A gap year can enrich your life by immersing you in new cultures and teaching you about the history of the world.
Also known as a career break or sabbatical, a gap year is often taken for a period of one year. The aim is to reconnect with life at a different pace or embark on new experiences.
Typically, most people who take a gap year are between high school and university, hoping to get to know more of the world and see sights beyond their hometown.
But what about those who never had the opportunity to take a gap year in their younger age and are looking to have that experience in mid-life?
When you’re older, you’ve likely seen a lot of things — but that doesn’t mean you’re done learning and experiencing the world around you.
These breaks can be great if you’re seeking a break from the usual routines and responsibilities of work and life and want some time to explore before returning.
Here’s what you should consider when planning your mid-life gap year.
Decide why you need a break
What’s driving your decision to take a gap year?
Knowing why you want to take a gap year is a great way to learn more about yourself and what motivates you.
Many students who take gap years use the time to find themselves and broaden their horizons before settling into adult life or choosing their career path.
Whatever it is you want to experience during your gap year, get clear on your intentions before embarking on the adventure.
Set a budget
Before choosing where you want to go, you need to start a budget.
Building a budget might seem tedious, but it can save you plenty of stress and worry in the future.
If you have a budget you can stick to, you could feel less stressed about finances than you would if you had to track everything as it happens.
Budgeting is key to an enjoyable gap year.
Pick a path
Once you have everything decided, it’s time to chart your course.
Unless you want to stay in one place for your entire gap year, you should plan every stop you plan to take and how long you’ll be there for.
Gap years are most common in the United Kingdom and Australia, so be sure to research the travel paths that other people from your area often take to get ideas. You might even consider country-hopping in Europe.
Do some research to align your destination with your life goals.
Do you want to focus on living more intentionally? You could immerse yourself in the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle of Costa Rica, which translates to ‘pure life’ or focusing on what’s really important.
Plan your activities
What happens if you get to your destination and don’t have anything planned?
Laying out your activities before you get to your next destination can help you make the most of your time abroad.
You’ll get a head start on your travels if you plan them beforehand. You don’t need to make an itinerary for everything — just a general guide of what you’d like to do is enough.
Document your journey
You want the memories from your travels to last a long time — perhaps for years after you return home.
Make sure you have some way to document your travels. Outgoing personalities may choose to make travel vlogs online, documenting their journey through videos for the whole world to see.
Those better with the written word might choose to start a travel blog or record their experiences in a journal.
Above all, don’t forget to take pictures. They’ll be worth a million moments after the year is over.
Think about income
If you don’t have a steady income during your gap year, you may find it hard to afford some parts of your travel.
Budgeting is important, but having extra money coming in while you’re away can help you feel more comfortable with the amount you spend.
If you’re an entertainer, you can always try to grab gigs at local places in the areas you visit.
Get others involved
When you experience new things, you want those important to you to be by your side.
Whether you plan to take your gap year with a partner, children or good friends, having someone else there can help make your memories fonder and more vivid.
Travelling alone might be nice, but enjoying your gap year with others could make it a time to remember.
Don’t be afraid to embark on a mid-life adventure
While many societies place value on non-stop hard work, taking a break from the hustle can have endless benefits.
A mid-life gap year can energise you in ways you may never have expected.
Expose yourself to new cultures and ways of thinking, go on adventures, and see the world. A mid-life gap year is an experience you are not likely to regret.