Discover the world and yourself with a golden gap year

Traditionally the domain of the teenager or early twenty-something, the ‘gap year’, a period where you take some extended time out to discover the world and yourself, is fast finding favour with the Baby Boomer.

Also known as the ‘golden gap year”, increasingly Baby Boomers are spending extended periods of time overseas purely for a holiday but often bundling volunteering at a grass roots level, with their trip.

Latest figures from Travel Associates (part of the Flight Centre group), reveal a
37 % increase in flights with no return date and an upswing in bookings for holidays of about 7- 9 months duration.

After deciding to take a hiatus from his job as a school principal, 59-year-old Gus Van der Haas decided to plan an extended trip covering more than one continent.
In October, Mr Van der Haas will begin his six-month journey in Asia, where he will be helping with a local school literacy program. From there he plans to go to South America and finish his break in Europe holidaying.

“I’ve always been confined in my job to the short school holiday periods, so it was a dream of mine to take an extended break discovering multiple countries and cultures I know very little about,” Mr Van der Haas said.

Baby Boomer clients are increasingly taking up the idea of an extended holiday or ‘life break’ where they can devote their time to fulfilling bucket list style travel dreams and invest in their holidays, says national marketing manager at Travel Associates, Adrian Clarke.

“Growth has been coming from older, full-time employed or retired holiday seekers looking for unique experiences and to do something where they can make a positive contribution,” he added.

He said the most popular styles of volunteerism for Travel Associates clients is community-based, working with human development projects, in orphanages or teaching positions and conservation.

One of the most popular volunteering destinations is Asia, however Africa is surging in popularity with Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania according to Travel Associates.

Top tips for planning your golden gap year

  • If travelling to more than one country, try to pick ones that are in close proximity to keep flight costs lower

  • Consider travelling as a group, not only can you save money, but it’s a great way to meet like-minded people

  • Create the ultimate bucket list and get packing 

For further inspiration on golden gap year projects & destinations go to and