Our top 5 gap year destination as chosen by explorer Ian Finch
Every journey we take has the potential to inspire, challenge and teach us. These journeys can be as simple as a hike in the fertile lowlands of the Austrian Alps or longer cross-continental trips across countries or to the foothills of the world’s highest mountain ranges. There is no doubt that the magic starts from the spark of an idea and continues through every single stage of the journey - from planning logistics to the physical undertaking of the adventure to sharing your gap year story with the wider world.
I have been blessed to have visited and met people from the world’s far away regions. The lessons that come from the landscapes and from those that call it home are always vast and far-reaching. They have shaped the way I live and taught me, in depth, about a world and our relationship to its fragile environment.
I hope the following destinations will inspire you to see that adventure and travel, in all its forms, is everywhere. I also hope the lure of these countries will encourage you to undertake journeys of all shapes and sizes during your gap year, they truly are one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in your life - let’s get exploring.
To me, the Alps are the younger brother of the Himalayas and are one of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in Europe. There is easy access to the equally beautiful regions of Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia with a simple border crossing.
Possibly Asia’s best-kept secret. There are still areas of this wonderful and culturally rich country that have rarely seen a western tourist. A new overland route to Thailand is now open.
For a taste of an ancient culture and nomadic lifestyle Mongolia is unsurpassed. Fly from Ulaanbaatar west to Olgii, then further west for an authentic experience of the Steppe, horse, and eagle culture.
Two islands of immense and geographically diverse national parks, rich Maori culture and world-renowned landscapes, New Zealand’s (Land of the Long White Cloud) mild Pacific climate makes it ideal to explore for any length of time by bike or on foot.
Northwest from Canada sits the US’s most least populated state at 1.3 people per square mile. Alaska is a wilderness of unrivalled vastness, human history and culture. Take a small plane from Anchorage into the tundra to hike (with qualified guide) or paddle a section of the Yukon River for an authentic taste of this untouched region.