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Taking a gap year? Top destinations revealed

16th August 2013

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Although thousands of students will be looking forward to starting their university lives in the autumn, plenty of others will be jetting off on the adventure of a gap year.

ABTA is advising the 24,000 students who are estimated to be taking a gap year in 2013 on the destinations that they should be considering.

So, where will you go?

ABTA members specialising in gap year travel have reported increases in bookings over the last twelve months as interest in taking a gap year returns amongst school leavers. Australasia, South East Asia, the USA and Africa are the most popular destination choices with Thailand, Australia, the USA and South Africa leading the way. Peru, Vietnam, and Brazil are also growing in popularity for many gappers.

Top 10 gap year destinations reported by leading ABTA Members specialising in gap years for school leavers are:

1. Thailand

2. Australia

3. USA

4. South Africa

5. Peru

6. Vietnam

7. Brazil

8. India

9. New Zealand

10. Fiji

The gap stint...

With the increase in tuition fees and the economic downturn, many students appear to be opting for shorter experiences rather than cutting back on their year out completely. ABTA reports an increase in numbers looking for shorter experiences; month long tours rather than a full year, for example.

Most popular gap year activities...

The most popular type of gap year requested by school leavers for 2013/4 are work experience placements abroad. These include activities such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language, bar work and internships. Following these are volunteering gap years, with many students choosing to work with local communities and participate in wildlife conservation projects. With a bewildering array of volunteering opportunities available to gappers, it is important that they sign up with a reputable company so that their work provides a valuable experience both for themselves and local people.

Adventure gap years are also proving popular, with tour operators offering all kinds of activities from martial arts boot camps to surf schools and ranching lessons. The more traditional round-the-world backpacking gap year has dropped behind these options, although still remains popular.

Victoria Bacon, Head of Communications at ABTA said: “Gap years have become even more popular among British teenagers since the rise in tuition fees in 2012 and increased competition for graduate jobs, with many students now looking to travel experiences to help make their gap year stand out on the CV.

“There is now an incredible choice of activities and destinations to support young travellers in developing and learning new skills. It’s very important that if you’re planning a gap year, you research your options thoroughly: talk to a travel professional, who will be able to offer you advice about destinations and experiences; check travel advice with ABTA and the Foreign Office and always book with a reputable company.”

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