How COVID killed the gap year

Briana FioreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Enjoying the waters off Croatia. Solo Guide. Courtesy Contiki
Camera IconEnjoying the waters off Croatia. Solo Guide. Courtesy Contiki Credit: Courtesy: Contiki

The days of gallivanting across Europe sipping sangria from paper straws with strangers are dead — and so is the gap year.

With travel barred and COVID-19 spreading faster than the collapse of budget airlines, taking a gap year to travel is now a thing of the past.

For those who are unaware of what a “gap year” even is, it’s 12 months of freedom sought out from fresh-faced high school grads, still haunted by the weight of their gruelling Year 12 WACE exams.

They tend to climb aboard a Contiki bus — like ants scurrying towards a piece of dropped food — and drink their way through Europe’s major cities.

A Contiki coach passes the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Camera IconA Contiki coach passes the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Credit: Contiki

Schnapps — Austria.

Ouzo — Greece.

Grappa — Italy.

Guinness — Ireland.

Sangria — Spain.

The list goes on.

Forget a selfie with the Pope or a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, the teens (generally) tend to trade cultural experiences for a bevy at the backpackers — classy.

Young travellers enjoying Europe. For Solo Guide.
Camera IconYoung travellers enjoying Europe. For Solo Guide. Credit: Courtesy: Contiki

How they choose to spend their hard-earned cash and first “real taste of freedom” is up to them, no judgment, however with borders closed, Europe is off limits, so why waste a gap year if you can’t go anywhere?

While a gap year can also be code for “doing nothing” it is usually a time where grads can work, save, unwind and travel.

I definitely endorse the notion of working and saving money during a gap year, but it is fairly obvious that — unless you would like to stare at WA’s gazillion metres of sea shores and sunsets — travelling is off the cards.

Instead, grads should head straight into a trade, start working or enrol in university.

With WACE exams under way and students weighing up their options for 2021, the notion of opting to travel to Europe during a gap year is well and truly dead.

So, unless Year 12 grads would like to “wonder out yonder” and pick fruit on farms or sell their right arm to holiday in the State’s North, it might just be better to give the “gap year” a gap year.

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