And it seems more and more of them are doing it, with most heading Down Under, as young people opt to travel rather than find a job.
Indeed, youth travel specialist STA – TNT’s Travel Show partner – has has seen sales of round-the-world airfares soar by 25% compared to this time last year.
Glen Mintrim, STA Travel’s UK managing director, said: “The job market is still very tough for young people in the UK. More and more are taking the opportunity to head off on a gap year trip to broaden their work and life experience, and bolster their CV with overseas work experience. For example, we’ve seen a 10% increase in sales of Working Holiday Visas for Australia compared to last summer, and 16% for New Zealand.”
The key five gap year destinations for STA Travel UK are Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Thailand and Peru, which form the staple parts of most gap year experiences.
However there’s a new wave of destinations coming through as young travellers look to break away from the gap pack and experience something new, Mintrim explained.
“Iceland is our fastest growing destination (+129% on last year) as people are stopping off there on their way to or way back from New York or the east coast of the USA,” he said.
Getting to see more of each destination is also important to the gap year traveller, with overland travel arrangements being favoured over domestic or short-hop flights by those on long trips.
“This year has seen a move towards ‘open jaw’ routes for our customers, e.g. flying into Bangkok and out of Singapore, with sales of bus passes in Asia up by 44%,” Mintrim said.
“I think people on longer trips would rather take a bus/train/boat so as to see more of a destination rather than booking lots of internal flights.
“Our customers are looking for a more immersive itinerary, a gap year is no longer just a list of countries to tick off.”
He added that gap years have never been so meticulously planned.
“Our customers know that to get the most out of their trip they must factor in different elements in advance, such as Working Holiday Visas, volunteering projects, adventure activities e.g. trekking or scuba courses, or pre booking must-see cultural sites.”
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