John O’Connor and Eamonn Mazur were friends throughout their high school days in Massachusetts, and were able to turn a small seedling of an idea to hike the Appalachian Trail start to finish on their gap year into a reality. After many months of preparation, and differing pursuits in the fall of their gap year, they embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in March of this year. In this episode, they talk to Margo about their experience on trail and how the many ups and downs of the Appalachian Trail have impacted them in where they are today. You..

Ep. 5 Father Son Gap Year Memories with Michael and Ron Shaich

It’s Thanksgiving week, so we wanted to bring you an episode that celebrates family. Michael’s gap year story is as much about family as some of the amazing adventures he did independently.  Michael joined structured programs in Asia and Africa, but also interned and traveled with friends and family.  In this episode Michael and his dad Ron join us to talk about their gap year experiences (Ron took one as a young man too) and how they agree that a gap year is one of the best investments that you can make in your future.  Episode Notes: Michael’s awesome blog..

Ep. 4 Brad Gillings of Youth International

Brad Gillings is the founder of Youth International, an experiential learning program that combines authentic international travel, cultural exchange, home stays with local families, volunteer community service work, and outdoor expeditions.  Brad spent much of his early twenties traveling – first for 9 months with Up with People, then on his own in teaching in Japan and backpacking through much of Asia and Africa. He then found himself back in the US volunteering with NCCC, an arm of Americorps. Brad talks with us about how Youth International combines the ethos of NCCC with the rugged backpacking he came to love as a..

Ep. 3 Michelle’s Spanish Immersion Gap Year in Latin America

Gap year student and Travel Access Project grant recipient Michelle Zhang used her year to become fluent in Spanish while spending time in Guatemala, Mexico, Columbia and Peru. She began by studying at a language school on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and bonding with her host family. She then went on to intern in Oaxaca Mexico with the EnVia Foundation, an organization that empowers women through microloans. As if that wasn’t enough, she then went on to backpack solo for two months in Columbia and Peru, making friends and conquering challenging treks along the way.  Guatemala Spanish..

Ep. 2 Ryan Allen of Irish Gap Year

Ryan Allen spent most of his twenties studying, teaching and traveling abroad (a self-described “gap decade”). A passionate surfer, Ryan chased waves in New Zealand, Norway and elsewhere. He eventually made his way to the famous waves of northwest Ireland, where he went on to found Irish Gap year with his business partner, Killian O’Kelly. In our interview Ryan shares how he came to become an experiential educator and describes the student experience of Irish Gap Year.   University of Canterbury in Christchurch – Where Ryan Studied abroad  The Ashoken Center in New York – where Ryan worked before moving to..

Ep 1. Lily’s Gap Year In Bali

Lily Slaughter graduated from high school in the picturesque town of Stowe, Vermont. Her wanderlust and desire to do good led her to Bali, where a plan to teach English for a couple months ballooned into a eight-month long stay with the community. In this episode she talks to Julia about her experience and how it has changed her world forever. Shownotes: Lily’s mom’s store: Bunya Bunya Resources for ethical volunteering: Learning Service Volunteer in Bali Pinterest as a resource for education volunteers: Teachers on Pinterest WINS Foundation – help Lily send more kids to school! You can email her..

How to Make Your Gap Year Plastic Free

Did you know it’s #PlasticFreeJuly? This challenge focuses on the behavior change needed to turn the tide on plastic waste. It’s especially important to minimize your plastic use on your gap time; many areas of the world don’t dispose of their waste properly, which increases the chances of it ending up in the ocean. Still, we all need to work together to reduce plastic waste, since studies show a ton of plastic waste is ending up in the oceans anyway. Consider adding these items to your packing list so you can avoid extra plastic use on your travels: Steripen: A Steripen is a genius..