Traditionally, gap years were just reserved for those graduating from high school or university. Fortunately, that is changing and it’s now more common than ever for people of any age to pop their lives on hold temporarily and take a gap year. I personally think that taking a gap year when you are 30 (or thereabouts) is far better than taking one a decade earlier.
READ MORE: Is 30 too old to take a gap year? (opens in new tab)
5 reasons why you should take a gap year at 30 (and beyond)
1. You have more money
Chances are, by 30, you’ve been working for coming up to a decade. This probably means that you have a higher income than someone fresh out of study, and hopefully a savings pot to match.
The beauty of travelling on a gap year with a bit more money behind you is that you don’t have to compromise on where you spend it. You’ll be able to enjoy any excursions you want to go on, whilst some of the younger set will be having to decide which few they can afford with their limited budget. You’ll be deep sea scuba diving with sharks, and they’ll be hoping to spot some fish with a mask at the shoreline. When it comes to dining out – you’ll enjoy tasting local delicacies in restaurants, whilst they are eating dry cornflakes out of the box in the hostel dorm room.
I didn’t spend recklessly, but having a healthy savings account from all my years of work meant that I was able to do everything I wanted to do whilst I was away – and all without worry.
2. You will almost certainly get more out of it
If I had taken a gap year at 18, 19, 20, or 21, I would have spent my entire time partying. The only “culture” I would have immersed myself in would have been the local bar scene. Waiting to take a gap year at 30, meant that I was less interested in drinking, and more interested in exploring new countries. My days weren’t wasted nursing a hangover, and my nights weren’t spent drinking island rum ’til the small hours (OK, maybe a few nights).
I learnt so much more about the countries I visited and their people/history/culture than I ever would have if I hadn’t waited to 30 to take a gap year.
3. You can make some new, like-minded friends
Let’s be real here. Your early 30s are the time when you and your friends will start to follow completely different life paths, and when you’ll notice the biggest changes to friendships. A huge number of your friends will start to have babies, and with that, their priorities will shift. If you’re not ready to start a family, you’ll find yourself a little lost as to how you fit in with your old friends now.
Rather than trying to change yourself to fit into a life stage that you’re not ready for yet, go and find some friends who are at the same stage as you. The people you meet on your travels will be people just like you. Those with a sense of adventure who wanted to get out and see the world rather than stay home. They’ll feel like an instant family, and they’ll remind you that there’s still a life beyond having babies.
4. You need the break
Gone are the days when people get a job at 16 and then just, do it forever. By 30, chances are that you’re starting to feel a little burnt out from a decade of work and you need a break. You have around 40 years of work left ahead of you before retirement age. Take a break. There is absolutely no rush to get to the top of the career ladder. In fact, it’ll be far easier to take a career break now before you hit the dizzying heights and finding time for that break becomes more complicated.
Don’t forget, if you take one year out at aged 30, you’ll still only be 31 when you go back to work. What’s a year?
5. You’re still young and able
A common narrative I hear is that people will wait until they retire to travel. At the risk of sounding morbid, there is no promise that you’re making it to retirement. And even if you do make it, there’s no promise you’ll be fit and able to travel extensively. Heck, I’m tired now. I can’t imagine how tired I’ll be in another 35-40 years.
We have a finite amount of time on this Earth and to delay the things that bring you joy is to rob yourself of a life fully lived.
Why wait until “one day” to do the thing? Do the thing now. There is no better time.
- READ MORE: Changing Friendships in Your 30s
- READ MORE: Torschlusspanik: The Fear of Running out of Time
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