Style Magazine - - Financial -

Imag­ine tak­ing a year to vol­un­teer abroad on a con­ser­va­tion pro­ject or to build houses for the poor. Or you may wish to share the skills you’ve learned with oth­ers or learn a new skill your­self.

Gap years are not just for school leavers. You can take one at any age.

Some com­pa­nies even have sab­bat­i­cal pro­grams that en­cour­age staff to take time out of their jobs to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion, travel or find other ways to in­crease their value.

Choose your own ad­ven­ture: What will it be? Con­ser­va­tion pro­ject, learn­ing, teach­ing or even just tak­ing off on a great ad­ven­ture?

Once you’ve de­cided what to do with your gap year, it’s then a mat­ter of re­search. Plenty of com­pa­nies, such as Gap Work and GVI Aus­tralia, fo­cus on pro­vid­ing gap year ex­pe­ri­ences, or you can plan it your­self. Be pre­pared to travel: No mat­ter what you de­cide to do, usu­ally your gap year will in­volve at least some travel.

A real ben­e­fit of be­ing free of the shack­les of em­ploy­ment is that you will be able to spend time ex­plor­ing your lo­ca­tion.

There will be time to find the spots only the lo­cals know or take those side trips to spe­cial out-of-the-way places.

You also may have the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing a lit­tle more dar­ing than re­lax­ing in a re­sort, be it bungee jump­ing, sail­ing or trekking in the Hi­malayas. Do some­thing good for oth­ers: Do you want to give some­thing back?

You could choose to do this over­seas in dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas, where you can work along­side lo­cal peo­ple to im­prove the qual­ity of their lives.

Tak­ing part in con­ser­va­tion projects, teach­ing and build­ing or work­ing at or­phan­ages are other pop­u­lar op­tions, but there are many more things you can do.

Add to your skills: Broad­en­ing your ed­u­ca­tion is an­other way to get the most out of your gap year.

You can com­bine travel and study by choos­ing cour­ses of­fered abroad, like learn­ing a lan­guage or teach­ing English. Or start a post-grad­u­ate course that may be more in line with your in­tended fu­ture ca­reer. An­other thought is to ex­pand your tech­ni­cal and prac­ti­cal knowl­edge, like en­hanc­ing your culi­nary skills through Le Cor­don Bleu.

Make it hap­pen: Once you’ve de­cided what you want to do – and when you’d be able to take time out – put a sav­ings plan in place and ex­plore your op­tions for fund­ing your break. Con­sider how your money could be put to work while you take time off, and how you’ll cre­ate an in­come when you re­turn.

If tak­ing a whole year off doesn’t seem pos­si­ble at the mo­ment, con­sider tak­ing a week or even a month in­stead. And in the mean­time, work to­wards sav­ing a lump sum that could help you take more time off down the track.

A fi­nan­cial plan­ner can help to plan and make your gap year a re­al­ity.

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