From confidence-building jaunts through the megacities of India to soul-searching odysseys along the rugged coastlines of Croatia, life-changing experiences in Thailand to eye-opening jaunts in Central America, the gap year promises to be one of the most transformative experiences going. Here are 10 reasons for those who might just need a little extra nudge before taking the leap…
1. It's probably not as expensive as you think
In the last couple of decades, the cost of long-term travel has significantly reduced. Where once gap years were the province of posh silver spooners with access to daddy's bank account, today everywhere from the Banana Pancake Trail to the tropical trekking routes of Central America are awash with budget backpackers living life on a shoestring. You can opt to stay in hostel dorms to keep accommodation prices on the downlow (and the fun on the high), go for low-cost airlines to get around, or even save money by opting for all-in travel packages like the ones offered by the LBW family.
2. It will give you plenty of stories to tell
While most fresh-faced first-yearers in college will only have one summer of adventures to relate to their newfound mates and flat buddies, you'll be loaded with a whole saga of tales to tell. From raucous all-nighters on the sands of Koh Phangan to encounters with three-toed sloths in the jungles of Costa Rica; sunrise meditation sessions between the jungle-dressed karsts of Krabi to intrepid expeditions to meet the Bedouin tribes of the Moroccan Atlas, traveling is sure to make you one darn interesting person. Yes, you might be labelled the irritating one who's always got some story to top all others, but hey, that's better than having nout to say at all, surely?
3. The Rat Race can wait
The great Mark Twain once remarked: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do." Here at LBW we couldn't agree more. That means to really make the most of your youth and fan the flames of that adventurous spirit, you might just have to abandon your designs on the Rat Race for a while. But hey, who needs an office job when you can have the beaches of the Thai Gulf and cold brews overlooking a Balinese sunset? Oh, and there's always deferred years in education; for all those college-goers who are desperately trying to fit in a gap year before they hit the lecture halls in earnest.
4. You'll come back with plenty of new mates
We've been leading LBW tours for years and years, and the one thing we love most about traveling in groups is the company. We find ourselves continually surprised by the faces, characters, and crowds we draw to the four corners of the globe, and there are simply no better memories than late-night beach parties under the Croatian sun or evening beers over the Andaman Sea, all in the company of those new buddies. Mhmm…travel isn't just about places: it's about people, too!
5. It will make you more confident
Anyone who considers themselves a little shy is sure to benefit from the confidence building that's offered by travel. On LBW tours, even the process of forging new friendships can help you gain esteem in the sort of person you are, your conversational abilities and your own character. And that's not even mentioning the boldness that comes with all the sticky situations you're sure to encounter on the road, from lost passports (yep, it happens) to flight delays and argumentative taxi drivers (we're looking at you Vietnam).
6. It will give you direction
Believe it or not, heading away from your comfort zone and out into the big wide world can have the opposite effect you might think. It can actually provide you with direction in life, precisely because of the greater truths and knowledge that's yielded by travel. Perhaps you'll discover your passion for wildlife as you volunteer with elephants between the Tenasserim Hills of Thailand. Maybe you'll find that teaching English is your calling after delivering a couple of ad hoc lessons in Southeast Asia. Or, you might just get caught up in the big loving family we have at LBW and decide that the life of the roadie is the one for you. Trust us, you'd love it!
7. It will help with your education
It's all very well going straight from high school and into college, and we're certainly not knocking anyone who decides that's the path for them. But there's also a lot to be said for the educational powers of travel. On our LBW trips alone we help to reveal the mystical secrets of Thai Buddhism, the historical majesty of Peru, the raw past of Vietnam and oodles of other fascinating tales. And you'll get to learn all about sizzling Southeast Asian curries, proper meditation techniques, sailing on the open seas (we're looking at you YachtLife Croatia!) and much, much more along the way too!
8. It will put life into perspective
Aside from educating, travel also has the power to humble and to put things into perspective. Whether you opt to explore the sprawling megacities of the Indian subcontinent or the rustic jungled lands of South America, you're going to encounter people and creeds and religions that are totally different to your own. Often, you'll also see poverty and hardship up close, and gain a unique perspective on the more important things, while living a budget can help nurture a love and respect for the simpler comforts. All of these are valuable experiences that are sure to help you in later years.
9. You can take some time to mull things over
Feeling indecisive about your new career direction? Not sure what course to pursue at university? Unsure whether you want to continue with those studies? Well, it sounds like you need some time to mull things over. What better place to do that than on the sun-kissed sands of Koh Samui, or with the soothing sound of chirping Southeast Asian geckos at your back? Yep, head off on a gap year, and the one thing you can guarantee to get is plenty of time to make up your mind about where you're going to go to next in life!
10. You might never get the chance again!
Too often have we heard older folk lament the fact that they never took the plunge, packed up the backpack and chose to hit the open road. There you are, a youthful would-be nine-to-five worker considering your options. You decide to put off traveling for a little while until you get your foothold in the world of work. One thing leads to another and poof: there you are at 30 with a house, kids, a pet and all the trimmings. Okay, that doesn't sound that bad, but what have you missed? You've missed all-night beach parties. You've missed waking up to the sound of tropical oceans. You've missed hiking volcanos. You've missed surfing lessons in the Pacific, and Caribbean stews cooked by creole hands. Need we go on?
11. Because it's a personal challenge
Here's one for the would-be gap yearers looking to take a career break; the ones who’ve grown accustomed to the nine-to-five rigmarole and the ins and outs of the Rat Race. Just think how easy it would be to stay in the same everyday routine for the rest of your life; how simple your 20s and 30s could be if you just went with the flow and chased promotions instead of footprints in the sand. Now think of the challenge that awaits on the road; the task that waits for one who decides to leave it all behind for something totally different. It's tempting, right?
12. It's crossed your mind
Last but not least on this list of top reasons to take a gap year right now is the very fact that it's crossed your mind. If you're here, reading this, then the prospect of getting out there and breaking the boundaries of your comfort zone has certainly tickled your fancy at some point. Perhaps you're pining for an adventure; perhaps the curiosity is piqued. One thing's for sure though: that wanderlust ain't going away!
Can you think of any more awesome reasons to take a gap year? If so, we'd love to hear your voice in the comments below! Or, if we've tickled your wanderlust, why not check out all the great tours we offer.
We believe that travel is not a reward for working, but the most valuable and impactful form of education for life. We aren’t just a travel company; we were built to introduce you to the rest of the world. LBW Travel is about more than taking vacation time. We connect you with people and offer experiences that will change the way you look at your world. Travel reminds us what is truly important: family, friendship, love, exploration and adventure.
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