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Everything you need to know about taking an adult gap year

A young woman sits on a balcony with her phone and laptop

We learn from those who took their gap year later on in life

A young woman sits on a balcony with her phone and laptop

If you thought taking a gap year was reserved only for high school graduates or carefree university students, you thought wrong. The popularity of the adult gap year is well and truly on the rise with grown-ups across the country taking career breaks to tap into the adventure and excitement of travel.

And, it isn’t just beneficial for the traveller. With more and more employers offering career breaks, it seems businesses have realised the payoffs of gap years.

From the beach to Banff

33-year-old Renea made the decision to leave behind the warm, coastal lifestyle of Newcastle in favour of the Canadian snowfields of Banff on her year-long stint.

“I’d followed the traditional life path going straight from school to university and into full-time work, so it had been over a decade of working hard to establish my career. After completing my second uni degree and having successfully built a strong career, I realised that my life outside of work wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I’d slipped into the monotony of the day to day grind and I was missing the spontaneity and fun that I craved. So I made the very difficult decision to risk everything and move overseas for a year of carefree adventure. It also helped that my workplace, nib, was really supportive and allowed me to take the 12-month career break,” explained Renea.

Renea used the first few months of her break to travel across Canada and the USA, before securing a role as a guest services agent at one of the leading hotels in Banff.

“It was exactly what I was looking for – a relaxed position where I had no stress and the flexible hours meant I could focus on exploring the area, making new friends and experiencing everything the Rockies had to offer while earning some cash to fund the adventures.”

We were curious about how the gap year impacted Renea’s career, but her manager Matt explained just how important this gap year was for both Renea and the business.

“It was great to be able to help Renea fulfil her desire for adventure and travel through our career break program. She came back to work refreshed, more confident and ready to take on the next step in her career.”

And, Renea returned to Australia with more than just a fresh outlook on life.

“It is amazing the people you can meet from all over the world if you put yourself out there. I’ve made lifelong friends, including several who happened to be from Newcastle! I was even lucky enough to meet my partner in Banff, who has since moved from his home in Quebec to Australia to be with me.”

Two images side by side of a Renea skiing

The travelling digital nomads

Brisbane-based marketing manager, Mel and her husband Adam were in their 30s when they heard about the ‘digital nomad lifestyle’ and decided to leave their jobs to take a gap year.

“Quite frankly, I was burning out and riddled with anxiety, so I knew that something in my life needed to change – I just didn’t feel like I had much freedom. My husband felt the same way, so we ran away from home in our 30s and decided to take action,” says Mel.

Unlike Renea, Mel and her husband didn’t sit still for long, traipsing across the globe in an effort to see as much of the world as they could.

“We travelled to 18 countries all up, starting with Japan, Thailand and Cambodia. Then, we headed to Europe - Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, France, UK and Italy. From there we went to the Canary Islands and got on a cruise ship travelling from the Atlantic to the Caribbean. We island-hopped and ended up in the Dominican Republic. Next, we went to New York before flying to Bali and finally home. It was a mix of both slow and fast travel and it saw us taking advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves. It was the least planned I've ever been overseas and it was actually really liberating!”

Instead of finding a stable job, Mel spent her spare time completing online courses and freelancing – which then evolved into establishing her own successful consultancy business.

When asked for her top tips for others considering taking their own gap year, Mel says, “Don’t stress about planning – you’ll always find an Airbnb or hotel to stay in and you never know what might pop up that you want to do, so it's actually better not to have too much planned out like you would a normal, shorter holiday.”

The million-dollar question we asked Renea and Mel was whether they had any regrets taking a career break - and we were met with a resounding ‘no’; Renea summing it up nicely.

“I think that life is too short to not take the opportunity to do something that will make you happy. I truly believe the gap year has had a positive impact on my career in the long run and at the end of the day, no one wants to look back on their life and wonder 'what if?'"

If you’re planning to live or work overseas, make sure you’re covered should you ever need medical treatment. Whether you’re heading to Canada or Croatia, it’s important to stay protected. It takes just a few minutes to get a travel quote and if you’re an nib member, you receive a 10% discount1!

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110% discount applies to the nib Travel Insurance premium (including GST and stamp duty) for nib members that currently hold a health insurance product. The discount offer is correct at time of publication.

nib Travel Insurance Distribution Pty Limited, ABN 40 129 262 175, AR 336467 is an authorised representative of nib Travel Services (Australia) Pty Ltd, ABN 81 115 932 173, AFSL 308461. This is general advice and you should consider if this product suits your needs. Before you buy, please read the Product Disclosure Statement available from us. This insurance is underwritten by XL Insurance Company SE, Australia branch (ABN 36 083 570 441).

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