Gap years are a waste of time! So says advertising tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell in a recent newspaper article. He thinks a ‘structured programme working for a business could prove more useful’ and that a gap year should be ‘much more organised’ and that if students teach in a foreign country for some of their gap year, then ‘the rest of the time is wasted’. What an idiot! What he doesn’t seem to comprehend is that travelling, whether you work your way around the world or not, is an education in itself. It’s about talking to anyone and everyone, learning to look after yourself, trying different foods, experiencing different cultures, making decisions, living independently and managing your money.
And last, but not least, it’s about trying wild and whacky things that get you completely and utterly out of your comfort zone ( like white-water rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping and hiking up glaciers), giving you a renewed confidence in yourself and boosting your self-esteem no end. It’s exhilarating, liberating and really rather crazy in the most wonderful way possible…and something that everyone, whatever their age should experience, if not just for the sheer hell of it!
Funnily enough, I was on BBC Radio Newcastle this morning as they wanted my reaction to the news that, shock horror, most people over 60 don’t want to just sit in watching television every night waiting for their pension to kick in. They want to learn new things and travel the world! Yay! My kind of people! However, from the tweets and texts zooming in to BBC Newcastle it seemed to me that there was always a BUT. I’ve always said I had a book in me but… I’d really love to travel, but…
But what? It’s all about sitting down and deciding what you want your life to be about. Do you want to get to the end of your life and have nothing but regrets about the things you wanted to do, but never quite got round to? Or do you want to have a life full of experiences and memories of a life well-lived?
You see, most people think travelling is expensive, but it really doesn’t have to be. It’s about dipping your toe in the water (pardon the pun) and seeing if you like it. There’s great house sitting websites out there nowadays, where, for the price of an air fare, you get to go and live in beautiful surroundings and look after a house, and maybe a dog and cat or two. All in all, it’s a great way of seeing the world for a nominal amount of money.
One of the presenters on the radio confided that she had a friend whose parents had always travelled and he now spent half of his year working on his laptop from a far-flung beach somewhere on the other side of the world. Perfect! He had it sussed! It’s just about viewing your work/life balance differently. Gone are the days when you had to be chained to your office desk. There’s a great big world out there just waiting to be explored. Get your thinking cap on before it’s too late. How could you rearrange your life to live it as you really, passionately want to? And I’m not just talking about travel here; I’m talking about living the life you want to, whether that be spending more time with your family, seeing more of your friends, or just ticking a few things off your bucket list.
My Dad is a great example of living a great life. He’s 90 in July! He’s had a heart bypass and a hip replacement over the years, and broke his leg in two places just over a year ago on the golf course…but he doesn’t let it stop him. He’s still very involved in his life as a farmer, goes horse racing and plays golf. To my mind, enjoying old age is all about having things to look forward to. Let’s start planning now