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7 Reasons to Take a Gap Year & Travel the World
If you are considering doing gap year travel, you need to read these 7 reasons you have to take a gap year to travel the world!
Deciding on gap year travel can be overwhelming especially in today’s fast-paced society. You should go to college, get a good job, and make six figures by the time you are 30. But is that really what you want?
Traveling the world for over a year has been the best experience of our lives and we honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything. To think that we could have missed all of this because we wanted to get that next promotion or the 3% annual raise is crazy to us now. But we know that if we ever need to go back and “settle down,” there will always be that option and all of this travel has only made us better for it.
We’ll cover the best reasons to do gap year travel, gap year travel ideas, student gap year travel, benefits of a travel gap year, and more!
This post is all about 7 reasons you should take a gap year to travel the world!
Reasons to do Gap Year Travel:
Meet New Friends
One of our absolute favorite parts of traveling is making so many new friends from all over the world. If you decide to travel for a gap year, you will meet tons of people. As you stay in hotels or hostels, you’ll meet fellow travelers and likely get to explore and travel further with them. We recently met a traveler in a hostel in Antigua, Guatemala, and then unexpectedly ran into him again in Huacachina, Peru! It was a crazy coincidence but the travel community is an awesome one to get to know!
You will of course meet tons of locals from all over the world as you travel. Some will be through tours as your guide or hosts of your homestay and others may be someone that sits next to you in a restaurant. There are tons of ways to meet people and often you don’t even have to go looking for it! These will all be relationships you will be able to continue forever with the help of social media, Whatsapp, or email!
Traveling around the world can be extremely challenging, especially when you don’t speak the local language. We have spent 80% of our travels in countries that don’t speak English. My Spanish skills have gotten significantly better, but are nowhere near perfect. We have both adapted to explaining things simply, learning the most important phrases, and using lots of hand gestures. These skills have proved invaluable to our communication with others and even with each other. If someone doesn’t understand what we are trying to say, we can’t get frustrated we have to problem-solve to figure out a different way to explain ourselves. The same is true with people that speak the same language!
If you are taking a gap year to travel and planning to find a job after your year of travel, this will be an exceptional talking point for your interviews! You will learn so much about communicating, being respectful, staying patient, and learning a new language!
> See our complete guide to full time travel essentials!
Learn About Other Cultures
Growing up you may be in a pretty small bubble. You may have taken vacations as a kid but for lots that means heading to Disneyland or to the river a few hours away. Likely, you haven’t truly experienced a lot of other cultures. I know that was certainly true for both of us. We both went to college and gained experience in new cultures there but nothing compares to learning about culture through traveling. In college and through jobs, you will meet many new people with different backgrounds and traditions, and ways of living. But with travel, you are able to see these experiences firsthand in their home environment. We have learned so much about other cultures and our own culture through our travels and has shaped the way we interact with others and live our own lives.
One very obvious example of this is the way many other cultures are community-focused. They will do things together and spend most of their time together. Many families live together with their entire lives and often with extended family. In the US, where Nate and I are from, we focus heavily on individuality. You move out from your parent’s house to start your own separate life. It’s a very stark contrast and it’s been fascinating to learn about.
Similar to honing your communication skills, you will learn to problem solve so much better as you travel. I can guarantee you that things will go wrong as you travel. You can miss flights, take the train in the opposite direction, show up at the wrong hotel, run out of cash, lose your wallet, break your phone, book the wrong tickets, and so much more. Seriously, the list is endless and yes, all of those things have happened to us at some point. The best part is the fact that we have learned how to handle those situations so much better over time. When a travel day throws a curve ball your way, you will be able to problem-solve and have much less stress even if you have never encountered that problem before after your year of travel.
This is another great skill that you will learn while traveling that translates back into a potential career or job. It may not be a missed flight or lost luggage, but when a problem arises at work you will be able to better handle it under pressure and take the necessary steps to find a new solution.
See the Beautiful World
There is honestly so much of the world to see. You could go to every country in the world and still have more to see. The beauty is endless and every new place you will go to, you will find new beauty. From mountains to oceans to the people you meet to even the little things like the way stray dogs interact with locals. The more you travel, the more inclined you will be to find these small beauties in everyday life. The sunsets and sunrises will take your breath away. Travel makes it obvious just how incredible this world is. Take this year to see as much of it as you can!
It’s easy to “get comfortable”
So many people say they want to travel the world for a year, but once you start a well-paying job and buy a home or even have a family, it can be hard to leave it all to travel the world. A gap year of travel is the perfect opportunity to get out there before all the comfort and responsibilities set in. Although we are definitely proof-positive that you can sell everything and quit your jobs to travel, it’s far less likely to happen for most people. Put yourself in a position of success and just travel now while you can! All the jobs and homes will be there when you get back if you still want that.
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Honestly, this is probably the most stereotypical reason to travel during a gap year, but I can’t stress it enough. Traveling while you are young and healthy and able will be such a different experience than waiting until you can retire and trying to travel in your 60s and 70s. We of course plan to still be traveling at that point but it will be far different than the experiences we are having now. For example, our visit to Machu Picchu in Peru was one of our favorite travel days thus far. But it is definitely not ADA compliant. You have to climb stairs at high altitudes that were built in the 1400s. There are rocky steps and uneven walkways. It was incredible and never phased us but if we were 50 years older, it probably would be an entirely different story. And you likely aren’t going to be heading to beach clubs and party cruises when you are older.