Imagine taking a year to volunteer abroad on a conservation project or to build houses for the poor. Or you may wish to share the skills you've learned with others or learn a new skill yourself...
Gap years are not just for school leavers. You can take one at any age.
Some companies even have sabbatical programs that encourage staff to take time out of their jobs to further their education, travel or find other ways to increase their value.
There are so many possibilities!
Choose your own adventure
What will it be? Conservation project, learning, teaching or even just taking off on a great adventure?
Once you’ve decided what to do with your gap year, it’s then a matter of research. Plenty of companies, such as Gap Work and GVI Australia, focus on providing gap year experiences, or you can plan it yourself.
Be prepared to travel
No matter what you decide to do, usually your gap year will involve at least some travel.
A real benefit of being free of the shackles of employment is that you will be able to spend time exploring your location.
There will be time to find the spots only the locals know or take those side trips to special out-of-the-way places.
You also may have the opportunity to do something a little more daring than relaxing in a resort, be it bungee jumping, sailing or trekking in the Himalayas.
Do something good for others
Do you want to give something back?
You could choose to do this overseas in disadvantaged areas, where you can work alongside local people to improve the quality of their lives.
This can be a truly rewarding experience.
Taking part in conservation projects, teaching and building or working at orphanages are other popular options, but there are many more things you can do. It’s just a matter of choice.
Add to your skills
Broadening your education is another way to get the most out of your gap year.
You can combine travel and study by choosing courses offered abroad, like learning a language or teaching English. Or start a post-graduate course that may be more in line with your intended future career. Another thought is to expand your technical and practical knowledge like enhancing your culinary skills through Le Cordon Bleu.
Make it happen
Once you’ve decided what you want to do—and when you'd be able to take time out—put a savings plan in place and explore your options for funding your break. Consider how your money could be put to work while you take time off, and how you’ll create an income when you return.
If taking a whole year off doesn't seem possible at the moment, consider taking a week or even a month instead. And in the meantime, work towards saving a lump sum that could help you take more time off down the track. We can help you save money with budgeting tips to keep costs down.
And speak with a financial adviser too—that way you can work towards making your gap year a reality!