Anyone done a gap year with a toddler?

(14 Posts)

Dp and I are toying with the idea of a gap year before Ds starts school. He's 18 months and we were thinking of going when he's around 3 - 3.5. Wanting to wait until out of nappies , in big bed etc.

We have travelled a lot so are confident with organising ourselves but wondering about the practicalities of having a toddler with us! Also, any recommendations on where to go? I love Africa and South America but think a camper van in Europe or USA might be more feasible.

mummymeister Thu 17-Oct-13 15:34:31

before you do anything think about the jabs needed. this might determine where you go and when. also anti malarials etc in under 5 might need checking up on. on the practical side, make sure all the various forms for school admission are either sorted out before you go or you can do them easily on line as you wouldn't want to miss out on this whilst gone. also bear in mind a year is a long time to a 3 year old so don't expect it to be easy when you come back with family relationships to grandparents etc. what do you think he will get out of it or is it more for the 2 of you. he probably wont remember much!

Thanks for your reply. One of the reasons we were considering a European road trip is because it will be far easier - no jabs, can see family etc. I'm not too worried about school as our local primaries are rarely over subscribed.

As for why... Well, quite a few reasons. Due to the nature of our work we rarely get family time and that's not likely to change without one of us retraining for a different job. At the moment we have maybe one day a month. The idea of spending a year as a family really appeals. I know things will be the same when we get back but with Ds at school we will have a few more options open to us. I'm honest enough to admit it's for me and dp more than ds. Ds would benefit from family time wherever we are, me and dp have itchy feet!

I haven't myself but many years ago when i was traveling around Thailand met an older couple and they had their two year old with them they were doing a year off, he was having a ball, he was spoilt by everyone at the hostels, now i have kids im sure it wasn't all fun for them but if you want to do it just go for it, if its a nightmare you can always come home

BTW when i say older i mean about 30, we were in out late teens at the time.

God I feel really old now, if we go for it I'll be 41! shock

monopoly123 Thu 17-Oct-13 21:40:24

We had a gap year, we left the UK about 10 days after our youngests 3rd birthday and about 2months before our eldest 6th birthday. We were away for 13months.
We went to Australia, NZ and SE Asia.
The girls are now nearly 9 & 6. We've been home for 2years.
What do you want to know? Happy to reminisce by offering advice, answering questions.

monopoly123 Thu 17-Oct-13 21:41:41

Being able to spend that time together was very precious.

BrianTheMole Thu 17-Oct-13 21:46:48

Camper van across Europe would be amazing. Go for it, you'll make so many lovely memories.

Thanks both for the encouragement. I'm thinking about the practicalities of living out if a suitcase with a toddler. Off the top of my head my biggest concerns are how well a 3 yo will cope with no real routine - sleeping in new places, meeting different people etc.

We don't have a particularly rigid routine now so he's used to being flexible with meantime,having different days with cm every week and so on but I'm a bit worried about taking himaway

Sorry! Worried about taking him away from everything familiar. Did your dc adapt well when you got home?

suebfg Thu 17-Oct-13 22:22:22

Go for it, just go for it! I'm a firm believer that travel - at any age - is good for you, widens your horizons and teaches you so much about the world. We have travelled widely with a toddler and well, now he's at school, he seems to be faring very well from his experiences. Personally, I would travel further - Australia and the Far East would be at the top of my list. Don't worry about how your toddler will adapt - he will love it!

monopoly123 Fri 18-Oct-13 07:50:31

You only need to pack what you would for a 2wk holiday.
Jet lag - the youngest was always the quickest to adapt to a new time zone.
Adapting to new places/routines - you get into a routine of travelling.
Meeting new people - the DCs got a lot of attention in Asia, my eldest enjoyed that but my youngest not so much (personality). They made so many friends - not sure how much it helped that there were 2 of them. At campsites in NZ they would instantly make friends (we always asked for a spot next to the playground). In Australia they'd make friends at the beach or the excellent playgrounds. Asia was also easy to make friends, adults in guest houses would enjoy speaking to them and local children too.
You do have to plan your days around the children - go slow, dont expect a new museum to hold their interest - find out where the outdoor spaces are, don't try and pack too much in.
Food was actually easier in SE Asia than here - we ate at Hawkers stalls most days which meant we could all eat different food. The 3 yr old did spend about 4wks only eating rice, melon, egg, chicken satay and not much else.
If the timing works for you life is slightly easier with a 3.5yr old than a 3 yr old (toilet training/pushchairs/walking).
Coming home they slotted in as if we'd had a 2wk holiday.

Thanks so much, I'm having a manic few days but will be back to read properly and ask loads more questions! Going when Ds is 3.5 is doable but if we do Europe it would be better at 3 due to weather but I get what you're saying about potty training and so on.

sue thanks for the encouragement. We're surrounded by very sensible people in rl smile

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