For some people, like me, they didn’t have the opportunity to take a gap year when students hop onto the travel train instead of career train. I didn’t have the funds to pursue this and needed a job. I felt at the time that I was missing out of this right of passage to spread my wings and satisfy my taste for adventure. Little did I know that 5 years later I would get that opportunity to take a gap year in my late 20s. I never thought that you could really take a year off when you’re starting your career, but why the hell not?! I was given the ideal situation to take a career break; time to re-set my life while travelling. Life is too short to let anything or anyone (especially yourself) hold you back!
5 Benefits of a Gap Year in your Late 20s
1. You actually have money!
Most people’s traditional gap years are funded by their parents, but many don’t have this opportunity. But once you’ve worked and saved money, you can then spend your money exactly the way you want to! And if you’ve been good with your savings you can have a very comfortable year of travel without slumming it. Now this isn’t to say that I was shelling out the big bucks to fly business class and stay in 5 star hotels, I was very frugal without compromising my comfort. I had that safety net if anything went wrong or if I wanted to spoil myself occasionally. Ah the simple, restorative comforts of having your own private room for a night! I had flexibility of not having to travel in one area for months to make the most of my money. I could just up and leave without depleting my account.
2. You are more Confident
Each person is different but I can definitely say that I was more confident at 27 than at 21. I embarked on my gap year as a solo expedition, which would have terrified me before but now I felt strong and independent enough.Confidence allowed me to make the best decisions for myself and not need others to feel secure and have fun.I was able to walk into a bar or hostel without feeling intimidated and could easily walk up to strangers. You also stop caring about what people think of you; comfortably saying ‘you’re too old for this shit’ and retiring to your bed early to watch grey’s anatomy with a cup of tea.
3. You are Wiser?
I like to think I keep getting wiser through life experience! My maturity and wisdom was useful in situations that needed me to keep my cool and think on my feet. This would often happen because most of my trips were completely unplanned. Not that having a printed itinerary would do you any good when you’re stranded outside your hostel in the middle of the night because the receptionist fell into a coma-like sleep! But being able to logically think through a problem definitely has it’s value when you’re travelling solo. I still made mistakes but I knew not to dwell on them and just move on and learn from them. Never let a mistake or bad experience ruin your trip, don’t let it happen to you again and move on. Just keep swimming!
4. You are not Alone
I was surprised to meet many people my age or older, also taking career breaks to re-orientate their life course. I was all set to be surrounded by younglings and try to keep up with their partying, instead I had to keep up with 30+ year olds who actually partied harder but actually made sure that you made it home safe! Meeting people in the same life stage as me opened my eyes and reaffirmed my decision about taking this break. It also helped me consider my future options by figuring out what makes me happy and fulfilled. Talking to people who have had different life experiences than you is one of the most valuable benefit of travelling. Hostels expose you to far more people from all walks of life, so never feel that you’re too old to stay in a hostel, it will be the best decision you make.
5. You will be more Employable
It is becoming more acceptable for people to take gap years later in life and companies can see the benefits. A lot of companies have started to offer ‘Enrichment Leave’ to their employees. They can re-set their lives, gain valuable skills and experiences, then come back to the company with renewed vigour. When applying for a new job after your gap year you are able to highlight all your transferable skills gained from travelling; quick thinking, working with a budget, communication, street savvy and an open-mind. Emphasise that you have taken a whole year to figure out what you want, therefore applying to this job is not out of necessity but out of a strong desire.
This list is by no means exhaustive but it picks up on the biggest benefits that I found really shaped my experience. I’m hoping that this will make you look at your life and if you are not 100% happy, change it! You are never too old to change your life, go out and live it! Clichés are Awesome!