Typically a gap year is the period of time taken by students as a break between finishing school and starting university but the idea of taking some time out is now not just the preserve of the young. More and more people of all ages are craving a break from the routine and seeking out opportunities to travel, experience other cultures, do voluntary work or teach English overseas, learn a new craft or language or simply escape to a warmer climate.
For many people of a certain age, a gap year just wasn’t on the agenda unless they were from a reasonably well-off family and had the opportunity to do something like VSO. However, recent research shows that longer breaks are being taken by people of all ages including that ever increasing demographic – the over 50s.
A 2016 report by Hills Balfour suggests that by 2020 there will be more people over 50 than under 50 and so gap-style breaks for this age group could be big business for the travel industry.
Does a gap year have to be year?
Well no, but the annual two-week holiday probably doesn’t really count! A gap year is just as long as as it needs to be to give you the chance to escape and experience something completely different and new.
It’s never too late to have a gap year
If you have a new-found freedom from family or work responsibilities and you feel you missed out when you were younger, then taking an extended break makes perfect sense. It doesn’t matter that you are a little older than your usual teenage or 20-something gap year travellers. If you are lucky enough to have more time for leisure, throw responsibility to the wind, embrace life and embark on an adventure that will give you a new perspective on life and may be even a taste for further travel and adventure.
What do you do on a gap year?
If you don’t already have any burning desires, then grab a piece of paper and scribble down any places you wished you had visited but have never had the chance. Or make a note of any experiences or activities you have never had the opportunity to pursue.
Taking a gap year (or whatever length you choose) is your chance to fulfil lifelong ambitions. These could be anything from making a round-the-world trip, trekking through a remote rain forest, climbing Everest, travelling across America on a Harley, offering your services to a charity as a volunteer to hitching up a caravan or packing a tent for a grand tour of Europe, visiting family or friends in another part of the world or going on a cookery, language, music or painting course in Italy. There really is no limit to the possibilities. Your only limitations are time, budget and imagination.