| Kaye Holland

Closing the Gap: Years Out for Grown-Ups

Once upon a time, gap years were the preserve of school and university leavers. Fast forward to 2016 and taking a ‘gap year’ – or career break – has become part of professional working life. For Sybarites opting to take a ‘year off’ later in life, we’ve selected some of the best gap ideas for grown ups…

Teach overseas
Teaching abroad has long been a popular gap year option with twenty-somethings but it transpires that, in 2016, schools are reluctant to hire someone with little life not to mention teaching experience. Rather they want older adults who are, the theory goes, more reliable and less likely to show up to a 9am class with a raging hangover. Teaching abroad is also a great way to really get to grips with a different culture and to forge friendships with the locals.

Fancy giving something back to the community? How about volunteering in a school project or perhaps with endangered species? Make sure you have a clear idea in your head before you start looking at what you’d like to do. There are so many options out there that you could spend hours if not days, weeks and months looking. Decide what country or at least continents you’d like to work in first and take it from there.

Au pair abroad
If you adore children, why not make like Mary Poppins and au pair overseas -a fantastic way to experience another country and culture whilst living like a local. For an idea of salaries and job opportunities, visit Au Pair World. Alternatively, check out the classified section of The Lady -England’s longest running weekly magazine for women.


Learn something new
Always wanted to study Spanish but never managed to squeeze it into your busy work schedule? We hear you. However imagine learning Spanish in say; Costa Rica, Colombia or maybe Mexico in the week, while spending your weekends and free time swimming in the crystal clear waters and topping up the tan on stunning beaches.

You don’t have to learn a new language though. Always wanted to master Tango? Make for Argentina – the South American giant is synonymous with the sultry strut – and become a tanguero. Alternatively take a glass blowing course in Venice, become an oenophile in France, sign up for a writing workshop in Dublin – a city famous for its roll call of writers, past and present – practise your downward dog on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica… You get the gist.

Get sporty
Hands up if you have ambitions to be the next Ben Ainsley or Ellen MacArthur? It’s time to take up sailing in the BVI or spectacular Whitsundays. Staying in Australia, why not don your wetsuit and get certified in scuba diving in Australia off the Great Barrier Reef? Or you could become a snow-bunny in Canada

And if that doesn’t get your endorphins going, then try the abundant skydiving and bungee-jumping opportunities all over the world!

Volunteer in your field
As a mature gapper, you have a wealth of professional experience, so if you’re the caring and sharing type, think about volunteering within your field. Case in point? If you worked in the media, chances are you’d make a massive impact by helping out on a publication in China or Vietnam. A biologist? Go to the Galapagos Islands and help out with an environmental project. Whatever you’re line of work, you’re sure to find a project that would undoubtedly appreciate your skills and expertise.

Gap years don’t necessarily have to involve a form of learning or working. You can simply weave your way around the world and tick off all the destinations you dreamt about visiting when at work. To do this, The Sybarite suggests packing a sense of adventure, a sense of humour – and a flexible itinerary as you probably won’t stick to pre-arranged plans. That said, if this sounds a tad nomadic for your liking, sign up for an organised tour with a company like The Leap or Year Out Group.

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