Gap year ideas – choose your own road.

There are lots of gap year ideas out there and organised programmes that combine work or study and travel. But maybe you’re considering a more independent approach? If so, read on –  I’ve put together some information to get you started.

In our 20s, we spent a year in Australia. We organised our own travel and found work. It may need more planning but that approach definitely is still possible today.

Working visa.

If you’re intending to find work as you travel, you need to apply for a working visa before you go. Countries that issue working visas to UK citizens include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Post Brexit, it’s possible but more complicated to work in the EU.

Most work visas are for people aged 18-30, though extend to 35 in Canada and New Zealand.

Costs vary and visas usually are for at least 12 months. There may be a limit on the number of visas issued each year so check application dates and fill yours in as soon as possible.

Each country has job sites where you can apply for a job before you go but this isn’t essential.

It’s also worth noting that for some countries, you need a visa just to enter so check for this too.

Finding work.

Any skills you have or previous work experience are good places to start when looking for a job. This could be skills in IT or water sports or experience working in hospitality.

My first 2 jobs were in cafés thanks to having worked in a pub restaurant in the UK. My approach was to look for adverts (often displayed at the business) or simply walk in and ask if any work was available.

Hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés are often in need of casual labour.

You might want to take the opportunity to do something completely different. Jobs as varied as organic farm work, teaching English or working at a holiday resort might open your eyes to something new.

Some jobs such as working as a ski instructor need formal qualifications but you can train as part of your gap year.

Whether you find a job before you go or once you arrive, you’ll have fun doing it, meet other people and get to know the local area.


At some point, you’ll want to explore more of the country or move on to another.

In any country you visit, there will be landmarks or experiences that you will have already decided you don’t want to miss. Once you’re there, you’ll pick up other recommendations from locals and fellow travellers.

That’s what makes it all so exciting – you get to choose your own itinerary when you’re not on an organised trip. Plus if you want to stay longer at somewhere amazing, you can. This is exactly what we did at Cape Tribulation on the East coast of Australia – it was a stunning rainforest and beach wilderness and we loved it!

And if, like us, you find you need to earn more money after travelling around, your visa allows for this. We finished up in Darwin and found work there.

We liked the freedom and flexibility of determining what we did and where we went.

Getting ready to go.

Read all you can about your chosen countries, check travel advice, get travel insurance and apply for that work visa in good time.

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to start your adventure, it’s worth checking transport and accommodation options for when you decide to move on.

For us, it was an old and remarkably reliable car because we knew we wanted to go off the beaten track. Accommodation was in a small tent – I definitely would have swapped our leaky inflatable mattress for a LayBakPak recliner camp bed but we hadn’t even thought of it back then!

Some destinations are more challenging to travel in than others but in our experience, there are often opportunities to join with other travellers who are heading in the same direction.

And a tip I’ve just picked up from the website: take a photo of the page in your passport where your passport number, photo and personal details are in case it gets lost or stolen.

It goes without saying that keeping safe is paramount particularly if you’re travelling independently.

Finally if you need a travel backpack, especially one with the option of a comfortable bed that keeps you off the ground, click the link for further information about LayBakPak:

For up to date travel advice:

For further information on working holiday visas:

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