A leading travel expert has revealed the top gap year destinations – with Slovenia among the best places to visit for those looking to make their money go further. Asian destinations, such as Thailand and Bali, also made it onto the list, as well as long-time favourites Australia and New Zealand.
While it might not be the backpacking destination that tends to come to mind, globetrotting influencer Monica Stott, also known as “The Travel Hack”, is a big fan of the “underrated” destination, Slovenia.
The Central European country offers stunning greenery and beautiful rivers, a Venetian-style coastline, and snow-capped mountains which are popular with skiers.
But it’s also affordable – a beer is £2.47 on average, a three-course meal for two is £36 on average, hostels start from around £18 a night, and a one-way local transport ticket typically costs just £1.15.
And thanks to its low crime rate, it’s also among the safest places to travel to, making it perfect for people new to backpacking or finding their feet at the start of their gap year.
Travel expert, Monica, who has partnered with Post Office Travel Insurance to reveal the gap year destinations, said: “Slovenia is one of the most affordable destinations I’ve visited as a backpacker.
“It’s also one of the most underrated and safest destinations in Europe.
“Explore beautiful cities like Ljubljana, and natural attractions like Lake Bled, for a fraction of the cost of other European countries.”
It comes after it emerged interest in backpacking travel is on the rise, with Google searches for these two words up 49 percent from last year.
Monica added: “Choosing your gap year destinations is the most exciting part of planning your trip.
“Most backpackers choose destinations that are totally different to home, giving them a unique experience and an insight into new cultures – but it’s also important to choose destinations based on safety.”
Another option for would-be backpackers is Thailand – with the South Asian country likely to go down well with foodies.
Monica said: “Thailand has been a popular destination for backpackers for years, thanks to the incredible beaches.
“The locals are friendly and welcoming, and they know how to cook and throw a great party.
“Thailand is also affordable, and you’ll make friends with backpackers from all over.”
Meanwhile, Australia is historically popular with those looking to go away for a gap year and earn some extra money as they travel – and Monica doesn’t think this is likely to change anytime soon.
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She said: “If you’re under 30 you can easily apply for a Working Holiday visa, which allows you to work for one year in Australia.
“Try something new and work as a fruit picker in a rural farm, be a city slicker in Sydney, or join the cool kids in Melbourne.
“I was scuba diving by day and waiting tables by night – the island life was a great way to save money.”
Monica also believes Bali is a popular tag-on for those who are working their way around Australia, as they can get more “bang for their buck” there – as well as being an “Instagram dream” thanks to its waterfalls, white beaches, and tropical jungles.
And finally, there’s New Zealand, which is recommended for those into outdoor pursuits.
Paul Paddock, head of travel and protection at Post Office, which offers insurance for travellers aged 18-60, said: “Taking a gap year is one the most exciting trips an adventurer can experience in life, especially if you’re going backpacking.
“There are many excellent destinations to consider, as indicated in our previous Travel Safety Index.
“But even with those recommendations, it is vital to pick a suitable travel insurance cover before your trip – whether it’s a backpacker, multi-trip, or a single-trip policy – to give you peace of mind whilst on your trip.”
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