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Family Gap Year - have you done one? Would you go?

(14 Posts)
frazzledtofun Sun 11-Jan-15 22:56:35


DH and I have a 2 year old DD. I work freelance from home and DH is in between jobs at the moment. We are financially pretty stable (although obviously DH will need to get a job in the bag pretty soon).

I have always wanted to see more of the world and toyed with the idea of a career gap year but was pretty focused on having DC and so didn't make the move before DD came along.

Anyway, we have recently been thinking that perhaps now would be a good time for us to take off and do something for a few months. Before DD is at school. Before we have another DC and while we are free in terms of jobs. Either live abroad (with at least one job) OR go off for a few months and do some traveling, probably Northern America, New Zealand, Australia and a bit of the Far East (Bali, Singapore, Thailand??). This would be my dream trip although obviously expensive destinations...

Obviously to go for any length of time will be pretty expensive and we would have the hassle of emptying our flat and putting everything in storage (the idea of that alone makes me want to cry but I am sure we would get through it). Our flat is a good rental option and was previously rented out for 15 years by the owners before us so if we could rent it out we should cover the mortgage.

So, help me decide!!
Has anyone done anything similar? How much did you spend? I was looking at flights and costs yesterday and the "gap year" option could cost around £15,000 for 4-5 months I reckon - which would swallow pretty much all our savings which is a bit scary given that neither of us have secure jobs to come back to.

If we go for the other option and actually move somewhere for a year (Australia, NZ, Canada, Continental Europe would be top contenders) then any hints and tips for that?

mummymeister Sun 11-Jan-15 23:02:00

the issues with a 2 year old are the same as with any small child going to out of the way places. Malaria tablets for malaria areas are going to be really tricky and now with chikungunga as well to think about this is going to be a major issue. it isn't the cost or the difficulty but the safety aspect that made me not consider this. you cant spray a 2 year old with 100% deet to keep the bugs off and neither can you keep them swaddled up all the time. if I was you and going then I would really restrict the places I visited but this might defeat the object of wanting to see the world.

Gautami Sun 11-Jan-15 23:13:29

Yes, go! I so wish I had. We're too tied down now with jobs and mortgages, but if I got the chance I would.

There are plenty of Malaria free places to go if that is a worry (if would be for me).

in my dreams I would go across Europe/Asia by train to singapore and then to Australia by cargo ship. After pootling round Australia and New Zealand (poss by camper van), I have a route in my head that involves Perth - South Africa - St Helen - Ascension - Cape Verde - Canaries - Morocco - Spain - Home

I'm not sure that that is helpful (or even possible) but I spend a lot of time on google earth. grin

frazzledtofun Mon 12-Jan-15 07:33:46

Thank you!!

Mummy don't worry safety is my top priority and you will see that the list of possible countries on my list are all first world, no malaria, good healthcare etc. which also would make the trip more expensive....

I would want to do West coast Canada and USA followed by New Zealand in a camper van and then Australia.

Has anyone out there done a family gap year? If so how much did it cost? Was it worth coming home to not much money?

specialsubject Mon 12-Jan-15 11:49:38

go for it - but remember you won't be able to work outside Europe. Even if you are young enough for working holiday visas, you can't get those with a dependent child.

so save save save and do it as a holiday.

Madcats Mon 12-Jan-15 20:28:25

I've never done a gap year, but have done a couple of long holidays (just under 30 days to keep house and contents insured). Maybe there is a level of feeling "extra-chilled" that I have missed. For us, being away for 2 1/2 weeks feels as if we have been away for ever, especially when you have a toddler hitting so many milestones en route. I still remember the day my DD decided to walk independently (she was probably trying to escape our underwhelming Queensland motel room that night)

I popped my DD in nursery part time just after she turned 2 and she contracted just about every bug going. In the midst of all the planning I would book yourselves on some sort of (infant) first aid course just so that you feel confident about an accidents that might occur if you are unsure where the nearest medical service might be. Bits of America and Oz are pretty empty.

tilbatilba Wed 14-Jan-15 07:19:07

We've had a few family gap years. It's hard to say how much they cost as we have spent a lot of time in the wilderness, camping and able to reduce daily costs enormously. We have often been able to pick up all sorts of work as we travel.

Madcats refers to a level of "extra chilled" and that's exactly what it is - you can't even begin to compare it to a months holiday. Your life takes on an entirely different rhythm - one that we and our children love.

Australia or NZ would be a very easy, safe way to start. You could stop over in SEA eg fly into Thailand - go out to some of the islands and then train it down to Malaysia and Singapore …very easy way to spend a couple of months.

Singapore to Darwin is super cheap - you could buy a camper trailer and vehicle there and head west. The Northern Territory is fabulous for camping and if you love nature. We spent about 3 months there and that wasn't nearly enough - West Australia is magnificent. You are allowed to free camp there and there are so many stunning National Parks which charge the most minimal fee for the most spectacular sites imaginable. We had about 6 months going very slowly down the West Coast and then across the Nullabor which was such a highlight. We were homeschooling so no hurry - met such fabulous people - got out to lots of islands and remote beaches.

I think your budget is pretty generous if that hasn't included buying a vehicle. We had a year going around Aust and although it was a few years ago we didn't spend anything like what you are proposing and that was for 12 months. Good luck ! Interested how you get on and where you end up going.

Artandco Wed 14-Jan-15 07:43:22

We did a shorter version. We travelled for 3 ish months both times i had maternity leave.

Ds1 - was 5 months when we started 3 months in the Alps in summer. Stayed in different locations and did a lot of walking/ exploring and biking. Fairly chilled. Dh worked from laptop a little still

Ds2 - was 12 weeks ( ds1 18 months), when we did 3 months in Vietnam. Explored, culture, beach, volunteer work.

Both very different but very glad we did both. Was fair easier that both were small enough to be put in baby slings and taken anywhere

The main thing for us was not doing too much as had small children, and over planning would be stressful. Sticking to smaller area or one/ two countries close is best. Flying across the world between various locations is more difficult and expensive. Plus you discover the local culture more if in smaller area.

Budget wise I thing £15k is tight for all the locations you mention. We spent around £20k for 3 months in Vietnam, about £15k for Alps. Bare in mind flights long haul alone will eat into a few thousand.

fluffapuss Tue 03-Feb-15 23:30:58

Hello Frazzle

Sounds like a great idea !

Alot of people talk about going, but how many people really go ?
If you have the chance GO !!!

Suggest checking how long you can stay in each country first with a tourist visa

Get your health injections before travelling, if going to Europe take E111 health card

Get travel insurance, that includes cover for natural disasters eg volcanic ash cloud, earthquakes, riots etc

Have an emergency fund incase something goes wrong when you are travelling

Drink bottled water that is sealed, no ice (watch out for street sellers refilling old bottles)

Thailand is great value for money

Lots of camper vans in New Zealand

Most other countries do not have NHS you have to pay for all medical treatment

I would maybe decide on one or two countries

Or buy a camper van in UK & drive off to Europe & beyond....

It will be worth it !

Good luck

AmericasTorturedBrow Thu 12-Feb-15 07:18:27

No advice but just do it!!

We are planning to take 3-5 months out in a few years to travel South America with our two (they'll then be 5&8yo)....we have to do it then because we've been talking about it for so long that if it doesn't happen in the next few years then it won't until they leave home

Seize the opportunity and go!

shinjuku09 Sun 15-Feb-15 13:05:55

Do it if you can! Sounds fab! One thing to bear in mind - if you've not done anything like this before you don't know how you'll feel going from place to place and being away so long. I love travelling and long holidays but went backpacking with DH for three months and when we planned it thought it just wouldn't be long enough but though I really loved it was actually glad to come home by the end of it. Didn't put me off going again but just think I'm more suited to three weeks here and there. Just wondered whether you can somehow test the water with a shorter trip then go for longer next time if you can. But I think I'm relatively unusual and a bit of a home bird!

bonhomme Sun 15-Feb-15 18:55:54

I'd go in a heartbeat in your situation. Personally I'd want to see the world and make the most of that rather than put down temporary roots for a year.

Coconutty Sun 15-Feb-15 18:59:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Misty9 Sun 15-Feb-15 19:35:27

Sounds amazing. No advice but I remember a column in the guardian family or travel section a while back about just this - might be worth a search?

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