3 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

Gap Years are highly misconstrued in other parts of the world though, in particular the United States. If you live in a country where a Gap Year is not part of the normal lexicon, you probably have some questions.

  • What is a Gap Year?
  • When do people take one?
  • What’s the point?

Once we get through the nitty gritty of defining a Gap Year, we’ll get into why we think that you should take one, no matter what your age or situation. There are a multitude of reasons why someone should take a Gap Year, whether it’s the student finishing high school or that 40-something mom and dad who just need a break.

What is a Gap Year?

The traditional definition of a Gap Year is a period of time where a student takes a break from his or her studies. The time period is typically about a year and is usually after high school or college.

When do people take a Gap Year?

Even though the traditional time to take a Gap Year has been after high school or college, the definition has been changing to include terms like sabbatical or career break. This means that you don’t have to be a young student taking a break from school to travel the world. You could be a young professional who simply wants a break or to give yourself the chance to look into another career. You could be in the middle of life, with kids in school, a mortgage, and a family, but you want to take a break to travel the world with your family, taking a massive world-wide field trip. The term Gap Year isn’t just for students anymore. Anyone can take a Gap Year; it doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 or 58. If you feel you need a break, then take one!

What’s the point?

Detractors of the Gap Year say the only reason people take one is to get away from real life and spend a year partying and having no responsibilities. Do some travelers spend this time being unproductive and doing things like getting high, drinking, and partying all the time? Of course they do, but the percentage of travelers doing this isn’t any higher than those in college, working in a career, or raising a family.

The reasons for taking a Gap Year can be many, and even though we narrowed them down to eight, there are countless reasons to take a break from normal life to pursue your travel dreams.

That perfect time is never going to come

A Gap Year Can Help You Decide What to Do With Your Life

If you are one of those people who hates their job or school, it just makes sense to change things up, do something drastic, and consider taking a Gap Year to figure things out. If you’re one of the younger potential Gap Year travelers, then taking a year to travel, volunteer, and soak up other cultures is only going to help you in your decision-making process down the line.

For the high school and college students, you have no doubt been told your entire lives that getting a good education will lead to a good job. But there rarely seems to be any mention of one key part of working – happiness. You have been told you want success. You have been told you want money. You have been told you want a house, and nice cars, and cool stuff. But happiness? You really only get that if you’re lucky.

Well I call bullshit on that. Why don’t we put a priority on daily happiness? Why do we not stress that liking, even loving your job, is something we should strive for? If we’re going to spend most of our lives doing it, then shouldn’t we be happy? So why not take advantage of your situation now, get out on the road, really think about what it is you want to do with life, and then come back rested, refreshed, and with a new outlook on life?

Too many people don’t take the time to assess their lives and what it is they want out of it. Too many wake up in their 40’s and 50’s and say, “What happened?” People get so caught up in life that they forget to stop and look around. They don’t realize that so much more can be out there. And when they do realize it, sometimes it’s too late. Taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to pursue a hobby or passion that you’ve always wanted to pursue. You could discover a lost skill you once had. You never know what can spark your creative side and send you down a new path.

You Will Learn About Yourself

Taking a Gap Year to travel the world will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible. Long term travelers are often thrown into challenging and interesting situations on the road, and learning how to cope and adapt will give you insight to your true self. Learning how to deal with stress and unfamiliar environments and cultures will teach you skills you can’t learn in a classroom or behind a desk. It will teach you a tremendous amount of patience as you will be on someone else’s time. Dealing with border crossings, waiting for buses, sitting in crazy traffic, and being thrown into seemingly absurd scenarios is the norm, and you honestly never know what’s coming next.

Not only will these challenges help you with whatever you do next in life, but a gap year really gives people the chance to reflect and look within. We just don’t take the necessary time to reflect and assess our lives on very often. One great asset of a gap year is that it finally gives people time. For the first time since you were a kid, time will be on your side. How you take advantage of it is up to you.

You Will Learn About the World

We all learn about the world around us in school, through textbooks, and from teachers. Television and movies can teach us as well, though biases and entertainment seem to get in the way of real, honest knowledge about a place. With the world changing the way it is, it’s important to be global citizens. The advance in technology sees us working side by side with people living on the other side of the world, and that will only continue to increase. Knowing more about that world around us is only going to help as time goes on.

Taking the time to travel the world gives people a different perspective. It’s one thing to read about poverty or see it on the news, but it’s completely different to volunteer in an African hospital or work at an orphanage in Cambodia and see the lives of others around the world with your own two eyes. The experiences one has while on a gap year trip will change the way that person views the world.

This article is excerpted from 8 Reasons to Take a Gap Year, by Adam Seper, originally published on Bootsnall.

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