Where do you want to go? For how long? How much money do you have? What other commitments do you have. The answers to all these questions are an interlocking web which all have trade offs. The traditional gap year is a year because its the gap between ending high school and tertiary education. If you can get leave without pay a year is about the maximum that most employers will entertain. International return air tickets have a maximum validity of 12 months. So many people do plan for a year long trip –

Key factors to consider:

  • The classic sabbatical in higher education is really about 15 months: a 12 month leave of absence plus the 3 month summer vacation.
  • If a business will give you a career break/sabbatical/adult gap year then 12 months is probably the longest that they will consider.
  • Any around the world or return airline ticket has a maximum validity of 1 year.

The faster you travel:

  • The higher the daily cost will be.
  • The more impact getting sick or missing a connection will have on your plans.
  • Probably the more pre-planning you will need to do – you won’t have time spend considering accommodation options and sightseeing once you arrive.
  • The better the chance is that you will experience culture shock as you become tired, disorientated and overloaded.

There is nothing wrong with travelling quicker if you have a long list of “must sees” and limited time Many tour companies over the years have very successfully developed tours which will very successfully show you “Europe in 21 Days” or “IndoChina Gems in 10 days”. However if you are looking at longer term travel travelling a normal tour company pace will quickly burn you out. If you do want to book tours – carefully check out the number of times you have more than one night in a location and how many long travel days are included.

Timing : Check the Local Weather

Some places are really not good at certain times of the year. Even the southern Spanish coast is unpleasantly cool, wet and closed during the winter. If you are determined to ski or scuba dive you need to be aware of the relevant climatic factors. Some off seasons are just inconvenient – others close down the tourist infrastructure. During the wet season in Darwin you will no doubt get a very good deal on accommodation, but all the dirt roads will be mud and closed – so if your reason for coming is to drive some of the famous off-road tracks of the area time your arrival for the dry winter season.

Its also be aware of local festivals – Stet (Chinese New Year) in Vietnam is the only annual holiday most locals get – they therefore tend to head home en-mass, booking out most forms of transport and closing restaurants for up to a week. The arrival of a international rugby game in a New Zealand town may see all accommodation block booked months in advance.

Which is not to say the off season or shoulder season cannot be rewarding – seeing snow on the domes of Istanbul was magical and the sights were relatively un-busy, the buses easy to reserve on the day and I was never tempted to pay for an air-conditioned room.

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