A gap year is mostly used to describe a period taken by students to do some traveling, usually in between high school, and college. However, while it certainly can be easy to take a gap year when you’re young, this is something you can do at any age.
Why would you want to step off the educational or career track that you’re on to travel the world? This might be a time when the phrase attributed to early climbers of Mt. Everest, “because it is there”, is not inappropriate. It’s worthwhile to see the world or perhaps just more of your corner of it because the world is an interesting and amazing place. Traveling through it can reduce your stress levels and expand your horizons, it might even set you off on a different career path. It may not be formal education, but it’s hugely educational as well.
Your Financial Obligations
One of the advantages of doing this when you’re 18 is that you probably have no financial obligations. At any other time in your life after that, it’s difficult to make that same claim, but there are certainly things you can do to manage those obligations. You don’t have to be debt-free before you leave, but you do need to figure out how you’ll keep paying any existing bills.
If you own a home, you can rent it out or even sell it. You could sell your car as well You may want to work on reducing or refinancing other debts before you set off. Keeping up with your student loans may feel like a big barrier to taking off, but you might be able to change the terms of repayment. You can review a guide that will explain whether you are eligible to refinance student loans without a cosigner before you make your decision.
Your Personal Obligations
You can’t drag your family halfway around the world or even across the state if they’re not willing to go. At the same time, having a family does not have to be a barrier to taking a gap year for yourself. Families have done this before, and children often benefit from the experience of different cultures and languages.
You might even be able to enroll them in a foreign school for a time. Be realistic about what you can expect of people. This might be easier if your kids are young as teens may not be willing to be uprooted from their friends and lives. Another consideration is the health and well-being of your parents; if you are involved in their day-to-day care, this might be something to postpone.
Working on the Road
Whether you’re traveling solo or with your family, you don’t want to end up in an emergency that’s compounded by the fact that you have no flexibility in your budget. Having some savings is good, but you can also work while you’re on the road. This could mean a remote job, or it could mean taking a job in another country. Teaching English is one of the traditional routes to overseas employment, but you might also be transferred by your existing company to a branch in another country. It’s not quite the footloose adventure of an 18-year-old’s gap year, but it’s still an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture.