Gap Year for Grown-Ups

More and more middle age people are taking a “gap year for grown-ups”.

What is a gap year? Also known as a sabbatical year, a gap year is typically a year-long break abroad for young people pursuing avenues like academic study, volunteer work abroad, language study, or perhaps a meaningful vocation.

However, an old survey by STA Travel of 800 Australians aged 18 to 28 found that GAP years are no longer the domain of school leavers, with most Australians postponing extended overseas travel until mid-career.

They found only 40 per cent of young Australians will take a year-long break after school, compared with 60 per cent who take time out later in life.

STA Travel product manager Leanne Innes said, “A lot of people are moving away from straight holidaying towards gaining life experience…People are now interested in making a difference and doing some volunteering as part of their holiday.”

Those quotes, which are over 10 years old, are perhaps even more relevant today as increasing numbers of middle age people from around the world continue to take a gap year for grown-ups.

At the Financial Times reports, grown-up gap years have become popular with mid-career professionals, including those who are learning travel with young children in tow.

What are some of the things they do on a gap year for grown-ups?

Teaching English abroad, study Spanish in Latin America, or volunteer in Vietnam where they first visited as a soldier 45 years ago.

Others like Nick Moore, a managing director at a City investment bank, sign up for yacht races. He took part in the Clipper Round the World yacht race. He took a break from work for a year, spending a chunk of his savings to refresh and rejuvenate himself.

“I suddenly thought, why not?” says Mr Moore, 44, speaking to the FT near the offices of DVB Bank, where he leases aircraft. “I was just looking for something else in my life — something else to do.” A few years later, Mr Moore took more time out, this time to row across the Atlantic.

There are many things to consider when you are on a gap year for grown-ups, now that you are not a 20 year old student any longer.

On your trip you will have to still pay bills like a mortgage, road-school your children, manage investments, and even have someone bring in your mail at home.

Then there’s the business of returning home after the trip. Will your job still be there are your gap year for grown-ups? Will you need to find a new company or a new position in the same company? Will you need to maintain or upgrade aby skills while abroad?

Read more on the Financial Times article on gap year for grown-ups to find out how you can manage your trip abroad.