Things to consider before taking a gap year for grown-ups
There are a few things that you need to consider before you pick up and travel for months at a time. Stefan Wathan, chief executive officer of Year Out Group, shares his ultimate checklist of what to think about before you go travelling.
Your pets: leave them with a family member or a close friend. There are dog-sitting networks, but they may not be a practical or realistic financial option if you’re away for a whole year. Make sure your pets are insured to avoid any unforeseen vet bills, and give instructions about what to do regarding annual vaccinations, worming and fleas, etc. And be clear about your choices in the event of an emergency, such as your pet needing an operation.
Your home: check your home insurance to see if it covers extended breaks away from your home; be aware that an unoccupied house may not be covered by insurance. Compare unoccupied property insurance.
If you decide to rent out your home while you are away you need to check with your insurers whether you need to change your cover to landlord insurance. You'll also need to tell your mortgage company and possibly get their permission. Some may switch your mortgage to buy-to-let while others will charge you a higher rate of interest or a one-off fee. If you are taking a shorter break if you have an offset or flexible mortgage you may be able to take a payment holiday to help fund your trip. More about mortgages.
Your health: book a check-up with your doctor and tell them where you’re travelling. If you need regular medication, you’ll either need to take it with you or access it abroad, so do some research and perhaps register with a doctor local to where you’ll be. Remember that you won’t necessarily be entitled to any free medicine overseas.
Your visas and passports: get any visas (making sure they’re correct if you plan to work overseas) arranged well in advance of your start date and make sure your passport will be valid for the entire duration – some countries require your passport to have a minimum number of months left on it before it expires.
Your bank and credit cards: ensure your bank and credit card providers know you’ll be out of the country. Think about the best way to access funds from overseas, as charges and exchange rates will vary while you’re away.
Your mobile phone and data: find a plan that will charge local rates, or at least cheap international rates, because chances are you’re going to want to stay in touch with family and friends.
Your important documents: put these into safe keeping, but take copies and keep these secure while you’re travelling.
Your will: make sure you have a will. You should have one anyway, but it’s worth reviewing before you jet off for a few months.
Your insurance: make sure your travel insurance covers you for the entirety of your trip and any activities you think you may take part in while overseas. You may need to take out special sports travel insurance depending on your plans.