We get asked a lot – How can I take an Adult Gap Year? It’s been a few years since Rebecca and I quit our jobs to take a self funded sabbatical. Quitting toxic jobs, traveling for months, and moving across the country was a dream come true. During that time we focused on self improvement and started this business to pursue our passion of helping others. Not knowing at the time that we would be helping others follow in our footsteps.
What is an Adult Gap Year?
Who takes Adult Gap Years
The idea of a gap year isn’t a new thing. Gap years are popular for high school graduates, who instead of going straight to college they take a year to figure out what they want to do next in life. They pick up work or travel to gain real life experience. Many view it as a time for them to learn more about who they are and what they want their future to look like.
But it hasn’t always just been college age kids who take an intentional break from their careers. Tenured college professors take a gap year, they just call it a sabbatical. This time off is meant to encourage creativity and spend time doing research. When they are spending all of their time teaching, they are unable to grow in their field of study. This time off encourages these professors to rejuvenate and work on their passion projects, researching, writing books, and return ready to teach with a new energy.
Why people don’t take their vacation time…much less a full gap year.
The biggest hurdle for most people is monetary. In general the U.S. has far less vacation time than other countries. But even the vacation time provided to most employees is left unused. There are a lot of reasons for why this is. But in our experience and surveying clients, friends and family it almost always comes down to money.
Why an adult gap year?
No one ever says they wish they spent more time at work. We say that we wish we spent more time with family and friends, that we had the chance to travel more, to write that book or start that business. Taking a year off gives you the opportunity to do these things and to live a life full of memories, not just dreams.
Life is a Gift
An adult gap year is giving yourself the opportunity to step away from the “real world” and spend time pursuing your passions. We view it as a mini retirement, but you’re younger and able to do far more than when you’re 65 or older. Life is short and you only get one – have a plan that lets you enjoy it to the fullest!
Investing in Yourself
Life is complicated and with age comes more responsibilities. Over time it becomes harder and harder to carve out time for personal development and growth. But there’s power in taking time off to slow down, look inward, and figure out what’s important to you. So much in fact that we view it as an investment in yourself.
When we were planning our year off we did not anticipate that we would grow and learn as much as we did. In fact, through that experience we are confident that we learned more by taking an “Adult Gap Year” than in an any single year in the workforce. Taking an adult gap year makes you be a better you. Approximately 37% better, to be precise (more on that later). Which is why I am helping other people to do the same.
3 Elements of an excellent Adult Gap Year
You don’t just want to take time off without a purpose. You want a fulfilling Adult Gap Year that will spur personal growth and give you memories to last a lifetime! To do that you need to travel, prioritize personal development, and spend extra time nurturing relationships.
Travel and Adventure
Travel is so much more than simply going to see new things. When we travel, we go to experience and learn about a different culture, people and landscapes. These experiences help you grow as a person. You become more creative, open minded, and give you a new broader understanding of the world and the different people living in it.
The great thing is, you don’t have to leave the country to do all of this. Sure, you could travel the world and be immersed in dramatically different cultures. But you can also have an amazing year exploring right here in the United States where we have an extremely varied landscape and diverse cultures and amazing experiences throughout the many regions. Experiencing bucket list things like seeing a Broadway show in NYC or climbing a glaciated volcano in Washington.
The point is doing and seeing things you’ve always wanted to, without waiting until you’re 65!
Self – Education and Personal Growth
This is one of our favorite benefits of taking a year to yourself. During a year you have the potential to learn new things, grow your skill set, and find time to reflect and meditate on creating the life you want. With just a little effort everyday, you will receive massive dividends at the end of a year.
Consider the three book rule. The three book rule states that by reading three books on a single topic you become an expert on the subject matter. Imagine the potential if you dedicated an entire year to self education and become an expert on a topic you are passionate about.
But you shouldn’t stop there – We also suggest taking online courses, focusing on your fitness, meditating, journaling and focusing on learning, growing and becoming a healthier, well-rounded version of yourself.
Nurture Personal Relationships
We’ve all heard stories of people getting to the end of their life only to regret not spending enough time with the people they love. So what steps are you taking to make sure that isn’t how your life ends up?
During an Adult Gap Year we highly encourage taking the time to nurture and build stronger relationships with those you love. By removing the constant distractions of being plugged into work, you can be more present in each moment and take as much time as you want to visit family and friends, and create memories.
Time with family and friends is priceless, so go on that trip together, do something new, have conversations that matter, learn more about each other, you won’t regret it.
You don’t have to choose…
A year is a long time, and there’s no reason to limit yourself. What makes you happiest, helps you recharge, and become a better person is most important. However you choose to spend your Adult Gap Year it can help you become more creative, feel happier, and help you recharge so you can come back to your career even better than before.
How to take an Adult Gap Year
Now that you’re sold on the idea…let’s talk about what it really takes to plan for an adult gap year.
But before we go too deep into the details we want to remind you that this is a process, so take it one step at a time. Each step will take you months. That’s OK. It’s still perfectly worth it!
Save an Emergency Fund
Having an Emergency Fund might seem obvious – but it’s important that you keep it separate from your travel fund. In our professional opinion you don’t need a separate savings account. But you do need to save in addition to your Emergency Fund and not use that money for travel expenses.
Pay off Debt
After you’ve saved an Emergency Fund we suggest paying off expensive debts helps you prepare for an Adult Gap Year. This is incredibly helpful because it lowers the expenses you need to cover while you travel. This is incredibly helpful when you’re not earning an income and means you don’t have to save as much money for your gap year.
Plan your Adult Gap Year
This is the fun part! While you’re working on establishing your emergency fund and paying down some debts, it’s time to start planning your gap year!
Decide most importantly what you want to get out of this experience. Not only how much fun you want to have – but who do you want to be at the end of this? Decide what you’re really looking to gain from this experience and let that guide you as you plan your Adult Gap Year!
Set a Travel Fund Goal
To do this you will need to first determine how much money you need to save. This will depend heavily on the type of adult gap year you plan to take plus your normal living expenses. This amount should not only include all travel expenses, but also things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, food, gas, water, all of your standard expenses.
If we’re starting to lose you and you’re feeling like it’s hopeless – trust us it’s not! We know because we did it. So just hang with us…
Quit your Job
Once you have everything planned it’s time to pull the plug on your job.
There is definitely a right and a wrong way to do this. Many places now days you may even be able to negotiate returning to your position if you truly like what you do. The choice is completely up to you! We definitely don’t recommend burning any bridges or quitting your job pre-maturely. Make sure that you fully understand your financial plan for the year ahead and that you are well prepared before taking this step. The last thing you want to have to do is end your Adult Gap Year early.
Let us know in the comments below how you would spend your time during an adult gap year.