How’s it possible to be home to just two countries, yet offer so much for a backpacker to do? Well, that’s the exact question you’ll ask when you step into North America – a continent of excess, natural beauty, excitement and intrigue. Whether you head to Canada or its southern neighbour, the USA (you might have heard of them, apparently they are in the news a lot), a gap year in North America opens you up to infinite possibilities.
Canada, for example, has some of the liveliest and most vibrant cities in the world (including Vancouver, voted the third best city to live in throughout the world by the Daily Telegraph), yet these cities are bordered by miles upon miles of secluded wilderness. While the cities will delight you, the vast expanses of Mother Nature will leave you open-jawed at how beautiful the world can be. There are a few things you absolutely must do while in Canada, including:
- Visit the Horseshoe Falls on the US border
- Sample the distinct culture of French-speaking Quebec
- Search for grizzly bears in the Rockie Mountains (with a guide, of course)
- Visit the buzzing, cosmopolitan city of Toronto – perfect for parties and culture!
- Head north to Manitoba, and see polar bears first hand
Of course, there’s loads more to do in Canada as well, but don’t use up all your time, as there’s another country just south that offers fun and excitement in bucket loads…
Ah yes, the US of A – a land where you can take a healthy stroll through rolling wilderness in the morning, before heading for a calorie busting all-you-can-eat buffet later on. A land where the heat rises to searing levels, but also drops to temperatures that would make a penguin shiver. Essentially, a land of contrasts – and contrasts are what makes a country interesting.
While on a gap year in the USA, there are many, many things to do In fact, you could write a book on the subject (many people already have) and still not scratch the surface. Here are our top tips though, should you be struggling for ideas…
- Visit New York and take in the many world famous sights there
- Head north to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park
- Catch some of the best surf in the world in Hawaii
- Feeling lucky? Place a few dollars on the table in Las Vegas!
- Take a long drive down Route 66, America’s iconic journey
Make sure you also check out our article on the Top 15 Things to do in the USA too, for more inspiration for your American gap year!
When you are done in North America, most people jump on a plane and head for Europe, or carry on with their American adventure by heading down Mexico way, through Central America and into South America. Some even start in Alaska and finish at Iguazu Falls, at the southern tip of Argentina. Whatever you choose to do, the options are huge. Just don’t think about going home yet though, as there’s still so much more of the world left to explore!
One thing is for sure when you visit North America: you’ll absolutely fall in love with the place, and you’ll come back again and again. We see so much of North America on the TV (particularly the USA) that we think we already know it, but to really understand how the continent works, you’ll have to explore it first hand – it might throw a few surprises your way!