So you’ve been studying all year and your university exams are finally over. Relief! Now it’s time to hit the pub and have a few pints, or maybe see a bit of the world this summer. I remember when I finished my Broadcast Journalism degree and the first thing I wanted to do was hop on a plane and escape to foreign lands. I booked a ticket to Lagos, Portugal where I spent my days sunbathing on the beach during the day and going to backpacker bars in the evening. It was glorious.
1. Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos
Southeast Asia is always a popular destination for backpackers and this route is the one I’d recommend. Start in Cambodia, where you can see the ancient temple of Angkor Wat and experience the island paradise of Koh Kong. After that, spend a couple of weeks travelling through Vietnam, stopping off in the UNESCO city of Hoi An and taking a cruise out to Halong Bay. Your final destination will be Laos (one of my favourites) which has incredibly friendly people and beautiful, lush scenery. At one point Laos got a bit of a bad rap for tubing and excessive drinking, but nowadays it’s known for its beautiful temples and incredible, untouched landscape.
2. A summer of festivals in Croatia
Croatia has some really awesome music festivals such as Dimensions Festival, Outlook and Hideout. Why spend your time traipsing through the mud at Glastonbury when you could be sunning yourself with all the beautiful people on a Croatian beach? If you have more time to explore the country then I’d suggest visiting the stunning Plitvice Lakes or doing a sail Croatia trip visiting islands such as Hvar and Brac.
The thing I love about Brazil is its vibrant culture. Rio de Janeiro has some spectacular views and a landscape that resembles that of Cape Town in South Africa. You can take the cable car up to Sugar Loaf mountain, stand beneath Christ the Redeemer and sit on the world-famous Selaron steps. There’s so much to do in this city that I spent two weeks in Rio de Janeiro just drinking caipirinhas, visiting samba clubs, mixing with the locals and eating plenty of rodizio meat. Of course Brazil is also a HUGE country, so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to go to Iguazu Falls, explore the Amazon or hit the beach on the beautiful island of Ilha Grande.
Australia is a great destination for backpackers from the UK or North America because there’s no need to worry about the language. My first ever solo travel experience was to Australia and I had the time of my life. I went skydiving in Byron Bay, sailed the Whitsunday Islands, hiked around Ayers Rock and swam on the Great Barrier Reef. Australia has a great climate, really friendly people and an incredibly diverse landscape with some incredible outdoor adventures. I met people here that are still friends to this day.
When you’ve spent the best part of the year writing an original term paper, sitting in lecture theatres and stressing over exams, it’s really OK to give yourself a break. Work can wait! Taking a Gap Year or just spending the summer with your friends being free will give you a whole new perspective and lease of life. Trust me, it’s the best thing you’ll ever do!
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