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Adult gap year: what is it and how can you plan one?

Friendsgiving - drinking wine

Ah gap years… we do love you. Normally associated with fresh-faced, fresh-out of school or uni young adults, and characterised as a transition period or a time to relax before the dreaded ‘real life’ kicks in, the adult gap year trip is just the perfect way to take a breather and do some travelling. 

But why should they get all the fun? If anyone needs a break it’s surely adults, right? So, if your 9-5 is getting you down, if you’re getting bored of the same old commute and same old sights, or if you just need some time to reconnect with yourself then why not plan an adult gap year?

You may be thinking: ‘how?’ or ‘when?’ or ‘with what time and money?’, but don’t worry we’ve got you and we’re here to help you plan the best career break of your life. So read on for all the adult gap year ideas and inspiration!

10 reasons why you should take a gap year… now

10 reasons why you should take a gap year… now

by Jaye Hannah Jun 25, 2020

Can I take a gap year as an adult?

Of course you can – there’s no age limit on travel – and it can mean anything you want! In fact, more and more adults are considering the option of taking a work-approved sabbatical for a few months or just setting themselves loose to get their fill of adventure! Some reasons to take one include: broadening the mind and self-discovery.

Maybe you want to embark on a journey before a major life event – new baby, new job – or maybe you want to mark a special occasion – celebrate a birthday landmark, have a super extravagant honeymoon. Whatever the reason (or maybe there’s no reason at all!) you 100% deserve an extended getaway at least once in your life. 

So, here’s how to take a gap year for those who don’t know where to start and for those who might need that little push. It’s never too late to spread your wings. 

Plan, plan, plan

As fun as this sounds (and it sounds terribly fun), you’ve got to realise that going on an adult gap year means putting your usual life on hold for an extended period of time. This isn’t a bad thing though! If anything, it can actually be quite brilliant. But there’s a few things to take into account. 

And of course you don’t actually have to do a full year out, but even travelling for a few months at a time can be a lot. It will be challenging but in the best of ways and we hope that you’ll learn some new things on your journey and discover some wonderful things about yourself and the world.

You’ve just got to plan.

Taking an adult gap year could be the best thing you can do for your career

Taking an adult gap year could be the best thing you can do for your career

by Jaye Hannah Oct 30, 2017

Construct the Itinerary

How long are you going to travel for? Are you planning on going away long term all in one go, or are you going to take breaks and divide and conquer? Either way, constructing your itinerary is one of the pillars to keeping your gap year organised. Though, a little spontaneous bohemian flair never hurt anyone…

Keeping to the same general area, one area at a time, can be quite a cost saver in the long run. Say you’re tackling South America, it makes sense to go country by country, border by border – you won’t have to pay for expensive flights and you can instead save by taking a train or a bus. 

Allow spontaneity in, allow for the wind to pick you up and place you wherever, but at least a loose plan is a good idea and it’ll stop you from panicking or accidentally ending up broke (but who hasn’t done that at least once, right?).

woman pointing to travel map

Keep a Routine

If there are any Virgos here, relax, you can keep your routine and stay organised. In fact, it’s probably best that you do! Your routine will have to take a new shape, but luckily you can keep it relatively similar. 

For example, if you’re a creative, bring your tools with you and keep your craft up. Take photographs, write poems and short stories, draw or paint landscapes. If you’re active then this is the perfect time to take some long hikes and get backpacking or cycling in the countryside. You can still spend your time doing the things you love, just with a slight change of scenery. 

Keeping small things like that the same will help you stay grounded in this experience, but some change is lovely and natural as well, so make sure to embrace what comes and goes.

20 easy budget travel tips for 2023

20 easy budget travel tips for 2023

Ginny Copestake
by Ginny Copestake Apr 24, 2023

Save up!

There are travel costs of course: you’ll want to take into account all your accommodation as well as transport (no brainer) – and these will likely be your biggest ones. But you need to keep food in mind, as well as keep an emergency fund for things like medical aid, new clothes or supplies, etc. (especially if you’re planning on travelling straight instead of taking breaks).

Unless you’re planning on selling your house or apartment and starting on a completely clean slate, you’ll have all your regular day to day costs as well. Rent, bills, upkeep, any insurance, loan repayments, as well as various subscriptions like Spotify and Netflix and all that. These costs need to come out of your travel budget as well. 

Whether you’re only leaving for a month or two or are planning to do the full year, we can’t lie: an adult gap year is a bit of a costly venture. That being said, nothing is impossible so long as you plan! So save up as much as you can beforehand.

How to get the time off work?

The easiest solution is of course to just quit! And, maybe for some that’s exactly the kind of freeing push needed to start completely and utterly fresh before taking on the world.

But this of course isn’t a possibility for everyone, so we need a more pragmatic approach. The second easiest solution is to ask your employer for time off. Depending on how long you’ve been working there for, many companies are happy to offer their employees a sabbatical: a few months of paid leave to do with as they please.

Talk to your boss about this and come to an agreement! Taking time off work to spend with yourself might honestly just be one of the best things you do for yourself and for your career.

Best Gap Year Ideas to Try This Year

Best Gap Year Ideas to Try This Year

Anna Vine
by Anna Vine Dec 21, 2020

What can you do on your adult gap year?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? ‘What can I do on my adult gap year?’ The answer is anything you damn well please!!!

This is time for YOU and no one else, so dust off your bucket list, break out that scratch-map a relative gave you one Christmas-past, pack your snazziest outfits, and hit the road. 

Fan of various mythologies and stories and academia? Why not travel to Greece or Japan or Boston? Craving adventure to get your stale blood pumping again? New Zealand, Austria, and Peru are calling your name. Bored of the everyday flavours? Treat your taste buds to dishes in Mexico, and France, and India

Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, now is the time! And if you’re not too keen on going completely solo, you can always count on Contiki to get you there and back safely and with lots of laughs and memories in between! Stack trips to make the most of your time abroad and flow seamlessly from one destination to another – booking a trip with us is the easiest way to see the whole world. Besides, we’re kind of famous when it comes to adult gap years…

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