7 Reasons Why You Should Have an Adult Gap Year And What To Expect
Gap years are mostly associated with college-aged kids who are journeying out into the world to travel and enjoy new experiences before starting their careers. But each year, more seasoned adults are seeking out a gap year of their own. It’s never too late (and you’re never too old) to take on an epic adventure!
What is an Adult Gap Year?
An adult gap year is a year you take off from work to travel the world, in adulthood. Usually associated with the youth and students right out of university, an adult gap year can be taken in any part of life whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond! You’re never too late to take the trip of a lifetime and experience what other parts of the world have to offer. It is better late than never, so now’s the time!
Things to Consider Before Taking An Adult Gap Year
There are several things to consider before you go on an adult gap year. Firstly, think, “why do I want to take a gap year?” Is it to explore? Recover from burnout? Find yourself? Finally take action on a long-term dream that’s been put off for far too long? Whichever your reasoning, you should ask think about how you want to spend your time abroad. Maybe it’s a combination of work and play or only play.
In addition to your why, think about where exactly you want to spend your gap year. Are you looking for a tropical paradise with deep sea diving and volunteer work or a mountainous adventure full of hiking and working on your side hustle? Your destination (or destinations) will have a huge impact on your gap year journey, so do lots of research based on your own personal interests.
Most people hop around the world during their gap year but if you plan to stay in one country for more than 90 days be sure to research visa requirements and apply for the right visas in advance. If you’re looking to spend an extended amount of time in Europe check out I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe for 50+ viable visas options in 17 countries.
Effective communication should also be considered. Feeling comfortable communicating with others is significant factor on how your gap year will go. If you only speak English and you want to take a gap year in South America, it is best to prepare and take some language courses to help you navigate in areas where English is not widely-spoken.
Other important considerations for an adult gap year are your budget and expenses. If you do not want to work while on your gap year, you’ll have to secure the right amount of savings (amount varies greatly depending on countries). Saving up may take a while, but worth it if you want to endlessly explore for the whole year without being tied down to any sort of work.
Another possibility is to work part-time during your adult gap year. Thanks to the rise of remote work, this can be fairly easy to do and you can find lots of opportunities to do something that you enjoy. Teaching English online is very popular, however, there are plenty of other online opportunities if teaching ins’t your cup of tea. If you’re looking to work remotely check out our guide on the best sites for remote work.
The options for remote work are limitless now. But if you plan to stay in one place for a few months, try looking into in-person work. It’s a great way to meet people and get to know the local culture better. Many countries will hire foreigners to work in the travel and hospitality sectors especially during the high tourist season. You can find work as a receptionist, bartender, surf instructor, or a hostess. Visit our in depth working abroad guide here.
One thing that can increase your budget and minimize expenses at the same time is house sitting or renting out your home while you’re away. House sitting has become widely popular and is a great way to find accommodation in your destination and benefits both the sitter and the homeowner. Options for house sitting range from short to long-term and it is a great way to lower your overall expenses.
Another way to minimize expenses and expand your budget is to declutter and downsize your space before setting off. Take inventory of what you have and make a list of what you are willing to sell. You’ll find that you won’t need to keep too many things and you can event make some money selling your things! Decluttering will not only save space but also money by helping you avoid paying for storage while you’re away.
Reasons Why You Should Have an Adult Gap Year
There are numerous reasons why you should have an adult gap year in your 30s or 40s and beyond! Going abroad for an extended amount of time can bring a lot of opportunities your way and can help you develop new life and professional skills. By getting out of your comfort zone in your home country and launching yourself onto the global stage, you’ll gain perspective on many aspects of life.
Not only does taking a gap year expand your perspective but it also increases confidence. If you are taking a gap later in life it’s probably for many reasons. Maybe you’re feeling stuck and wish you had had the opportunity to do so when you were younger, but life obligations tied you down to where you are. Whichever the case, this experience abroad will inevitably increase your confidence.
If you need more reasons as to why you should take an adult gap year, here you go!
1. You can see the world
A gap year doesn’t have to be in just one or two countries. You can make it whatever you want and explore as many places as you want. For some, getting to see the world is a once in a lifetime experience, hopefully you’ll have many opportunities to explore, but either way, it’s an experience that should not be passed up.
2. Pursue your passions
Take a step back from the grind and explore your passions that have been put to the side. Explore not only the world but your creativity too.
3. Experience another culture
There is more to this world than the culture you grew up in. Experiencing a new culture is shocking and eye opening. You’ll get to understand the values of others around the world apart from your own…and you’ll learn so much about your own culture and country along the way.
4. Explore a new career path
If you’ve been on the same career path since university, chances are you may be seeking something different. This is the perfect opportunity to explore a new career path as many countries offer volunteer work, internships, and seasonal jobs that you might find a real calling to.
5. Avoid burnout
Many people have been working non-stop since their 20s, most likely trying to climb the corporate ladder, without much of a break. This is exhausting. It is important to make time for yourself and find a positive work life balance. Taking a gap year will help to avoid burnout and you can return to your job (or find a new one) more fulfilled.
6. Learn a new language
Learning a new language is both a personal and professional benefit. You will get the opportunity to express yourself to more people around the world and bring in a new skill to your career.
7. Reflect on what is important in life
A gap year will open your eyes to what’s truly important in life. We often get caught up with who has the most money, the most stuff, and the bigger house. It is eye-opening to discover what others value and prioritize and it may make you reflect on what really is important in life.
Jobs will come and go but a long term experience like a gap year where you explore new places, meet new people, and experience other cultures is maybe once in a lifetime. The people you meet along the way will impact your life and you will learn so much about them and more importantly, about yourself.
The Best Countries to Live in for Your Adult Gap Year
Trying to decide which countries to do your gap year in is probably the hardest part! There are so many options that offer different experiences. Some of the best ranked countries to take a gap year in your 30s and above are:
One of the best gap year options is Australia. Depending on your age and what country you’re from you may qualify for a working holiday visa. But if not you can travel on a tourist visa and explore the unique nature and landscapes down-under. One downside is Australia can be expensive if you’re looking to stay here long-term.
Offers working holiday visas similar to Australia (nationality and age restrictions apply). It is easy to find work and it’s easy to work remotely. NZ is much smaller than Australia and you could easily see the whole country on your gap year and of course, pop over to Australia for a little while.
One of the most popular gap year destinations in Europe, France is remote work friendly, has beautiful cities and countryside and is centrally located in Europe that allows for easy and cheap travel to other European countries. It is also a perfect opportunity to learn the language of love.
A tropical paradise with large biodiversity and budget friendly, this small central American country is ideal for nature lovers. It is remote work friendly, budget friendly, and you’ll get the perfect opportunity to learn some Spanish.
Mexico has risen in popularity for travelers and expats for very good reasons. Cost of living is less than half than in the US, the people are friendly and the food is incredible. It’s another great opportunity to learn Spanish but it’s also friendly to native English speakers. With Mexico’s large size, you can easily spend your gap year here exploring the entire country.
Just next to France if you need a warmer and more budget friendly option, Spain is a very affordable gap year country that offers so much fun and diversity. Immerse yourself in Castilian Spanish, the culinary scene, and history.
Explore Thailand (and a lot of Southeast Asia) during this budget friendly gap year. Thailand is the most visited country in this region for a good reason: very affordable, great food, and tropical climate.
Indonesia is a massive archipelago that is budget friendly and ideal for the adventurous nature lovers. Volunteer, work, or adventure travel around the islands and see its impeccable landscape. You’ll meet a lot of foreigners and backpackers on your adventures here.
All of these countries are fantastic options for an adult gap year. They provide travelers with affordability, friendly environments, and diversity. Of course, if several countries interest you, explore them! Gap years often consist of exploring more than one country or continent.
Regardless of age, taking an adult gap year can be one of the most memorable experiences you will have. Eat, drink, work, socialize, get out of your comfort zone and get a taste of what it is really like in other parts of the world. Travel is transformative and an adult gap year will positively impact your life.