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16 Things to Do With Your Summer Holiday (Updated for 2024)

School’s out. Time to relax. You’ve earned yourself a decent break, but with six weeks or more stretching out in front of you, it’s still important to find things to do in the summer holidays to avoid feeling restless.

The great thing is that, free from timetables, after-school clubs and exams, you have more choice about what you do with your time. Here are our suggestions…



The first set of suggestions we have are all things you can do with your time over summer to boost your career prospects.

1. Review your choices – it’s not too late!

Are you starting an apprenticeship or off to uni if you get those all-important grades? Or maybe you’re looking ahead to your GCSEs or A-levels/equivalent. Whatever choices you’ve made, it’s not too late to have a rethink. Whether that’s changing your A-level subjects, switching degrees or even swapping from a uni course to an apprenticeship programme, now is the time to make absolutely sure you’re happy with your decision and change direction if that’s what you want to do. One way to approach this is to think about how your choices are contributing to the career path you want to pursue.

2. In Year 12? Visit some unis

If you haven’t already done so, summer is a great time to visit some unis. Some may run open days over the summer vacation, but even if they don’t, you may still be able to arrange a visit with the admissions department. Visiting universities and colleges is important even if you don’t think you want to go, as seeing what uni is like in person could completely transform your outlook. Your deadline for most UCAS applications is in January – although certain institutions, such as Oxbridge and medical school, have earlier deadlines.

A university library
Visit universities even if you don't intend to go – seeing uni in person might change your mind!

3. Volunteer

To increase your chances of finding paid work, why not try volunteering too? Again, you could find seasonal work at festivals, events, venues and museums as well as local charities and community organisations.

4. Get work experience

The summer holidays are a good time for work experience as you can be flexible and you’ll likely have more than a couple of weeks to spare. To sort out work experience in August, you should ideally apply in the Spring – but there can still be last-minute places available. Remember too that people pull out of placements all the time, so phone up and send out emails to local businesses to see what they can offer.

5. Get a summer job

You might find there is more part-time or casual work on offer over the summer as there are lots of festivals and events that hire temporary staff plus all the usual leisure spots will need extra people to cope with the summer crush. Check out your local news, find out what events are going on in your area and get in touch with the organisers to see if there are jobs available. Useful places to look for summer jobs include: supermarkets, local theatre and entertainment venues, activity centres and summer camps. Remember you will need to be over 16 to apply for lots of jobs.

6. Apply for National Citizen Service

The National Careers Service is specifically for young people aged 15-17 and can help you discover the benefits of volunteering, contributing to your CV in a way that suits you. There are three types of placement – a five-day away-from-home experience in a beautiful outdoor location, a community experience local to you, and even an online experience you can do from your smartphone. If you go down the away-from-home route, there are three types of experience you can choose from – a work-focused placement, or a life skills placement, and a social change placement. Away-from-home experiences cost £95, with bursaries available if you can’t afford the fee.



Summer isn’t just about work – it’s a great time to try new things, see unfamiliar places and even soak up different cultures.

7. Go to a festival

What better way to round off your exams than by hitting the road with your mates for a weekend of your favourite music? There are festivals everywhere these days – from indie and hip hop to electronic and even folk, chances are there’s something a short train ride or bus journey from you. If music isn’t your thing, try something different, like expanding your horizons with a literary festival or even a political event. If you’re struggling to scrape together the cash for a ticket, you could work a job stewarding or behind the bar. Often this comes with free entry to the festival when you’re off shift.

8. Travel

Travel is a great way to open your eyes to other cultures and ways of doing things. The best travel experiences are inspiring and can even transform your perspective on life. We know travel overseas can be expensive – but as musician Eugene Fodor once said: “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” You could experience a new city right here in the UK or head for the Great British wilderness for some backpacking with a friend. Wherever you go, there are plenty of ways to save money – from camping or hostelling to interrailing or applying for a bursary through the Youth Hostel Association. You can find more ideas in our gap years section.

Backpacker in standing in front of a lake with mountains in the background
Travel is a great way to expand your horizons – backpacking can be a great way to do it on a budget

9. Read a book

If you’re doing GCSE or A-level English or another book-based subject, or heading off to uni, getting ahead of the reading list is a great way to make the most of your course. Reading doesn’t have to be about academic study – it can be eye-opening, exciting, relaxing and a great escape from the stresses of life. Check out these books every young person should read. There are also novels and nonfiction books out there to help you through any challenges you may be going through in your life – covering topics such as LGBTQ+ issues, neurodivergence, race and gender.

10. Go to an art gallery

Art can often seem distant and inaccessible to young people – but there are so many different types of art out there, there’s bound to be something for you! Art isn’t just portraits of long-dead aristocrats, it includes all kinds of media – including video, sculpture, performance and even architecture. Artists reflect and challenge their societies and the times they live in, comment on the big issues of the day and often put forward political ideas. Museums and galleries often put on exhibitions covering particular themes as well – such as album art, protest art and work that pushes the boundaries or challenges the status quo.

11. Watch some movies

Film can transport you to other cultures, introduce people you might never meet in real life and expose you to brand new ideas. Watching movies doesn’t have to be a chore – there are so many great films you can have great fun watching with your friends. Getting to know classics from across the decades – from sci fi and horror to comedy and drama – will help you understand cultural references and could teach you a thing or two about life as well. Check out the British Film Institute’s list of the greatest films of all time and check out their lists of movies from different cultures – such as this list of great African movies. And here’s Empire’s 50 best teen movies for good measure!



And then there’s all the life things that make day-to-day life possible and help you grow as a person. Let’s finish by looking at some of these ideas.

12. Teach yourself something new

Why not set out to teach yourself one new skill this summer? It could be anything: carpentry, painting, photography, a new language, DIY – or maybe you’ve always wanted to build a website or set up a vlog on YouTube. Learning a skill is a great way to keep your brain in tip-top condition – it’s also good for mental health and may help you discover new interests and aptitudes which could serve you in later life or open up new career pathways. 

13. Do some activism

Most of us want to change the world for the better – and getting politically active is a great way to achieve this. Activism doesn’t necessarily mean going on a march or joining a political party. There are things you could do from your bedroom or with your friends in your local area – check out this guide from US website Human Rights Careers. Whether you’re passionate about climate change, LGBTQ+ issues, tackling racism and other forms of discrimination or believe the world should be run more fairly, there are lots of things you can do to make a positive difference. Although young people have always been at the forefront of societal change, Gen Z have been using technology to change the way activism is done.

Black Lives Matter placard
Protest is one way of engaging in activism, but it's not the only way – thanks to new technologies

14. Learn life skills

Whether you’re off to uni or staying at home for the time being, it’s time to learn some of those basic skills we all rely on in life. Cooking, cleaning, budgeting – these are all things you’ll need to live independently, and with weeks stretching out ahead of you, there’s no time like the present to start getting some of these essential skills under your belt. You don’t need to learn it all – pick one skill you want to master. You don’t need to transform yourself into a gourmet chef. If you currently struggle to tell a courgette from a carrot, learning how to rustle up a bog-standard spag bol would be a great achievement!

15. Take an online course

There are loads of free courses and apps online to teach you languages, coding, gaming, design, psychology, virtually anything! Check out the Quora post 24 awesome skills to learn for free online to pick up some ideas. 

16. Get outside and enjoy life!

You don’t need our advice here… 

We hope this guide helped give you some ideas about how to use your summer productively while having fun too. Remember, you don’t need to do everything on this list. If you take on board just one of these ideas – or come up with your own – you should give yourself a massive pat on the back!


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