I'm currently saving for my gap year & it will soon be time to make a commitment & get it booked!!!!!! However, I want to see everywhere (and realise that you can't) so I've made a couple of routes but can't decide which one to pick.
1) S'th America & California - Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica then travel up California seeing the national parks along he way.
2) Asia & Oz - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China & Oz
Or.... a mixture - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China then to s'th America Brazil, Peru
Bering in mind this is my 1st gap year and maybe my last and I'm not a rich man by any means so money is a big factor.
All Advice welcome
If money is of concern - forget about California (much too expensive and a poor value).
I advise that Asia would be better for you because that's the place that is now fast developing and will change the most in the future (prices will rise, development will change everything, and it will no longer be so unique).
Moneywise, I agree with Daawgon.
Though, if you have a year, you should visit more countries in Asia and stick to the cheaper ones. Southeast Asia, including Indonesia/Malaysia and maybe Myanmar, plus China and also Tibet, India and Nepal.
If want some combinations, a Round the World Ticket obviously is the best option pricewise, especially if combining Asia and South America. Otherwise, combining Oz with Asia is a good option as a return ticket to Oz can easily be combined with a rather long stopover in Asia
Still, if you only visit the southwest of the USA for about 3 weeks, which will cost a little extra, a good route for a year would certainly be down Central and South America. Then again, spending the whole year in South America is not a problem at all, and saves you quite a lot of money on transport and thus the possibility to spend longer in one place.
As you see, it's a rather open question with open answers. But my personal choice would definately be Latin America in general, combining the best of Central and South America: Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, the Amazon, Machu Picchu, Pantanal, Patagonia...the list is long.. If you can, fit in Suriname, I heard good stories about the jungle options over there.
I would say leave out california as it is somewhere you can visit on holiday and will not be an experience like the others...
I am off in september to:
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, OZ, NZ, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. I did look in to North America as well but for the extra on your ticket I really dont think its worth it.
Definately agree with everyone else that you should spend more time in Asia and maybe even S. America...
Money is a huge issue with me and my gf but we are also using a website called workaway (there is also a similar one called helpx.net) and basically a few hours work helping someone for free accommodation and food. In the more expensive countries this can save you quite a bit.
Hope this helps.
I agree with these comments above -- Asia's a great place to visit when you're young and willing to get through more difficult-to-navigate cities. As Daawgon mentioned, this is a great time to catch Asia too, since it's at that interesting balancing point between tradition and modernization.
Bringing in some of Latin America sounds like a great idea too. I usually prefer exploring fewer places in greater depth to visiting many cities at a more superficial level, but since you'll have a whole year, it doesn't seem like too big a compromise to add more destinations to your itinerary. All depends on your budget now, I guess!
I know a lot of people who've gone on gap years in Asia and they've all immensely enjoyed themselves so just for that I'm going to suggest the Asian route.