Double the Fun on Your Gap Year Abroad
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May 14, 2012

Double the Fun on Your Gap Year Abroad

Creative Commons image - courtesy of Flickr.com
Have you ever thought about how you were going to spend your gap year, and
ended up spending countless hours wondering whether you should be giving up your
time to work alongside charitable organisations, or simply indulging in travelling to
some of the world’s most exotic destinations without having to stick to a schedule?

Deciding between volunteering and seeing the world can be a tough choice to make
when you have limited time available, but with a bit of careful planning you really
can have the best of both worlds. It’s all about where you choose to go. Take a
look at some of the best destinations for undecided gap year travellers and see for
yourself.

Peru
The children of Peru are short on help, so heading to the township of Cusco offers
the chance to befriend a group of children who are keen to make new acquaintances
from far off countries. Most of the volunteer work here is carried out in the
communities, so even if you’ve signed up to teach the local children English, don’t
be surprised if you end up building a latrine or harvesting crops while you’re there.

Aside from the obvious advantage of enhancing your Spanish speaking skills, Peru
is home to Machu Picchu, one of the most famous temple sites that can be found
along the Inca trail. If that’s not enough, Peru has some of the most beautiful
beaches in the world, so afternoons off can be spent topping up the tan. And if
you’re a budget conscious traveller then Peru is the country for you – everything is
relatively cheap, including fresh food, local alcohol and hand crafted gifts.

Australia
While Australia doesn’t normally come high on the list of countries in need of
charity or volunteers, it is actually desperately in need of people to help with
their conservation projects. With such a small population by land mass, it’s no
wonder they’re struggling to get enough volunteers to help maintain the landscape.
Volunteering down under usually involves tasks like erosion prevention, or seed
distribution which helps the country protect its indigenous species. Of course, the
benefits of working in Australia are obvious. A trip to Sydney to visit the Great
Harbour Bridge, or a lengthy trek up Ayres Rock are only overshadowed by the
chance to meet wallabies up close and personal, and sample Australia’s impressive
wine collection at source.

Thailand
Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to visit Thailand at some point in their life? Aside
from the fabulous beaches, perfect weather conditions and fascinating culture to
enjoy, it also offers the chance to volunteer abroad in one of the neediest countries
in the world. Working here means that volunteers can make a real difference to
some exceptionally under-privileged children, building schools and orphanages,
teaching language and other basic skills and helping provide food and clothing. So
why choose Thailand over any other destination? Well, on a trip out here you can
spend your days learning to scuba dive in the blue waters off the island of Phuket,
and your evenings enjoying the lively city of Bangkok. You’ll try a different style of
cuisine and learn about a culture that takes etiquette very seriously indeed.

Kenya
If you want to do some volunteer work abroad that’s a little bit different from
your average trip, check out the animals in Kenya, because they need a little help
too. You could spend a month working alongside local tribes in the Masai Mara,
supporting their care work with the indigenous elephant herds or tracking wild cats
to tag them and see to their medical needs. So why work in Kenya? Simple – safari!
You’ll be spending your days in the bush of one of the most dramatic landscapes in
the world, one of the last places where animals are truly able to be wild.

Author Byline: Fiona Galloway is a travel writer who enrolled on a volunteer work abroad
programme during her gap year.