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February: the most popular month to go on a Gap Year

Gap year travellers can be home for Christmas and New Year but then avoid the UK’s cold climes by jetting off to far flung long-haul destinations

• Bank of mum and dad needed to fund a Gap Year – with average traveller borrowing £800
• Top 2016 long-haul destinations include the USA, Australia, Thailand, India, and new popular entrant, Japan

February is the most popular month of the year to start a gap year, according to previous travellers polled by London Gatwick Airport*. The average gap year lasts for five months although almost half (45 per cent) travel for six months or longer, and costs on average nearly £3,000 (£2,857) including flights, though more than four in ten (43 per cent) manage or plan to save more.  However, the majority of travellers (59 per cent) rely on the bank of mum and dad, borrowing an average of £815 from their parents.
Gatwick Airport researched 500 young people aged 18-30 who have taken a gap year in the last five years or are planning one this year. The findings reveal that February 1st is the best date to jet off as it means they don’t miss Christmas and New Year but get to jet away from the cold, and be back in time for the summer.
Despite three quarters (74 per cent) of travellers thinking gap years are becoming more adventurous, the majority of 2016 explorers are sticking to the beaten track, although long-haul trips are popular. 60 per cent of the top 10 destinations are far flung, with the most in vogue being the USA, Australia, Thailand and India. Japan is a new favourite this year, having not made the top 10 in the last five years.
Overall top destinations
Top 10 Gap year in last 5 years  Top 10 Gap year in 2016 
2 France  2 France
3 Australia 3 Spain
4 Spain 4 Germany
5 Italy 5 Italy
6 Germany 6 Australia
7 Thailand 7 Thailand
8 New Zealand 8 India
9 India 8= Japan
10 Canada 10 Canada
19 China    
While they’re getting away from it all, there’ll be no getting away from technology; almost nine in 10 2016 travellers will take their smartphone abroad – 10 per cent more than those in the previous five years. Travellers will be using their phone to stay in touch, with three quarters (74 per cent) planning to speak to family at least once a week. Indeed, almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) say their parents are more relaxed about travelling now because technology enables them to stay in touch.  While Millennials are up to date with the latest technology, a quarter (24 per cent) say they plan to stay in touch by sending an old fashioned postcard. 
A fifth (19 per cent) of all young people in the UK have either taken a gap year in the last five years or are planning one in 2016; while the majority do so before or after university, four in ten (40 per cent) take a break between jobs.
More than four in ten (47 per cent) are planning to travel alone. Contrary to the sometimes frivoulous perceptions of a gap year, the majority (58 per cent) of those taking a gap year cited learning about new cultures as top of their agenda, whilst partying was only a priority for 18 per cent.
Gatwick will be marking this day by sending street photographer Matt Stuart into the airport to capture the key moments when friends and parents wave goodbye to those heading off on their gap year.
Josie Shepherd, Airline Partnerships Manager said:
“This a great time to fly out on a gap year.  Travellers will have had a chance to say proper goodbyes at Christmas and New Year,  plus they can escape the UK’s cold climes. Setting off seven months after the end of term also gives students ample time to save, while career-breakers would have been able to squeeze in their January pay packet”
“With long-haul being ever popular, Gatwick is well-placed to offer gap year travellers the best destinations out there through our traditional carriers and low cost airlines, whether you are starting in Mexico or LA, or even exploring the far flung reaches of Sri Lanka”
  • Date published: 08th February 2016
  • Written by: Ian Thomas

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