Tap into the private sector
For those business-savvy gappers among you, check out the Deloitte 2010 scholar scheme. It is aimed at school leavers and combines paid work experience and travel opportunities with great prospects for future employment.
Compete for one of the 40 places on offer and get a paid job for seven months in a UK office, a £1,500 bursary to go travelling after the placement, an annual bursary of £1,500 while you're at university and four weeks' paid work experience each year. To apply, go to scholars.deloitte.co.uk. Another possibility is the Lattitude global volunteering bursary scheme: JPMorgan and v, the youth volunteering charity, have offered 60 gap-year students the chance to volunteer on one of Lattitude's 36 projects for free.
South Africa is the tops
South Africa remains the most popular choice for gap-year students, according to new figures from the Year Out Group. Richard Oliver, chief executive, says: "There are various reasons including a still-favourable exchange rate for the rand, and the sheer range of different gap-year options to choose from. These include conservation initiatives in game parks, volunteering in health centres, teaching in orphanages and penguin research programmes." The second and third most common destinations are Canada and Ecuador. However, if you're looking to get away from the crowds, head to South Korea or back-pack through Colombia – a safe and increasingly popular option.
Safety while abroad
Providing travel advice and safety tips to gap-year students has become a big industry. Even Princess Beatrice got involved when she endorsed Britain's first Gap Year Safety Conference in June. According to insurance industry figures, a third of young people abroad run into trouble. Although this is usually only petty theft, it makes sense to do your homework. The website Ethical Volunteering provides sound advice on how to choose a gap-year organisation, and Objective Gap Year runs courses on how to avoid getting kidnapped, and survival navigation. Check out: www.gapyearsafety.org; www.gapaid. org; www.covertprotection.com; www.ethicalvolunteering.org; and www.objectivegapyear.com.
Gap-year market buoyant
Research commissioned by STA Travel to celebrate the company's 30th anniversary has revealed that 9 per cent of 18-35-year-olds plan to go on a round-the-world trip in the next 18 months. In addition, 7 per cent of 18-35s plan to take a full gap year. "Despite the tough climate, round-the-world [travel] is still a priority – and it's actually cheaper than ever," says John Constable, managing director of STA Travel. "This time last year, return flights to Australia cost around £700. At the moment, you can fly for £459." The travel company says sales of working-holiday visas are up 14 per cent on last year, and sales of overland tours are also up, by 6 per cent – both of which are key gap-year products. STA says this year's biggest growth destinations are China, Vietnam and Brazil.