My current transition into a lengthy period of travel, and hopefully travel-related income producing projects, I wanted to call my Boomer Gap Year. Google, however, shows less than a dozen global hits for “boomer gap year.”
I am not that much of a trendsetter so I will go with the more popular term of “adult gap year.”
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the term, gap year traditionally means a break between high school and university studies. The meaning of gap year has expanded to include all kinds of breaks, like between getting married and starting work (extended honeymoon), after university and a few years of work (quarter life), midlife reset, and so on.
A great definition is provided by the travel website, GapYear.com:
“A gap year is constructive time out to travel in-between life stages. It usually means travelling, volunteering or working abroad. Often it means all three!”
My Adult Gap Year Strategy
My adult gap year strategy is to travel more and pay less, by burning my stash of frequent travel points, other McCool savvy tactics, and accepting invitations from destinations wanting to reach an audience of savvy, happy travelers.
“Will write for food and lodging!”
My adult gap year strategy is also to eventually produce income. I shall not get into the hows and whys of that right now.
Naturally, I thought about what other people do for their boomer gap year or adult gap year. I know people who have sold everything and became nomads. I know others who participate in home exchanges, frequently house sit, live on boats, live in a van or RV, and many other flavors.
See 10 Terrific Reasons Empty Nesters Will Love Viking Cruises.
For this article, I reached out to some online travel friends—mostly from a boomer travel group on Facebook—and received some superb information. I have included their name, website name, links to the website and two social media channels, so you can follow their adventures.
Thank you for reading, and to my boomer travel friends, for your submissions.
Other Adult Gap Year Strategies
I decided to give travel a higher priority in my life. Realizing that I could transition my bookkeeping clients over to remote work allows me to enjoy a modern nomad lifestyle. All I own fits into my Toyota Yaris. Everything else I sold or gave away when I left Austin TX at the end of September 2015. I don’t miss any of my possessions. I have found a great balance between working and exploring while I road trip around the USA and Canada.
Susan Moore, SoloTripsandTips.com, Facebook, Pinterest
When we sold everything several years ago and moved to Hawaii, people thought we were crazy. While we lived in Hawaii, we traveled to Europe on a six week trip that culminated with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some people thought that was crazy. When we got back, we sold everything (there was far less this time!) again and went completely nomad. Officially nuts. Now we’re finishing up our second year of full-time travel! It’s the best kind of crazy ever!
Betsy Wuebker, PassingThru.com, Instagram, Twitter
We are a couple in our 50s, we sold all of our ‘things’ and left our jobs to start a different kind of lifestyle for a few years. We wanted to spend time together exploring the world.
We left Australia in January 2014 and took 5 months to travel overland to England using trains, buses and boats as transport. When we arrived we purchased a motorcycle and since May 2015 have traveled 65,000 kms discovering Europe. We use a mixture of accommodation options but our favourites are housesitting and couchsurfing. Housesitting gives us the chance to be a bit normal, cook, look after animals and be part of a community and couchsurfing allows us to meet locals and really learn more about everyday life in the place we are.
Ron and Michele Legge, Leggingit.com.au, Facebook, Twitter
I started to do more AirBnB stays when I visit a new destination not just as a cost saving, but I typically try to find hosts that also have similar interests so their suggestions and tips of what to do and experience as a local is in line with the same interests that I would like to do when I visit a location. Staying with AirBnB has made me also want to be a host in my home town, and I have had many interesting and fun visitors coming to visit the area and I love giving some tips and unique places that I love to visit regularly. If you want to try something unique where you really get to see what it is like to live with a local host and get a great insight to culture, food and daily lifestyle in an area, try staying with an AirBnB location and I’m sure you will be hooked on this type of travel.
Noel Morata, TravelPhotoDiscovery.com, Instagram, Twitter
As we watched our olive crop being turned into oil on that brisk October Saturday last fall we knew we’d made the right decision. Two years ago we caught our long-held daydream of growing olives instead of old. It was back then, we 60-somethings bought a home, (The Stone House on the Hill), in the Mani, a region in Greece’s southern Peloponnese. It sits amidst a grove of 15 olive trees. Our Greek home provides this vagabond duo a European base from which we can travel (easily and inexpensively) to destinations, like Cairo, Egypt, where we celebrated Christmas last year. At the time we made the decision, we were estimating “maybe five ‘good’ years” and have since thrown that to the wind: 10 or more! (We still have a base in the Pacific Northwest where we were born and raised, and spend a few months each year there.)
Jackie and Joel Smith, travelnwrite.com, Facebook, Instagram
Just call us boomer contrarians. Rather than selling everything we own for a life on the road, Alan and I upsized to a high-maintenance log home. Not only that, but we also moved from a warm climate to a colder one. Why? Because the Bitterroot Valley of Montana spoke to us so strongly that we were compelled to live here. A home base grounds us, as does the camaraderie of a small town community. Yes, we still travel the world, but returning to the warm embrace of Montana is our reward at the end of the road.
Donna Hull, MyItchyTravelFeet.com, Facebook, Instagram
In 2013 we had an idea…we would rent our house and head to Europe for 6 months. When we left Australia, we had not been able to rent it for such a short time so we thought we’d be home in 6 weeks. However during this time we received an offer for an eighteen month rental and decided to take it. Eighteen months flew…I’m so glad we didn’t go for less time. The rent was a great help to our accommodation costs and the fun of being free in Europe was priceless. Our only worry was staying within Schengen visa rules for Australians which meant we could stay no longer than 3 months every 6 months in Schengen Europe. This was overcome with 2 months in both Croatia and Turkey and again time in New York and London. It’s something I would recommend to everyone. You have to take the opportunity when you can…before the children have grandchildren and before the parents rely on you. However it is only a flight home if you are needed…which did happen to us! We flew home for two months during this time and then resumed our trip. It’s definitely something I’ll do again…when my grandchild is a bit older!
Jenny Freedman, atasteoftravelblog.com, Facebook, Instagram
Wow, I am so inspired now to sell everything, motorcycle around the world, rent my house, become a nomad. Settle down, Sport!
Thank you to those who contributed to this article. Please visit their websites and follow them on their listed social media accounts.
Do you have other Adult Gap Year Strategies to share?
34 thoughts on “8 Great Adult Gap Year Strategies”
Lots of inspiration here! I’ve never heard of an adult gap year but made a permanent career change from banking to travel writer so I feel as though I’m living a gap year full-time!
Excellent. Best to you on this transition. Travel happy!
I loved reading about the different approaches to travel and aging. My husband retired last year; I work remotely and part time. Our approach is somewhat different. We love our home base in New Hope, PA in Spring, Summer, and Fall. So we travel in the Winter, at least as of now. We like to add some outdoorsy adventure into our travel.
Last year we drove south on the East Coast of the US and visited places we had never been, as well as family and friends; we flew to Curacao to dive for 5 weeks and complete out advanced scuba certifications, and then flew back to Florida and traveled around the whole state to see it all. Then we drove the East Coast north and visited different cities and towns. It was a great 3 months.
This year we drove up and back on the East Coast top Florida, and then flew to Ecuador for 2 months, where we traveled from Quito to Galapagos and 6 other areas of Ecuador. We went back to Curacao to dive and relax for 5 weeks, before returning to Florida to start our drive north. We loved our 4 months.
You can find details on our travels at http://adventurousretirement.com/blog/.
I am not sure I could go for a year; your contributors inspire me!
So nice to hear from you. Having the flexibility to travel at different times of the year is empowering.
My husband still has a serious day job, so a gap year is unlikely. However, he works in academia and in 2014, he finally took a long overdue sabbatical in Honolulu (University of Hawaii Cancer Center). We tacked on a month of travel in southeast Asia before ending up in Honolulu. “They” still owe him 3 more sabbatical months and I’m hoping we get it together to take it and go somewhere. The silver lining of his day job is that it has lots of opportunity for travel, but 2-3 weeks at a time, rather than 2-3 months. Can’t complain.
Indeed. It sounds like a pretty good situation. Happy travels to you both.
Terrific post Charles! So inspirational that so many people have devoted their lives to travel and learning more about themselves and the world. Gives me hope!
Thank you, Sue.
The adult gap year became a adult gap four years already 😉 I wish you all the best for your travels and hope your dreams come true.
Thank you so much. Happiest of continued travelers for you!
Thank you. The same to you!
What a great post! I loved reading about everyone’s adult gap year ideas, and the fact that they are all Boomers is even better. I think downsizing to do this sort of thing is really and achievable if you put your mind to it.
Thank you, Johanna. Downsizing definitely makes long-term easier, I would think. So many different paths to take, also.
What an inspiring group of totally awesome people. I know many of them and looking forward to following everyone’s journeys….
Indeed, totally awesome. Thank you, Vicki!
I didn’t do anything so permanent, but I did take a gap year last year, or rather a gap 9 months. I took a sabbatical from my work and spent the money I’d saved in one year by just not buying anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I took 3 trips: 3 weeks in San Francisco visiting my daughter, one month in Guadeloupe, Martinique with a very short visit to my sister in NYC on my way to TBEX in Spain, and then 2 months exploring Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. Oh, and I finished a Master’s. It was the best year! By the way, I like your phrase ‘Boomer gap year’.
Thank you very much, Rachel. And you finished a Masters? Wow!
I m currently traveling in Europe (Scchengen and non-Schengen) for six months. I put everything I owned in storage before leaving, so I am essentially homeless. Loving the freedom and seeing so many fantastic places. Eastern Europe is quite inexpensive, so add it to your list. We found it quite safe, too.
Solid information. Travel happy!
I am also currently doing an adult gap year that I would LOVE to extend to a permanent situation. My hubby and I sold everything and bought an RV and I am loving it!
Sounds really fun. Travel Happy!
That’s my fantasy. My husband, not so much.
You will enjoy the experience. We are Jane & Duncan from To Travel Too and we are baby boomers that have for the last three years been traveling. We sold and downsized and have gone from 100L, 65L and now to carry on. Love to make the cut for your next list and or be updated in your current list .. http://www.totraveltoo.com
Wow, you have really cut down the stuff. Thank you for the note.
Great article thanks Charles and thankyou for including our story. I’m now inspired to head off for an even longer time away. I quite like having a home to come back to but downsizing is now very real. Have a great Gap year!
Thank you for your submission. Y’all are inspiring me (and others, I hope).
My husband and I sold our house, got rid of half of our stuff, put the other half in storage and headed on the road in a car for up to a year. We were back in the state we left in about 3 months. The reason was that the US government demands that you have an official residence. You have to be a resident of a state for health insurance (not covered on the road except for emergencies only), car insurance (what is the zip code where your car is garaged?), umbrella insurance (must own a home, RV, or rent to have umbrella insurance tied to), car license plates, and driver’s license. Our troubles started when we changed the mailing address on our driver’s licenses to a relative’s address in a different state and they were going to be cancelled.
Would love to hear how US residents accomplished travelling with no residence. (I think it is much easier in an RV.) We just got frustrated and came back. I thought it was going to be a carefree time, but we just worried a lot 🙁
Oh, the worry does not sound fun. Anyone have experience with this?
Sorry I couldn’t make it for the post – we didn’t have reliable internet last week. But that happens when you lead a nomadic life. We sold most things, and stored the rest, in 2006 to travel North and South America in our own truck camper. In 2009 we thought we were done and went home. But it didn’t work out for us. We are now back in South America in another home on wheels that we built ourselves. We left Australia this time in 2013 and have no plans to stop travelling this way any time soon… We’re not having a gap year – this is our life and our home is where we park it!
Wow, you have been at it for awhile.
What a fun compilation of adventures! What great company to be among. Thanks for including us!
I enjoyed reading all of the stories. Thank you.
Great post – I sold everything and hit the road a year ago… then I met a boy from my home town and ended up back at home. Now we make travel a priority and live minimally so that we can afford to take a trip every three months 🙂
Thank you, Helen. Keep on traveling!
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