It’s March of your final semester at McGill. All your friends are beginning to prepare for the start of their first job after graduation, while you are packing your bags to return to your parents’ basement, unemployed and unimpressed. Fear not, and cancel your flight home. There are plenty of cool things to do during your “gap year”. Who said “gap years” were limited to high school students? Whether you’re looking for adventure, work, or volunteer opportunities, there is something for everyone outside of the Roddick Gates and glum office cubicles.
Tour D’Afrique is the ultimate adventure for serious cyclists. The group meets in Cairo, Egypt to begin their journey, and 12,000 kilometres and four months later, they arrive in Cape Town, South Africa. Participants will bike for a total of 94 days and rest for 27 days touring throughout Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. For those of you who are natural-born competitors, there is also a race aspect of the tour if the beautiful surroundings aren’t enough to motivate you through 180km bike rides. However, this expedition is not for those with shallow pockets. The total cost is just shy of 14Gs.
More info at: http://tourdafrique.com/tour-overview/?t=tour-dafrique
Become a House Sitter
House sitting is an awesome way to travel with free accommodations. Pick a country at random and look up house sitting assignments on The Caretaker Gazette, HouseCarers, House Sitters America, and Luxuy House Sitting. Some of these sites have small subscription fees, but the savings on room and board while travelling will be worth it! Some assignments ask that sitters do basic housework and yard maintenance and others may require a pet sitting as well. One housesitting ad reads: “Experience Real Thailand and Take Care of our Persian Princess.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a good deal to me. An alternative to housesitting, if you are uncomfortable staying alone in a stranger’s home, is becoming an Au Pair (fancy word for live-in nanny). Lots of great opportunities can be found at http://www.aupair.com/.
Work on a Cruise Ship
What better way to spend a gap year than making a bit of dough while sailing around the Caribbean or the Mediterranean? Cruise Lines Jobs is the hub of all jobs relating to cruise ships – whether you want to pursue your culinary dreams or play piano as on-ship entertainment. In addition, you won’t have to spend a dime on accommodation and food and you won’t have anywhere to spend your wages. Consider it forced savings in the best way possible!
Teaching English as a second language is a sure way to make money while travelling. Not to mention the pay is quite lucrative — maybe even more than your roommate’s starting salary at KPMG. Dubai is listed as one of the most attractive places to teach with a monthly salary of up to $5,000 plus furnished accommodations. If that isn’t enough, most companies even cover a yearly return airfare to your home country!
WWOOF-World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
WWOOF connects volunteers with organic farmers all over the world with the goal of helping people share more sustainable ways of living. Volunteers are provided free stay in exchange for their help. WWOOF is the perfect gap year project for the environmentally conscious traveller, who wants an authentic local experience. Visit http://www.wwoof.org/index.asp to find out all the destinations you can go to!
Start Surfing Couches
For the ultimate free spirit, pack your bags, head to the airport, hop on the cheapest flight to somewhere exotic and start couchsurfing. The site http://www.couchsurfing.org is now a community of over 5 million members in 97,000 cities. Most peoples’ major concern with couchsurfing is safety; however, Couchsurfing.org has worked hard to develop a multi-faceted reputation system, complete with references, profiles, verification, and vouching tools.
You have the rest of your life to work in a cubicle at a 9-5 job, and gap years become less and less acceptable as you get older. People are not quite as understanding when you want to take a year off from your position as a VP or as a full-time mom. So live while you’re young, pick your adventure, and go explore!