This paper examines why the growing gap-year phenomenon is important for university geography departments in the context of education and employment. The research examines the scale and types of gap years, and their effects on students. The study uses a multi-actor approach comprising information from national statistical sources, university departments, students who have taken gap years and commercial gap-year providers. The paper draws some lessons for geography departments such as the need to systematically record the effects of a gap year. It highlights some paradoxes of any expansion of the gap-year market; for example, that expansion may reduce the benefits of the gap-year experience and may narrow the types of gap year taken. Issues of social exclusion also arise.