Family Gap Year Ideas

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So you’re thinking about taking a family gap year or maybe just taking off to travel around with your kids full-time? You’re thinking, but not quite yet doing. You want me to give you some family gap year ideas, suggestions that may just push you towards hitting “buy” on that one way ticket.

I can do that.

You already know how great it will be to spend more time with your family and how wonderful it is to let your kids learn a bit more about the world at source ( they call this worldschooling).

But other than sight-seeing what will you actually do while you’re out there exploring the world?

Here are some great ideas for you to incorporate into your family gap year or active family vacation.

Family Gap Year Ideas

Ideas for your family gap year
Some of the photos may be blurry but the memories made together will last lifetimes. Yes, that’s Mount Everest back left. Yes, that’s me and the family.

All of these things are possible. You can do so much with your time once you’re free of work and school, maybe, like us, your gap year will become 6 years.


1. Take A Cooking Class or Food Tour

Cooking class in Thailand with kids family gap year
For this cooking class mum sat out and dad ( who happens to be an ex exec-chef) took our 2 boys and their friend, met on the road, to a wonderful Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai. Not all cooking schools will take kids, you must check.

Don’t just see the sights, get a deeper understanding of the countries you visit. You can do this in many ways but getting to know a country’s cuisine is a brilliant way.

Cooking with your kids is a perfect family experience and, of course, educational. We’ve taken many cooking classes, in Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. We have the benefit of extended time, but even on a shorter family holiday or vacation you should to be able to fit in a local food experience.

It’s fun, you get to eat amazing food, meet cool people and take home new skills and deeper understanding. Try to look at why they cook that way in that area. Local ingredients, availability of fuel for fires, storage issues, influences through migrating peoples and so on. That’s how you really start learning about the world.

Food tour in Thailand
Food tours are fabulous! On this one we discovered one of Thailand’s lesser known floating markets. Others explore backstreets, markets and cities. Every one we’ve taken has been fun and the food amazing . This tour was with a local guide which added an extra dimension to the experience.

If cooking isn’t your thing but eating is, take a food tour.

If you want to bypass the tourist restaurants and quickly discover what the locals eat, a food tour is a great way to start. You can even take a one on one tour with a local guide to discover a real insider perspective on what’s good to eat, where. A Bangkok food tour is  our top recommendation to dip your toe in the water of local food culture. Thai food is my personal favourite world cuisine but it does take a little insider knowledge to be sure you’re tasting the good stuff.


Look at family gap year volunteering options. They do exist and it is possible, although unusual, to volunteer as a family with kids. Be very careful with this one though, voluntourism has too many scams.

3.See the Wonders of the World

Pyramids in Egypt visiting on a family gap year
The wonders of the wold are there for you to explore. Another surprise benefit of your family gap year- most of these wonders are excellent for catching Pokemon. Pokemon Go at one of Egypts other pyramids, see below.

This is most people’s goal I guess, to see the many wonders in this world.

The classical 7 Wonders are long gone, or are they? You can still visit ancient Olympia and see shadows of the statue of Zeus, you can see parts of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in London’s epic ( and free) British Museum and Ephesus, of course, is still there.

The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt is still magnificently virtually intact. We spent almost a week enjoying that particular view and the nightly Sound and Light. Hearing the sphinx talk has to be on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t miss the other pyramids in Egypt too! ( see the one in the photo above)

But what of the other big family gap year bucket list destinations? What should be on your itinerary?

I can’t list them all here, try our posts on places not to miss in South East Asia with kids then check out our highlights of Malaysia for families, or Sri Lanka, even just Northern Thailand.

Have you considered Tibet? Seeing the Potala Palace reduced me to tears.  Then there’s Mongolia, Russia, Central Asia and Pakistan. It can all be done!

4. Climb a Mountain

Walking trekking or hiking on a family gap year
It doesn’t have to be a big mountain. If you don’t have 3 weeks to spare on a classic Himalayan trek ( EBC or Annapurna for instance- we’ve done both) there are plenty of single and multi day shorter hikes to be found. This photo was taken on a short walking trail our of Nagarkot, Nepal. Don’t worry, fitness shouldn’t be an issue for most people.

My favourite thing! There are plenty of mountains you can climb as a family, not so much climb, as trek.

Trekking is an amazing family bonding experience, a good work out and a tremendous builder of resilience.

It’s also a golden opportunity to all get offline and breathe clean air.

There’s Kilimanjaro, Everest, the Annapurnas, plenty of lovely hills out there to climb.

If you plan to incorporate serious trekking into your RTW of family gap year, you’ll probably need to think about gear for trekking and how that affects your packing, a little harder.

5. Experience a New Sport

Family Gap Year Ideas Learn to Ski
Being in the right place at the right time can make skiing very affordable. Many other sports and activities can be incorporated into your family gap year. Best of all, you can do them, together.

There’s not much scuba diving in Manchester and little ice hokey in Australia.

If you have time you could take Thai Boxing classes, learn to ski, ice skate, scuba dive,paraglide, snorkel. The list is endless.

6. Learn a Language

You’ll learn a few words in every country you visit. But if you’d like to dive deeper into a language there are language classes, teachers and immersion schools in many destinations.

7. Wildlife Experiences

rhino in sauraha
Read about our experiences chasing rhinos and tigers below. The blue whale blew my mind!

What’s your favourite animal?

You can see Bengal tigers and one horned rhinos in Nepal, wild elephants in Sri Lanka, blue whales in Sri Lankan waters, giant pandas in Chengdu, China and Komodo dragons in Indonesia.

Before you go, read this book, Last Chance to See ( opens in new tab), it may inspire you.

Our favourite recent animal encounter was with giant manta rays off Bali. I have a children’s book on mantas ( opens in new tab) right here, it was this book that started me dreaming about swimming with these gentle giants for myself.

8. Relax, Take a Vacation

Believe it or not, you will want to take a vacation from your travel.

Relax and enjoy a lovely resort or a tropical beach for a few days, then get back to the travel.

Here’s a private island paradise in Indonesia with lots for kids to do.

9. Learn a Craft- Make Something

Family Gap Year Ideas Make Something, take a course or class
My son made this allongside a master craftsman in Nepal. Not only did he make something amazing and learn how it’s done, we got to hang out with locals for the day and see a side of Kathmandu most people never see.

There are so many things to try!

You could visit a place where things are made-such as the hideously named Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park in Chiang Mai- or take a class with a master to actually make something yourself.

We’ve done stone carving in Mamallapuram India and khukri making in Nepal recently, along with art, pottery and lantern making while living in Hoi An with kids.

10. Experience Other Ways of Life

Try to keep your travels as diverse as possible to get the most out of them.

It’s great to be able to compare and contrast, from rural Romanian village life to prosperous Singapore, there’s always something to learn.

Look at religions, discover temples, mosques, synagogues and churches. Meet the people who use them and see how their lives are different to your own.

11. Create An Income Stream So That You Never Have to Go Home

This is what we did. I used our experiences around the world to create this website, a resource for those still to start their own journeys. I hope you find it useful.

This website now fully funds our lives and we could travel forever, other people figure out how to travel for free in their own unique ways.

If you’d like to find out more about travel blogging, start here.

Save this to Pinterest for later!

14 ideas for your family gap year

12. Learn More About Great Artists

Monet, Dali, Van Gogh, you can see where they came from, find the people and landscapes they painted, visit their museums.

If you simply want to see all those famous works they are scattered through the museums of the world.

London’s National Gallery or Tate Modern are great places to start.

While you’re at it, visit all the great museums of the world too!

13. Experience All the Biomes and Climates

Family Gap Year Ideas Visit a Rainforest
Are there any rainforest where you live? Go find out what it feels like to be in one.

Likewise, keeping with the theme of diversity, be sure to visit climates and biomes as totally different to your own as possible.

There are tropical rain forests in Australia and Asia, temperate rain forests in Guatemala, deserts to explore in Dubai , Mediterranean, subterranean, temperate, reef, ocean, fresh-water, savannah and arctic. See and feel them all.

14. Theme Parks, Zoos and Attractions

So you deserve a little fun too!

How about visiting a few Legoland Parks, Malaysia has a good one, or Disney, Universal, the list goes on and these parks are scattered all over the globe, each one unique.

There are some truly great zoos to visit too. London is top of our list, but the Scottis Wildlife Park and Sydney’s Taronga are excellent too.

Other attractions you could try would include places like Ripley’s Believe it or Not, various 3D Art Museums, Aquaria and Zip Line Parks.

There really are a million different things for your family to enjoy on your gap year. But tell me, what’s your 1 big thing, your 1 big bucket list item that you have to do on your RTW or family gap year? Tell me in the comments?

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

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