Updated: Aug 8
Gap Year. A term that often brings about the image of a young backpacker traveling around various scenic destinations, hopping between cheap hostels, and snapping a few social media-worthy shots. But why must we limit the gap year opportunity to recent graduates and travel-hungry young people? With the drastic increase in remote work opportunities since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more and more families are opting to travel for extended time periods and explore some of the world’s most exciting destinations. A gap year is an exciting option for family members to grow closer together, explore the sights that our world has to offer and learn about the cultures that make humanity so beautifully diverse.
Hundreds of Gap Year families have found that working with an established travel expert provides a stress-free and meaningful planning process. Using our Learn, Serve & Immerse travel pillars, Global Family Travels works with families to plan their gap year travels. We recently wished happy travels to a family we worked with who was focused on supplementing virtual learning with outdoor exploration. This family of five left the U.S. in late June and has so far journeyed through South American destinations such as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Patagonia before heading to South East Asia and other parts of the globe. They have thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary we created with them, focusing on making memories together. You can follow their travels through their blog, Team VIA (VIA stands for “Very Important Adventurers”).
Below you will find 7 great reasons why you should consider taking a family gap year, or extended travel, as well as some tips to make the experience as worthwhile as possible.
1. Experience New Cultures on a Family Gap Year
The opportunity to explore new cultures can be one of the most rewarding and important experiences for people of all ages, especially children. Being immersed in a new culture broadens horizons and opens minds, fostering tolerance and acceptance and takes travel beyond simply a “vacation.” Breaking out of your comfort zone unlocks experiences that would have otherwise gone unnoticed and can often lead to transformational travel experiences.
Photo Credit: jennifer Spatz/Global Family Travels
You can benefit the most from memory-making opportunities by attending local events in your destination community, sharing a meal with locals, or exploring beyond the traditional tourist sites.
2. The Rewards of Community Service while Traveling on a Family Gap Year
Opportunities to give back to the local communities or the local environment while traveling and leave a positive impact is a great way to teach your kids about the lifelong importance of giving back and creating shared value. This practice, called Regenerative Tourism, is a great way to teach your kids about the importance of giving back and creating shared value. Community service opportunities allow you and your family to interact with your host community while connecting with the locals and allowing your kids to forge friendships abroad. In many destinations, community-based organizations and non-profits welcome the help of locals and visitors through community tourism initiatives.
Photo Credit: Bye Bye Plastics
3. World Schooling: A New kind of Education while on a Family Gap Year
Travel is a remarkable way to instill values and immerse your kids in a brand-new style of classroom. While abroad, you and your family can learn languages, local history, religion and customs, and more. World schooling is all about experiencing first-hand the world and learning about various cultures, history, food, and landscapes. Although some parents hesitate to remove their kids from the traditional classroom for travel, there is no reason why learning has to stop, and you can also join a world schooling community online! In fact, studies have demonstrated that students who travel with family are more likely to excel in the classroom in a variety of subjects.
Photo Credit: Imvelo Safari Lodge
4. Adapting to New Environments While on a Gap Year
Introducing your kids to new environments from an early age while together as a family, provides them the ability to acclimate to new circumstances with support. As they are able to travel to new places and continue that process, it will become easier to adapt. Later in life, as they move off to college, get a job in a new city, or even decide to take another gap year on their own, they will already have the necessary skillset to adapt in a healthy and comfortable way.
Photo Credit: jennifer Spatz/Global Family Travels
5. Enhanced Global Awareness while Traveling on a Family Gap Year
Through global travel, people are exposed firsthand to unique and diverse people, cultures, and communities. While abroad, kids may be exposed to different surroundings and circumstances, such as poverty or lack of access to the luxuries that they may be used to at home. These experiences demonstrate directly how the world can be different depending on where you live. These diverse experiences highlight a better way to understand ourselves and others, enhancing our experience and global awareness.
Photo Credit: courtesy of client of Global Family Travels
6. Fostering Curiosity and Encouraging Travel Later in Life
Traveling from a young age teaches kids that there is so much to see in the world, which boosts curiosity and the desire to learn more about people and places. By planting the proverbial “seed” of travel, kids will grow up wanting to continue to explore, learn, and journey. All of the benefits of travel are multiplied, and your kids will grow up to be curious, open-minded, global citizens.
7. Create memories and Strengthen Family Bonds from Family Gap Year
Traveling is an exciting, memorable, and - above all - fun experience. Even when it can be difficult or tiring, like lugging suitcases around an airport waiting for your connecting flight, you do it together as a family. Fond and challenging experiences strengthen relationships, and with global travel, you and your kids will treasure these memories for the rest of your lives, making a Global Gap Year worth the journey!
Beyond these great reasons to embark upon an Around the World Gap Year traveling abroad as a family also has a positive impact on our broader global community when we all become informed global citizens. Global Family Travels can help provide your family the opportunity to travel the world while setting up exciting, immersive activities that will truly allow you to make the most of your trip and help you plan and execute your dream global journey. For more information on Global Family Travels’ Around the World trip planning service visit this website!