Mini gap year

Missing out on a gap year? Fear not. You actually don't have to dedicate an entire calendar to discovering yourself. If you're short on time or cash, summer gap year trips can be a great alternative to taking a full year out. Read on as The Mix explains the mini gap year.

A young woman is taking a mini gap year. This is a wide-angle image.

Summer gap year trips

Gap years. They’re great aren’t they? They look fab on your CV, give your brain a break, and conveniently delay reality for a while longer. But sometimes they’re just not realistic. Enter summer gap year trips a.k.a the mini gap year.

Think of these as an intense IV of life-expansion and adventure/travel experience., and PoD both offer summer gap year trips where you go out of your comfort zone while doing your bit for charity in a foreign country. And the placements only last between a week and two months. Some of the projects on offer include helping at a Cambodian orphanage, teaching English in Costa Rica, wildlife conservation projects in South Africa, and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. These kinds of summer trips can be especially helpful if you’re trying to learn a new language or want to pick up a bit of work experience that’ll make you stand out.

We’ve gotta issue a bit of a disclaimer though. These trips are not for the thrifty. Especially if you want to go on some wild adventure tours after work. Some of the full year gap year programmes come with an eye-watering £1,000 price tag. So, unless you’re an expert bank robber or have generous parental units, we suggest looking into summer gap year programmes or the weekly/fortnightly options. These are a tad more affordable, but just as rewarding.

Camp America

What could be better than spending the summer shaping the young minds of our friends across the pond? 

Camp America involves spending nine weeks on a rural campsite working as a ‘counsellor’. Essentially, you’ll play games with the children, do water sports, sing around campfires and possibly share a cabin with them at night-time. Not too shabby when you consider that you’ll get $800 in return. That way you can travel around America with your newly earned dough afterwards. The only catch is that you have to be available from at least June 20th. So just make sure to check your exam timetable before you sign up. You can find out more about Camp America here.

Roadtrippin…in the UK

It may not always seem like it, but you live in a pretty damn interesting place. And if you’re short on cash and time, a road trip around this island might be exactly what the doctor ordered. You may not feel like heading to Cornwall is ‘different enough’ compared to places like India or South America, but at least give it a chance. When you get away from what you’re used to, you might end up discovering a whole hidden side to the UK.

For instance, if you’re usually a city dweller, the jaw dropping scenery of the Lake District or quaint seaside towns might be the place for you. Or if you’re more partial to cities, exploring vibrant British cities like Bristol, Dublin, or Edinburgh can equally broaden your horizons. Plus, just driving with no destination can be a pretty picturesque experience. Especially if you deviate from the motorway where there’s a wealth of weird, wacky, and quintessentially British events happening all over the place. South America may have the Rio carnival, but we have mentalists rolling down the hill chasing a massive piece of cheese.

InterRailing + Couchsurfing = cheap summer trip

To fund a gap year, you’ll usually spend half of it selling your soul to a temp agency before you even step foot on a plane. But if you don’t have the luxury of spending six months wanting to staple your eyes together whilst ‘Joe from accounts’ tells you all about his weekend with his cat, there’s another way. InterRail offers a 22 day train pass for only €350, valid in 30 countries. Can’t afford to stay in hostels? Try Couchsurfing.

It’s an international organisation you can use to crash for free on a stranger’s sofa. You never know, your host might well become your amazing new tour guide or friend for life. And in case you’re worried, the website gives you the opportunity to get to know your hosts before you arrive. So you can vet any potential weirdos. That being said, it’s always safer to Couchsurf with another person.


If participating in a volunteering project for marine conservation and scuba diving in between coral reefs doesn’t tickle your fancy then there are defo other options. 

For those of you who love wellington boots, dirty hands and fresh-air-induced euphoria, a placement on an organic farm might be the mini gap year for you. WWOOF UK sets you up with a farm placement where you’ll work and learn about living on the land. And all you have to do is live with them. There’s only a £20 joining fee, and that’s pretty much your expenses sorted. Plus, you can join WWOOF networks all over the world and embrace your inner farmer abroad. Not to mention, you’re not expected to know anything about farming before you arrive. You just need to be willing to learn and get stuck in.

You can check out the rest of The Mix’s gap year resources here.

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gap year

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 03-Jun-2022