With hundreds of thousands of British students having just opened their A-Level results, many will be looking forward to starting their university lives in the autumn, while thousands of others will be looking forward to the adventure of a gap year.
Tens of thousands of school and college leavers will be deferring their university places and many of these will be taking a gap year trip before starting their courses in 2016.
ABTA is revealing the most popular destinations and activities for gappers as well as advising young people about how to have a rewarding experience and how to stay safe.
Top gap year destinations
Some ABTA Members specialising in gap year travel have reported increases more than 10% in bookings over the last twelve months with Australasia, South East Asia, the USA and South America being the most popular destination choices.
There have been some winners and losers over the last twelve months with Australia retaining its number one spot but New Zealand has taken over from Thailand at number two and Vietnam has increased in popularity from eighth to fifth on the list.
The top gap year destinations reported by ABTA Members specialising in gap years are:
Gaining work experience and funds rather than just having an extended holiday
Although a gap year still represents an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves, increasing numbers of gappers are looking to gap year specialists to provide them with opportunities to gain work experience as well as using this as an opportunity to fund and extend their trips.
Most popular gap year activities
The most popular type of gap year requested by school and college leavers for 2015/6 are work experience placements abroad including internships. Following these are volunteering trips, with many students choosing to work with local communities in developing countries. Examples offered by ABTA Members include football coaching in South Africa, Panda conservation in China and teaching English in Ecuador. Booking through a reputable company is particularly important for volunteering trips as is doing your research thoroughly and committing to a project that properly benefits the host country and suits both the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteer.
Looking for adventure
Adventure gap years are also proving popular, with gappers looking to take part in activities such as overland tours, trekking, mountain biking and white water rafting. The more traditional round-the-world backpacking gap year still remains popular with gappers also looking for cultural options.
Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA said: “Thousands of young people will be heading off on a gap year which for many will be one of the most memorable and rewarding twelve months of their lives. However, foreign travel can offer a range of challenges and it is important that gap year students prepare carefully if they are to travel safely and also get the most out of their experience overseas. In addition, many gap year students may pay out large sums of money to specialist companies and it is important that they do their research to ensure that their money is well spent and placed with a reputable company.”
ABTA’s Top Tips for Gappers
For more information visit www.abta.com/gapyear