In our blog last week, we talked about getting away from it all but we were focused mainly on vacation travel. But what if we told you that plenty of people over 50 are taking off a lot more time than just a normal two-week vacation? This week, we are exploring a trend related to travel often referred to as a Golden Gap Year. What exactly is a Golden Gap Year, you ask? Well, LiveWell Placements is here to explain as well as provide some suggestions for ways that you can enjoy your own gap time!
Gap years are usually associated with young adults taking a year off after high school or college in order to explore the world before beginning the grind of a nine to five job. However, in typical Baby Boomer fashion, boomers are changing the rules and taking their gap year after 50. They are taking sabbaticals from work or retirement and using the time to travel, volunteer, or take stock of their current life and decide how they might want to change it moving forward. And, while not everyone takes a whole year off, the goal is the same; explore, be in the moment and reevaluate. Here are three ways to spend your gap time:
I bet you didn’t know that you could join the Peace Corps at any age. That’s right, the Peace Corps specifically has programs for volunteers that are over 50. In addition, there are many other volunteer opportunities that require less of a time commitment. You can volunteer for a week or two at Projects Abroad which organizes trips for those over 50. Or you can go directly to organizations that specialize in projects within certain countries such as helping children in Ecuador.
Explore New Cultures
There are plenty of opportunities to use your time to learn about other cultures. For example, RoadScholar.org provides in-depth learning experiences about destinations, subjects or ideas that will inspire you. Or try connecting with other travelers who share their adventures both online and offline through Passion Passport. Or take a bespoke one-of-a-kind journey through Lokal Travel and go to small villages in Costa Rica or Mexico or Peru and learn from the people that actually live there. In addition, Lokal Travel shares proceeds with the host communities, so they benefit directly from tourism dollars.
Serve as a Cultural Ambassador
For those that really want to experience what it is like to live in another country, why not actually live with a local? Servas.org is a non-profit organization that fosters a global understanding of cultural diversity through a person-to-person network of travelers and hosts. Whether traveler or host, each member serves as an “ambassador of peace” with the experience specifically designed to create lifelong friendships and goodwill between cultures.
Finally, if you have the time but don’t have the money, why not get a job abroad teaching English? It is a great way to connect with the local people, live somewhere exotic and get paid in the process. The bottom line is that no matter where you are going or how long you stay, you are likely to come back as a more enlightened and confident person. As Chris Hermann said after buying a round-the-world ticket and living in numerous countries, “With any experience where you step outside your comfort zone, the next step becomes less challenging.” Hermann also turned his experience into a new business venture just published his first book, My Senior Gap Year, about his travels!