Considering a post-uni gap year or travelling for several months now that your formal education is over?
We can think of at least 11 reasons why you should go for it. One big piece of advice before you go, though: think about which of the reasons below is your key motivator for travelling.
Not all employers will be overly impressed by a year-long holiday. So, if you ultimately plan to return and compete for graduate jobs and schemes, be mindful in your approach to your time abroad.
If going travelling is important to you because you think it'll help you accumulate experiences and figure out what you want to do, or because you want to learn new skills - be sure to meaningfully use and maximise your time away to achieve those things. In some ways, it's easy to pack a suitcase and leave - just don't lose sight of what happens when you get back.
With that in mind, here are 11 reasons to book your flight and start your post-uni adventure.
1. You're freer of responsibilities now than you will be for a while.
If you're a recent graduate and aren't yet tied down to a full-time graduate job, don't have a mortgage to pay or family to support - now is the ideal time to pack up and go on an adventure before you're more settled.
Adding more expenses and debt to your ever-growing student debt (thanks, interest) can definitely be off-putting, but travelling long-term doesn't have to cost a fortune. You can take on work abroad to top up your travel funds - as an au pair, doing farm work, or seasonal work in resorts. Plus, if you're backpacking, staying in hostels and being smart with flight bookings, you'll be able to keep costs down.
Instagram / @ebdunn
2. You'll return with new skills.
No matter where you travel, you're bound to learn loads about managing money, planning, communication, problem-solving, and, if you're going it alone especially, you'll develop a lot of independence and confidence.
One Recruiter we spoke to told us travelling can really make your job application stand out, as you can demonstrate how the skills you picked up on your travels are transferable to a work environment.
Instagram / @littlesix._
3. And you'll get to experience different cultures.
Ditch the tourist spots and immerse yourself in the local culture of all the places you get to see - massive bonus points for the CV if you master the language.
Instagram / @tcrbz
4. You never know who you'll meet along the way.
Whether you make new lifelong friends, stumble upon some useful networking contacts, or are lucky enough to meet people who inspire you and teach you about both the world and yourself - there's a lot to be said for putting yourself out there and having conversations with people you wouldn't have met otherwise.
Instagram / @valerioquaesum
5. It's an opportunity to learn more about yourself and figure out what's next.
After years constantly spent in education, maybe you don't want to immediately jump into the next big, long-term commitment: a full-time job. At least not without really thinking about it first.
Seeing the world in a different way and reflecting on what you learnt at uni will give you loads of perspective. Who knows, you might return wanting to pursue a completely different career path to the ones you considered as a student.
Instagram / @fredbeetz
6. And all those grad schemes will still be there when you get back.
Yes, you'll probably have friends from uni who've already landed prestigious, high-paying graduate schemes in London - and by the time you get back they'll be months, maybe even a year 'ahead' of you. But that shouldn't stop you from making the decision that's right for you. Later in life, you'll probably be glad you didn't rush into something you didn't want, just because everyone else was doing it.
Not convinced? Check out this article written by a recent graduate from the University of York who went travelling for a year:
"I see my clever and talented friends starting lives for themselves in brilliant jobs and wonder whether I’ve made the right decision.
"Then I remind myself that I am only 23 and that London, and all its shiny graduate jobs and opportunities, will still be there when I get back."
Instagram / @tom_terka_na_ceste
7. It doesn't have to be a complete "gap" from graduate life. You can work abroad...
Instagram / @akawanderlust
8. Take on freelance opportunities, work remotely...
Instagram / @desklifeproject
9. Or, you could volunteer abroad.
There are so many possibilities for you to explore if you want to volunteer some, or all, of your time while you're away. You could work with local communities in developing countries, help with environmental and sustainability projects, get involved in animal conservation projects and much more.
You'll come back knowing you made a positive difference and be able to add to your CV at the same time - it's a win-win.
Instagram / @mosegoes.abroad
10. You'll have countless incredible experiences to bring back with you.
We spoke to several Recruitment experts about how travelling looks on a job application and one thing they mentioned was that it can be a really positive thing to have when it comes to interview. It gives you a natural conversation-starter and things to talk about.
Plus, one Recruiter we spoke to specifically said he looks favourably on grads who've taken a year out, because they're more likely to stick around in the job for a long time: "they get it out of their system and they're done."
Instagram / @melissadesiree
11. You won't regret it.
If you've been thinking a lot about travelling, and one or more of the reasons above resonates with you: do it, and make the most of it. Work abroad, volunteer, blog about your travels, accumulate experiences and skills you may not have done otherwise.
As people often say (because it's probably true), if you have any regrets, they will be about the things you didn't do, not the things you did.
Instagram / @carrrroll