Are you too old to take a gap year?

Warning: reading this post will make you want to quit your job and go travel!

Two years ago, I handled my resignation letter to quit my corporate job. A few months later it became reality when I left Europe with bags of excitement and a one way ticket to South America. This was the best decision of my life. I stay for 222 awesome days exploring this wonderful continent.

Since then, many people -friends or not- have questioned me about this experience. All are curious, and I can tell many are tempted to do the same even if they don’t really dare. Today, exactly a year after I came back from this wonderful adventure, I will answer the most asked questions ever about taking a career break and go travel.

Should I quit my job and go travel?

If you are asking yourself this question, you probably already know the answer.

“At some point the dream become so big that you can’t postpone it”

It’s a bit how I felt when I quit my job. I was not afraid. I felt the excitement and relief to finally go for something I had always wanted to do. At that time, I thought a bit too much about “what if I cannot do it later”. My answer to that was “there is no better time than now”.

It is time to break through and pursue your dreams!

At home, you may feel like some kind of crazy person but once will hit the road, you will meet hundreds of similar minded people who took a deep breath and decided to just do it. And then, it’s surprising how normal taking a career break become.



But am I not too old for backpacking?

Countless drunken nights by the beach and hangover mornings, pool parties and international flirts. This is maybe the image you have of the gap year, that it is something reserved to teenagers and graduates.

But enjoying life doesn’t come with an expiration date! There is no age limit to take time for yourself and follow your dreams.

On this blog, I am talking about my experience, of hitting the road after several (4) years in the corporate world. And a brief look at our adventures will show you we spent more time hiking in the Andes than drinking margaritas on the beaches (well, we did that as well…). So called “grow-ups” going backpacking usually choose a slightly itinerary and may plan a larger budget to accommodate their wishes. For example, we choose private rooms and clean hostels instead of the ones hosting the biggest bar in town…

Depending on where you are in your life, you will enjoy backpacking differently. They are as many gap years as people taking one and the world is big and diverse enough to accommodate all. You don’t even have to go travel if it is not your thing!  Some decide to focus their time of on a specific project linked to a cause, or their profession.. the choice is yours.


Will a gap-year hurt my career?

After a gap year and all marvellous experiences you will have had, you will think that it was worth any hurt that your career had to take! But I understand that at first, the fear of being fired from the job if taking sabbatical, or staying unemployed if quitting is the number 1 reason why many people don’t go on a gap year.

The reality is usually quite different. You will be surprised to see how going on a gap year start to be recognized. It is not about hiding it on your CV anymore but about being able to explain why you did it and how it benefit you and your job.  Don’t just take my word, listen to this awesome TED talk to convince yourself.


Another misconception is that quitting your job to go travel is for people who want to become professional bloggers or digital nomads. If it is a possibility (if you are ready to work really hard for it), this far from being the main stream. Surfing the web, you get the impression that many didn’t come back to their job. But many do ; as they are just blogging on their free time their blogs (mine included) are usually quite confidential. I actually enjoyed to be back and having a job!


I also believe that reactions to a career break can reflect really well your values. So if you would get declined for a job because the recruiter thought it was a stupid idea to go travel, would you actually want to work for them?


What was the best of your grow-up gap year?

So many things always come to my mind when I get this question…
Learn. How much learnings do you think you will squeeze in 6 months? I learnt diving, climbing, horse-riding, hiking in autonomy, dancing samba and tango. I ate guinea pig. I rode on the back of a pick-up truck. I climbed a 6000m summit. Learning something new everyday is such a special and addictive feeling.


Find my passion.  With the possibility to fully master your schedule, you start realising what you want to really spend time on. The trip confirmed my passion for writing and I definitely caught the bug of the outdoors and trekking! When I came back, I struggled with spending so much time indoors!


Change. A popular proverb says “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” I think this is literally true. Spending so much time out of your daily life and in a new environment changes us more than we will think. When I left for the trip, one of my friend said “when I got back [from her own gap year], I felt I could die in peace“. I discovered how right she was… My gap year brought balance back in my life and taught me how to truly enjoy the moment and all the little things in life.


But the best was probably to have the opportunity to live life, one day at a time!

There is no better time than now!

If you are reading this blog post, you are probably lucky enough to have the opportunity to consider quitting your job and taking a break. Go, enjoy this chance.  You will not regret it.


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