Travelling After Uni – Torn Between Work and a Gap Year?

Ahhh, graduating from university. The soothing wave of relief you feel once uni is done and dusted is unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. No more lectures, no more essays and no more seminars. Dissertation meetings?… See you never! Great, right?

Hold on a second, don’t get too cocky; you’re not quite ready for what comes next. There it is; an overwhelming feeling of dread and panic – WHAT NOW?!

travelling after uni panic

It’s OK, calm yourself! The truth is that you have a world of options open to you. One of those is travelling after uni, but what about your career?

It’s all up to you

Before going any further, there is one thing that needs to be said to all the new grads out there. This is your journey, so whatever your first step is after university needs to be right for you. Don’t worry about what your friends are doing, what your parents want or what you SHOULD be doing. There’s no right or wrong here, every experience in life is a lesson!

So, that means if all of your mates are off on a gap year, but you’re not feeling it, that’s fine. Your mum might want you to start working at your uncle’s printing business, but you want to explore the Great Wall. Guess what? That’s OK, too. Whether you start your career straight after uni or take some time out of study and work to see the world, it has to be your choice.

Think travelling after uni through

That being said, it’s not a decision you should take too lightly. If your desired field of work is a competitive one, is a year of beach selfies worth losing out on a year’s experience or training? Remember, your competition is out there! You don’t want to do anything that will put you at a definite disadvantage when it comes to your graduate career.

The summer is yours

One way of having your cake and eating it is by using the summer months after university to travel. A gap doesn’t have to be for a year! You’ll be surprised how much you can fit in a couple of months, or even a month, if you plan your trip carefully.

If you travel during the summer, you’re not losing out on too much valuable job hunting time or on the first year of your career. It’s definitely worth considering if you need to get the travel bug out of your system for a while.

If you go: Make the most of it

Yes, there may be Instagrammers who get paid thousands to post travel photos. But the likelihood of you making a career out of solely travelling is pretty slim (sorry). You can’t hide from reality forever (sorry again), which means that someday you’ll need to find yourself a job. Whether that’s at home or away, it always helps to boost your employability and, luckily, that’s something you can do while travelling.

You’re human – bags of beer, full moon parties and sampling the local nightlife are going to happen. It’s all part of the experience! However, try to invest part of your time abroad on activities that could benefit your future career. Things like teaching, part time or full time working and volunteering while travelling can all beef up your CV and give you some great transferable skills to take home with you.


It’s not easy knowing what you want to do when you finish uni, it’s a huge decision to make. Some people have a plan right away, others may need a little more time. Taking yourself out of your everyday life and into new surroundings can actually help you to think more clearly.

While you’re away, take some time to calmly reflect upon where you see yourself going when you embark upon your career or further study. Chances are, you’ll have some stunning scenery to take in, where better to encourage deep thoughts about your future? The key is to not use travel as an escape; aim to return with some clarity in your mind with regard to what’s next.

Employers will want to know why

Employers and recruiters have seen it all before, so if you think you’ll be able to hide a career break from them, you’re in for a surprise! If there is a year or so unaccounted for on your CV, they’ll notice. So, when you start applying for jobs, be ready to explain your reasons for choosing to defer your career to go travelling after uni. Whatever your answer, try to express it in a way that doesn’t give the interviewer any room to doubt your commitment or maturity.

It’s also likely that an employer will want to know what you got up to on your travels. That’s why the previous point is so essential. When preparing for interviews, think about how you can relate what you did whilst travelling back to the role in question to make sure your responses are tailored.

If you stay: It’s not over!

So what if you want to get a jump start on your career by working after the completion of your degree? Just because you don’t go travelling after uni doesn’t mean that you don’t have a little wanderlust. Lots of graduates who want to see the world choose their careers as their first priority. You can still travel if you do!

There are lots of ways to work and still make time to travel.

The take away

Travelling after uni and starting work immediately both have their merits, but ultimately the decision is yours. If you think rationally and carefully about what’s best for you, and weigh up all of your options, you’re sure to make the right decision.

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