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When is the best time to take a gap year?

8th November 2018 Print

We spend a large portion of our young lives in education, and while schools and universities teach us a lot, some things in life can’t be taught by a teacher or lecturer. Sometimes, we have to go out and experience new things to gain a deeper understanding of not just the world, but also ourselves. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’s probably time you considered taking a gap year. 

Here’s some advice on when it might be the best time for you to take a gap year and why:

Before University

After high school is one of the most popular times to take a gap year because it gives you a nice break before you begin your first year at college or university. Many people believe that a pre-university gap year gives you time to mature before returning to your studies. 

You can also get some breathing space by going out on your own for the first time. You could pick up a part-time job abroad to help fund your gap year or, if you prefer, you can spend the year at home with family and friends. 

During University

Some people even take a gap year mid-way through higher education, which is perfect for those who want to take a break from the stress of university life. However, there are a few downsides. Mainly, your original peer group might be a year ahead of you when you return to finish your studies. Some people also find it difficult to return to the same university routine after enjoying the taste of freedom. 

But if you do decide to take a gap year during university, you might find yourself feeling replenished upon your return and better equipped to tackle the year ahead. This is also a great time to think about what you want to do with your life. If you’re having career doubts or you think the course you’ve chosen isn’t for you, a gap year at this time allows you to take a step back and see the bigger picture. It might even help you to make a more informed decision, and it’ll also give you the opportunity to gain some work experience or volunteer for a few months.

After Graduation

By the time you graduate from university, you’ll probably be more than ready for a long break from textbooks and all-nighters. So, why not pack your bags and go travelling for a year? You can fund your trip by picking up temp jobs along the way. If you’re on a tight budget, hiring a rental car might be ideal and more financially suitable. Now that your studies are finally over, this is your chance to get out on your own and experience the world before you enter full-time work.

Some pros of taking a gap year after university includes the fact that it gives you time to catch up with friends, learn more about yourself, and the world, and it also gives you something exciting to put on your CV.

Career Break

If you’ve been working for a while, you might feel a desire or pull to take a year off. Maybe you want to go travelling, take a new course or develop yourself as a person and employee. Seeking a career break is the right move for many people, especially those who need to de-stress and get out of a confining office environment.

Before Settling Down

If you have the “travel bug” and want to explore the world more before settling down and starting a family, taking a gap year before then is a great idea. Although travelling with kids isn’t impossible, it can be quite stressful and complicated. This may be one of the last times you can enjoy some time to yourself away from education, work and responsibilities.


A gap year isn’t just for 20-somethings. More and more people are enjoying a relaxing gap year during retirement. As an older traveller, you’ll be able to take everything at your own pace and travel to all the places you may have missed in the past. Baby boomers are a generation of eager explorers, and there’s plenty of things you can do to escape the noise and gain new experiences that you can enjoy.