Take a Gap Year to
Imagine yourself on the beaches of Krabi or Phuket, toes in the sand, blue water as far as the eye can see, kicking a ball with local kids before your language lessons in the morning. Imagine the waking to the sounds of gibbon monkeys echoing between the karst formations around Khao Sak lake as you emerge from your floating house to greet the day. Maybe you want to spend a week volunteering with the elephant rescue center near Chiang Mai, or living with a hill tribes family up north near the golden triangle. Or perhaps you're interested in spending some time in a monastery, learning about the Thai Buddhist faith and doing some inner work. Thailand is a land of dichotomy and diversity. From the urban centers of Bangkok and Phuket to the quiet rural villages surrounding Mae Song, along the Burmese border, you could spend years here and still find more to experience.
What if you could combine that adventure with skill building and service through teaching, or community development projects? Expanding your worldview and your experience through engagement with another culture that challenges your status quo?
Spend a semester, or a whole school year, learning and living your wildest dreams in Thailand.
TAP provides everything you need to get started. Talk to a travel mentor about your trip.
Or, make a $500 deposit and start planning now!
Ethical Service Learning - Learn skills too
Omprakash is a Gap Year Association accredited a network of vetted service-learning opportunities that are ethically sound. Find a place to serve and grow from 10 unique opportunities in Thailand and use your skills, from general volunteer work, to management, English teaching, marketing, business development and consulting, and much more.
We also partner with Omprakash EdGE to provide unique pre-departure support and training for each TAP Gapper, including trip planning support, individual mentorship with a TAP Guide, and a deep dive into the experience and ethics of international travel and service learning so that you’re ready to face the world.
AirTreks is the industry leader in round the world flights, with over thirty years experience getting people where they want to go. Through our partnership with AirTreks, you’ll have a designated travel agent, a real person, who will make sure you get the best flight possible, and the flight costs are included. No matter where you’re coming from.
Food & Lodging
Many of the Omprakash network partners provide food and lodging for their volunteers. Where they do not, support in finding local lodging is provided and a budget for food and incidentals is outlined. This cost is included in the dollar amount listed in the Omprakash project listing.
This cost has been factored into the cost of your TAP Gap. We are covering it.
Food and lodging for your arrival and departure in Thailand, not at your project, and food or lodging for any excursions you choose to take during your Gap Year are extra, and you’ll need to budget for those.
We believe staying safe on your Gap Year should be a primary concern. Travel insurance is an essential part of that. Included in your TAP Gap is full coverage travel insurance that includes emergency care, basic healthcare, transportation of a family member to Peru in case of a serious emergency, and emergency evacuation. Of course the basics of travel insurance, covering your trip and your bags are included too.
Our trip to Thailand offers dozens of incredible cultural opportunities. Perhaps you'll be interested in diving deeper and learning about:
Choose a period of history that you find interesting and study it, through books, media & site visits or interviews. Options include:
- Ancient Civilizations in Thailand
- The Emergence of the Monarchy
- The Colonial Period
- Thailand During WW2
The Modern Monarchy
What does the Thai monarchy in the modern era look like? Who are the major players? Why is the monarchy so popular within Thailand? Identify the “sides” to the story. How has the monarchy in the past three generations developed? What are the major accomplishments? Are there any drawbacks?
Discuss the most recent coup (2014) and it’s repercussions for the country. Examine the positions of the Red and Yellow shirts. What have been the outcomes since the coup? Do you think Thailand is on stable footing now, politically? Why or why not? Examine the role of the monarchy vs. the electoral process in Thailand.
The Political and Economic Situation of the Northern Hill Tribes
There is a large segment of the Thai population that does not hold citizenship. Why is this? What is the impact for the country, and for the regions where these people live? What is the economic reality of the Hill Tribes people? Examine the blend of traditional life and the modern world as it has impacted the various people groups. Identify struggles and potential positive paths forward.
Opium Farming in Thailand
Historically, opium farming was a major source of income for the Thai north. Visit the Hill Tribes Museum in Chiang Rai for an excellent explanation of this. Is opium farming still happening? What has replaced it, economically, for the farmers? Are there current efforts underway in the region? What are they? Who is involved?
Economics: Investigate an Industry
Suggestions include but are not limited to: Tea, sugar cane, cassava, palm oil, maize, rubber, mangos, bananas, automotive, soft goods manufacturing, clothing. Cover the process, exports, industry standards, human impact, community impact, working conditions, the influence of unions, or organizations for fair trade or other regulatory bodies. How does this industry contribute to Thailand’s growth and economy?
Examine the linguistic landscape of Thailand. Thai is the official language, but there are several minority languages spoken, as well as the numerous tribal dialects. Study the ways in which this rich heritage of language has build the country and ways in which it holds it back. What is being done, on the one hand, to preserve this cultural heritage, and on the other hand to build the country forward through language?
Festivals in Thailand
Thailand is known for having some of the best and most interesting festivals in Southeast Asia. The Songkran water festival, Loy Krathong, Yi Peng, the famous lantern festival that draws thousands to Chiang Mai every year and the Chiang Mai flower festival are a few. The Vegetarian Festival, held every October in Phuket is a mind bender. And of cours Por Tor, the hungry ghost festival is worth scaring the children over. Attend festivals. Compare and contrast them with each other. Examine the religious, historical and cultural traditions that they arise from. Compare them similar celebrations you’ve experienced other places in the world, or within your own culture.
In Thailand 10.9% of the population lives below the poverty line. Compared with the other countries in the region, Thailand’s poverty rate is relatively low. Examine the successes and failures of the Thai government and community in reducing poverty and increasing economic advantage. Is there a difference between regions? Cities vs. rural areas? North vs. South? What role does language or people group play in the propensity towards poverty? Which groups are most vulnerable or affected? What is being done (both publicly and by private NGOs) to ameliorate the situation? What can we learn from this?
Ethnic Violence in the South of Thailand
Since 2004 there has been a surge in ethnic violence in the south of Thailand, on the Malay Peninsula. Much of the violence has been perpetrated by Muslim separatists. Examine the motives of these groups and the specific incidences of violence. Examine the thrust of the separatist movement and what they are trying to accomplish. Examine the historical roots of the ethnic divide in southern Thailand and the ways in which the borders of Thailand have changed over the years. How is the history, and the current events in this southern area of Thailand affecting the political and cultural climate in Thailand?
The Sex Trade
It’s no secret that Thailand is a hub, internationally, for the sex trade. Thousands of visitors go to the kingdom specifically for the easy access to prostitution. Even though it is technically illegal, it is prevalent. Investigate an aspect of the sex trade. Consider the role of the women, how they come to work in this industry and what it means for their lives, their families and their long term prospects. Consider the role of sex tourists and the ethics involved in this kind of tourism. Visit Pattaya, or Patong, or Phuket, or the numerous areas of Bangkok where the sex trade is prevalent. Do some on the ground research. Perhaps conduct some interviews. Think through the deeper issues around economics, human rights, free will, consent, health care, and gender as they apply to the sex trade in Thailand.
Thailand is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to gender rights. 30% of upper level business positions are held by women in Thailand. Approximately 1.5% of the biologically male population lives, or identifies as female or transgender. In 2015 the Thai constitution was amended to include language and protections for “third gender” persons. Recently Thailand announced a trial of their first transgender prison, in Bangkok, in an effort to address safety concerns within the transgender population regarding incarceration with men. However, Thai society remains very conservative. Gay marriage is not legal. Society remains, in day to day function, patriarchal in many practical ways. Study the nuances of gender rights in Thailand and examine the ways in which the country is, on one hand, progressive, and on the other hand, conservative. Analyse this dichotomy and it’s effects on Thai thought and culture as well as politics. Read, interview and reflect on gender rights issues in Thailand.
Make a $500 deposit and start planning now!
GYA Accredited Pre-Departure Preparation
Perhaps this Gap Year is the first time you’ll travel alone. The first time you’ll live in another country. The first time you’ll be responsible for your own food and lodging, budget and life planning. You want to make a difference in the world, but you want to do it well. Perhaps your family and friends are concerned that you’re not ready, or that there is too much to be afraid of.
TAP students receive a free student membership to GYA. The TAP EdGE classroom, built specifically for TAP Gappers, in conjunction with Omprakash, is designed to get you ready. From help with your planning, to individualized mentorship with a TAP Guide, we’ll be with you every step of the way.
The most important part of the TAP pre-departure curriculum is the ways in which it provides you to move through the world in a thoughtful, intentional way. The service learning industry is fraught with ethical violations and grey areas. By preparing ahead of time you’ll think through your own motivations, the realities on the ground, and what “help” actually looks like, at home and abroad. Omprakash sets the high bar in the Gap Year community for ethical service learning opportunities and we are proud to partner with them. By the time you go, you’ll be prepared to serve, and learn, to the best of your ability.
We’ve helped over 100,000 people take round the world trips over the past 25 years. We’ll help you too. We’ve taken our own Gap Years, and so have our children. We understand what it feels like, and we have overcome the same fears.
Who This is For:
So, who should take a TAP Gap Year? We think everyone can benefit from a Gap Year, regardless of where you are at in life. Most people who take a Gap Year do so between high school and college, or after university graduation and before their career starts. But that’s not the only good time. Lots of people take a mid-career Gap Year or a family Gap Year later in life. TAP Gap Years are for everyone.
You should consider taking a TAP Gap Year if:
- You recognize that travel is an essential part of education
- You have a spirit of adventure
- You have a desire to serve and give back in the world
- You are an independent sort of traveler
- You are confident in your ability to “go it on your own”
- You are serious about learning on your Gap Year
- You are budget conscious and want to get the most bang for your buck
- You’d like a little bit of help with the planning
- You’re looking for the security of a travel company with years of experience
- You recognize the value of a mentor in learning and travel
- You’re willing to take responsibility for your own journey
In short, TAP Gap Years are for intrepid and adventurous travelers who could benefit from the experience and support of an experienced team.
Apply to TAP Gap now
- Get connected with your TAP Guide
- Apply for your Omprakash network project
- Plan your flights with your AirTreks travel agent
- Complete your pre-departure study and planning
Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?
Who This is NOT For:
There are lots of ways to take a Gap Year and we don’t think ours is the best way for everyone.
It’s certainly not the only way.
Some people aren’t ready to travel on their own.
Some people need the safety net of a well planned group trip and some extra support to build the skills they need to travel safely and well on their own.
Not everyone WANTS to take on the burden of doing the planning for themselves. Some people will find a group experience more satisfying than a solo venture. There are a lot of reasons you should NOT choose a TAP Gap Year.
A TAP Gap Year probably isn’t for you if:
- You really enjoy group travel more than being on your own
- You’ve never spent a night away from home
- You want a guide on your trip with you
- You aren’t interested in budget travel
- You don’t want to work or serve at all on your Gap Year
- You aren’t interested in learning before and during your Gap Year
- You are looking for resort style living
- You want to do all of the planning, every single bit, yourself
- You want to get college credit on your Gap Year
- You question if you are mature enough to take responsibility for yourself
In short, you should not take a TAP Gap Year if you are looking for a group experience or are not comfortable with the idea of traveling independently.
If you want to have a great group experience on your Gap Year and are looking for a reputable program to join, we highly recommend that you start looking at the Gap Year Association. They have a list of reputable and accredited Gap Year programs around the world, some of which even offer college credit.
Who Are We?
Hi, we’re Sean and Jenn… or Jenn and Sean… we are co-founders of the Travel Access Project, avid travelers, active learners, enthusiastic educators, once upon a time student travelers, and parents.
BootsnAll is one of the longest standing independent travel sites and through that portal Sean has been helping people take long term trips for over twenty years. Well over 1,000,000 people have taken journeys of a lifetime through the BootsnAll network.
AirTreks is the largest purveyor of round the world airline tickets. They specialize in helping people take complicated trips. Their experienced travel agents will help you get the best deals on flights and the perfect itineraries nailed down for your Gap Year. They know their stuff.
Sean attended the GAP Year Conference in 2017 and was happy to see the quality of all the GAP years provided their, but disappointed at the high price and in accessibility of them.
Sean hopes that $5000 for a Semester and $10,000 for a year all inclusive will allow more folks to experience the life transforming effects and learnings of a GAP year experience.
Jenn was inspired to create the Travel Access Project with Sean as a result of her life traveling. She was almost born in Guatemala, spent her childhood across the three major countries of North America, took her first solo trip to Europe at 16 and spent a full decade traveling full time with her four children for the purpose of their educations. She believes travel is essential to a well rounded education and she wants to make that happen for every person, not just her own kids.
Jenn has lead learning journeys for groups of girls and women, building the skill set necessary for safe solo travel as women. She has spent years mentoring young adults who want blend travel and education and has launched three of her own children to significant solo and Gap Year travel. She knows what it feels like to be the parent, launching a kidult into big time travel, alone. Having spent more than a decade working with families at the intersection of education and adventure, she’s uniquely qualified to help young people meet the world, and parents successfully hand off the reins.
All of our TAP Guides are experienced travelers who have taken Gap Year type trips and worked in the industry for many years. Many of them are also educators, and parents. These are people who are handpicked for their wisdom, and real-world experience; not only in travel, but in working with young people in travel.
Through the EdGE classroom you’ll communicate with your mentor about your trip plans, as well as what you are learning. We will be there every step of the way to make sure that you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, so that you are well prepared to face the adventure ahead of you.
With the TAP Guides, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.