The gap travel market is big business. Recent figures show that gap travellers are spending an astonishing £5billion a year on their trips, £1billion of which is spent by retirees. *
Whilst it has traditionally been perceived to be the domain of school leavers, market analyst Mintel has identified two distinct additions to the traditional “gapper” list. “Career gappers” who are young professionals taking an extended break and “denture venturers” who are in their 50's and taking a big trip before they retire.
This is backed up by Gap Year for Grown Ups, the UK's leading gap provider, who have seen a record growth in bookings - up 300% since 2005 - 27% of which are over 50 years old.
Lauren Mackay, brand manager, Gap Year for Grown Ups says, “The market is constantly evolving and there is no average grown up traveller. Retired people are feeling confident to travel further afield and many people just want to do something worthwhile before they enjoy their retirement.”
The length of trips is changing too. Mackay adds, “ The perception of having to travel for a full gap year has gone. With programmes running from two weeks to two years the flexibility on what you do and when and where you go is enormous.”
With the average spend being around £5,000 these travellers are choosing to spend their time and money on quality programmes.
Irene Silas, 67, travelled with Gap Year for Grown Ups to Rajasthan, India in November last year after visiting India on a previous holiday earlier in the year.
Irene explains,“ I knew that I wanted to experience Indian life outside tourism and I love children so felt a month-long gap break assisting in the school was a natural choice.”
The programme helps tackle the problems which create poverty through teaching underprivileged primary school children.
Irene adds, “I think we helped. We had fun with the children and they learned a good deal of basic English with enthusiasm. However, the benefits to me have been enormous. I encountered a warmth, sensitivity and simplicity which has humbled me. I felt appreciated and cherished in many ways in which I will never forget.”