Could a “grey gap year” add adventure to your post-work years?

a senior couple hiking

Taking a gap year has traditionally been the reserve of students looking for adventure before they enter the world of work.

Whether it’s a post-exams blowout, or the chance to see far-flung destinations before starting further education, it can be a great opportunity for travel and exploration. Maybe you even went travelling in a gap year yourself?

These days, however, you’re almost as likely to find a retiree backpacking in South America as you are an adolescent. Research from Yahoo has revealed that almost 4 in 10 over-60s are throwing caution to the wind and booking an extended trip later in life.

Dubbed the “grey gap year”, many retirees are heading out on extended holidays, with the numbers rising after travel restrictions ease post-Covid.

So, could a grey gap year be right for you? Read on to find out, and for some travel inspiration.

1 in 5 retirees want to head away for a full year

The Yahoo research revealed that, while the ideal length of time the older generation want to travel for is nine months, up to a fifth are considering a full year away in order to cram in and experience as much as they can.

Popular choices for a grey gap year include:

  • So-called “voluntourism”, with older people wanting to contribute skills from decades in the labour market
  • Camper van road trips
  • Skills-based trips such as yoga or painting
  • Ski seasons, with some chalet companies preferring to hire retirees because they work harder than young people.

When it comes to dream travel destinations for older Brits, far-flung destinations topped the list, with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada the most popular choices. Also on the “must visit” list were Italy, the USA, the Maldives, Hawaii, and Iceland.

Forward planning is the key

If you want to plan extensive travels into your post-work life, that time to start thinking about this is right now.

When we create a financial plan, we start by establishing what your goals and ambitions are. Once you have identified what you’d like to do in the future – a year backpacking in Asia, for example – we can then start to work out how much you’ll need to save.

Using cashflow modelling, we can work out whether you have “enough” to achieve all your ambitions. If you don’t, you can see exactly what you’ll need to do now to get on track.

Remember that there will be a few things you think about before you plan an extended trip:

  • Consider that you may have to continue paying your domestic commitments while you are away – these might include Council Tax, utility bills and so on
  • What do you plan to do with your home while you are away? If you are planning on renting it out, make sure you have a trusted agent looking after matters on your behalf. It’s hard to arrange for a boiler to be fixed if you’re halfway up a Peruvian mountain!
  • Do you have adequate travel insurance to ensure any unexpected medical bills are covered while you are away?

We can help you establish what savings you’ll need for your trip, and how you can plan for your finances so you can do everything you want on your odyssey.

3 grey gap year adventures to add to your bucket list

According to the Yahoo research, the top five travel experiences for Brits over 60 are:

  1. A trip to the Northern Lights, Iceland
  2. Walking through the wild countryside of New Zealand
  3. Eating pasta on the Amalfi coast
  4. Drinking rum on the beach in the Caribbean
  5. Island hopping in Greece.

If you’re thinking about heading overseas for months on a grey gap year, here are three great adventures to whet your appetite.

  1. Interrailing around Europe

While it might be the archetypal student holiday, interrailing is a great way of seeing Europe by train. With a flexible pass, you can travel between 33 European countries for up to three months at a time.

Many interrailing trips start in Paris, then you can head through Belgium and the Netherlands. The trip from Amsterdam to Berlin is an enjoyable six- to seven- hour journey, and you can then look east towards Warsaw, six hours away, or head two hours to Dresden.

Prague is then just over the border, from where you can continue south-east to Vienna, on to Budapest, or five hours south to Verona. If you then fancy some luxury, you could return to London on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – a decadent way to end your trip.

  1. India and south Asia

A traditional destination for gap years, Asia offers the chance to immerse yourself in new cultures and cuisine.

You can start by flying to Mumbai to explore Rajasthan, and on to Jaipur before enjoying a safari within the Ranthambore National Park and a visit to the Taj Mahal. From Delhi you can fly to Guwahati to visit the Kamakhya Temple and to visit a tea estate to see what makes Assam tea world-famous.

Once you’ve seen the sights and sounds of India, fly to Colombo and visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage before travelling to Kandy. Here, visit the Temple of the Tooth, before driving to Nuwara Eliya.

You can then fly to Kuala Lumpur and wend your way northbound through Malaysia and Thailand, before a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and up to the stunning Ha Long Bay north Vietnam – thousands of islands forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.

  1. North America

The “Route 66” holiday is an all-time classic road trip that’s been etched into American folklore by those migrating west during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Starting in Chicago, the 2,000-mile trip takes you through the heart of the USA. You’ll cross through eight states and visit incredible cities including Pontiac, St Louis, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque before you reach your destination in sunny Santa Monica, Los Angeles.

En route you’ll want to take a detour to the Grand Canyon to see one of the natural wonders of the world, and perhaps to Las Vegas to experience the lights and sounds of this amazing desert city.

Get in touch

If you’re hoping to travel extensively when you retire, we can help you to create a financial plan that enables you to live out all your dreams.

To find out more, please get in touch. Email or call us on 01454 416653.

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