Should Your Family Take a Year Off for Travel?

The term “gap year” typically refers to students letting a year lapse in their education, or between school and work. The opportunity to take a year evolved further, becoming more accessible to all generations across education, career and single and family life. Now more and more people take a year to travel the world at any age.

While some quit their jobs to explore, load up the kids and homeschool for the interim, others build tiny houses to explore with their partners or solo. This concept has become more widely accepted in society than in previous generations, opening greater travel opportunities for families, couples, single travelers and everyone in between.

Those who can work remotely and want to travel, will. The home office can be anywhere, especially on the road. Typically 9–5 jobs and office structures fall by the wayside in many industries, including graphic design, writing and consulting and even caretaking.

A growing trend in the workforce office structure is an open vacation policy. Some businesses offer unlimited vacation days as a perk for employees. The concept was designed to lift formal structures out of the office and add a sense of freedom in the workplace — ideal for unconventional family travel.

Who Has it Easiest

By allowing employees an unlimited number of paid vacation days, businesses like LinkedIn, Netflix, Grubhub, General Electric, Virgin Group, Hubspot and Grant Thornton saw employees feel less pressure to take their vacation days and greater work quality. This concept lends well to the year-of-travel idea or, at the very least, a few months at a time. As long as employees produce the same quantity and quality of work, the vacation time is flowing.

family Cambodia travel

© Alexander Shalamov |

With a bit more structure, freedom and opportunity to explore, travel nursing is the route to take for anyone with a medical background or interest in the field. Travel nurses can essentially shop for positions by location, experience and interest. With travel nurses in high demand, the pay is tempting and the opportunity to constantly travel, move and explore the country is appealing. Build a tiny house, RV or use industry housing and make your way around the country as a working registered nurse.

More Risks, More Reward?

Alternatives to working in an office with an open vacation policy are a little more risky and require more hustle, such as working remotely. A remote year can be incredibly rewarding both financially and emotionally. Freelance writers, photographers, consultants and travel nurses find themselves able to set up work prior to their trip, travel, live and work at the same time.

If your employer has less lenient vacation policies, you have to consider, is the experience worth the risk? Changing fields and mixing up your financial routine can be a challenge, but if you and your partner are already considering a switch, this might be the best excuse to jump-start the change.

Total Change Up

When all else fails, there is always the option to quit your job and travel the world. This is an incredible luxury allotted to a select few depending on the condition in which you are prepared to live. Backpacking and staying with friends, in hostels and group homes can keep the cost of travel down, but day-to-day expenses can add up quickly. If you want to travel well and not have to take random jobs as they come, saving and preparing for a trip like this is key.

Over the past few years, this has been a growing trend for travelers in high-stress and high-power positions looking for a change. Authors for Huffington Post and BBC expressed the overpowering benefits of taking a year off to travel and even give suggestions on how to proceed.

Travel isn’t just for the young and able, it is for everyone. Missing your chance in college to study abroad or take summer vacations doesn’t have to end in your 20s — there are more possibilities than ever to get out and explore. Immersing your family in new cultures and uprooting your lives can seem daunting, but the experience can outweigh the risk for some families.

At the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you, your family, partner and career. Taking the leap to travel for an extended period of time can be one of the most terrifying and rewarding decisions at any age and, luckily, for the brave and determined, there are ample opportunities in our modern society.