Why it’s never too late for a grown up gap year

I’ve always found it funny how family and friends don’t think twice about waving you off at the airport for a gap year when you’re fresh out of school. They don’t question your skills, the fact you can’t budget or how you’ve never travelled unsupervised before.

Yet why is it such a big deal to do it when you’re older? Surely a gap year when you’re older means you’re more mature, you have a little more money in the bank and (hopefully) a lot more common sense. Although there is definitely no right or wrong age to see the world, if I had taken a gap year at 18 I would likely have spent all my travel funds on beer and been home within a month.

Instead, I waited. It was unconventional and certainly raised more eyebrows than it would’ve if I’d done it sooner, but for me, it was the best decision I ever made.

Life is too precious to be wishing it away for retirement when we’ll have the “time” to travel. Now more than ever, we have the time to plan, time to find your perfect host and to research your dream destinations so why not use this time to plan your grown up gap year? 

If you’re on the fence, if you’re worried about people’s reactions, if you simply need a polite push in the direction of Departures then, this is the post for you!
Below are the reasons many people put off planning a grown up gap year, so hopefully it persuades you to take that first step!

view from plane with passport travel adventure

“I have too many commitments”

This is probably one of the main reasons why many people go on a gap year when they’re younger – less commitments. They go during that sweet spot after school, before they’ve set foot on the career ladder or college. A gap year when you’re older may involve a few more goodbyes – whether it’s to bosses, landlords or pay checks.

However, with more commitments to say goodbye to that can only be a good thing. For me, it meant I relished the opportunity more and appreciated every single minute because I’d given up so much to make it happen.

travel and workaway group sit around porch smiling drinks

“I don’t have time”

Grown up gap years not only allow you to see new places and meet new people but give you the number one thing money cannot buy – time. As we get older, we find we have less and less of it. We get tangled in commitments and our time is swallowed up by bosses instead of bucket lists.

Yet on a gap year, suddenly you have time to take a cooking course in Tuscany, practise French during a ski season in the Swiss Alps or finally fulfil your dream of Olive farming in Crete. You can sleep in or watch the sunrise. Dance until the sun comes up and switch off your alarm.

Until you embrace the wanderlust cravings, you’ll always be plagued by “What Ifs?” and if there is one thing you should not have time for, it’s “what if”...

skydiving fun Argentina

“I’m scared to quit my job”

Although the language barriers, 13 hour bus trips and homesickness can be tough at times, nothing is more difficult than getting up on a Monday morning for a job you don’t enjoy. We understand handing in your resignation can seem terrifying but you’ll likely realise your boss will respect your choice asyou’ll learn far more skills from a grown up gap year than you ever could from yet more months in front of a screen.

Not only will it show ambition, but it shows your willingness to put yourself out there. By escaping the ordinary you will truly test your comfort zone and show current (and potential) employers your ability to take risks instead of accepting routine

Undoubtedly, not all employers will be as understanding. However, the skills you will gain, people you will meet and knowledge you will learn will push you miles ahead of other candidates should your boss close the door on your way out.

Don’t forget, Workaway can be the perfect stepping stone to discovering what your dream career might be, so If you want every day to feel like a Friday, forget your fears and get typing that resignation letter.

career break couple dragonfruit picking vietnam

“I won’t have enough money”

You maybe got your boss’s approval and are lucky enough friends and family agree with your travel plans but then there is the million dollar question of money. How do you fund a grown up gap year? As a self-confessed grown up, relying on the bank of mum and dad was never an option and it wasn’t as if I could abuse those student discount offers either.

However, what I quickly realised is that life on the road is in fact cheaper. Imagine a life without council tax, car insurance, rent or gym memberships? Think of how much money you’d save! When busses across Europe can cost less than a pint, ask yourself what would you rather be spending money on? 

Not to mention that travelling on a budget can actually make a more memorable trip  - forcing you to think outside the box and experience off the beaten track instead of the expensive tourist hotspots. 

train ride Sri Lanka gap year travel

“I’m too old to be a backpacker”

For years I associated gap years with hostels, and for this reason kept imagining I’d be too old for the backpacker lifestyle. Surely hostels are reserved for the young who want to party ‘til sunrise? 

I soon realised two things: 

1. hostels are actually far more diverse and...

2. you don’t have to stay in a hostel just because you’re on a gap year.

Hostels are a wonderful mixing pot of backpackers young and old  - each one with a different motivation for their journey yet a common appreciation for adventure.

However, as you get older, you also recognise the power of a good night’s sleep, the joy in clean bathrooms and the pain of bunk beds when you need a pee in the middle of the night. Which is why, during my grown up gap year I can count on one hand the number of hostels I stayed in. This is because I felt Workaway allowed me to stay with more like minded people and a home away from home

With Workaway, the accommodation options are endless – from homestays in cities to camping off grid. You can share rooms with others or have an entire house all to yourself. Best of all, you can get to know your host a little before you go to decide if your new roomie will be a good fit. Backpackers are all nationalities, backgrounds and ages so Workaway allows you to find the perfect people to share this adventure (or bunk bed) with. 

Morocco meal cultural exchange group gap year experience

“What will people think?”

As Steve Jobs once wisely said, “Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown your inner voice”. If your inner voice is shouting to get your backpack on, then there is only one way to hit the mute button: Book. The. Trip.

If the only thing holding you back is fear of other people’s reactions then remember, their opinions are not fact. What is fact, is that you’ll soon realise those who matter most to you are the ones who won’t mind you following your dreams.

Sometimes it can be our parents who struggle to accept a grown up gap year. They question, why give up on a career? Why are we running away from commitments? Why would we want a gap on our CV? However, they will soon watch you flourish as you quit your day job for your daydream which will prove far more beneficial than another year behind a desk.

grown up gap year couple travel explore nature waterfall

You won’t regret it

According to research, the most common regret of all is “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” Loved ones and the internet sure love to share opinions, but a gap year at any age helps you discover who you are without others telling you who you are.

If this year has taught us anything it’s that we cannot predict what’s round the corner so instead of counting down the days until you retire, it’s time to make the days count. It’s never too late to learn a new skill, start a new adventure, meet new people and kiss your comfort zone goodbye.  

As although there are seven days in the week, “some day” isn’t one of them.

female solo traveller admire Thailand field temple backdrop
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About Lauren

Growing up in a small coastal village in Scotland inspired Lauren to seek adventure and challenge the norm. Armed with just her backpack and trusty travel companion Darren, she quit her day job to liv... show more...

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