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Missed out on a year abroad? Here are five ways you can have a similar experience instead

Not everyone speaks a second language, so why not try one of these?


Plenty of students spend hours scrolling on Skyscanner to find cheap flights, hoping to fit in a holiday during reading week. We all know that one of the best ways to see the world during university is to apply for the year abroad scheme, but not everyone can be lucky enough to find a placement.

Some people might not want to spend a year away from friends and family, and many may have missed their grade requirements after spending a bit too much of their first year embracing a “uni lifestyle”. Committing to a year out of the country is a big ask for a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to get abroad during your time at uni.

Instead of pinning all your travelling dreams on the summer after you graduate, check out these five alternatives to have an incredible experience abroad.

1. Bristol University Volunteer Abroad

This scheme, which is run through the University of Bristol, allows students to volunteer abroad by helping with conservation work, supporting local communities, and cleaning and clearing the environment. Not only will you be travelling to somewhere tropical whilst being looked after and having the opportunity to interact regularly with locals, but you’ll be making a significant difference to people’s lives. Unfortunately, this scheme is not available for undergraduate students in their final year, but it certainly provides a fulfilling and worthwhile experience for those who are not.

Applications are open until February, meaning there is plenty of time to think about whether this is the right option for you this summer. Offering immersive cultural experiences and opportunities to meet like-minded individuals these schemes provide a unique, individual way to travel abroad.

Cost – The cheapest program is £1,945 without flights. However, funding is available via the Turing scheme, which can reduce the cost of the trip by at least £480.

2. Camp America

A job which doesn’t feel like a job; what more could you ask for? Working as a camp counsellor in America (or anywhere for that matter) is the perfect way to travel, make friends, and gain experience for your CV. With the camp activities ranging from sports to arts and crafts and even media, there is undoubtedly something for everyone.

A job which doesn’t feel like a job; what more could you ask for? Working as a camp counsellor in America (or anywhere for that matter) is the perfect way to travel, make friends, and gain experience for your CV. With the camp activities ranging from sports to arts and crafts and even media, there is undoubtedly something for everyone.

The process may initially seem daunting, but there are plenty of companies (such as Camp America and Americamp) seeking to simplify and help with the process. These companies will put you into contact with camps, as well as help you with visa applications, medical insurance, and DBS checks. This is a huge help if things all go wrong and you have to come home early.

Cost – Camp America charges £653 for agency fees, visa and DBS check, and if you get a good deal on flights you’ll be spending just over £1,000. However, make sure to speak to your camp as they may pay some, if not all, of these associated costs!

3. Bristol RAG Machu Picchu

Are you a history buff or an avid hiker? If so, this nine-day trip to Peru might be your cup of tea. The trip, which is run by Endeavours Adventures in conjunction with Bristol RAG, allows students to visit the historic Machu Picchu site, the world heritage town of Cusco, as well as all of the natural beauty in between. Not only will the experience be one that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, but it will also allow you to raise money for charity (the 2024 charity is Hope for Children).

There is an optional five-day extension to the trip which will allow you to either spend more time in Cusco or see the incredible Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain. Although the costs involved may seem extreme, and fundraising around regular university life is certainly challenging, there are payment plans and hardship funds available, as well as options to defer for a year or fundraise after the challenge if the goal is not hit. The deadline to apply has just passed (19th November), but there is always next year if this sounds like something you would love to do!

Cost – The most common method costs £395, and you will need to fundraise a further £1,695. The set free covers amenities, guides, and luggage porters throughout the trip; however, doesn’t include vaccinations, travel insurance, or flights.

4. Interrailing around Europe

A year abroad often provides the opportunity to experience one or two countries and a handful of cities within them, but with an interrail pass you can visit as many countries (within Europe) as you want. Train travel also boasts significant benefits to flying, such as avoiding stingy baggage restrictions and reducing the size of your carbon footprint. Stations also tend to be found in the centre of major cities, meaning it will be easy to get to your accommodation and you can spend more time soaking in what the city has to offer.

Staying in hostels will allow you to meet like-minded people, who you can continue to meet up with throughout your travels, and participate in hostel-run events. Fortunately, European trains are much more reliable than those we have in England, so your journey is sure to be better than any you’ve had in this country. The downside is that trains in Europe often require advance seat bookings which is another additional cost not covered by the pass and requires a certain element of planning.

Cost – The cost ranges from £169-£615, depending on which pass you buy. On top of that, you will have to pay for accommodation, but hostels are never too expensive.

If you choose this option, The Bristol Tab has you covered with these top tips!

5. Global Work and Travel

Global Work and Travel provide a huge range of experiences with it being possible to volunteer, teach, or work as an intern while on the scheme. There is a staggering selection of countries to choose from: you could fulfil your gap year dreams by going to Thailand and Vietnam, or even go down under to bask in the glorious sunshine. Some trips provide accreditation through TEFL/TESOL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificates, and a trip to South Africa could even leave you as a qualified game ranger.

It is possible to spend from as little as two weeks to as much as a year abroad on this scheme. Thus, you could use it to take a much-needed year out before entering the big wide world or redefine what it means to have a summer job. The entire process is made as simple as possible by the company helping you sort out travel insurance, flights, and travel visas.

Cost – Usually around £2,000 plus flights and insurance (accommodation and food are more often than not included).

Featured image via @globalworkandtravel and @keepingupwithmolly_x on Instagram. 

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