Taking an adult gap year is fast becoming a trend for many millennials looking to take a career break, and see something of the world.
Whereas taking a gap year was once seen as a pre-university rite of passage (with everyone returning en masse, wearing *those* Thai fishing pants) these days, planning an adult gap year in your late-twenties or thirties is considered to be the done thing. You are older, maybe a bit more financially secure, and travelling as an adult means you'll inevitably be getting something very different from your overall gap year experience.
If you are thinking about taking an adult gap year however, there are some things you need to consider ahead of time. We spoke to professional travel advisors Topdeck about their top tips and tricks for planning an adult gap year, and how to get the most out of your trip.
1. Don't rule out group travel
Sure, you might be going it alone to connect with your inner self, but Topdeck tripleader Tamina Koehne-Drube suggests that travelling with other like-minded peeps shouldn't be ruled out:
'One of the best things about travelling is meeting new people. Even if you are planning on jet setting around the world solo Eat, Pray Love style, don’t rule out group trip offerings. You might have left your twenties behind you, but it’s never too late to meet new people, and group travel provides the opportunity to do just that. You’ll meet people you may never have come across in your day-to-day life, whilst also opening your eyes to new experiences and destinations.'
2. Try out a range of accommodation options
'Be open to trying out a range of accommodation options while you travel as these will add to your overall experience,' Tamina suggests. 'Don’t let films like The Inbetweeners prevent you from staying in a hostel! There are many hostel chains around the world that are more ‘flashpacky’ than ‘backpacky', so do your research and don't rule out a hostel stay.'
'Similarly, do not be afraid to try out the more quirky lodgings such as berber desert camps in Morrocco, sailing boats around Ibiza or cosy cabins in Switzerland.'
Once at your chosen spot, Tamina encourages to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
'The best way to gain an authentic experience of any city is by doing as the locals do. You’ve travelled the world to explore new things, so don’t be afraid to make friends and ask locals for some local foodie spots. In doing so, you’ll discover some great bars and restaurants offering local fare at reasonable prices.'
3. Factor in time to organise your travel injections
'One of the most boring and time consuming parts of travelling is scheduling in your travel vaccinations,' Tamina explained. 'You’d be surprised how many destinations will require proof of vaccination, so it’s worth taking time out to make an appointment with your local GP or nurse to discuss what you may need to immunise yourself against.'
'When you visit the doctor, have a clear idea of the exact destinations that you will be visiting so they can provide you with the best possible advice from a medical perspective. You’ll also need plenty of time to book appointments around your work schedule.'
'It’s worth noting that some vaccinations are free on the NHS but some do come with an additional charge and these can be costly, but can you imagine anything worse than ruining your trip by not taking the right precautions? A good place to start reading up on your travel medical requirements is the NHS website.'
Read More: The New Travel App That Makes You Feel 100% Comfortable About Vacaying Alone
Tamina emphasised the importance of planning any potential visa documentation correctly, and with plenty of time to spare. No one wants to miss a flight because they haven't gotten their shizz sorted in advance.
'When it comes to planning your travel route, be sure to check out the visa requirements for each country you are planning to visit. We always advise Topdeckers to check government websites such as Gov.co.uk and Project Visa for the most up-to-date information.'
'Similarly, don’t leave organising your visa until last minute as you may need to send off your passport to various embassies, which might take longer than expected to be returned. It’s also a great idea to stock up on passport photos as you will require these for your visas - so get practicing that passport pose!'
5. Pack like a pro
Once you've booked, packing is a very important part of your adult gap year experience, and Tamina encourages travellers to enjoy rather than dread it.
'Pack enough in advance so that you have time to ‘edit’ before you head off on your trip,' she suggests. 'By doing a test-run, you will be less likely to pack too much as well as having more time to consider those travel essentials that you always forget in a hurry.'
'It sounds simple but the most efficient way to start packing is to make a list and follow it. Packing is part of your travelling experience so have fun with it. Put some music on, and try and nail down exactly what you need.'
'It is incredible how much a backpack can hold so be sure to utilise all that space! By rolling tops, socks or underwear you will be able to make use of even the tiniest of spaces, meaning more room for souvenirs from your adventures.'
'Weigh your luggage at home to avoid baggage fees at the airport. It’s also worth keeping in mind that you’ll be carrying your bag throughout your trip so make sure you look after your back.'
Tamina also gave us a list of adult gap year packing essentials, so grab that pen and paper...
- Dry bag
- Waterproof camera
- A spare memory card for all those photos you will be taking
- Walking shoes
- Laundry Bag and Hand wash
- A small backpack/bumbag
- A padlock
- A travel journal
- A travel adaptor
- Sanitary towels – which work as fantastic shoulder pads for days spent carrying your backpack!
Top tip: packing cubes. Our digital editor, Suzannah Ramsdale, took a gap year recently and claim these were the best purchase of her life.
Most importantly, planning your adult gap year should be a fun experience so don't leave things until the last minute, and do as much research as you can ahead of time. Then, go out and get yourself lost somewhere amazing...