Big news: At 30 years old, I’m about to be a mature age student at university here in Australia!
This will be my first time at uni. After I finished high school back in 2006, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I went on to do further studies in Graphic Design at a technical college because it was the only subject I was somewhat interested in. After my 2-year course, I was handed a Diploma and a small selection of mediocre job opportunities.
It wasn’t until 5 years later, over the Aussie summer of 2013/2014, that I actually took a break. A proper break. Rob and I ventured off to wintery Europe for 3 months of backpacking with no work and no commitments – just some money in our savings account and a loose itinerary to follow.
This time off gave me the courage and space for creativity that led me down my current path. Our travels during this break inspired me to start a travel blog, which eventually led me to freelance as a travel writer and pursue a career in content marketing. Now that I finally have a career idea that inspires me, I can pick a relevant University Degree that will help me get the skills I need.
A gap year, career break, or sabbatical is incredibly valuable in that it offers you the chance to explore your options without the pressure to make a decision. If you’re unsure about what the future holds and aren’t sure what you should be doing next, I highly recommend taking some time off to experience some things that aren’t related to studies or work. You never know what you will discover. Here are some unforgettable gap year ideas for you to try!
Obviously, travel is going to be my number one suggestion for a gap year! Even if you don’t have much money, it’s totally possible to travel even when you’re broke. Take a long trip, like I did when I backpacked around Europe for 3 months, and take time to discover other cultures, make new friends, and explore different places.
I truly believe that every cent you spend on travel is one well spent. The memories you create and the experiences that you have while abroad are truly priceless. There’s also no better time to do this kind of trip than before you get settled into studies or when you’re in-between careers. Take full advantage of this time to travel the world!
2. Work or volunteer abroad
Using your gap year to work or volunteer overseas is an easy way to live in a foreign destination for cheap (or free!) in exchange for a few hours of work per day. Platforms like Worldpackers allow you to search for work/volunteer abroad opportunities, which are perfect for people who want to experience long-term travel without spending loads of money.
You can choose between work exchange, eco programs, or social impact programs. How about teaching yoga and meditation in Spain? Or running accommodations at a winery in Tuscany? Or feeding baby sea turtles at a retreat in Honduras? All of these sound great to me!
To join Worldpackers, just sign up and pay the small annual fee (get a $10 discount by using the promo code ‘GLOBETRAVELLED‘). Once you’re a member you can do as many trips as you like within a year! Take your pick of opportunity and get packing.
3. Have amazing experiences
A gap year is well spent if you do all of the things that wouldn’t be possible while you’re studying or working. Take full advantage of your break by packing in some amazing experiences!
What are the things you’ve always dreamed of doing? Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Skydiving over New Zealand? Partying at the full moon party in Thailand? Watching the New Year fireworks in Prague? (I actually did all of those things in my 20s!). Make a list of experiences you want to have and tick them off one by one throughout your break.
4. Follow your passions
A gap year is not about being practical and planning for your future. As sensible as that option may sound, the point of taking time off is so that you can discover yourself and have a good time. A great way to use this time for self-improvement is to follow your passions.
So how do you follow your passions? It’s pretty easy, actually. Just ask yourself what would you do with your time if you had nothing else that you had to do. Would you build something? Start cooking fancy meals? Be creative or artistic? Visit certain people? Do hikes through the mountains? Whatever your hobbies are, embrace them! You never know where those passions might take you.
When I started blogging after my trip to Europe, I was doing it as a passion project. There was no goal in mind except to creatively share my stories and photos with others on the internet. If I had never followed my passions, I would never have decided on the career goals that I’m working towards today!
5. Do something different
A gap year is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and do something different with your life. If you want to, take a part-time job, move to a new city, make new friends. Change up your routine for a bit to get out of those old habits and start some new ones.
Doing something different will help you introspect, which in turn can help you discover what it is that makes you happy.
*This post is sponsored by Worldpackers. Every opinion expressed on AGWT is an honest reflection of my values – I will only recommend products and services that I truly believe in.