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STA Travel Blog

What Type Of Gapper Are You?

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘gap trip’ before, I mean, here at STA Travel we don’t stop banging on about them, and for good reason; it’s our area of expertise, we love them and we believe that taking a gap trip can, without a doubt, change your life.

But what exactly is a gap trip? Without trying to sound patronising, it’s exactly what it sounds like; a ‘gap’ in your regular life, some space, a break from the norm, some time away.

There are so many variations of a gap trip it’s impossible to define them all individually. They come in a huge array of shapes and sizes and each person’s trip expectations are different. Some want to do nothing except chill and reflect, some want to party like it’s 1999 (again), some want to make a difference, some want to learn, some want to integrate, the list is endless.

Now, we’re not trying to box you in, but ‘gappers’ usually find them selves fitting into one of a few different categories. No 2 people’s gap trip is ever the same, even if you travel with a friend chances are you will both come away with different perspectives once you reflect on what you experienced and that’s something that should be celebrated – and embraced. Trips like this can make you realise things you never knew before, they can introduce you to different ways of thinking that will change your life forever; or you may come back exactly as you were before just a bit more tanned, a little grubbier but with memories of an effing good time.

So what type of ‘gapper’ are you? We’ve come up with a few options below, but can you think of anymore? Any that you think define you better? Let us know in the comments box below.

A gap trip can be exactly what you want it to be

Here’s our guide to gappers, which category to do fall into?

Gap Year

Traditionally, a gap year is a year taken either before, during, or after university – and for so many travellers it’s is still relevant and super beneficial.

A year out between college and uni will give you that well deserved break you’ve been hankering for after years of full time education and will help you to be sure you have chosen the correct path at university.

Some time out during a uni course will help you to recharge your batteries and revaluate the way you think. Meaning you can offer different insights into the things you are studying on your course that maybe you would have before you left; which is definitely a good thing in the eyes of any lecturer or professor.

And taking time our after you have completed your uni course is, first and foremost, a reward for a job well done, a great way to give yourself a break before you take the leap into the scary world of full time work (eeeek!), and also quite importantly it’s the perfect opportunity to help make you stand out from the crowd once you’re back and the time comes to start handing in those CV’s to perspective employers.

Volunteering and working holidays are particularly good ways of preparing for the future while at the same time having the time of your life!

Try things you haven't tried before

Snap Year

A Gap trip doesn’t necessarily need to be as long (or even as short) as a year. There are no such things as timescales where a life changing experience is concerned.

Maybe you can’t afford a year, maybe you don’t have the time to spare, or maybe you simply just don’t want to be gone that long – for whatever reason.

A ‘snap year’ is a gap year – only shorter. It could be 3 weeks, it could be 3 months, it could be 6 months.

Some people spend their snap year doing that 1 thing they’ve been dreaming about for years, others hop from place to place and get a taster of all those places they have dreamed of seeing in order to know which one they want to explore further at a later date.

Where will your gap trip take you?

Sandwich Year

Very similar to the time out that you can take in the middle of your uni course, but a sandwich year is specifically included into a degree course and is designed to help students gain experience in the area they are studying. Teaching and medical degrees often offer sandwich years and many students choose to spend that year helping in hospitals and schools in severely deprived countries. Time well spent, not only towards passing their course, but also for gaining those unforgettable gap trip memories and doing your bit to help where it’s really needed.

Career Break

You’ve been working hard in a job that, maybe you love, maybe you hate, and for whatever reason want to take some time away.

That time away can come in the form of a sabbatical (unpaid leave) or, the slightly more drastic, total abandonment of your job altogether. But, taking a career break has so many potential benefits; from helping you to see what you really want to do, to uncovering skills and talents that you may never have been aware you possessed or even teaching you something new that you can use to capture that dream job once your back home again.

My own gap trip experience was a career break. Just last year at 29, I applied for, and was granted, a 6 month sabbatical from work, and off I went on my dream trip across Egypt, Nepal, India, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Fiji and the west coast of the USA, and you know what, it was the best thing I ever did. In fact I dare you to try and find anyone who took time out to travel and now regrets it.

Maybe now's the time to throw caution to the wind?

Grey Gappers

Grey gappers, the name given to those people aged over 55 who travel for extended periods of time either after taking time away from work or retiring, are now a common sight all over the world.

While there was a time that every other gapper was likely to be below 30, times, they are a-changing, and now it’s very likely that you will meet many a grey gapper on your travels and it will make your experience all the richer for it. That’s what it’s all about, meeting people of different ages, nationalities, religions, cultures and absorbing what’s different.

It’s fair to say that while those over 55 may not be looking for the same travel experience as, say, an 18 year old pre uni gapper, the basics are there: excitement, discovery, fun (although maybe in slightly more comfortable surroundings that a 15 bed dorm room!) Our sister company Bridge the World is a popular choice with those looking for a slightly more luxurious taste of adventure.

Do you fall into any of these categories? Maybe you’re in a class all of your very own?! What is your gap story?
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Showing 10 Comments

  1. Kirsty MacDonald

    I was fed up of my university course – I had no inspiration or motivation, so took a gap year before my Honours year. I volunteered at a children’s home in India, and it was the most amazing 6 months I’ve ever experienced. I would go back in an instant if I could, but I also have some focus: I’m going to finish my course and hopefully do a years teaching degree after it. I realised during my year out that I don’t want to have a rubbish job for the rest of my life, I want to work with children, I want to teach them, add something to their knowledge, help them.

    1978 days ago
  2. Ann Black

    I guess I might be considered in the Grey Grapper group but I cannot say I care for the name. I certainly do not have grey hair but then again I have not seen the real thing in years.
    Following widowhood then retirement I took myself off with a friend to the other side of the world where we toured North and South Island New Zealand and then partrs of Australia. What a fabulous experience. I loved every minute of it and plan to do it again to other parts. The only drawback is I will have to do it on my own as my friend says she cannot afford it. Any advice for a single lady grey gapper who is a little bit unsure of doing on her own but is desperate to travel.

    1978 days ago
  3. Chloe

    I always wanted to travel whilst at uni but could never really afford it what with all those ‘social’ nights out. Now at 25, I have decided to leave my job to do a working holiday in Australia 6 weeks from now and I can’t begin to explain how happy I am, I say do it & do it good :)

    1978 days ago
    • Laura

      Hi Chloe. Can I ask what type of working holiday you are doing? I have been searching for weeks for the right volunteer job or job abroad desperate for a change and a new experience, but quite scared doing it alone, looking to go somewehre from nov 1st? (I’m 26 years old from Surrey)

      1977 days ago
      • Phil

        I’m also taking a career break to Aus from mid October and can not wait!! I took out a working holiday visa and plan on finding work when I get there. I’m even thinking about doing regional (harvest work) just to experience working outdoors and getting fitter rather than my usual 9-5 office job. :) Seems a lot of us aged 25-27 are doing this – I went straight from uni into full time work, and I think I’m already burnt out at 26! lol – Hopefully this will re-motivate me and make me realise what I really want out of life. :)

        1977 days ago
        • Lisa Crowther

          Thanks for all your super inspiring replies everyone! You’re exactly what this post is all about – anytime is a good time to take a gap trip, as long as it’s right for you. Good luck to you all, have the time of your lives!

          1975 days ago
      • Steff

        Hi Laura,

        Last year i did an 8 month career break to go around the world, to make the most out of my stay i did some volunteering and also some ‘work’ (usually around 3 hours a day, in return i was given food and a bed to stay in) which really helped in saving the costs.

        What sort of work/volunteering are you looking for?

        If you go to they have all sorts of placements doing a wide range of jobs in return of activities and also free stay and food. Its also a great way of meeting people – as i was on my own as well!!

        Hope this is helpful in some way – i hope you have the time of your life! i certainly did!

        1972 days ago
        • Max

          I guess I fall into this category too. Having left university 2 years ago and with 2 years until I plan to go on my trip the 25-27 age group is proving popular.

          I, however, am tempted to make my trip far longer and potentially more permanent. Saving now for a years travels then continuing my voyage but working in all kinds of countries – not knowing where I’ll end up

          1955 days ago
  4. Helen

    I have had several of these types of Gap-year experiences throughout my life. Before Uni, I had 3mths of travel around Europe, then at 25 I took a 9mth sabbatical to re-assess my career choice and went to Sth America, NZ, Oz and SE Asia. I came back and changed career to become an English teacher, and headed off to China. After a year in China and a trip round SE Asia, I went back to Oz and NZ for a year, working and travelling, including the Sth Pacifiic, before retuning to work in Europe. I have just finished an MA at uni and in 3 weeks I am off to Africa for 3mths for a Snap-year safari! I can thoroughly recommend taking time out! I don’t take holidays during the year, so an extended trip every now and again is the perfect way to do all the things I want to without having to cram it into 2 weeks annual leave! And I know I will be a grey gapper – and I can’t wait!!

    1954 days ago
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