Take a Gap Year to
Imagine yourself on the top of pyramid 4, at Tikal, at sunrise, quietly watching as the world comes to life, sun rises, howler monkeys scream in the predawn darkness, the ghosts of the ancients move between the trees in the mist. Imagine hiking Volcan San Pedro (above right) and standing on the very top overlooking one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, hiking through coffee and corn, swinging with a whoop out over the abyss on the tire swing half way to the top. Perhaps you’re intrepid to camp in the jungle at the peak and watch the first rays of the sun.
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 Guatemala.
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
Through an accredited a network of vetted service-learning opportunities that are ethically sound, we’ll help you find a place to serve and grow from 10 unique opportunities in Guatemala and use your skills, from physical therapy, to after school development assistant, classroom, residential or library assistant, green builder, social development, teaching and coordinating English education, and much more.
We also 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 service learning opportunities we’ll point you towards 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. The cost for this will vary and we’ll help you keep it within the budget outlined.
This cost has been factored into the cost of your TAP Gap.
Food and lodging for your arrival and departure in Guatemala, 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 Guatemala offers dozens of incredible cultural opportunities. Perhaps you’ll be interested in diving deeper and learning about:
Civil War in Guatemala
Visiting the towns where it took place, current events including the prosecution of Rios Montt, and the fact that the recently deposed President (Alejandro Maldonado) is one of the generals directly responsible for the genocide, while the current President (Jimmy Morales) denies that it ever took place.
Possible topics include:
- Why the genocide took place & political origins.
- The cultural divide between Ladino and Indiegneous Guatemalans.
- War crimes and prosecution.
- The “disapearings.”
- Crimes against women during the war.
- Reconstruction and recovery post war.
Who inhabited this part of the continent before the arrival of the Spanish? Study the people groups, and what is left of the civilizations in the form of ruins.
Visit the ruins in person if possible. Compare and contrast with ruin groups in other Latin American countries if this is part of your journey.
Corruption & the Anti-Corruption Movement in Guatemala
A study of the Sept. 2015 protests, resignation of the Vice President and subsequent restructuring of much of the government. A focus on the ways in which the political structure of the country has changed, since colonial times, through the revolution of the 1940s, during and after the Civil War as Guatemala works toward democracy.
Examine the linguistic landscape of Guatemala. Spanish is the official language, but there are others. 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 Guatemala
Guatemala is known for having some of the best and most interesting festivals in Latin America. The Kite Festival at Sumpango for the Day of the Dead, the flower carpet festivals in virtually every small town in the lead up to Semana Santa (Easter week) and Antigua’s over the top purple robed processions, and the saints day festivals in every village are a fascinating feast for the senses.
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.
Art & Multi-Media Projects
Study the art of a particular region and produce a multi-media project related to the art history and modern expression.
Some options include:
- Mayan stone carving (from ancient ruins to jade in and around Antigua)
- Textiles: traditional backstrap looms vs. more modern weaving done on an industrial scale.
- Painting: from early painting at the ruin sites to modern expressions
- Music: Traditional music, colonial influence and modern trends
- Pottery: From the archeological excavations to modern creation
Guatemala is #5 in the world for malnutrition, the four ahead of it are all war torn countries. Examine the causes of this, historically and currently. Examine the social and economic effects of malnutrition on the country and present a possible solution, OR examine the solutions already on the ground and find a way to support them. This would not only be an academic project, but a social action project as well.
In Guatemala only 3 of every 10 children graduate from the 6th grade. Nearly 60% of the Indigenous People are illiterate. Guatemala ranks 164 of 194 countries on the literacy index. Less than 30% of rural Indigenous girls are enrolled in school. Study education in Guatemala, both public and private. Examine the socio-economic and geographical access.
Think about why the situation is so dire, who is most affected, and what the factors are that stand in the way of improvement. Examine projects on the ground (there are many) that are working to improve education and access to it. What is working, what isn’t? What can we learn from this as we seek to improve education in developing countries? Draw on your first hand experience to tell the story.
Poverty & Women
Explore the themes of poverty as it affects women. Tell a story based on a meaningful connection that you make in your journey. Interview women and girls. Research the statistical realities of growing up female in Guatemala as it applies to education, health, employment and economic advancement.
For more info about Guatemala, check our Country Resource. These resources are completely free and at your disposal. Use as much, or as little, as you want. Study casually, or work to create a portfolio of academic work that will blow the socks off of the educational establishment.
Make a $500 deposit and start planning now!
Get Ahead With a Gap Year
Did you know that Gap Year students return to university at a rate of 91% and do measurably better than their peers who don’t take a Gap Year? Did you know that Gap Year alumni report higher job satisfaction, higher levels of civic engagement, and that for most students their gap year has a direct impact on their career choice? Did you know that students who have taken a Gap Year actually get through college faster, on average, than their non-gap peers? They do.
We believe taking a well planned Gap Year is an essential part of a well rounded education and the evidence that it benefits students, not only as they embark on higher education but in all areas of life, is abundantly clear.
Read more about the research in the National Alumni Survey done by the Gap Year Association.
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. Our pre-departure support 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.
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 service learning 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.
Sean is the Chairman of BootsnAll and AirTreks, two of the most trusted brands in the independent travel marketplace.
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.
Which path to a Gap Year will you take?