I’m a huge fan of the grown up gap year.
Taking time away from the workplace to travel or pursue another hobby should, in my opinion, be built into everyone’s career plan.
I gave my twenties to work, putting in the hard yards to set a baseline for my life, and get credibility in my industry, but I started to get burnt out.
There were a few triggers in a short period of time that made me think differently. Work became tough, my dad was in a nasty accident, and in Tim Ferriss’ era-defining The 4-Hour Workweek, I stumbled across the concept of the mini-retirement, and my life changed forever.
Since then, I’ve built up The Sabbatical Guide, a resource to help you plan and take time away from work.
Just to be clear from the outset, a grown up gap year doesn’t have to be twelve months. Gap years were historically for the young, with a year off taken between with school and university or university and starting a career.
So let’s get on with it…
Understanding the Grown Up Gap Year
If you are feeling stuck in your career or just need a break from the daily grind, a grown-up gap year might be just what you need. A grown-up gap year is a period of time, typically ranging from a few months to a year, where you take a break from your career or other responsibilities to travel, volunteer, or pursue personal interests.
Unlike traditional gap years, which are often taken by students between high school and college or college and the workforce, grown-up gap years are taken by adults who have already established themselves in their careers. This means that you will have more financial resources and life experience to draw on, but you may also have more responsibilities to consider, such as mortgages, children, or elderly parents.
Grown Up Gap Year Benefits
One of the benefits of taking a grown-up gap year is that it can help you gain a fresh perspective on your life and career.
By taking time away from your routine, you can reflect on your goals, values, and priorities and make more informed decisions about your future.
Another benefit is that a gap year for adults can be a great way to gain new skills and experiences.
Whether you choose to travel, volunteer, or pursue personal interests, you will have the opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and challenge yourself in new ways. This can help you grow both personally and professionally and make you a more well-rounded and interesting person.
Reasons for Taking a Grown Up Gap Year
My reasons for taking a adult gap year were that I wanted to spend time with Becca before we started a family, I needed some time away from work to de-stress and, after seeing my Dad have a huge bike accident, I’d begun to realise I wouldn’t have forever to travel the world. So we started planning and set off to Southeast Asia.
If you’re considering taking a grown-up gap year too, you might be wondering if it’s worth it
Here are some reasons to consider a career break, sabbatical, or gap year:
- Adventure: A grown-up gap year is an excellent opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and explore new places. Whether you’re travelling solo or with a group, you’ll have the chance to experience new cultures and make memories that will last a lifetime.
- Flexibility: Taking a gap year as an adult means you have more flexibility in terms of how long you can travel for and where you can go. You can choose to travel for a few months or even a year, depending on your budget and schedule.
- New experiences: A gap year is an opportunity to try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone. You might choose to learn a new language, try new foods, or take up a new hobby.
- Learning: A gap year can also be a chance to learn new skills or gain new knowledge. You might choose to take a course or volunteer in a field that interests you.
What Are the Risks of Taking a Grown up Gap Year?
Taking a grown up gap year can be a great way to take a break from your career and explore new opportunities. However, there are risks associated with taking a gap year as an adult that you should be aware of before making a decision.
Risk #1: Loss of Income & Cost
One of the biggest risks of taking a grown up gap year is the loss of income.
If you choose to take a year off from work, you will likely not be earning any money during that time (though some parts of the world do have paid long service leave – check out ‘Is a Sabbatical Paid?‘ for more information).
This can be especially challenging if you have bills to pay or a family to support. You will need to make sure that you have enough savings to cover your expenses during your gap year.
You will also need to factor in the cost of travel, accommodation, and any activities or courses you plan to take whilst away.
READ NEXT: How Much Does a Sabbatical Cost?
Risk #2: Difficulty Re-entering the Workforce
Another risk of taking a grown up gap year is the difficulty of re-entering the workforce. Depending on your industry, taking a year off from work could make it harder to find a job when you return.
You may need to explain the gap in your resume and convince potential employers that you are still qualified for the job.
READ NEXT: How to Put a Sabbatical On Your Resume
Risk #3: Delaying Career Progression
Taking a grown up gap year can also delay your career progression. While you are taking a break from work, your colleagues and competitors may be advancing in their careers.
You may miss out on opportunities while you are away, such as promotions, job offers, or other career opportunities. You will need to weigh the potential benefits of taking a gap year against the risks of missing out on these opportunities.
In my opinion, this is a risk I was willing to take to further my life experiences in other areas. I didn’t want to look back at the age of eighty and only have stories to tell about my career!
Planning Your Grown Up Gap Year
If you are considering taking a grown-up gap year, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you will need to plan ahead to ensure that you have the financial resources and support you need to make your gap year a success. This may involve saving money, finding someone to take care of your home or pets while you are away, or arranging for a sabbatical from your job.
Second, you will need to think carefully about what you want to do during your gap year and how it aligns with your goals and values. This may involve researching different travel destinations, volunteer opportunities, or personal development courses to find the right fit for you.
Check out some of the best sabbatical destinations for inspiration.
Finally, you will need to be prepared for the challenges and opportunities that come with taking a grown-up gap year. This may involve stepping outside your comfort zone, dealing with homesickness or culture shock, or navigating unfamiliar situations on your own.
However, with the right planning and mindset, a grown-up gap year can be a truly life-changing experience.
TRY THIS: Get yourself a sabbatical coach to help you work through the mindset and emotions of taking a grown up gap year.
How Much Does a Grown up Gap Year Cost?
Put simply, the cost of a grown up gap year is as follows:
- One off costs associated with the gap year (such as flights)
- Ongoing costs that continue whilst you are on gap year (such as a mortgage)
- Your daily cost of living whilst you are away multiplied by the days you will be away for (use something like this tool to work out the daily cost)
I have a complete guide for how to calculate this as well as a simple spreadsheet here.
Planning Your Budget
The cost of a grown-up gap year can vary widely depending on the destination, activities, and length of your trip. To plan your budget, it is important to consider the following:
- Accommodation: Depending on your preferences, you can choose to stay in hostels, hotels, or rent an apartment. Consider the cost of accommodation in your chosen destination and the length of your stay.
- Transportation: Flights, trains, buses, and taxis can quickly add up. Research the most affordable transportation options and plan accordingly.
- Food and drink: Eating out every day can be expensive, so consider cooking your own meals or eating street food. Also, be aware of the cost of alcohol, which can vary widely depending on the destination.
- Activities: Excursions, tours, and adventure activities can be a significant expense. Research the cost of activities in advance and prioritize the ones that are most important to you.
Saving for Your Gap Year
If you are planning to take a grown-up gap year, it is important to start saving as early as possible. Here are some tips to help you save:
- Create a budget: Make a list of your monthly expenses and identify areas where you can cut back. Use the money you save to fund your gap year.
- Open a separate savings account: This will help you keep track of your savings and avoid spending the money on other things.
- Take on extra work: Consider taking on a part-time job or freelance work to earn extra money for your trip.
- Sell unwanted items: Sell items you no longer need, such as clothes, electronics, or furniture, and put the money towards your gap year fund.
Grown Up Gap Year Ideas
If you’re considering taking a grown-up gap year, there are many exciting opportunities available to you. Whether you want to travel the world, volunteer, or learn new skills, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your time off.
For specific examples, check out my comprehensive post – 30 Life-Changing Gap-Year Ideas.
Grown Up Gap Year – Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and make a difference in the world. There are many organisations that offer volunteer opportunities for adults, both domestically and internationally. Some organisations offer short-term placements, while others offer longer-term opportunities. You could volunteer in a variety of areas, such as:
- Humanitarian aid
- Animal welfare
Volunteering can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, and it’s a great way to gain new skills and meet new people.
Grown Up Gap Year – Travel
Travel is one of the most popular options for a grown-up gap year. There are many ways to travel, from backpacking to luxury tours. You could travel to a specific region, such as Europe or Asia, or you could travel around the world. Some popular travel options for a grown-up gap year include:
- Road trips
- Train journeys
- Adventure tours
- Cultural tours
Travelling can be a great way to see the world and experience new cultures. It can also be a great way to relax and unwind after years of working hard.
Grown Up Gap Year – Educational Opportunities
If you’re interested in learning new things, there are many educational opportunities available to you during your grown-up gap year. You could enrol in a language course, study a new subject, or take a short course in a specific area of interest. Some educational opportunities for a grown-up gap year include:
- Language courses
- Study abroad programmes
- Short courses in photography, cooking, or art
- Online courses
Learning new things can be a great way to challenge yourself and keep your mind active during your grown-up gap year.
Grown Up Gap Year – Learning New Career Skills
If you’re considering a career change, your grown-up gap year could be the perfect opportunity to learn new skills. You could enrol in a course or programme that will help you gain the skills you need to transition to a new career. Some options for learning new career skills during your grown-up gap year include:
- Short courses in business, marketing, or finance
- Online courses
Learning new career skills can be a great way to prepare for a new career and increase your job prospects.
Grown Up Gap Year Destinations
If you’re planning on taking a grown up gap year, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right destination. Here are eight places around the world that are great to visit on a grown up gap year:
- Japan: Japan is a great destination for those interested in culture, history, and food. You can explore ancient temples and shrines, try traditional Japanese cuisine, and experience the unique fashion and technology of Tokyo.
- Australia: Australia is the perfect destination for a long break, as the entry visas are good and there is so much to see. You can go surfing, scuba diving, or hiking in the outback, and see everything from deserts to rainforests. You can also explore the vibrant cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
- Southeast Asia: Southeast Asia is a popular destination for backpackers, as it’s cheap and there are good transport links to get around. We did our trip by starting in Thailand moving up from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, then hopping over to our favourite country in Southeast Asia, Laos. We then headed down to Cambodia to see the amazing Temples of Angkor, before going south to north in Vietnam from Ho Chi Min City, through Hoi An, and finishing up in Hanoi.
- New Zealand: New Zealand is another great destination for adventure seekers. You can go bungee jumping, skydiving, or hiking in the beautiful landscapes of the South Island. You can also explore the vibrant cities of Auckland and Wellington.
- Spain: Spain is a great destination for those interested in history, culture, and food. You can explore the ancient architecture of Barcelona, try traditional Spanish cuisine, and experience the vibrant nightlife of Madrid.
- Canada: Canada is a great destination for nature lovers. You can explore the beautiful landscapes of Banff National Park, go whale watching in Vancouver, or take a road trip along the scenic Icefields Parkway.
- South America: South America is another great continent for a long break, with it being significantly cheaper than North America or Europe. Check out our route for a five-month break, which can easily be extended.
- Iceland: Iceland is a great destination for those looking for a unique experience. You can explore the stunning landscapes of the Golden Circle, go whale watching in Reykjavik, or relax in the famous Blue Lagoon.
No matter where you choose to go on your grown up gap year, make sure you take the time to explore the local culture and make the most of your experience.
Grown Up Gap Year Companies
If you’re planning on taking a grown-up gap year, there are several booking and resource companies that can assist you in planning your adventure. Here are some of the best companies that can help you:
- Gap 360 – Gap 360 is a company that specializes in gap year travel for people of all ages. They offer a wide range of trips including volunteering, adventure, and cultural experiences. They also have a section on their website specifically for grown-up gap years. Visit Gap 360
- STA Travel – STA Travel is a popular travel agency that specializes in student and youth travel. However, they also offer a range of trips for people of all ages, including grown-up gap years. They have a team of travel experts who can help you plan your trip and they offer flexible payment options. Visit STA Travel
- Oyster Worldwide – Oyster Worldwide is a company that specializes in responsible travel and volunteering experiences. They offer a range of trips for people of all ages, including grown-up gap years. They have a team of experts who can help you plan your trip and they offer a range of payment options. Visit Oyster Worldwide
- Real Gap Experience – Real Gap Experience is a company that specializes in gap year travel for people of all ages. They offer a range of trips including volunteering, adventure, and cultural experiences. They have a team of experts who can help you plan your trip and they offer flexible payment options. Visit Real Gap Experience
- G Adventures – G Adventures is a company that specializes in small group adventure travel. They offer a range of trips for people of all ages, including grown-up gap years. They have a team of experts who can help you plan your trip and they offer flexible payment options. Visit G Adventures
Grown Up Gap Year Examples
If you’re considering taking a grown-up gap year, you might be wondering what other people have done during their time off. Here are a few examples of people who’ve taken a grown-up gap year:
- Emily and Ian: Emily and Ian are a thirty-something couple from Boulder, Colorado. They love exploring new places, ideally on two feet or two wheels, and they based their sabbatical around famous hiking routes in Europe, combining their love for travel with their love of hiking.
Read Their Story…
- Elizabeth: Emily was a teacher in Russia who took 15-months off, spending some time back home in the USA with family, before heading down to Argentina there off through the Caribbean and Europe.
Read Her Story…
- Tim: 41-year-old firefighter and semi-professional rugby player Tim, decided to take a gap-year and visited five continents in an epic worldwide adventure.
Read His Story…
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some gap year organisations for mature individuals?
If you are interested in taking a gap year as a mature individual, there are several organisations that cater specifically to your needs.
Some of these organisations include Gap 360, Career Break Site, and Grown Up Gap Year. These organisations offer a variety of programs and destinations, so you can choose the one that best suits your interests and needs.
What are some benefits of taking a midlife gap year?
Taking a midlife gap year can have several benefits, such as the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures, learn new skills, and gain a fresh perspective on life. It can also provide a much-needed break from the daily grind and help you recharge and refocus.
Additionally, a gap year can be a great way to transition into a new career or explore a new passion.
How can I financially support myself during a gap year?
There are several ways to financially support yourself during a gap year.
You can save up money before your trip, work remotely while you travel, or look for jobs or volunteer opportunities abroad that provide room and board. You can also consider applying for scholarships or grants specifically for gap year travellers.
What are some tips for planning a successful gap year?
Planning a successful gap year requires careful research and preparation.
Some tips to keep in mind include setting a budget, deciding on your destination and itinerary, researching visa requirements and vaccinations, and making sure you have adequate travel insurance.
It’s also important to be open to new experiences and flexible with your plans, as unexpected challenges and opportunities may arise.
What is a grey gap year?
A grey gap year refers to a gap year taken by retirees or older individuals who are looking to take a break from their daily routine and explore new opportunities. This type of gap year can be a great way to pursue lifelong dreams or interests, travel to new destinations, and meet new people.
What is a golden gap year?
A golden gap year, also known as a senior gap year, is a gap year taken by older individuals who are looking to take a break from their daily routine and explore new opportunities. This type of gap year can be a great way to pursue lifelong dreams or interests, travel to new destinations, and meet new people.
What are some unique experiences I can have during a golden gap year?
A golden gap year, also known as a senior gap year, can offer a wide range of unique experiences. Some popular options include volunteering abroad, taking language classes, learning a new skill or hobby, and exploring new cultures. You can also consider taking a road trip or cruise, attending a music festival, or embarking on a wildlife safari.
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