Parting ways with a steady job, friends, family and a neighbourhood you know like the back of your hand can be daunting, potentially more so as you take on greater responsibilities later in life.
Despite this, figures show a third of Aussie adults have taken a sabbatical or extended career break to go travelling at one point, with 61% choosing to do so in their 30s or later.1
If taking a gap year is something that’s crossed your mind more than once, we look at some of the common misconceptions worth noting before you say I do, or I don’t.
Debunking the myths
1. You need to be fresh out of school
Traditionally, a gap year was considered something you might do when you leave school, whereas today people are taking breaks in between jobs and even in the midst of their working careers.
Just look at the internet. Articles and blogs about grown-up gap years are everywhere, with many emphasising that the key ingredient to an extended break is simply taking constructive timeout.
The other thing many older gap year participants reveal is that being a little older has given them advantages, such as more money, better earnings potential, more freedom and greater maturity.2
2. You’ll be restricted to what you can do
Whether your plan is to travel, volunteer, work abroad, or all three, depending on your situation, you can really go anywhere and for any length of time—the word ‘year’ in gap year is loosely used.
The other great thing is, whether it's a humanitarian or wildlife project in Africa, teaching students in Japan, studying in France, learning Spanish in Cuba—the sky’s the limit.
3. Accommodation will be iffy
Backpacking and sharing rooms could be something you’re looking forward to, or wanting to avoid. Either way, look into the type of travellers that various places attract and the number of people you may be bunking with.
Depending on your budget, you may have other options. House sitting, for example, is one that might be on the cards. Check out ideas in our article 7 trips where you’ll pay next to nothing for accommodation.
4. You’ll be kissing your career good bye
Every job is different, but more employers these days try to accommodate for work-life balance to retain good employees, which may include allowing people to take career breaks and sabbaticals.
Talk to your employer about your plans and length of time you’d like to take off. If you’re able to broaden your skillset, increase your value within the business and build contacts abroad, it could also prove beneficial for existing and future job opportunities.
5. You’re not doing things people your age should be
If your friends are pursuing goals that are different to your own, that’s ok. People’s pursuits and dreams are seldom the same.
The main thing to think about when you’re considering big life changes is what’s important to you.
If you’ve been dreaming about wildly diverse countries, cultures, landscapes and experiences for as long as you can remember, leaving the Joneses behind may be the thing for you.
6. It’s hard to plan for financially
If you’re not planning to work while you’re away and you have investments at home, you may also want to see how these could work for you while you’re gone.
Consider talking to your adviser and if you don’t have one, call us on 131 267 or use our find an adviser tool.
We look at the average super balances for different age groups in Australia so you can see whether you’re on track with your super.