While several guys and typical travel bloggers may encourage you to take a gap year and go backpacking, I think this is a bad idea. Maybe you would be standing on a podium and be delivering TED talks just like xx or yyy after your backpacking year. But seriously, it doesn’t broaden a great outlook. While traveling has certainly inspired several entrepreneurs but the fact that most people don’t admit is that they had the ability to see things differently.
Spending one year honing your skills like programming or pursuing an internship is far better than going for backpacking. Why don’t you think that your internships can take you places and you can always use the weekends to travel?
American education has recently toyed with the idea of taking a gap year and doing community service. Mind you there are several NGOs out there and you can always volunteer in summer breaks.