Congrats! You’ve graduated….now what?
Deciding whether or not to take a year off instead of going straight into a job seems to be the question of the hour for recent grads. Following graduation, the journey a grad embarks on will serve as the roadmap for how their future life will unfold, so it’s critical to make the journey one that will have lasting life benefits.
No, we aren’t going to tell your grad to go straight into the workforce or continue getting their education. In fact, we are going to make the argument to do exactly the opposite: take a gap year to travel and explore the world, but do it in a way that sets you up for future success.
“Gap year,” or taking a year to travel, should never be used as an excuse to take time off and “find yourself”. Rather, it can be a beneficial opportunity to gain work and life experiences in a global setting. That’s the beauty of travel: grads can accomplish the same things abroad that they would at home (i.e. an internship, further studies, volunteerism or working an entry level job), but what’s better, they will be broadening their horizons and learning more by doing them on a global scale.
Gap years should not be viewed as a year off but rather a year on.
Start with the End in Mind
Need not forget, the purpose of this journey is to learn more, see more of the world AND get prepared professionally and emotionally to take on further educational challenges and/or get a job. It’s important to factor in potential areas of interest, career-wise, before making an official decision.
Ask yourself: What are my goals in life?
If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, that’s okay. When planning your gap year, consider the things you’re passionate about. For example, if you want to be a vet, you should try to do something that will lend you some experience with animals. Or have you been considering becoming a doctor? Try a program like Doctors Without Borders to see if it’s something you’d really be interested in pursuing.
Other areas of interest:
– Social Work
Prepare for the Unexpected
Traveling alone to an unfamiliar place can be scary! You never know what might happen, and as Murphy’s Law shall have it, what can happen will happen. Stay safe and cover all the bases with travelers insurance. We use World Nomads Travel Insurance. It’s super easy to use and is designed to cover everything an independent traveler might need while on-the-go.
Pack like a Pro
Choosing the right luggage and gear could make or break the journey. Generally speaking, packing lite is always recommended, even if you are going to be gone for six months or more. Remember, people do live in these far-off places, and they sell goods and services. It is usually easy to buy clothes, supplies, and services, and in many places, they will be cheaper than at home!
If you plan on trekking by foot the majority of the time, you’re not going to want to have to wheel around a suitcase. Besides, a well-designed, comfortable pack will be easy to manage and in some cases, will allow you to pack more items than a typical suitcase could! We recommend the Mother Lode TLS Convertible ($80). For other packing tips on must-haves for the grad on the go, check out the Top 5 Gifts Your Grad Needs Before They Set Sail.
Don’t Get Stuck
Travel can be addicting. And some people develop careers that keep them overseas or jet setting all over the world. Grads who set this intention early on and start planning to achieve it will have a far better chance of succeeding with this career path. But there are also grads that get stuck abroad and don’t come back. Not because they’ve built a life and career for themselves elsewhere, but because the “real world” is no longer exciting, interesting, and may even be a bit scary.
Grads who get stuck abroad and don’t complete their education or take advantage of the opportunities that are waiting at home post-graduation can waste precious time building the life they want to live. Use the time abroad to awaken the love for learning and open your eyes to worldly experiences.
If you are supporting a grad who is trying to make these tough life decisions, please share your thoughts and don’t forget to visit the eBags Graduation Gift Shopping Guide and sale this week!