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Reasons to Take a Year Off to Travel: 7 Realistic Pros and Cons

There are many reasons you people take a year off to travel. Often, the illusion of a year odd to travel is a luxurious one- after years as an employee or entrepreneur, many people dream of a long holiday where they can fill their days doing anything they please and visiting places they have always dreamed about.

Travel can be a way to rest. It can reset our minds into a more creative, productive space. Travel can help us let go of relationships after a breakup and there are ways to travel that are particularly good at helping us heal from burnout. But is taking an entire year off to travel a good idea?

Pros: good reasons to take a year off to travel

Burnout.

If you’ve been grinding for years and you’re finding it more and more difficult to feel the energy to get up and go to work, work productively, and feel satisfied and your labor, it may be a sign that you’re experiencing career burnout. There are many treatments for burnout that don’t involve taking a year off to travel, but for those who can afford this luxury, this dramatic change of pace, location, and exposure to the world can help even very burned-out brains return to a place of imagination, creativity, and meaningful work. (Be forewarned, however, there is also such a thing as travel burnout that comes when we overexpose ourselves to travel experiences)

Woman rolling a suitcase during a year off for travel.

No one ages in reverse.

We’re all getting older as time passes and taking a year off to travel now may have some rewards that a more nebulous plan to potentially travel after retirement may not. If you weren’t in a financial position to take a year off to travel as a gap year between high school and college, it is possible to reallocate a bit of retirement savings in your 20s or 30s to take a late gap here, and travel for a few months or even a year between jobs. Traveling before retirement gives us the opportunity to enjoy embodied travel before our bodies begin to decline in fitness, health, and condition.

Worth noting, often the older we get the harder it is to travel – so the earlier you can take a year off to travel the better. As 20s move into the 30s in your 30s blend into your 40s you are likely to find yourself in leadership positions at work, where it’s harder to take long vacations, and with more responsibilities at home like a spouse, children, or even just a home to care for.

Living a memorable life.

Many people work their whole lives planning for adventures in retirement that, for many, never come. Taking a year off to travel is a way to invest in meaningful experiences and the wisdom growing opportunities of travel now so that this travel mindfulness and global perspective can help you as you navigate the adult challenges of vocation, relationships, and family.

Networking

While it’s reasonable to suggest that taking a year off to travel means that you won’t have as many critical opportunities for professional networking within your industry, increasingly, executives and high-level leadership in organizations are recognizing the value of networking beyond standard channels for networking. When we travel, we have the opportunity to meet varied individuals, and often, by the nature of the type of lodging activities we choose, the people we meet may be rather similar to us, while living in different countries are working in different industries. A year off to travel can be an opportunity to make your professional network extend into global connections.

Cons: Reasons you shouldn’t take a year off to travel

1. If it will put you at a disadvantage professionally. There are times and seasons where it’s good to take a year off to travel, and others that it where it is not. For example, if you’re mid-residency following medical school or in the space between law school and taking the bar exam, you won’t want to lose momentum and potentially tank your career by taking off for a year to travel.

2. If you’re simply trying to escape. Some escapism is okay for travel motivations, but if you are in the middle of a midlife crisis, a mental health challenge, or a difficult relationship, leaving everything you know to immerse yourself in a travel experience is very unlikely to help.

3. If you can’t afford it. While there are strategies to travel internationally for free, most involve working and going where your employer tells you to – a very different travel experience than taking a year off to travel for fun. If you can’t afford to pay for the type of trip that you’d like to take for your year off, it’s probably not the right time. Instead, you can save up so that in the future you can take your long-awaited year of travel exactly how you dreamed it.

Final thoughts on taking a year off to travel

While taking a year off to travel can be a life-changing, growth-inducing experience, it’s not for everyone. Despite the glamour represented by travel influencers, traveling for a year – especially internationally – can actually take a lot out of us while also helping us grow through that challenge. If you’re not sure that taking a year off to travel is right for you, it’s okay. Start with smaller strips and work your way up to a 2 to 3-month sabbatical. By varying your trip length and returning home in between, you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds – exploring the global experience while returning home to the relationships he left behind.