Advice needed on where to travel for Gap year!

Travel Forums Off Topic Advice needed on where to travel for Gap year!

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1. Posted by Maisymosetrap (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi, I’m 18f & all my gap year plans have had to be cancelled, (This was going to be UK to Thailand and surrounding areas for a 3 months.) I was leaving in January but the Thailand borders mean you have to quarantine at a government facility for 2 weeks. (Also, we had an overnight stay in Abu Dhabi where we would also have to quarantine for 2 weeks.) Does anyone have any suggestions of potential gap year destinations that I will be allowed to do without a massive quarantine? Where am I allowed to travel to right now so I can save my whole gap year from being a waste? :(

Anywhere not too expensive to live and where restrictions aren’t too extreme so we don’t have to quarantine. At this point, we are devastated about the restrictions and will be happy to go pretty much anywhere that would be a good time. Let me know if I need to be more specific!
Any advice at all appreciated!!!

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2418 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I am struggling to think of anything positive to say to you. Travel is basically shut down, and none of us are having much fun.

The best I can say is this will pass and you will have other opportunities later to go travelling.

The UK Government's advice is to avoid all but essential travel right now. There are exceptions to this - you can find the list here

However, just because a country is on that list doesn't mean they are accepting visitors. :( And if you got in, you may find that tourism is shut down. And you also face the problems of what to do if you get ill with coronavirus or something else, and travel insurance may not be valid to cover you.

I don't know if anyone else has any suggestions of where you could go or what you could do to salvage something from this time. The best I can suggest is to work and save to give you the money for more travel after this is over with.

3. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 213 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

1. Why Thailand? I found it the least interesting and most expensive of the countries in the region. Except if you want to party with other gap years. My observations in Thailand was gap years seem to congregate in groups and seem totally unaware that there is even a local culture. I did walk down KSR a few times for fun and I found it sad - loads of youngsters and the only locals were those serving them overpriced beer, burgers & chips. Walk a mile away, down backstreets and there are some great places to eat at a fraction of the price and not a westerner to be seen. I was staying in hostels/Guest houses (low cost), independent (low cost) travel and Vietnam & Cambodia far cheaper and far more interesting. Myanmar about the same cost as Thailand but far far more interesting. But Thailand was the only place with other gap years. But if you only want to party with other youngsters then plenty of youngsters in the UK and you wont have the carbon footprint flying. I kind of hope gap years are about experiencing other cultures, countries, etc. but my observations have made me more cynical (but I'm hopeful of/open to being proven wrong).

2. IMO there are several problems with the UK Gov. FOC (or whatever they call themselves these days). Their "guidance" is not symmetrical e.g. they might say country X is "exempt" but country X does not allow UK residents in and vice versa. Sometimes there seems little logic to the FCO "exempt" list e.g. You would be far safer from C-19 in Bolivia at the moment than in the UK - Bolivia's infection rate is much lower e.g. Bolivia new cases per million 21 against UK's 230 and Bolivia is open yet UK FCO still does the "no non-essential travel". Conspiracy theorists would suspect some other agenda going on.

3. There are specialist insurance companies that will cover travel (for some people) travelling against FCO advice. But expect to pay.

4. In my experience: Most travel insurance does not cover you in countries against FCO advice and more concerning is that if you arrive whilst country which FCO lists "exempt" but FCO change the next day your travel insurance requires you leave immediately (or you policy will be void). And with FCO advice bouncing around on a daily basis ...

5. A few companies I checked would cover C-19 infection BUT remember that if you catch it you will not be allowed on an aircraft nor allowed to travel - so you will have to be treated in whatever country you happen to be in and health care can be "variable" in different countries. My impression is that in the UK there are some libertarians spouting how youngsters are not affected by C-19 which medics and scientists say is not true. Youngsters may be less likely to die or suffer long Covid or neurological/heart conditions, etc. but some still do and the consequences can be serious and may depend on the treatment you receive. Of course you also take a risk every time you cross the road and balancing acceptable risk is a personal thing.

NOTE: I am not a medic, have no specialist knowledge of insurance and cannot give advice. Above is my personal opinion based on personal experience and is not advice.

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2418 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Psamathe

NOTE: I ... cannot give advice. Above ... is not advice.


5. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 213 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting AndyF

Quoting Psamathe

NOTE: I ... cannot give advice. Above ... is not advice.


Trouble is, when you start talking about things like insurance and medical stuff some people might put a stronger "reliability" on what you say (particularly if they like what they hear); not necessarily those posting here but others and non forum members might read it. You can find whatever opinion or fact you happen to believe in on the internet - difficulty can be establishing whether that is based on "a dream I had last night" vs "I'm qualified and working for years doing this". So I'd hate people to base their decisions solely on my limited personal experience (and my interpretation of that experience at the time). I am fallible.


[ Edit: Edited on 17-Oct-2020, 11:13 GMT by Psamathe ]

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2418 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I think it's a basic tenet of comment sense to filter any advice you read online with your own judgement. If someone suggests taking multiple credit cards when travelling, to have some redundancy if one goes sour, you say "oh yes, that makes sense". You pick the advice that works for your situation, gleaning some ideas and rejecting others.

If not, I guess we have a lot of backpackers converging on Skegness, blindly following the advice of one of our resident wags as to the best beach. :)

7. Posted by Teoni (Travel Guru 1742 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I think you might have to opt for deferring your gap year and saving the money or find some alternative within the UK. International travel is going to be incredibly precarious next year. I wouldn't be planning anything really long or too far away.

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2040 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I don't think the US does "gap year" very much. (Who pays for that?) My husband worked for a year after HS because he didn't get into the Naval Academy right after HS but that isn't usual. Mostly around here, the kids graduate HS and go for a week at Ocean City and that's about it.

So my advice would be to see what higher education institution you could get into and do that, and wait to do a "gap year" after you graduate.

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 3329 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!


>Who pays for that?

Usually the person concerned, from part-time jobs etc. Sometimes parents chip in too.

The UK is not the US.

In the UK a 'gap year' is almost always taken between final school exams at 18 and beginning a university/college course. It's not usual to take it after graduation because the vast majority of UK students leave uni with substantial debt (course fees & accommodation) and most want to start work so they can begin paying the debt off. A gap year may or may not involve paid work outside the UK.


Although I have huge sympathy for your situation I'm afraid I too am stuck as to where you might venture.

Check the FCO website for possibilities but be aware that rules can and do change very quickly indeed, both in the UK and elsewhere:

Don't even think about going to a country where the FCO advises against all or all but essential travel. Any ordinary travel health insurance would immediately be invalidated )specialist insurance is both difficult to find and *very* expensive). You would, of course, be incredibly foolish to travel without full travel health cover (including repatriation costs).

Be patient, keep checking and see what happens in 2021. With luck there will be more options available.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Oct-2020, 17:30 GMT by leics2 ]

10. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2040 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I understand that some Costa cruises are operating successfully - I think mostly in the Med. By successful, I mean that they have not had any cases of covid aboard.

Cruising is a pretty cheap way to travel (comparative to doing a land vacation) and there are probably some party opportunities on a ship. My understanding is that you must be certified Covid-free before you board and everyone is tested (including the crew) frequently. If you get off the ship in a port on a ship permitted excursion, you have to stay with your tour group/guide. If you go off on your own, they will kick you off the cruise.

I know this because my cruise travel agent has a twice weekly zoom meeting with his clients (in addition to professional meetings) He is in touch with what is going on in the industry. Those cruises are not available to us in the US so I don't know the dates or itineraries.

Incidentally - Most US college students also graduate with crushing debts. That is not unique to the UK