Gap years are traditionally thought of as for the young; those who take a year out between school and university to 'find themselves', perhaps doing the same again before settling down into the world of work. Yet research shows a growing proportion of people are planning to take a gap year when they hit retirement, with older travellers starting to lead the way.
The research, from Charter Savings Bank, shows that 40% of respondents are planning a gap year when they're 60+, opting to fund their trip with savings from a lifetime of work. In contrast, just 18% are planning gap years before the age of 30, putting paid to the idea that it's only younger people who want to jet off.
Given that 49% of over-45s said they've never taken a gap year or extended break from work, it's little wonder they're looking forward to the chance to travel once they're retired. They're planning to spend around £5,000 on their trip, and hope to rely on their savings to cover it – 63% said they'll dip into their savings accounts, compared with just 7% who plan to use credit cards, highlighting the forward planning put into many of these gap years.
Furthermore, only around 9% of over-55s will be working on their gap year, compared with 32% of those aged under-25, showing that older travellers just want to kick back and enjoy their gap year.
"Many of us think about gap years being the preserve of backpacking students, but increasingly we're seeing that older customers are catching the travelling bug," said Paul Whitlock, director of Savings at Charter Savings Bank.
"It's worth remembering that once-in-a-lifetime opportunities can happen at any time of life, and whilst globe-trotting in your 60s might seem like a long time to wait, it does have the advantage of travelling in a little more luxury and not having to run up debts to fund it. It definitely highlights that a savings habit does pay off, even if the amount you're able to put aside today seems too small to make a difference."
If your goal is to get out there and see the world, you're going to need one key thing – the money to do it. That's why, if you're planning for a gap year in your future, you need to get saving!
You can start small, saving little and often, and with the right savings account you'll soon see your balance edge up. If you really want to get into the habit, a regular savings account could be ideal, encouraging you to save on a regular basis to reach your goal.
Hopefully you've got a target in mind of how much you'll need to save – £5,000 might be the average, but you may need more or less, depending on your travel ideas – and if you start planning your itinerary, you can set a budget accordingly.
As an older traveller, you'll also need to think about other aspects that may not be so much of a concern for students, such as what you'll do with your property when you're away. You may want to rent it out to help fund your trip, for example, but make sure to seek financial advice first, and don't forget about your insurance obligations and arranging someone to manage the property.
Then there's long-term travel insurance, an absolute must – many insurance policies allow you up to three months of cover in a single trip, so if you'll be away for longer, you may need to seek more specialist cover for complete peace of mind.
The list of preparations may seem daunting, but as long as you're organised and have everything in order, you can soon look forward to jetting off on a well-deserved gap year, savings and camera in hand.
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