One of the most often questions we are asked is about taking a gap year with our son. To travel 9 months together meant leaving our jobs and putting our home life on hold. We had to plan a budget, save for the trip, make tough decisions, and have a plan for life at home once we returned. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but was it worth it? Absolutely!
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Why should you consider taking a gap year with your family?
1. Spend quality time with your kids. The best part of our trip as a family was the quality time we were able to spend together. As AJ worked all day, by the time he got home from work, Aarav was only awake for a couple of hours. We only get so many hours with our children before they grow up and fly the coop. Taking an extended trip together provided multiple hours and days together. Did our young son know what we were seeing and care about another passport stamp? No. He cared about spending time with his parents every day. It brought us closer as a family.
2. Become closer as a couple. Not only was a gap year wonderful for the 24/7 time we had with our son, it also meant we, as a couple, had 24/7 time together. Sometimes, after having kids, you can get so caught up in the lack of sleep and the routine of raising kids that you can drift apart without even knowing it. On the road together for a long period of time, you’ll share great moments, as well as some bad ones. You’ll get stronger as you go through the ups and downs, and learn more about each other than you ever thought was possible.
3. Priceless memories. While our son was less than 2 when we traveled and won’t have the memories we have, we do have the photographs and the stories. We will always remember him playing with kids in foreign countries, being doted on by people who barely spoke the same language, the encounters and sights — swimming with turtles just beneath his feet in the Galapagos or when he said the word “elephant” for the first time when he saw a live elephant on a safari. The memories you’ll make on your trip will be priceless.
4. Technology makes it easier than ever. Yes, it may have been difficult to travel with young children in the past, but with so many apps and technology at our fingertips, it makes it easier than ever to hit the road. You don’t need to worry about getting lost with Google Maps, finding a doctor in the event of an emergency, finding ways to entertain kids — technology is everywhere and can be helpful. It can also keep you connected to home, and provide a way to work while on the road, should you have the opportunity to work remotely and stay employed as you travel.
5. Airbnb gives you a home away from home. Years ago, our only option for traveling was to book a hotel room or go camping. With the birth of companies like Airbnb, you can have a home away from home, unlike hotels, with multiple bedrooms, kitchens, laundry, and other things that can help save you money while making it more comfortable for your family.
Not everyone can get a gap year or sabbatical with their children, but if it’s a real possibility, don’t let fear prevent you from giving it a try. We’ve returned home to Charlotte, North Carolina, and adapted back into our original lives. But we’ve done this after connecting and sharing in a way we never would have had before our trip. Will we do it again? Hopefully. And we hope you will too!