Long office hours and several years in education can take a toll on our wellbeing. Sometimes, unplugging from the repetitiveness of everyday life is necessary. Why not take some time off your work or studies to focus on a rewarding activity? You could finally write out that novel which has been living rent-free in your head for months, or you could help out your community by litter-picking and volunteering at your local hospital radio station. The options are endless!
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, however, why not board a plane and make life-long memories that you will cherish forever? Now that the pandemic crisis is slowly but surely easing, you can fly abroad with more confidence and make the most of the many valuable opportunities that the world has to offer.
Therefore, we have put together a list of outstanding locations that will fill your sabbatical diary with a wide variety of gratifying activities.
Ski and snowboard on the Alps
With postcard-like villages and chalets scattered across snowy valleys, a trip to Europe’s highest mountain range is a must for winter sports aficionados. Stretching from Eastern France to Slovenia, the Alps offer stunning landscapes, uncontaminated air, and numerous mountainous activities.
You can experience paragliding sessions, cycle along iconic Tour de France trails or even sign up for a ski instructor course in France. What is more, after a day packed with adventures, you will be able to unwind with a glass of wine and a bowl of melted Swiss cheese in your hands.
Save the turtles in Costa Rica
Rich in exotic jungles and splendid beaches, Costa Rica is a small gem situated in Central America. It is home to volcanoes, rainforests, massive waterfalls, and… turtles!
You can volunteer as a conservation ambassador and patrol the country’s shores to locate female turtles, protecting them and their eggs from poachers and predators. It is not every day that you help baby turtles reach the ocean safely, all of which in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet!
Dance and score goals in Latin America
South America throbs with life, culture, and fun. You can enjoy the buzzing Colombian atmosphere in colourful Bogotà and Cartagena, or can admire Incan citadels such as Machu Picchu in Peru.
If you are a footy fan, why not volunteer as a football coach in Brazil and help shape the world’s future Pelé under the vigilant eyes of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer?
Moreover, if you’d rather watch Strictly Come Dancing over Match of the Day, there is no better place than Brazil to shake your body and become a samba professional. If ballroom is more your thing, buy a red rose as you travel down south to Buenos Aires – you will be able to join the best tango classes in the world.
Teach Buddhist monks some English
Teaching sabbatical programmes are extremely popular. Giving English lessons abroad, helping locals improve their speaking and listening skills, is undoubtedly a rewarding experience.
If you are after a teaching opportunity that is both challenging and unforgettable, you can offer to work with Buddhist monks in Laos and teach them the basics of the English language. While you are at it, fit in some meditation sessions from the ultimate masters of calm and relaxation themselves.
Scuba-dive in Zanzibar
Do you love the sea? Do you have great stamina? You may want to consider taking up diving! With crystal waters and outstanding marine fauna, what better place than Zanzibar? By joining a course right off the Tanzanian coast, you will acquire a unique skill that can be put into practice anywhere in the world.
Au-pair in Italy
Imagine waking up to the smell of coffee and the sizzle of ragù as the radio in the kitchen blasts Pavarotti’s rendition of “O’ Sole Mio”. Why not spend a few months au-pairing in an Italian home, enjoying the mouth-watering food and a strong family bond? It is also a great opportunity to pick up one of the world’s most poetic languages and note down Nonna’s secret recipes to stun your friends once your stay is over.
If looking after children is your cup of tea, you may also want to contemplate au-pairing for a few months aboard a cruise ship. It would be an ideal way to earn money while circumnavigating the planet!
Climb the Everest and build schools in Nepal
Enjoy glistening glaciers and mind-blowing views by trekking the Himalayas, the mountain range that hosts the tallest mountain in the world: Mount Everest. Possibly one of the most extreme adventures out there, it will be an experience you will never forget.
When you are not up in the clouds, you can volunteer on building projects in Nepalese villages. By working alongside local engineers and architects, you will help rebuild schools destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.
Look after huskies and reindeer in Norway
If you are not fazed by glacial temperatures (-40˚C in the winter) and lack of light or darkness for 24 hours straight, assisting huskies and reindeer in need of special care may be right up your street.
By shovelling snow and feeding hungry yet lovable animals in northern Norway, this is an unforgettable sabbatical that will challenge in you many different ways.
It is fair to say that routines can become tedious in the long run. After a while, you may be desperate for some change of scenery. Put your job on hold, close your schoolbooks, and go on a well-deserved sabbatical. We hope this list will inspire you when planning your next gap year adventure!