Gap Year

Volunteer Placements and Adventure Travel

A Break Before University

A Gap Year is a great way to enhance your studies or career development, and step out to discover more about yourself and the world. The pressure of choosing a career path before finishing high school can be very challenging, and many students feel they lack real-life experience to make informed decisions. Rustic Pathways Gap Year programs offer students a purposeful bridge to the wider world. Students excel after successfully completing a Gap Year, and the stories they tell resonate with both employers and university admissions boards.

Gap Year Travel Beyond School

A Gap Year is a time to break free of the traditional academic routine and seek out the unknown with the goal of learning more about yourself and the world. You will gain independence, achieve personal goals, gather experience, explore possibilities, discover new cultures, and help make the world a better place. Universities recognise the value of taking a Gap Year, and most fully support this educational experience. University students who have taken a Gap Year are often more mature, better informed, and more successful as a result. This year away provides an opportunity to explore fields of interest before diving into tertiary studies or employment.

Taking a Gap Year is a rite of passage considered essential for many students in the United Kingdom and much of Europe. It is rapidly becoming a more common practice across the world as students, faculty, and parents realise how meaningful and important this time can be for developing young minds. Rustic Pathways has been a leader in providing enriching and empowering international travel for young people for 31 years. Entering our eighth year of Gap programs, we have established a global network of deep local connections and resources that is unrivalled in our field. This allows us to open doors for our students into cultures and communities that are otherwise closed to foreign visitors.

Our Gap students dive the Great Barrier Reef, teach English to Burmese refugees, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, test their courage, open their hearts, and discover an incredible world beyond their imaginations. Broaden your horizons by joining us for a month, a semester, or a year.

Three Types of Gap Year Programs


Gap for Good

Affordable Volunteer Placements

For those looking for affordable, culturally immersive volunteer placements abroad on a flexible schedule, we offer Gap for Good programs. These unstructured placements offer independent, self-motivated students a chance to work on service projects with the support of our extensive network of friends and family in six locations. Our bases and host families are open to you throughout most of the year. In some locations, homestay options will allow you to gain a deep connection to the local culture, as you become a welcome part of a carefully selected host family.

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Gap Block

Personal Development through Travel

If you are looking for a program less than three months in length or simply want to customize a Gap Year to suit your needs, Gap Year Blocks are a great choice. These unique one-month programs offer many possibilities. They allow you to sign up for individual month-long trips for a shorter journey, or connect several Blocks together to create your perfect Gap Year. Take advantage of all the great service projects, high adventure activities, and empowering skill-building programs that are included in Gap Semesters without joining a full three-month course.

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Gap Semesters

Transformational Three-Month Experiences

As the most complete way to experience a region, each Gap Semester is comprised of three carefully planned, one-month segments. These semesters allow you to trace a path around an amazing part of the world and gain a comprehensive understanding of life there, accompanied by expert local guides and international program leaders. Gap Semesters give you chances to work on service projects; make friends; learn skills such as Spanish, scuba diving, and wilderness medicine; and challenge yourself through outdoor activities in spectacular destinations.

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I was burned out from high school and I knew that if I went straight into university I would probably not have another chance to travel for a long time. I felt that this was the right point in my life to slow down the education process and figure out who I really was and what I wanted to do with my future. I chose to travel to Tanzania and South Africa with Rustic. It was certainly challenging to be in places with cultures so different from my own, but they were two of the best months of my Gap Year.

- Marc McFarland, New Jersey, USA
Rustic Pathways