and learn to cook Thai cuisine on one of many cooking courses? This useful skill could also save on the cost of eating out. Your popularity might suddenly increase if you can whip up a tasty pad thai.


Christ the RedeemerChrist the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro
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There is a need for English teachers in Brazil, so why not try your hand in helping out in a Brazilian community, and they might just teach you something in return. You could be coming home with some new silky beach football skills, or you'll be dazzling people on the dancefloor with your new samba moves. Volunteering in a community, either teaching English, coaching sport or even working on a medical placement, you'll be giving a lot to the local people and gaining even more back in life experience. There are plenty of other opportunities to get involved in and plenty of time for additional activities such as mountain biking, hiking and venturing into the big city of Rio de Janeiro.

Top Tip:
Don’t forget your dancing shoes, Brazilians know how to party. Rio is the samba capital of the world and home of carnival.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.