The term “gap year” seems to be an evocative one. It carries with it a series of strong images and associations for many people. (Not least the idea that it is for young individuals about to embark on a university degree.) The term may have remained but the definition has largely altered. Gap years are now available to and popular with a wide range of individuals, couples and even families. There might be many reasons we want to take a break abroad. We may feel that work commitments have become monotonous or that we need to expand our mind and perspective. We may want to assist with initiatives that matter to us or contribute to a less fortunate community. We may not even have a specific goal in mind, but feel that time in a new environment is what we need to refresh and revitalize us. Whatever your motive, with a few careful considerations and a bit of forward planning, you can find a gap year for you.
Consider Your Goals
The goals of a gap year are perhaps one of the most important initial factors to consider. If we simply want to unwind, then a long holiday seems a more appropriate term. But if there is a deeper desire to refresh and reconsider our life, for example, or truly broaden our experiences then this is a true goal. Relaxation can certainly be an additional goal. But as gap years often include a degree of hardship or expense, it is unlikely to be our only consideration. Do we want to feel we have contributed to something worthwhile, for example? Do we want to live somewhere almost as a native before we consider moving there full-time? Do we feel like our life and job has lost momentum and we feel we could offer more abroad? Consider your goals and reasons carefully. Be honest with both yourself and others. Don’t be tempted to pick something grand or philanthropic if it is not sincere. Equally, if you know you would become bored or unsatisfied with simple relaxation, ensure you do something that matters to you. Companies like thandaisland.com and Green Peace devote themselves to conservation, for example. The Red Cross and the UN work with shattered communities. Identify a passion or area of concern for you and explore your options thoroughly.
Consider Your Current Commitments
Work and family commitments are often the biggest consideration for a gap year later in life. Consider whether you intend to be in a position to quit your job or whether you have the intention to return. Discuss your plans and thoughts with your boss and in plenty time. Don’t be tempted to leave plans until the last minute or you could be in for disappointment. Many bosses are supportive and collaborative when it comes to organizing time away. Especially if you might return with new skills and perspective! They may have experience with other employees doing something similar or even connections abroad that you can use. In terms of family commitments, it can be a bit daunting to consider travelling with a family. But with determination and planning, it is doable and can be incredibly enjoyable! Research advice thoroughly and check accommodation to ensure your needs can be met. With a bit of flexibility and resilience, you and your family can take the trip of a lifetime!