There’s no official definition, but a midlife gap year is essentially just a career break or a sabbatical. While taking a gap year is more associated with teenagers and people in their 20s, in recent years far more people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are taking career breaks, and now one-third of people taking gap years are above the age of 30.
In many ways, taking a gap year in midlife makes a lot of sense. When you’re in your 50s and 60s, you might be more financially secure, and, after decades of navigating life as an adult, you might also be more self-aware and confident. So, if you want to travel and see the world, it might be the perfect time.
But also, as we live longer and work harder, taking a year out for ourselves just seems like something we deserve. After years of working hard at our careers, raising children, and attempting to juggle personal responsibilities with professional duties throughout perilous times and unstable economies, what comes next?
Years ago, people might have looked forward to retirement – but times have changed, and for most people, midlife or even later life isn’t associated with retirement or old age. With so many people living well into their 90s, there’s no reason why your 50s and 60s should be about winding down. For many people, these years are the perfect time to start gearing up to do what you really want to do – and what that actually looks like can vary enormously…
Some people want to take time out to destress, reconnect with friends and family, feel renewed excitement about life, or find a new purpose and direction.
Others want to head out to see the world, experience the unfamiliar, visit the places they’ve always dreamed of going to, and be a traveller rather than a tourist.
Other people want to experience something specific; like volunteering for a certain cause, learning a new language or skill, writing a book, or just figuring out if there’s another way to live.