10 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

Students often toy with the notion of travelling; the stress and perpetual pressure of looming exams and impossible deadlines make the idea of reclining on a palm-fringed, sandy beach seem like heaven. You just want to escape the reality of impending academic doom and relax on a paradise island. Too many people however, worry about the cost of travel, the impact on their careers and their relationships, and end up ignoring their urge to see the world.

Well here are ten reasons you should make that dream a reality – once you’ve completed your studies, of course.

1)      You Deserve a Break

You have been in the education system for nearly two decades now. It’s time you had a serious break! Your parents might not think so, but they’re too old to remember just how tiring and demanding school or uni work can really be. You should be proud; what better way to treat yourself for all your hard work than with a round-the-world trip?

2)      It’s Perfect Timing

If you’ve just left school or graduated, what are your options aside from travel? More education? Work? You are going to be working until you’re 65 at least, and if the grown-ups are telling the truth, our best days are behind us. Working life is long and hard. There really is no shame in delaying it a year or two. You have the rest of your life to become whatever you want to be; if anything, travel will help you get there faster.

3)      You’re better prepared

At the age of 16, or even 18, the thought of taking a gap year can be pretty daunting. Once you reach your early twenties, however, you are hopefully a little less naive and more prepared to face the world beyond your homeland’s borders. By now your liver is probably used to frequent cascades of alcohol too, which, if you’re hoping to become a traditional backpacker, is probably a good thing.

4)      Travel = Life Experience

You just cannot compare the experiences you get from travel with any you will ever have at home. Once you’ve stepped completely outside of your comfort zone, got totally lost on the other side of the world with only your initiative to save you, and eaten a few ‘God knows what’s in that’ foreign dishes, you’ll come back a different person. You’ll be a wise old owl.

5)      It Boosts Your Confidence

Once you’ve circumnavigated the globe, you open the doors to a whole new world of possibility; if you manage to keep yourself alive through that, what else could you embark upon and survive? Lofty dreams suddenly seem possible and your view on life becomes clearer, more positive. The healthy sun-kissed glow helps too.

6)      This Could Be Your Last Chance

It’s true, that once your career kicks off and you’re earning money, it’s unlikely you will be willing to give up the comfort and security of a 9-5 job and regular pay check in exchange for the thrill of the road. Don’t grow old and sensible before your time. Get out there! There’s no time like the present.

7)      You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

No idea what you want to do in life? Don’t fall into a career you’ll regret in twenty years; take the time to decide the path you want to go down, and in the mean time, see a bit of the world. Chances are it’ll inspire you!

8)      Endless Opportunities

You could meet the love of your life on the road, elope to Canada where you become a fisherman, and live happily ever after. You just don’t know what’s out there for you. Yes it’s scary (I’m not a fan of fish), but grabbing the opportunities that raise themselves on your travels could lead you to places you never imagined you’d go.

9)      Be Truly Independent

You call surviving on beans and super noodles at university independence? The absence of mum and dad doesn’t mean much when they’re a short drive away, or when your student loan is sitting in the bank. Working to earn your travel spends, and budgeting when away will make you feel more independent than ever, and the lack of structure (ie, a timetable) when travelling means you are responsible for making the most of your time. The freedom can be exhilarating.

10)   WHY NOT?

Ask yourself this question. If you have truly valid reasons to stay that none of these points can negate, perhaps you need to wait a little longer before you pack your rucksack. If your hesitance boils down to fear, I urge you to ignore it. You really do have nothing to lose, but your inhibitions.

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