A gap year is an important part of self-development for many college graduates and it offers tons of real-world benefits. For starters, traveling somewhere new pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to learn more about yourself and the wider world. You can’t learn all that from a textbook!
But obviously, you’re going to need a way to pay for all these awesome adventures. Don’t worry, we’ve got suggestions for summer jobs that’ll help you boost your gap year travel fund—and maybe teach you a few things at the same time.
A great gig if you love hanging out with kids, life as an au pair is cheap and comes with amazing benefits like free accommodations and meals—meaning that you can save close to 100 percent of your salary. Just make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you before you agree to work for a particular family and that you’re completely comfortable with the responsibilities that will be handed over to you.
Fruit picking and farm laboring jobs are available all over the world, making them ideal opportunities for those who want to jump straight into traveling once school ends. If you're prepared to work hard for a month or two, you won’t have a problem earning good money this way. But remember, you’ll be working outside in all weather conditions, so make sure you have a good level of fitness as well as the right clothing and footwear. Hint: Wear a fanny pack, so snacks and drinks are close at hand when you’re working.
Calling all athletes! If you love competition, your exercise habits can be turned into a way to make money and gain teaching experience at the same time. To get started, ask your old coach if you can shadow them for a few practices or get a temporary job as a coaching assistant in your hometown. When you feel ready, it’s time to start searching for more lucrative opportunities further afield.
What sounds better: doing graphic design work from a beach in Belize or in a corporate office? There are so many projects out there that can be done remotely from anywhere in the world. So if you’ve studied languages, digital arts, media, or marketing, you may want to consider the freelance life. Set up a website to act as your online portfolio, look for available projects on freelancing platforms, and get ready to earn a living on your own terms.
The skills you learn in an administration role are completely transferable to a wide range of other jobs and will be a great addition to your resume when it comes to finding gap year jobs abroad. If you can competently use a computer and have good organizational skills, search for admin or office assistant jobs near you. Don’t forget your laptop bag!
By caring for people’s pets, you can live rent-free anywhere in the world. If you enjoy spending time with animals and don’t mind walking, feeding, and cleaning up after them, consider advertising yourself as a pet sitter locally to earn some cash and get some references. You could then try house and pet sitting abroad as part of your gap year experience.
A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is a universally recognized qualification that will enable you to teach English to people for whom English is not their first language. You could choose to do this at a language school anywhere in the world. Popular destinations include Spain, Italy, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.
If you’re planning an epic gap year of international travel, personalizing your backpack with fun fabric patches or a colorful luggage tag will help it stand out from the crowd. Safe travels!