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Top Gap Year Travel Destinations For Exploration

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Top Gap Year Travel Destinations For Exploration

Where's open? We've got the low-down on which top gap-year travel destinations are open for exploration

Whether you’ve had itchy feet for the last few years or heading on a gap-year or extended trip is a new idea, nothing beats a long adventure discovering new places and meeting new people. However, due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19, travel is a little different at the moment and you may need to adjust your route to compensate for restrictions.

To help you get started with your plans, we’ve got the scoop on which favourite destinations are ready to welcome you with open arms, and which may be best to keep on the bucket-list for the moment. Read on for more and wherever you go, don’t forget to tag us @lifeventureuk in your travel pictures. We love to see what you’re up to.


With its beautiful beaches, buzzing cities and laid-back lifestyle, Australia is a favourite for gap-year travellers. If it’s on your list of must-visits, the good news is that it does not require a pre-departure Covid-19 test nor proof of vaccination in order to enter the country. The normal, pre-pandemic visa requirements still apply and you should be mindful that regulations can change from state to state so it’s worth checking for your specific destination before you book anything.

New Zealand

Famous for its epic landscapes, New Zealand has been undergoing a phased opening throughout 2022 and its metaphorical doors are now open to a wide range of travellers. However, there are still some restrictions to be aware of. Unless you are exempt from vaccination, a citizen of New Zealand or Australia or under 16 (see the full list of exemptions), you must have received a full course of an approved Covid-19 vaccination in order to visit. Providing you are fully vaccinated, British travellers can visit New Zealand for up to 6-months without requiring a visa. You just need to apply for a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) before you travel there. Once you arrive in New Zealand, you will be required to do two rapid antigen tests and declare your results.


Famous for its colourful culture and the hidden historical city of Machu Pichu, Peru has a lot to offer any traveller and is a popular spot for anyone heading to South America. It is currently open to travellers who are fully vaccinated and those with proof of vaccination can enter without needing to test or quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers aged 12+ must show proof of a negative PCR test issued no more than 48 hours before boarding. Face masks are currently required on flights to Peru and all travellers must also complete a health affidavit for free before travelling there.


Unspoiled Columbia is open for visitors and anyone can stay there for up to 90 days as a visitor – you just need to have proof of your onward / return journey. Like most countries, Covid-19 restrictions are in place and you will be asked to present either proof of vaccination or a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding. The rules for visitors on cruise ships are a bit different so double check on the Government website before you travel. All visitors are also required to complete a ‘Check Mig’ form which you’ll need to show when entering.


Packed with incredible architecture, beautiful wild spaces and bustling cities, India has a lot to offer any traveller. All travellers will require a visa and India still has more complex Covid-19 requirements in place than some other destinations, so it’s important to check these before you go. For vaccinated travellers, you must self-monitor for 14 days from arrival and for unvaccinated travellers, you must show negative PCR results taken within 72 hours of boarding. You will also need to sign a legal declaration to prove the authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution if it’s found to be otherwise. On arrival, you may be subject to thermal screening, random testing and, if found positive, taken to institutional quarantine. We advise you to check the full advice before travelling.

South Africa

An amazing destination for wildlife spotting, South Africa is well and truly open to travellers. Anyone can visit for up to 90 days without requiring a visa. You must ensure your passport has at least 6-months left on it though. South Africa has removed almost all Covid-19 restrictions and doesn’t require vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers to either test or show proof of vaccination on entry.


With amazing temples, delicious street food and stunning tropical beaches, Thailand is a must-visit. It is open to visitors but does have some covid restrictions in place. All travellers need to show either a full vaccine certificate or a negative test result taken within 72 hours of travel. The Thai authorities still recommend to have travel insurance that can cover up to $10,000 for Covid-19 treatment and all travellers are required to have a minimum of 6-months remaining on their passport. Temperature-testing is still in place at some hotels and attractions. Mask-wearing is also recommended on public transport and in busy places.


With an incredible cultural heritage, China has lots to offer travellers. Unfortunately, it is not really open to visitors from the UK at the moment with visas only offered for a limited number of reasons. If you do meet visa requirements, there are still a number of restrictions to follow in order to obtain a Health Declaration Certificate. You will need to take two PCR test before departing and on arrival at the airport. You will also be required to follow a strict quarantine in an approved location for 14 days, with additional tests during and at the end of this period.


From Route 66 to New York City, there are endless places to visit in the USA and an all American road-trip is a great adventure for any traveller. The USA is open to vaccinated travellers and with an ESTA visa waiver you can visit for up to 90 days without requiring a full visa. Covid-19 restrictions are still in place and vary from state to state, so, it’s worth checking local regulations before you travel. If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine but the government does recommend travellers take a test within 3-5 days of arrival. Unfortunately, non-vaccinated travellers will not be permitted entry unless they meet one of the country’s criteria for exemption.

Wherever you choose to travel, we recommend looking up the latest restrictions on the UK Government website before you go. The above information is all correct as of July 2022 but restrictions can change quickly.

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