A year out was once the preserve of 18-year-olds seeking direction in life but today things have changed. Forget spending 12 months in a haze of alcohol, harem trousers and sunburn. Travel in your late 20s and early 30s is now an acceptable, and often far more rewarding, time to explore the world.
A year out is perfect for those seeking a new challenge, or anyone looking to discover our spectacular planet while learning more about themselves in the process. Travelling is an investment you’ll never regret, and will leave a lasting and powerful impression on your life. Here are a few reasons why travelling in your 20s and 30s is the new year out:
And while top tourist sights are often incredible experiences, sometimes there’s nothing better than stepping out of your hostel and discovering a new city, country or landscape without the expectations of what others think you should be visiting weighing down upon you.
Experiencing life’s inequalities first-hand will make sure that you never forget about the tiny, fortunate position you have in the world and will make you realise how your contribution as a tourist to the economy can have a valuable, lasting impact.
Yes, a few glasses of delicious Argentinian Malbec won’t go amiss on a sun-laden terrace – when in Rome (or Mendoza) and all that – but staying up until 3am to bop drunkenly to Enrique Iglesias’ The Twilight Years in a seedy Peruvian nightclub might no longer be your cup of tea.
You might splash out on a four-bed dorm, or even a private room, so you can escape the party and get some kip. Not exactly wild, but practical: you’ve got a sunrise to admire the next morning, after all.
Backpacking is a wonderful lesson in budgeting, but there’s no shame in having more cash to travel with a little extra comfort. Being in the position to spend a little extra for that fully reclining seat and the luxury of a toilet on your 24-hour bus journey is something you won’t live to regret.
But, even if you’re still scraping around for the money to travel, go anyway. There will never be a time when everything is perfectly aligned, and no time is better than the present.
Grab your rucksack and encounter some of the globe’s most spectacular and under-visited destinations. Explore undiscovered India, learn about the revolution in Cuba, study indigenous languages in Bolivia, or engage with rich culture and community life in Uganda.
Live your forgotten dreams: conquer the odds and summit some of the world’s most challenging mountains, get involved in a body-destroying coastal trail-running and hiking event in Sweden, rent a vehicle and travel Namibia in your own four wheels or settle down for a few months and volunteer.
Inspired? For more gap-year ideas, listen to Episode 5 of The Rough Guide to Everywhere (iTunes; Soundcloud) where Tim Key shares stories from his time in Kiev and our very own editor Freya Godfrey tells tales from her stint in India.
If you're thinking of a year out, check out The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World. Compare flights, find tours, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. Header image via Pixabay/CC0.