6 Popular Gap Year Destinations For British Students

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

Every year two and a half million UK students consider taking a year out before resuming their studies.

If you are one of them, then you will be starting to think about the two most important questions: What to do and where to go. We’ve put together a quick guide to six of the most popular destinations for British students, along with a few ideas of the sort of projects you can get involved with - a quick search will bring up the various providers and costs.

If you’re still not sure whether a gap year is for you, take a look at our article exploring what to think about when making such a big decision.

If you are considering doing your gap year abroad, then make sure you register with Transferwise so that you can move your money around cheaply, without paying the hefty transfer fees charged by most UK high street banks.


With its paradise beaches, tropical climate, cheap cost of living and laidback lifestyle, the South-East Asian “Land of Smiles” is one of the most popular places for UK students who want to travel and volunteer abroad.

  • Get a TEFL certificate in Bangkok
  • Help build a school or library in Chiang Rai
  • Teach in a Women's Prison in Chiang Mai

Visa requirements: UK nationals are entitled to a 30 day visa, which does not allow for work. If you are planning on volunteering, you will need to get a Non-Immigrant O Visa, which allows you to volunteer for 90 days.


The Land Down Under has long been a favourite with UK students - no language barrier and the ease of getting a short-term travel and work visa make it an attractive destination. Mix in incredible scenery and vibrant, multicultural cities and you have the recipe for a great year abroad.

  • Take part in a wildlife park conservation project
  • Spend a month working on a sheep farm
  • Volunteer as a school assistant

Visa requirements: If you are between 18 and 30 and want to work or travel in Australia for up to 12 months, then you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa. You will need to show that you have adequate funds in your bank account to support yourself for a year.


India has had a pull on British travellers for many years. The world’s biggest subcontinent offers incredible variation in culture, scenery and food. From the desert regions of Rajasthan to the beaches of Goa, and the tranquility of the Himalayan mountains to the hectic city streets of Mumbai or Delhi.

  • Volunteer with a community project in the Himalayas
  • Work with the children in an orphanage in Jaipur
  • Spend the summer coaching cricket to young people

Visa requirements: UK citizens can get a tourist visa of six months to visit India, but if you are planning on volunteering you will need to apply for an Employment Visa. This site gives a good rundown of the visa types and you can start your application here.


5,000 miles of beaches, incredible rainforest and cities that the word “vibrant” might have been invented for. Brazil’s incredible culture and lifestyle have long made it a very popular destination on the gap year trail.

  • Learn Portuguese and travel down the Amazon
  • Coach football in Rio de Janeiro
  • Take a photography course in Buenos Aires

Visa requirements: A two-year visa - the visto de assistência social - is available for people wanting to volunteer in Brazil. No work contract is needed - you can apply for the visa directly. However, this must be done in the UK. UK nationals can stay in Brazil for 90 days without needing a tourist visa.

Staying Within Europe

If you prefer to stay a little closer to home but are still wanting to leave the comfort zone of the UK then there are thousands of opportunities within Europe itself.

  • Work in a ski chalet in Switzerland
  • Do a journalism internship in Madrid
  • Train as a sailing instructor in France

Visa requirements: European Union citizens (which includes you, as a UK citizen) are entitled to work and travel freely throughout the EU.

Stay in the UK

Finally, don’t overlook the many opportunities available in your home country. It might not seem as exciting, but Britain is a very diverse place, get to know another corner of our fascinating island:

  • Train as an outdoor activity instructor
  • Work in a boarding school as a mentor
  • Take part in a conservation project in the Lake District

Visa requirements: Absolutely none! If you want more food for thought, take a look at our guide to getting the most from your gap year.

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