Contemplating a gap year later in life?

Even in your 30s, 40s and 50s, a sabbatical or extended career break can be a great way to learn skills and gain valuable life experience.

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.

Like most things, research will play a big part and companies such as Gap Work and GVI Australia, which focus on providing gap year experiences, may have some tips and ideas worth exploring.

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

Put a budget and savings plan in place and begin mapping out what you’d like to do and how long you’d like to go for. Researching and reading the fine print will go a long way.

It’s also worth ensuring you’re across any payments that may be due, that your financial providers have your up-to-date details and that you’re on top of your super.

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.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.