Backpacker and Gap Year Courses

Gap Year Programmes

There are numerous programmes/courses available to those taking time out perhaps on a Gap Year. We have listed below a number of reputable organisations that provide well structured programmes at home or abroad. We have provided a brief description of their schemes but for further information contact them directly on the links we have provided below.

There are numerous projects/programmes/expeditions that you can participate in. The length of time can vary from a 2 week language course abroad to a full 12-month commitment perhaps teaching in Africa. Many people plan their gap to include a period of work and then travel.

The first list of schemes below are run by companies in 'The Year Out Group', which is an association of independent UK-registered organisations of various sizes, at least one of whose principal activities is the provision of high quality structured programmes in the UK or overseas for young people taking time out between school or college and higher education or employment, or between higher education and a job. The Year Out Group is supported by DFEE & UCAS.

To give you even more peace of mind every organisation below works within 'The Year Out Group's' Code of Practice.


Tel: 01380 729 009, Website:
For motivated students and graduates of 18-24, who want to spend 3- 4 months' teaching English & Sports in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Botswana, Nepal, and the Indian Himalayas. Comprehensive training in TEFL, Swahili, Hindi or Nepali, local religion, culture & history is provided, plus acommodation, food and a local salary. Departures in September, January and May. Full support and back-up. Apply via website for free brochure, no application fee. Apply soonest as places limited.


Tel: +44 (0) 1454 269 182, Website:
We arrange for people to do conservation work on Game Reserves in Southern Africa becoming involved in a wide range of conservation and research projects. Projects may include darting rhino and elephant, game capture, tracking, wildlife veterinary work and rehabilitation, game counts and monitoring, at times done on horseback. Dolphin and whale research may be part of the work programme.


Tel: 01284 774772, Website:
Imagine studying Michelangelo and the masters of Italian art at first hand with an enthusiastic expert. AHA's course stays in Venice, Florence and Rome. It is popular with students, from every academic discipline, who understand that an appreciation of art is as fulfilling as a love of music or literature. Courses run in the Autumn, Spring and Summer. This is a perfect chance to immerse yourself in Italy, the most stylish, vivid and invigorating country in Europe.

British Exploring Society

Tel: 020 7591 3141, Website:
BSES was founded in 1932 by Surg. Comd. Murray Levick, the doctor/zoologist on Captain Scott's Antarctic Expedition of 1910. We run science fieldwork, conservation, adventurous expeditions for Young Explorers (YEs) aged from 16.5 to 20 to trackless wilderness areas overseas eg Greenland, Svalbard, the Himalayas, Namibia, Lesotho for from 4 weeks to 3 months. The Society is an educational charity which aims to aid the self development of the YEs, some of whom may be disabled, who come with us.


Tel: 020 7251 3472, Website:
BUNAC offers an ever-increasing range of work/ travel programmes worldwide, i.e. USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, South Africa and Argentina, plus reciprocal inbound programmes to the UK. Programmes vary from a few months to a year depending on the destination country. There are all sorts of opportunities available from teaching sports on summer camp, to working in an amusement park in California, to teaching in Ghana or waiting tables in Vancouver.


Tel: 01883 340 960, Website:
Changing Worlds offers a variety of worthwhile 3-6 month placements overseas. You receive UK and in country training including language, culture and health issues. Changing Worlds offers paid work in Australia, Canada and New Zealand and voluntary work in Chile, India, Nepal, Romania and Tanzania. Opportunities include working in ski resorts, zoos, schools and orphanages. Full support throughout. Visit our website to order a free information pack or to apply.


Tel: 020 7620 1411, Website:
CCC provides resources to help sustain livelihoods and alleviate poverty through the protection and sustainable management of coral reefs and rainforests. CCC has assisted in the creation of 8 marine and wildlife reserves including the designation of the Belize Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site. Expeditions depart throughout the year to Fiji, the Philippines and Honduras to survey reefs and rainforests. All training, including SCUBA diving, is provided.


Tel: 0800 374 991, Website:
Volunteering Matters is the new name for Community Service Volunteers (CSV). It is a charity that encourages people to take action in their communities. Everyone has something offer. They provide full-time, away from home, volunteer placements throughout the UK for young people between 16-35. They engage more than 30,000 volunteers and 103,000 beneficiaries every year through their 180 active programmes across the UK. It's great for work experience, meeting new friends and taking on exciting challenges. You can contact them using their online form or call them on +44 (0)20 3780 5870.


Tel: 0871 250 2500, Website:
Flying Fish provides training and work placements for sailors, divers, surfers and windsurfers. The programme operates in Australia, Greece and the UK, leading to professional qualifications from the RYA, AYF and PADI. No previous experience is required. Some courses are designed for beginners, others are for intermediates and experts. Courses include work experience and lead to paid jobs in Europe, Australia and the South Pacific. ATOL-protected.


Tel: 020 7613 2422, Website:
Frontier is an international conservation and research organisation founded in 1989. Frontier offers enthusiastic volunteers the opportunity to make an effective contribution to global conservation by working on vital research projects in remote tropical environments for 10 or 20 weeks. Current projects in Tanzania, Madagascar, and Vietnam. Full preparation and training is provided, leading to a recognised qualification in Tropical Habitat Conservation.


Tel: 0118 959 4914, Website:
Lattitude Global Volunteering formerly known as GAP Activity Projects is an independent educational charity founded in 1972, which organises voluntary work overseas in over 30 countries for those aged between 17 -25 years. Lattitude also organises similar exchange voluntary opportunities for overseas nationals in the UK. Currently 1,750 young people are involved annually in Lattitude schemes. Lattitude volunteers work alongside staff in such areas as foreign language assistants, assisting with general activities in schools, caring for the disadvantaged, outdoor education and conservation work.

GAP CHALLENGE / World Challenge Expeditions

Tel: 020 8728 7200, Website:
Gap Challenge provides students, aged 18-25, with the experience and education of a lifetime. From voluntary conservation projects in Belize and paid hotel work in Canada to teaching and care work in India. With a 12-month return flight, there is plenty of opportunity for independent travel afterwards. Departure dates are flexible and there is in-country support from appointed representatives and 24-hour emergency back-up from Gap Challenge in London.


Tel: 020 7470 8888, Website:
Greenforce part of GAPFORCE has been running a series of environmental expeditions around the globe for over 20 years, focusing on wildlife conservation. We train volunteers to carry out research with a direct impact on conservation strategies in developing countries. Our projects range from tracking elephants in Zambia to climbing trees in the Amazon and diving on coral reefs. All training provided, including scuba diving for marine volunteers. Living in a remote wilderness location you will discover as much about yourself as you will about the world around you. Marine projects Fiji, Bahamas, Malaysia, Land projects Zambia, Peru.


Tel: 01458 274 957, Website:
Volunteer projects in Mexico & Cambodia. Teaching in Coastal Schools, Orphanages, Street Children. Dance, Art & Craft, Turtle Whale and Coral Conservation, Eco-tourism, Working with Disabled and Special Needs Children. NGO placements in Cambodia. Placements are suitable for volunteers who wish to fully immerse themselves in a foreign culture for 3-6 months. £3,000 to include all flights, insurance, language training, food & accommodation. Full in-country support.


Tel: 020 7796 1173, Website:
12 and 8 months placements in 25 countries. Projects include: teaching English and A level/Higher subjects, extra curricular activities, care & orphanage work, medical projects, development work, journalism and outdoor education. We have volunteers in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Guyana, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, Mauritania, Niger, Morocco, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, South Korea and Japan. All volunteers attend a 5 day selection and 5 day training course on the Isle of Coll in the Hebrides. We also provide in country support & debriefing on return.


Tel: 01444 474744, Website:
We specialise in worthwhile projects and challenging expeditions in Africa and South America. We have conservation & community projects in Tanzania & Swaziland followed by a 6-week expedition through Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana & Zambia. In South America we kick off with a 3-week Spanish course in Ecuador, a month's project with children in Peru or conservation in Ecuador, followed by a 6-week expedition through Peru, Chile and Bolivia. We also run 'Summer Expeditions', 'University Quest' & 'Quest Underseas'.


Tel: 020 7371 8585, Website:
Raleigh gives young people the chance to go on 3 month expeditions to do challenging community, environmental and adventure projects in Borneo, Chile, Ghana, Namibia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. 20,000+ young people have gone on 168 expeditions in 35 countries since 1984. Participants are asked to fundraise to contribute to Raleigh, a registered charity.


Tel: 01926 333 200, Website:
Thirty places each year are available on the Smallpeice Engineering Gap Year, a seven month programme uniquely combining academic study in engineering, design and management; language tuition at a European language school and a chance to travel, live and work in Europe. Placements are arranged in a variety of engineering disciplines across nine European countries.

Restless Development

Tel: 020 7490 0100, Website:
A youth development charity recruiting 18-28 year olds to work with African & Asian volunteers in rural communities for 4-9 months, building awareness and changing attitudes to health, social & environmental issues. Volunteers get 4-6 weeks training in health, hygiene, nutrition & environment, with emphasis on HIV/AIDS awareness. Cost: £2,900-£3,300, which includes open return flight, accommodation, basic living allowance, insurance, in-country visa, UK briefings and general administrative support, extensive overseas training and support.


Tel: 01903 502 595 / 700 478, Website:
Projects run throughout the year in Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Ukraine, in Conservation (working with dolphins, elephants, orang utans, etc) or Work Experience (eg law, journalism, medicine) and to teach disadvantaged children conversational English or music, sport, IT, drama, maths, etc. No qualifications required. Programmes are flexible, tailored to your needs, and dates are scheduled to suit you. Full support and back-up provided.


Tel: 0845 241 3085, Website:
Trekforce Expeditions organise projects in Central America and East Malaysia; concentrating on endangered rainforests and working with local communities. Expeditions last from two to five months Our longer programmes involve expedition work, teaching in rural communities and learning new languages including Spanish and Malay. Come to an introduction day to find out more.


Tel: 02380 597061, Website:
The Year in Industry is a tried and tested way of enabling high calibre students to work in industry during a gap year. Work is real, challenging and paid (students currently earn min. £140 pw). Business training provided as part of package. No registration fee but competition for places is stiff.


Tel: 01926 411 122, Website:
VentureCo offer 4-month programmes that combine learning the language and living the culture (1 month) with voluntary work on a community or environmental aid project (1 month) with an expedition of exploration (2 months). Teams consist of 16 Venturers plus 2 guides. "Gap Year" departures for school leavers and "Career Gap" departures, minimum age 21. Ventures run in South America, Central America, West Africa, the Himalayas (both India and Nepal) Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China.


Tel: 01789 266 245, Website:
Year Out Drama provides an exciting, challenging, intensive, practical Drama Course, led by experts in professionally equipped performance spaces. The course enjoys close links with the RSC and students benefit from working with theatre professionals from varying disciplines, including Acting Techniques, Voice, Movement, Directing, Text Study and Performance. Students perform at the Edinburgh Festival.

Other Programmes and Courses

We have also put together an additional list of organisations and companies who are not part of 'The Year Out Group' but who offer some very interesting and diverse activities.

Camp America : summer camp work in North America (020 7581 7373), Website : information on a variety of jobs, from being an Ibiza holiday rep to a truck driver (0113 266 0880), Website

Global Vision International: placements with environmentalists and educators who are working towards sustainable solutions throughout the world, Website

Internships: database of internships available, especially in the USA, Website

Internships USA: directory of over 3,000 organisations in the USA offering internships, Website,

JET Programme: for graduates wanting to teach English in Japan (020 7465 6668), Website

Madventurer: placements in Africa and South America, including sports coaching and medicine (0845 121 1996), Website

VSO: all kinds of projects to help the developing world (020 8780 7200), Website