Planning a grown-up gap year? How three families achieved their dream

Published by Rosie Murray-West on 15 July 2016.
Last updated on 15 July 2016

Family taking a holiday

Here’s how two families and one lone traveller achieved their dreams of seeing the world. 

For more help on planning a grown-up gap year, see our essential guide.

“Travelling in later life gives me great pleasure”

Sixty-six-year-old Jo Carroll (pictured above), from Wiltshire, gave up her job in child protection in her mid-50s and now uses all of her spare money for long-term travelling.

Her first gap year, in south-east Asia, saw her sell her car, rent out her house and use her widow’s pension to finance her trip.

Since then, she has travelled regularly, most recently to Ecuador and the Galapagos. She says going without things that others regard as necessities, such as a car, helps her fund her trips. “No car means no insurance, no fuel, no parking, no maintenance and about £2,000 a year,”
she says.

“Travelling gives me far more pleasure than almost anything else. My grandchildren are my only other indulgence.”

“We want to make memories for our kids”

Lynne Hocking, 40, is three months into a one-year trip around the world with husband Alex Mennie and children Connor, 12, and Sam, 14 (pictured above).

After Alex, who worked in the oil industry in Aberdeen, was made redundant, the family decided to use his severance payment and a voluntary redundancy payment from Lynne’s university job to take a long break.

“We want to spend time together making memories,” Lynne says. “We want to learn about different cultures and ways of living and working, and to get the kids thinking differently about what their futures look like.”

So far, the family have travelled to Peru, Ecuador and Mexico and are planning to take in the US, South East Asia and Australia before they return to the UK.

The family hopes to work for its bed and board under the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms scheme, which will allow them to exchange manual labour for bed and board. They plan to rent out their home in Aberdeen, but they have so far been unable to find tenants.

“We’ve been overpaying our mortgage for quite some time (while interest rates were low), and we can use these overpayments to cover mortgage payments until we get a tenant,” Lynne explains.

“We’re budget travellers. We’ve been really happy staying in hostels. If this is outside your comfort zone, you’ll need to budget more for your trip.”

Visit to read more about the family’s adventures.


My own experience

Planning a trip away for our family of four (pictured above) was financially terrifying. However, with careful budgeting, rent from our London house and a small amount of work, we’ve been able to keep up pension contributions, travel to 19 countries and even overpay the mortgage during our year out.

My husband was able to take a sabbatical from his work, which has given us some security. As a freelance journalist, I have been able to work anywhere with a good internet network. A voluntary redundancy payment also helped fund our trip.

The major expenses have been round the world tickets, visas, injections and accommodation. We kept costs down by staying put for six months in Mexico, where our daughters Daisy, eight, and Clover, six, were able to put down roots and even attend school. After a splurge at the end of our trip in the Galapagos Islands, we’ll find our bank account depleted when we return, but we plan to rebuild it speedily. Read about our travels at

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