Australia top choice for gap year takers

Australia has been named as the most popular destination for British gap year travellers.

Following last week’s record A-Level results, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has released a list of the most popular destinations for those planning to take a gap year before heading off to university.

In 2015, official UCAS figures showed that 29,000 students deferred their university entry. This year a similar number of school and college leavers will also be deferring and many of these will be taking a gap year trip before starting their courses in 2017.

Some ABTA members who specialise in gap year travel have reported increases of more than 20 per cent in bookings over the last twelve months. Australasia, South East Asia, the USA and South America have been the most popular destination choices.

Over the last 12 months Australia has retained its number one spot but Thailand has overtaken New Zealand at number two. Colombia, Laos and Cambodia have also entered the top 10. Countries to keep an eye on for 2017 include Japan and Indonesia, both of which having seen growth in popularity in the past year.

“A Gap year should be one of the most memorable and formative events in the lives of the thousands of young people who will be heading off overseas in the next 12 months,” said Nikki White, the ABTA’s Director of Destinations and Sustainability. “Foreign travel can present a range of challenges, especially in less affluent countries and it is incredibly important that gap year students do their research and plan in advance so they can travel safely and get the most out of their experiences. Gap year students also often pay out large sums of money to specialist companies and it is really important that they ensure their money is well spent and placed with a reputable company.”

With an eye on budgets and their CVs, the ABTA say that working overseas – including internships – remains the single most popular activity for gap year travellers. With tuition fees to pay off and an increasingly competitive jobs market, working on a gap year means a student can turn up to university with money in their pocket, and prevents there being a twelve-month hole in their work experience. It is also a great way to meet local people and experience different cultures.

It is essential for anyone going on a gap year to check with their travel company and with the Foreign Office for “dos and don’ts” and “no go” areas for the country they’re visiting.  They will also tell you about visa requirements and how to get relevant visas, which is especially important if you’re going to be working.

The top gap year destinations reported by ABTA Members

  1. Australia
  2. Thailand
  3. USA
  4. Peru
  5. Vietnam
  6. New Zealand
  7. Laos and Cambodia
  8. Colombia
  9. East Africa
  10. India

Article published 22nd August 2016