How to make the most of a 2021 Aussie gap year


Around 25% of graduating Year 12 students consider taking a gap year when they finish school. With international travel restrictions remaining for the foreseeable future, many may be wondering how they can quench their thirst for adventure via an Aussie gap year.

The great news is, now is the perfect time for a domestic gap year, with industries that typically rely on backpackers, desperate for young, energetic workers.

While many teens may initially think of an Aussie gap year as a “year off”, a successful gap year should include a combination of work, travel, volunteering and short study.

Here are a few ideas of what a an Aussie gap year in 2021 might look like.

Surf during your Aussie gap year

How to have Aussie gap year in 2021


Some ideas of jobs that are available around Australia include:

  • Boarding House Assistant in a boarding school (all states)
  • Resort work in the Whitsundays, Broome, Alice Springs and others
  • Fruit picking in Queensland
  • Jackaroo/Jillaroo on a cattle muster in South Australia, Queensland or the NT
  • Au pair in another capital city
  • Start a business that you can work on from the road
  • Build an app
  • Start a new creative project/build a portfolio

Work is good: A job might just improve your teen’s wellbeing


Road trip time!  Hire out a cheap campervan and explore the great land down under.

If a campervan isn’t your thing, you can stay at youth hostels and backpackers for a reasonable price. For longer term stays, try air bnb – remember that you’ll need to be over 18 to be the person renting the property.

Aussie gap year - how to organise it

If you’re driving long distances, remember that road rules vary from state to state, so check before you cross the borders. Rest often, don’t drive drunk, tired or on drugs and don’t drive faster than the speed limit. Not only might you cop a ticket, but you’d also be a moron.

Remember, too, that settling in one place is often a good idea to really get to know it. Why not spend a month in every Australian capital city? Other options include joining a tour like World Expeditions, Intrepid or Contiki.

Another resource: 10 things that will help your child decide ‘what to do with my life’


If your teen is passionate about a particular cause, encourage them to learn how to campaign for social change, create a petition to lobby their Federal MP or organise a fundraiser to support their community.  

Resources from the Foundation of Young Australian “Local & Vocal” initiative are a great place to start.

WWOOFing is another fantastic volunteering option for an Aussie gap year.  You spend an agreed amount of time living and working on organic farms in exchange for bed, board and learning.

If you’re over 18, you can also volunteer your time at places like the SES, Rural Fire Service and St John’s Ambulance. All of these provide training and experience that will be excellent for future job searches.


Short courses or part time courses can be a great way to build knowledge without a huge financial commitment or time investment of a larger course or degree. Doing short courses can give you some focus for your gap year while you consider your options.

Free courses are available in 2021 for school leavers in Victoria and New South Wales, an offer too good to pass up!

Any one of these experiences will help your teen to develop their knowledge and skills, learn about what they value and broaden their network and experiences, ensuring that their 2021 Aussie gap year is time well spent.

Will your teen take an Aussie gap year next year?

Feature image by Stephanie Renee Cluff ; surf by Alex King; map by Joey Csunyo

Written by Bianca New

For over 20 years Bianca New has successfully practised as an educator, talent acquisition specialist, workshop facilitator, career coach and student futures specialist.
She is passionate about 21st century careers and inspiring young people to meet their potential. 

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