The State of the Gap Year in 2021
With University and more recently A level results being out many people would often be looking at taking a gap year, but with the unprecedented last 18 months what does the state of the gap year look like in 2021? Whilst the world returns slowly to normality, fresh outbreaks mean that rules are constantly changing which doesn’t help travelers, we take a look at many popular travelling destinations to see what a gap year could look like over the coming months.
The number one destination for many young travellers is still South East Asia, with friendly people, delicious food and rich culture and history it’s easy to see why. With the news that the government is reducing the time between 1st and 2nd jabs down to 6 weeks, it means lots more young people will be able to travel and travel sooner, as most countries now require you to be double vaccinated as a minimum. However, at the moment most travellers arriving in the traditional travelling hotspot of Thailand must complete a 14 day quarantine which puts it off limits unless you fancy wasting 2 weeks in a hotel room. As things are constantly changing, depending on when you see this it’s best to check both the British and Thai governments advice. Other popular destinations in the area Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia are not even allowing people in the country unless you meet certain essential person criteria (of which tourism is not one).
Australia and New Zealand are also popular gap year destinations. These however, are both not an option with New Zealand back in national lockdown and parts of Australia in local lockdown both countries are not permitting any tourists at the moment. Whilst in recent years young people have become more adventurous with their choices of destination with new favourites such as the Philippines, Colombia, Kenya and Japan making inroads. This is partly due to these destinations not being easily accessible five years ago on an around the world ticket, but with new routes and new airlines joining alliances these destinations are opening up to people. Unfortunately most of these areas are also not possible. Really the best available options at the moment are either Europe or the Caribbean.
The Caribbean is a bit of a mixed bag with Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, The Dominican Republic and Cuba all on the red list but then Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada and Turks & Caicos on the green list. By process of elimination the rest are obviously on the amber list which if you’re double vaccinated means you no longer need to quarantine when returning to the UK from these places. You do have take into account the entry restrictions of each individual country however for most countries if you are double vaccinated or provide evidence of a negative test (cannot use the NHS testing system, must use a private test) then you will be able to travel and enter without quarantine. For Jamaica however you have to stay within your hotel within the 'resilient corridor' where you can only go to designated places which are certified to be COVID-19 resilient licensed tourist attractions. It is always best to check the government website and that of the country you are travelling to before you travel.
All of Europe is on either the green or amber list and is also nice and close making it the best option for gap year travelling. Probably the best way to do this is through interrailing. This train pass gives you access to up to 33 countries across Europe for as little as 185 euros. This is perfect to see lots of different places, enabling you to hop on and off wherever you would like and under-27s even get a discount on passes. Passes are all available on mobile to make it easy to keep around.
The activities that travellers are partaking in during these trips have changed over time too, anything from playing backgammon with locals in a Greek café to preparing home-cooked meals in Thailand. The change in people’s viewpoints has helped this as more people want to become immersed and learn about the local culture, rather than partying the night away in a club and staggering back to their accommodation. Volunteering trips have also significantly increased in popularity and social media/internet has played a major part in this change of awareness. Most customers now know what seat they want on a plane, what their baggage allowance is and statistics show that this age group value booking with an agent. Although they may want an off the beaten track experience, they still want someone to put it all together for them and offer advice as the days of flying out with just a couple of nights accommodation booked and a bit of local currency is long gone. This has become of even more value in the last 18 months as agents can now help travellers decide destinations and make sure they have all the correct paperwork and comply with local restrictions.
Overall then the face of gap years has changed drastically in the last 18 months but in the last month or two it has once again become a possibility and with A level results as good as they are and universities asking students to defer now may be a good time to scratch that travel itch. We understand that some people may not want to travel and that’s ok but when you are CT4N Travel are here for you when you are.