What To Do In a Gap Year

Are you thinking about taking a gap year? Looking for a fun and transformative experience but don’t know what to do?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you explore what to do in a gap year! We’ve created a list of the best gap year ideas to help guide you in making the right choice.

What is a gap year?

Before we jump right into what to do in a gap year, we need to first define: what is a gap year and how does it work?

A gap year is usually a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. Instead of going straight to college, high school graduates take the time to explore not only the world around them but themselves as well. That being said, gap years are not limited to only high school graduates. Anyone can take a gap year! This is a time for you. There is never a wrong time to take a gap year. If you’re not sure if it’s the right time to take a gap year, you can read more about gap year pros and cons – but if you are wondering “is a gap year a good idea?” The answer is most likely yes!

Many people picture gap years as programs where you spend a lot of money, volunteer to build a school, or teach English abroad, but the truth is your gap year can be anything and be anywhere. The possibilities are endless. Do you want to backpack through Senegal? Go for it! Would you like to swim on the beautiful beaches of Brazil? Why not? You can even travel around your home country and learn new things about its history.

It should be noted that gap years are not always a full year. Some gap years may be a semester or only a few weeks. It is up to you! You get to design your experience in a way that fits your needs. As you are learning about many different gap year ideas, remember that this is your journey!

So now that you know what a gap year is, you might be wondering “why should I take a gap year?” Taking a gap year can be an invaluable experience. Here are some of the key benefits of taking a gap year.


What Are The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year?


A gap year can be a transformative experience for many students during this explorational time in their life. Through gap year programs like Take Action Lab, young people can broaden their horizons and learn more about themselves, the world, and the impact they want to make.

Some gap year ideas to consider before college are to travel to other countries, learn about different cultures, serve communities in need, learn new languages, and broaden your understanding of the world around you. 

Many individuals who have taken a gap year have found that new perspectives bring new ideas that can help inform decisions about their future path. These decisions could be about education, career opportunities, interests, skills, or newfound talents. Having more time to explore yourself and the world around you will give you the opportunity to reflect on what your priorities are, and will likely lead to more success and satisfaction in the future. 

For example, studies show that students who have chosen to do a gap year right after high school are more likely to graduate in four or less years. Whereas the U.S. national average of college graduates is around six years! A gap year can assist students in finding out who they truly are and what they value in life. 

A gap year is a life-changing opportunity to learn, grow, and explore outside of the traditional classroom. But don’t mistake a gap year for just a “year-off” or an extended vacation. The best gap years are full of transformative opportunities and challenges. Living in a different country, volunteering for a cause, and developing new skills are just some of the ways you can grow on a gap year.

Future employers, professors, and mentors highly value individuals who have demonstrated the confidence to get out of their comfort zone – that’s where we learn and grow the most! Life experiences, personal growth, and leadership skills are a few of the many benefits of gap year programs like Take Action Lab.


What To Do In A Gap Year: Different Kinds of Gap Year Ideas

  • Virtual: A virtual gap year is done online, such as a remote internship, volunteering, learning, and teaching. With the new technology based world we live in today, virtual learning and experiences can be just as valuable as in person ones. 
  • Immersive: An immersive gap year is a total immersion in a new culture and language. This type of gap year is very hands-on. Some may travel to other countries or states, learn new languages, adventure, and study academics of some sort. 
  • Independent: An independent gap year is when the individual takes it upon themselves to find experiential learning and experiences. This is not done through a program or organization, instead it is controlled by the student themselves.

Considering a gap year?

See how Take Action Lab could align with your goals.

Gap Year Ideas for High School Students



Have you ever wanted to live on a farm in another country? Maybe you dreamed of living in India or hiking the beautiful mountains of Ecuador. Well, all of these dreams are possible through Willing Workers of Organic Farmers (WWOOF)! This gap year idea allows you to take a gap week, month, semester, or year at an organic farm on any continent. WWoofers live and work alongside their host family and experience life as an organic farmer BUT WWoofers are not limited to the farm. They are free to explore the area and experience the culture around them as well! Ready to get your hands dirty and wwoof? You can find more information about WWoofing here.



Interrailing has been a gap year staple since the dawn of gap years. Young adults with wide eyes and adventurous hearts take on the mission to travel to Europe and take a train across the continent. Interrailing can be as short as 1 week or go on for years. Interrailing is a great opportunity to make new friends and form deep connections during your physical and internal journey. According to the Interrail website, there are over 40,000 destinations in 30 countries. Where is your next stop?


Semester Abroad

Embarking on a semester abroad is a life-changing experience that can broaden your horizons, enhance your education, and create memories that last a lifetime. Sometimes a semester is all you need!


Semester at Sea

Gap year ideas shouldn’t be limited to land. The ocean is just as vast and dynamic. Imagine seeing whales during your leisure time or listening to dolphins while you sleep. That could become your reality at Semester at Sea. The ocean is your classroom. With Semester at Sea, students receive an education that is not only global but accredited as well. This may not exactly be a gap year but you will not be learning in a typical classroom. So, what are you waiting for? The ocean awaits


Pod Volunteer

Have you thought about taking care of bears in Cambodia? Or taking part in coral conservation in Belize? Pod Volunteer is an award-winning nonprofit that allows its participants to volunteer abroad in various countries around the world. Pod volunteers work side by side with local organizations to directly impact the surrounding community. Volunteers are also given the option to focus on any area of your choice. Whether it’s animals, conservation, community building, etc. This is a fun idea for a gap year and a great opportunity to find your passion or hobby! What community would you like to join?



Tilting Futures’ Immersive Learning Program: Take Action Lab

Immerse yourself in a new culture and learn from experienced mentors in South Africa. Collaborate on causes you care about with an organization advancing human rights issues. Gain not just hands-on experience, but the ability to be an effective changemaker. Upon graduating, you’ll join a lifelong alumni network that’s creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.

You’ll be thoughtfully matched with a South African organization advancing a human rights issue, and will work with them 4 days a week. From food security to girls’ empowerment, deepen your awareness by working on the ground with experienced professionals and the communities they serve.

There are so many incredible gap year ideas to choose from. This is YOUR time. Go out and experience the world!



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Global Citizen Year is moving forward as part of our new, larger brand: Tilting Futures. New name, same mission, expanded programs and impact.