Six weeks ago today marked my last day of a technical writer contract. It was a voluntary decision after I stretched six months of work (and pay) into 9-1/2 months because of extended trips.
I wanted to call my current transition into a lengthy period of travel, and hopefully travel-related income-producing projects, my Boomer Gap Year. Google, however, shows less than a dozen global hits for “boomer gap year.”
Not being that much of a trendsetter, I have settled on the more popular term of “adult gap year.”
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the term, gap year traditionally means a break between high school and university studies. The meaning of gap year has expanded to include all kinds of breaks, like between getting married and starting work (extended honeymoon), after university and a few years of work (quarter life), midlife reset, and so on.
A great definition is provided by the travel website, GapYear.com:
A gap year is constructive time out to travel in between life stages. It usually means travelling, volunteering or working abroad. Often it means all three!
My Adult Gap Year Strategy
My adult gap year strategy is to travel more and pay less, by burning my stash of frequent travel points, other McCool savvy tactics, and accepting invitations from destinations wanting to reach an audience of savvy, happy travelers.
Will write for food and lodging!
My adult gap year strategy is also to eventually produce income. I shall not get into the hows and whys of that right now.
Naturally, I thought about what other people do for their boomer gap year or adult gap year. I know people who have sold everything and become nomads. I know others who participate in home exchanges, frequently house sit, live on boats, live in a van or RV, and many other flavors.
For this article, I reached out to some online travel friends — mostly from a boomer travel group on Facebook — and received some superb information. I have included their name, website name, links to the website and two social media channels, so you can follow their adventures.
Thank you for reading, and to my boomer travel friends for your submissions.
Adult Gap Year Strategies
SoloTripsandTips.com, Facebook, Pinterest
I decided to give travel a higher priority in my life. Realizing that I could transition my bookkeeping clients over to remote work allows me to enjoy a modern nomad lifestyle. All I own fits into my Toyota Yaris. Everything else I sold or gave away when I left Austin, Texas, at the end of September 2015. I don’t miss any of my possessions. I have found a great balance between working and exploring while I road trip around the USA and Canada.
When we sold everything several years ago and moved to Hawaii, people thought we were crazy. While we lived in Hawaii, we traveled to Europe on a six-week trip that culminated with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some people thought that was crazy. When we got back, we sold everything (there was far less this time!) again and went completely nomad. Officially nuts. Now we’re finishing up our second year of full-time travel! It’s the best kind of crazy ever!
Ron and Michele Legge, Leggingit.com.au,
We are a couple in our 50s, we sold all of our ‘things’ and left our jobs to start a different kind of lifestyle for a few years. We wanted to spend time together exploring the world.
We left Australia in January 2014 and took 5 months to travel overland to England using trains, buses and boats as transport. When we arrived, we purchased a motorcycle and since May 2015 have traveled 65,000 kms discovering Europe. We use a mixture of accommodation options, but our favourites are housesitting and couchsurfing. Housesitting gives us the chance to be a bit normal, cook, look after animals and be part of a community, and couchsurfing allows us to meet locals and really learn more about everyday life in the place we are.
I started to do more AirBnB stays when I visit a new destination not just as a cost saving, but I typically try to find hosts that also have similar interests, so their suggestions and tips of what to do and experience as a local is in line with the same interests that I would like to do when I visit a location. Staying with AirBnB has made me also want to be a host in my home town, and I have had many interesting and fun visitors coming to visit the area and I love giving some tips and unique places that I love to visit regularly. If you want to try something unique where you really get to see what it is like to live with a local host and get a great insight to culture, food and daily lifestyle in an area, try staying with an AirBnB location and I’m sure you will be hooked on this type of travel.
As we watched our olive crop being turned into oil on that brisk October Saturday last fall we knew we’d made the right decision. Two years ago we caught our long-held daydream of growing olives instead of old. It was back then, we 60-somethings bought a home, (The Stone House on the Hill), in the Mani, a region in Greece’s southern Peloponnese. It sits amidst a grove of 15 olive trees. Our Greek home provides this vagabond duo a European base from which we can travel (easily and inexpensively) to destinations like Cairo, Egypt, where we celebrated Christmas last year. At the time we made the decision, we were estimating “maybe five ‘good’ years” and have since thrown that to the wind: 10 or more! (We still have a base in the Pacific Northwest where we were born and raised, and spend a few months each year there.)
In 2013 we had an idea…we would rent our house and head to Europe for 6 months. When we left Australia, we had not been able to rent it for such a short time, so we thought we’d be home in 6 weeks. However, during this time we received an offer for an eighteen-month rental and decided to take it. Eighteen months flew…I’m so glad we didn’t go for less time.
The rent was a great help to our accommodation costs and the fun of being free in Europe was priceless. Our only worry was staying within Schengen visa rules for Australians, which meant we could stay no longer than 3 months every 6 months in Schengen Europe. This was overcome with 2 months in both Croatia and Turkey and again time in New York and London. It’s something I would recommend to everyone. You have to take the opportunity when you can…before the children have grandchildren and before the parents rely on you. However it is only a flight home if you are needed…which did happen to us! We flew home for two months during this time and then resumed our trip. It’s definitely something I’ll do again…when my grandchild is a bit older!
Just call us boomer contrarians. Rather than selling everything we own for a life on the road, Alan and I upsized to a high-maintenance log home. Not only that, but we also moved from a warm climate to a colder one. Why? Because the Bitterroot Valley of Montana spoke to us so strongly that we were compelled to live here. A home base grounds us, as does the camaraderie of a small town community. Yes, we still travel the world, but returning to the warm embrace of Montana is our reward at the end of the road.
Wow, I am so inspired now to sell everything, motorcycle around the world, rent my house, become a nomad. Settle down, Sport!
Thank you to those who contributed to this article. Please visit their websites and follow them on their listed social media accounts.
Do you have other Adult Gap Year Strategies to share?