Four gap year destination dupes perfect for exploring on a budget


As summer approaches, maybe you’re approaching the end of school or university and you’re beginning to plan your gap year or post-exam holiday.


If you’re someone who hates long-haul flights, have a fear of needles, or simply can’t afford the hefty flight-tickets to the other side of the world, then the classic Southeast Asia or Australia trips might not be for you. But does this mean you have to miss out on the incredible experiences these locations are known for?

Jessica Bollinger, travel expert at youth and gap year travel agency KILROY says absolutely not. “There are a world’s worth of destinations you can go to for those unforgettable experiences that might feel too far away,” says Jessica.

“Destination dupes are often recommended to travellers as a quieter, less-visited alternative to popular, over-crowded places. Take, for example, Bali and Lombok – Lombok is a great ‘dupe’ for Bali and receives less than a fifth of the tourist numbers that Bali receives each year. With over five million tourists visiting Bali annually, overtourism is a very real concern, and encouraging more travellers to visit Lombok as an alternative goes some way in helping to relieve some of that pressure.

“A great way to help combat overtourism is to look for locally run accommodation options outside of the tourist hotspots, and to participate in community-based activities such as cooking classes and cultural exchanges. Travelling off-season is also another good option for travellers who are looking to save money and help reduce overtourism when destinations are at their busiest.

“I’d say that shunning all social media travel trends and purposely seeking out niche destinations is the surest way to avoid overtourism. For example, if you search for #DolomitesHiking on Instagram, 5,148 posts appear, whereas the lesser known, but equally impressive #BalkanHiking has only 192 posts, making it a great choice if you’re searching for a quieter spot.”

Here are four destination dupes you can visit on your gap year:

Island hopping bliss 

“If island hopping in Thailand is one of the activities on your bucket list, but the 12-hour flights make what should be feelings of excitement turn to dread, then Greece is the perfect dupe. Sailing through blue seas to the next remote island isn’t as far away as you might think. It’s 4 hours away, to be precise. A short flight to the Greek Islands will have you in heaven as you spend a few days relaxing on the white sandy beaches, taking a dip in the tranquil Mediterranean Sea, before catching a ferry to your next stop.

Flying to Mykonos will give you plenty of options for your next destination, whether that’s Paros, Naxos, Milos, or one of the many less-frequently travelled islands that are home to an abundance of hidden beaches and crystal-clear coves.”


Jungle adventures to embrace your inner Tarzan

“If you’re on the search for Thai-style jungle trekking and waterfalls, but a fear of needles makes what should be a dreamy trip sound like a nightmare due to the required vaccinations for Diphtheria, Hep A, Hep B, Rabies, Tetanus, and Typhoid, then don’t worry.

The Greek Island of Crete requires no vaccines for entry, and is home to the Samaria Gorge, the longest in Europe, making it the perfect destination for those wanting an adventure through nature. You’ll be surrounded by gorgeous scenery, with plenty of opportunities to cool off in the river and waterfalls that accompany the trail. Make sure to pack plenty of waterproof suncream and some sturdy hiking boots because the gorge is rated as moderate on the difficulty scale and can take up to 8 hours to complete.

Deep sea dupes

Australia has a huge variety of activities on offer, from rock-climbing and camping to surfing and deep-sea diving. However, the average flight to Australia sits at around £1200, which can be a heavy blow to your bank account. But if you’re searching for an adrenaline-boosting holiday, there are plenty of destination dupes with a much more digestible price-tag.

“Diving on the Great Barrier Reef is world-famous, but it’s not the only location with amazing scuba-diving. Egypt is a great destination dupe that has a breathtaking underwater world to discover. With calm sea conditions and a plethora of wildlife, wrecks, and coral reefs to explore, diving in Egypt is an adventure you won’t want to miss out on. The affordable price tag of a flight to Egypt makes the destination even more attractive, sitting at around £450 for a return flight, meaning you’ll have more funds to spend on a deep-sea dive adventure.

Catching the views of a lifetime

“Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an adrenaline-rush experience that’s hailed as a must-do activity when visiting Australia. But if you’re searching for that rush slightly closer to home, then Porto (pictured above)  is the perfect destination dupe. The Portuguese town is home to the Arrábida Bridge, which offers a near-identical experience to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You’ll be attached to a harness as you ascend to the top, so you’ll be perfectly safe, and rewarded with breath-taking views across the town of Porto when you reach the summit of the arch. Nothing more than a 2-hour flight and nerves of steel is required for this bucket-list activity.”

Travelling with budget constraints or phobias takes a little more planning even for short trips. If you’re looking for frugal and fear-free travel for your gap year, our gap year planner can help you plot out the steps you need to take to organise the adventure of a lifetime, without the plan-xiety!



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