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Should I Take a Year off and Focus on Myself?

A gap year is when young adults take a year off before or after attending college or training to travel and explore the world.
Carol Evenson
Many people find this option to be very rewarding and an opportunity to grow and discover more about themselves. While there are many positives to going on a gap year, there are a few drawbacks, and it's important to consider all of the gap year pros and cons before you make a final decision.


A gap year can be a wonderful experience. It allows you to travel the world and explore different cultures. You get to experience a variety of lifestyles and see how people live across the globe.
Your adventure will bring you into constant contact with people. A gap year is a great opportunity to meet people and network. You may make some good friends that will be travel companions in the future or offer a place to stay when you are in their country in the future.
You will also most likely come across people with unique and interesting jobs that can give you some insight and direction on what type of career you want to pursue and even give you tips on how to get into the field.
Travel is a good way to learn about yourself as well. Spending an extended amount of time in your own company, and exploring unique places will give you a better sense of what you like and what you don't like, what moves you, and what draws you in and captivates you.
This can help you to determine what kind of future you want and how you will choose to live your life.
A gap year can foster a strong sense of independence. You will need to plan carefully and manage your finances to be able to continue on your adventure and this can build character and responsibility.


There is the obvious con of the cost of a gap year. Before you consider going on one, make sure that you can afford it. Sit down and create a budget. Go over any monthly expenses that you have such as student loan payments that may come into effect before you return home and credit card or cellphone bills.
Determine how much money you have saved and how far this will cover you. Do you have enough to cover your monthly and travel expenses? Are you planning on working while you're on the road? Have you set aside an emergency fund for any unexpected expenses?
Make sure you thoroughly consider this option as you don't want to be stuck in a foreign country with no resources and no options.
Another thing to consider is if a gap year could potentially be wasting your time. Some people may focus more on the leisure part of travel instead of exploration and growth. Plan for a meaningful experience, one that is worthwhile and not just an extended vacation.
One last point to consider is whether or not a gap year will make it difficult to go back to your original plan when you return home. You may find that you aren't as motivated to go to college or to get job training as you were before your trip.
Your new experiences and insights could color your past decisions and opinions, causing you to change your mind or be reluctant to pursue the path you had chosen before.
Take into consideration all of the positives and negatives before you consider going on a gap year. Your period of extended travel will enrich your life and make you into a more well-rounded person. Allow for the possibility that your chosen career path or life plan may change upon your return.
Growth and change is an important part of a well balanced and full life. Even if your plans have changed, find some direction and work towards your new goals once your travel adventure comes to an end and a new one begins.