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Gap years in the media

 

Sunday Telegraph, 1 July 2007 

 'Be grown-up about your gap year.  A return to youth beckons the mature backpacker, but only if adult decisions are made first.'      

  By Emma Lunn, extract:

'You don't have to be young, free and single to backpack around the world - today's globe-trotting backpackers are just as likely to be stressed-out fiftysomething professionals as they are teenagers. 

According to insurer Hiscox, more than a third of 45 to 54-year-olds are considering a so-called "grown-up gap year." Meanwhile, website www.gapyearforgrownups.co.uk says many older people see time off as a chance to reclaim their life - whether to get out of the rat race, take a break before a change of career, experience the gap year their children had or kickstart their retirement.

But unlike school-leavers and graduates, mature "gappers" cannot usually forget about their financial responsibilities back home. Many will have a mortgage, pension and life insurance in place, all of which need to be taken care of in their absence. If you are considering an adventure of a lifetime what are the practicalities you should consider before leaving all your cares behind?'

 

The Independent 28 January 2007

 

By Sarah Harris, extract - 'grey gap years'.'Do not go gentle into that good night," wrote Dylan Thomas, "Old age should burn and rave at close of day/Rage, rage against the dying of the light". Little did he know that 50 years on his words would be reverberating across every flea-ridden backpackers' hostel from New Zealand to Guatemala, as increasing numbers of over-fifties stubbornly "rage" against the grisly spectre of early retirement and rose-growing to embark upon a twilight gap year.For anyone under 40, gap years conjure the heady scent of stale sleeping bags, teenage angst, bongos, Buddhas and burning incense. But things have changed: last week Janet Street-Porter, 60, wrote that she's cashing in some of her pension policies to travel and have fun, while Richard Harvey, 56, head of one of the world's top five insurance companies, announced he was quitting his £2m-a-year job to spend 12 months volunteering in Africa with his wife. The Harveys were inspired while visiting their daughter, Jenny, on her gap year in Uganda. They plan to live in a poverty-stricken African village and use their skills to contribute to the community. "But I do have arthritis," says Richard, "there is no way I can sleep on a mud floor for 12 months."

Whether it's burning a silver streak across the globe, digging wells in African villages, or changing career, the over-fifties are refusing to lie down like an extra on the Antiques Roadshow and wait for the geriatric rot to set in.
Sex and travel, it appears, are top of the agenda. An online survey published last October asked 1,500 people over 65 whether they had regrets. The results were surprising. rather than dreaming back to a lost golden era, it found that many older people envy the lifestyles of the young. Seventy per cent wished they had had more sex, 57 per cent would have liked to have travelled more, and 45 per cent wished they had quit their jobs and changed profession.
Known, unflatteringly, to the travel industry as the "denture venturers" or the "Saga louts", there are an estimated 200,000 pre-retirement "gappers" in the UK. They spend around £5,000 per trip, totalling an impressive £1bn per year.

 

 The Daily Mail 7 November 2006

'gap year emails'
When intrepid teenagers set off to explore the deepest, darkest and most dangerous parts of the world during their gap years, it is a nail-biting time for their worried parents. But, mothers and fathers console themselves, at least their little gapper can send reassuring e-mails home. However, as a hilarious new book reveals, the messages they send, describing the scrapes they have got into, can have the opposite effect.
'Hi Dad. Well, I got mugged again, trying to get across eight lines of traffic from Cinelandia to the Modern Art Museum in the pouring rain. He did have a knife, but he wasn't particularly threatening, and he let me open my wallet and give him the notes, rather than taking everything, which would have been a pain. It's OK. I'm used to it now. So long, David'
Extracted from 'Don't Tell Mum': Hair-Raising Messages Home From Gap-Year Travellers by Simon Hoggart and Emily Monk, published by Atlantic Books at £9.99. © 2006, Simon Hoggart and Emily Monk.

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