The Adult Gap YearPosted on: 17 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
What do you do when the kids have left home? Why not take a gap year and go travelling? There’s a whole world of adventure out there.
Not so long ago a backpacker over 50 would have been unthinkable. These days, however, many mid-lifers are deciding that what their 18-year-olds can do they can do as well. With money, experience and wisdom on their side, they might even do it better!
Once your children have left home, why grow grumpy? Embarking on an adventure is not only a great way of launching your ‘you time’, it’s a perfect way to re-spark a marriage, discover new skills and culture or meet new people.
How To Start
Decide what kind of traveller you are and what is important to you.
If you’re a bit nervous, why not try a few short breaks just to test the water? When you’re ready to branch out a little, but need some support, try one of the well-established sites for the older traveller such as www.elderhostel.org.
For The More Adventurous
Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer and help others abroad?
There are many companies offering projects for older travellers such as www.i-to-i.com/volunteer-abroad-over-50 where you can have a great time volunteering and be brought safely home at the end.
If you want a cheaper volunteering adventure, try www.helpx.net, based in Australia where you can help on organic farms and wildlife sanctuaries in exchange for board and lodging.
Another great site is www.gapyearforgrownups.co.uk which has masses of ideas for you, whether you want to raise money for charity or just have the trip of a lifetime.
There are numerous companies offering five star adventure. www.eldertreks.com has everything for those with a little more money to spend from select safari outings to being pampered at the North Pole!
The High Street is awash with cruises of every kind, but if you want to be on land somewhere warm and beautiful try www.secretdestinations.com/over-50s-holiday-destinations who offer villas with a choice of activities.
It’s also worth having a look at www.nubricks.com/archives/488/over-fifties-ski-properties and www.walkingtheworld.com for inspiration and great tips for the over fifties.
Preparing Yourself For Adventure
If you’re going to be active or independent on your trip, making sure you are fit before you go is a good idea. There are some great workouts on DVD available for the over fifties if the gym isn’t an option. Some other tips include:
- Do your preparation and research
- Don’t travel when the kids are off school
- Make the most of favourable exchange rates
- Visit www.tripadvisor.com for real advice from real people
- Read all the guides. The Rough Guide and Lonely Planet books have comprehensive and candid advice
- Chat to people who have done it, or are about to on internet forums such as http://boards.bootsnall.com/eve/forums
About The Author
Lee Weeks, author of The Trafficked, is an experienced traveller. She has lived abroad, mainly in Asia and has taken a number of Adult Gap Years. Lee constantly uses her travel experiences in her novels.
She is in her early 50s with two grown up children and says that this time of her life is the best; she has never been happier or more excited about life.
Lee says, "Travel has reignited my youthful excitement about life, the wonderment of finding something new and exhilarating.
"I am so looking forward to the next 20, 30 even 40 years. I’ll be able to cover a lot of ground in that time. Maybe I’ll meet you along the way!"
Lee's novel, The Trafficked, is out now at all good bookshops £6.99 or online at Amazon for £3.70.
Do you have wanderlust? If you have any tips for adventure why not share them by commenting in the box below, or discuss it in the 50connect forums?
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