It is our firm opinion that travelling – be it in a couple, solo, or with friends – is one of the most fulfilling activities a person can undertake. But it goes without saying that a two week holiday in Bali or a 3 month sojourn in India is very different to long-term travel or a semi-permanent move overseas.
During our twenties, both of us at Sunshine and Gin jetted off to backpack and work abroad and what we learnt on our adventures is that taking a GAP year (or longer) to live, travel and work overseas is one of the most challenging, exciting and life-changing experiences.
We have covered some of the upsides and downsides of travelling solo, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s our comprehensive list of why everyone should take a GAP year at some point in their life:
- You’ll grow as a person – as lame as this sounds it’s probably the number one thing you will gain from your GAP year. Spending time volunteering in Thailand or working in London can force you to grow up quickly. It will also help you to put things into perspective so you’re better able to determine what you do and don’t want from your career/friends/partner/life.
- You’ll learn self-reliance and adaptability – when you’re responsible for looking after yourself 100% it can get a little tricky and exhausting at times; but when you can pay your bills on time, navigate the underground with ease, or converse in a foreign language you start to feel like a pretty put-together human being…and that’s pretty awesome.
- You’ll bring sexy back – so you might not be the best-looking person around but do you realise that when you’re in a foreign land you have an accent, and that having an accent makes you approximately 1,240,745 times sexier? You’re exotic, adventurous, and worldly and people are gonna want a piece of that goodness! The extra attention will leave you feeling like a champ in no time.
- You’ll be free – to do what you want, any old timeeeeee. Say you’re a banker and you move to a foreign land where you fall in love with a hippy and decided to throw in the towel to become a raw food chef. Well, there’re not going to be anyone to stop you because it’s your life buddy and you are free to make your own decisions 100%. Pretty sweet hey?
- You’ll heal – a GAP year is good for the soul. It can help mend a broken heart, allow you time to put past disappointments or hurts behind you and give you distance from things until you’re ready to deal with them.
- You’ll get great life and career experience – seriously, don’t worry about what potential employers will think of your time away. Living and travelling abroad for an extended period of time shows that you’re adaptable, open to change, flexible, that you have both initiative and the dedication to follow your decisions through, that you take an interest in different cultures and people…the list goes on. If they can’t see the value in an internationally experienced candidate who has all of these qualities then you probably don’t want to work for them anyway!
- You’ll get educated – there’s no better classroom than the school of life people. I haven’t used algebra since leaving school over a decade ago (sorry mum and dad) but I can speak to you in detail about the places I’ve visited (history of Berlin anyone?) the things I have seen and also, how it opened up my mind. Travelling teaches us so much about ourselves and the world, it’s a education worth paying for.
- You’ll jump out of your comfort zone (perhaps quite literally) – On my travels I’ve bungee jumped over a freezing river, caught an overnight bus through the Balkans, and para-glided in Turkey. All of these I would never have considered in my ‘normal life’ but when I’ve been feeling relaxed and happy on my extended holiday it’s seemed like a good idea to push the boundaries and you know what? It was! All bloody brilliant experiences I would do again and again if I could.
- You won’t miss out because you’ll be adventuring in your prime – there is no better time to travel than when you’re young, but that’s not to say that a GAP year at 65 isn’t a great idea too! When you’re young, fit and healthy and not yet too tied down with responsibility, travelling is the perfect thing to do. You’re better equipped for physical activities (trekking to Machu Pichu anyone?) and can recover quicker from a hangover…plus you only need to worry about looking out for yourself. and you’ll have some great stories for the grand-kids when you’re older!
- What happens on GAP year stays on GAP year – ok so this one is true to a certain extent. You can generally behave as badly as you want on a GAP year and people back home will be none the wiser. Knock back those shots, flirt with that girl/guy you know is bad for you, eat that hash cake in Amsterdam…unless you’re instagramming the shizz out of it your reputation will remain relatively
boringintact. However, on returning from your extended trip away you might unexpectedly bring home a fresh perspective, worldliness, some cool new friends and if you’re anything like me – the love of your life! It’s the risk you take people!
So there you have it, a few reasons as to why EVERYONE, young or old should take a GAP year or do some extended travel. So what are you waiting for? Where would you like to go on your GAP year and can we come?