Most of us still associate a “gap year” as being only for the youngins
Aged between 18-21, who need to venture out of their safety net and see the world before settling into a career or further education. We’re here to tell you it’s not only for the young ones. In fact, we have seen how perfect the gap year has been for individuals in between the ages of 18-35 and how beneficial travelling in your 30s can be.
We interviewed Welcome To Travel legends Charlotte & Ghillie who decided to leave their well established professional lives behind in the UK and head abroad as solo travellers in their 30s. They explain what the experience has been like from their perspective and prove why the “gap year” has no age limit.
Charlotte Whelan came to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa when she was 31
When did you decide to travel to Australia?
“It’s something I had wanted to do from the age of 18 but always thought I’d meet a guy that shares the same passion that would want to come do it with me! I just never had the lady balls to do it myself! So when I turned 29, I thought to myself ‘it’s something you’ve always wanted to do and this is your last chance saloon now’ so I left it as near to the deadline as I possibly could – still hanging on to the thought that I might meet someone to come with me.
I fell in love with Australia on day one and even kicked myself that I hadn’t done this sooner, it really wasn’t as scary as I’d made it out to be in my head and was meeting people from the very first day I arrived!”
Why did you decide to travel to Aus?
“Funnily enough I had never been overly fussed about going to Australia – it wasn’t at the top of my bucket list. The only reason I went to Australia was because I have always wanted to go to NZ.
Now that’s always been at the top of my bucket list and it just made sense to check out Australia and see what all the fuss was about! Would be rude not to with me being so close and boy am I glad I did! I loved it so much that I even wanted to live there permanently; if only! I was lucky to get a few months there because of Covid! And the funniest thing is, I didn’t even get to do The East Coast which was the whole point of me going.
I was in love with Oz; head over heals, upside down, back to front, crazy, stupid love and I only ever saw Melbourne and Sydney! Can you imagine if I’d have actually seen the East Coast!? I don’t think my heart would have been able to cope!!”
What advice would you give to those who want to travel in their early 30s but are hesitant/worried they've 'missed the boat' on being a backpacker?
“Oh my god DO IT!!! It’s never too late!
I put it off for years and then finally just went for it and on day one, I wondered what all the fuss was about! I had the most amazing time and met the most incredible people and if anything being a bit older had it’s advantages because I was a bit more worldly and wise and had my wits about me.
I have a mantra and it’s like a little devil on my shoulder that says ‘Do one thing every day that scares you!’ The anxiety this little devil causes me but you know what, there is an old saying ‘We only live to regret the things in life we HAVEN’T done’. If it’s even a little seed in your head then you should just do it instead of getting to your death bed thinking, should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.
Many people often say to me (who are now settled down, married/divorced/with kids) ‘I wish I’d have done that!’ And more than not that phrase often starts with ‘That’s my only regret in life’… Please don’t be that person! You owe it to yourself to live your best life and nothing less!!”
Ghillie travelled Australia and other countries at age 30
What made you decide to head abroad on this trip of a lifetime?
“I was two months away from turning 30 when my long term boyfriend broke up with me, pretty out the blue. I was absolutely gutted and had never felt this lost in my life. I had no idea what to do.
I’ve always absolutely loved holidays and experiencing different cultures. I got the travel bug from my parents and have been lucky enough to visit lots of amazing, far flung places. I go on holiday as much as I can. I had never done the whole backpacking thing and decided to just go for it a couple months before I turned 30.
My long term relationship had broken down and I didn’t know what to do with myself, knowing I had to have my Australian visa granted before I turned 30 I immediately applied for it and once it was granted I started planning.”
Where did your journey start?
“I had never travelled solo before. So in January 2019, I boarded a flight to the Philippines, travelled with a friend for 5 weeks and then landed in Melbourne. I chose Australia because it was on my bucket list, it felt like a safe option because my friends- Darryl and Adam- had started WTT and they had given me reassurance that I would be ok. At that point I was suffering from really crippling anxiety. Travelling solo was the best thing I have ever done.”
How was the experience overall?
“I felt like I was more sensible and street wise to do it at 30 and I met amazing like minded people everywhere I went. My favourite experience was the outback trip WTT planned for me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and was the most amazing experience ever. I loved every second.
I get on with everyone so my age didn’t affect my experience at all and I met quite a few other 30 year olds and older. I would tell them to go for it, age is nothing but a number in the world of travel and it honestly is the best thing I have ever done.
Travel as far and much as you can, see everywhere you can. There’s absolutely no need to be scared or hesitant. I wish I could relive my travels all over again. It’s literally made me fearless and totally changed me. Travel is life.”