If your college and uni holidays are looking a little bare, read on to find out how you could be having fun, travelling, learning and improving your CV all at the same time…
Packing your bags and leaving Scotland for a year sounds like a dream come true, but it’s not exactly feasible for everyone. While gap years offer fantastic experiences, they can also be pretty costly.
Lots of savvy students are catching on to this, with ‘summer gap’ and short-term travel options growing in popularity. Whether you fancy doing some conservation work in Thailand or working at a theme park in the States, there’ll be something out there to help cure your summer boredom and give you memories to last a lifetime.
Using your summer to gain work experience is a great idea, and job applicants who have worked overseas really stand out. You could be working at a kids’ camp in the States with Camp America (www.campamerica.co.uk), temping as a receptionist in New Zealand with Bunac (www.bunac.org.uk) or teaching English in Japan courtesy of Real Gap (www.realgap.co.uk). There’s a massive variety of work available in different countries and dozens of companies that will – for a fee – help you find a job, obtain a visa, book your flights and get you to your destination country. Look online to see what’s out there for you.
If you fancy working and changing lives at the same time, signing up with a conservation or volunteer programme is the choice for you. PoD Volunteer (www.podvolunteer.org) is a fantastic organisation with dozens of volunteering opportunities across the globe. With PoD, you could be working in a children’s home in the Caribbean, volunteering at an elephant rehab centre in South Africa, or helping on a conservation project in the Amazon rainforest. Programmes like these offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and are definitely worth investigating.
As well as the tan you’ll get from working in an exotic location, being part of a volunteer project means you’ll come away from your summer with the warm glow of knowing you did something to help others. What’s more, you’ll have some fantastic work experience to liven up your CV.
If some downtime without the stresses of work is more your cup of tea, look into extended holidays. Why opt for two weeks in Marbella with your mates when you could be soaking up the many wonders the world has to offer? Using your holiday to jet off for months travelling round different countries is a great way to improve your cultural and social horizons – and you’ll get an interesting selection of souvenirs!
Interrailing is a fun, cost-effective way of seeing Europe. One ticket gives you access to trains across Europe, giving you the freedom to explore 30 countries. While you have to sort out your own route, accommodation and meals, it’s a small price to pay for amazing memories. There’s a whole continent of incredible sights to be seen, and you might be able to cram in some beach time too! A month-long InterRail pass comes in at £371 for those who are under 26 – not bad going considering how much you’ll get to see. Head to www.interrailnet.com for more info.
PACK YOUR HIKING BOOTS
If you want to see what the USA has to offer, how about booking on to a Trek America experience? This amazing travel option lets you see off-the- beaten-track locations and tourist favourites in a group with other young people, enabling you to soak up a bit of culture and make amazing new friends at the same time. Whether you opt for the 14-day Atlantic dream which travels from
New York to Miami, or the epic 64-day Trailblazer which takes you from the east to
west coast, our Stateside friends have lots to offer. Accommodation for each trek is different, with some offering camping and others hostel or hotel stays. The one thing they do have in common is the promise of the holiday of a lifetime! You do have to book your own flights to the States, but once you’ve met up with your trek group, all transport from location to location is included and the only money you’ll need will be for the daily food kitty or additional accommodation. Find out more at www.trekamerica.co.uk.
These are just a few ideas of what your summer could hold – there’s plenty more out there! So look online, check out some of the companies we’ve suggested or pop into your local branch of the Student Travel Association (www.statravel.co.uk) to plan your summer travel itinerary. Just remember to send us a postcard…