Gap years are no longer just for teenagers; taking time out from work or daily life is becoming increasingly popular among individuals in their 30s and over, as more people seek out new experiences and fulfil lifelong goals of making a difference in the world.

Leaving home life behind can be a very different matter for a 30-something volunteer compared with a teen fresh out of school, however; job and home issues need to be considered and plans put in place for all sorts of concerns, from paying the mortgage to making arrangements for medical care.

That being said, while an adult gap year may require lots of effort, the eventual experience can be all the more enjoyable; by adulthood, the awkwardness of the teen years has long since passed, and accrued life experience can mean that traveling alone and exploring a new country can be less daunting than it perhaps is for younger volunteers.

If you’re planning to volunteer abroad, get a job in another country or simply spend a year traveling, read our handy guide to preparing for a gap year as an adult.

Set a realistic budget


The last thing you want to be at the end of an adult gap year is short of cash - especially if you have regular bills or other financial commitments to meet. Working out your financial footing and whether you can afford to travel or volunteer abroad is no easy feat, so it’s worthwhile meeting with a financial advisor to assess the situation properly.

Where the funds will come from to support your trip and the financial impact of taking a year out are important considerations - a financial advisor can help you map out your finances in terms of short and long-term concerns, such as your provision for retirement and how a year out of work may affect your pension pot. It’s also a good idea to discuss your current investment strategy and how to proceed while you’re out of the country.

Speak to your employer


Companies are becoming increasingly flexible with regards to working arrangements and taking time out on an unpaid basis but it’s wise to check whether anything will change in your absence. If you have a life policy through work, for example, you’ll need to know whether you’ll still be covered during a sabbatical, or whether you’ll need to arrange a short-term life insurance plan for your absence.

Private healthcare may not be available if you’re taking time out of work, so this is another area to consider and plan for if you’re taking an adult gap year. Alternatives include working part-time for your company in your destination, or taking on work while you’re away to fund the cost of living.

Family arrangements


By adulthood, many people have children, and family arrangements vary. If your kids are grown up, you may need to make very few arrangements for them in your absence. Teenagers and young adults might be away at college and happy to stay with family or friends during the holidays, while adult children could help out by housesitting if they’re still at home.

Of course, you might decide to take the whole family along on a gap year, if the budget will allow for it and it won’t adversely impact on schooling or other considerations. It’s possible to teach on the road with the right resources and routine, and the experience can do wonders for children’s awareness and confidence.

Make plans for your home


If you have a rented property, you’ll need to think about whether you want to pay a retainer to keep the place in your absence, or give it up and find somewhere new when you return. It’s worth bearing in mind that most landlords require a notice period, so getting the timing right for jetting off is vital if you don’t want to lose money paying rent for somewhere you won’t be living. Alternatively, you could see if a friend would be willing to take over the tenancy in your absence if your landlord agrees.

Meanwhile, if you own your home, a useful way of making money is to rent out your property while you’re away. Again, it takes time and effort to find a suitable tenant and ensure everything is in order; if you’re going away for a shorter period of time, it might be less hassle to ask a friend to housesit.

These are some of the main points to consider when planning an adult gap year - there are many related elements to think about too, but the experience of volunteering abroad is second to none, regardless of age. At uVolunteer, we can arrange trips for individuals, families and groups for up to a year in length - find out more about our value-busting volunteer vacations by getting in touch with us today.


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