When in the 90s life in the global North became more stressful and traveling abroad became ever cheaper, the idea of just leaving the rat race, at least for a while, to “live your dreams” became very appealing. How to fill in this time? Of course, you can just partee and bungee your way around…
One of the best decisions you can make mid-career is to take a break. At least, this is what people say after they have experienced a gap year. Awesome, amazing, eye-opening, horizon broadening are some of the adjectives used to describe one’s personal development during a gap year – and long after you’re back home.
Imagine all the stories you will be able to tell your children later. Imagine the wisdom you could gain by changing your perspective completely. Isn’t that worth a temporary decline in income (so you stick with that old clunker).
Gap years need to be organized – and a quick Google search will find you the best travel insurance, educate you about visa requirements, vaccinations, and safety issues. But the most important bit is to organize what happens after the gap year. Talk about it with your current employer, and don’t forget to put something on paper, even if your mind is already wandering. And talk long evenings with your partner. Of course, if he or she can join you, that would be ideal. But if not, make sure you arrange a visit at least every three months.
Ideas for gap year volunteering
First of all, realize that it’s entirely up to you. You can travel around the world, walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, climb the Mount Everest, travel to the South Pole on a tractor, or overlanding the Silk Road to Burma in a tiny car.
An IT professional from Hamburg decided in 2010 to take a motorcycle and travel down to Cape Town – supporting good Causes on his way. He arranged with his employer to take an official gap year and dubbed the journey “Social Way Down“. It became an amazing experience.
A gap year, especially when it’s used for volunteering travel, is a year won. Don’t let anyone talk the dream out of your head. It’s not a wasted year, and future employers (should you need to change your job) won’t frown when they see the “hole in your resume“.
So pack your bags and embrace that gap.