Tired of tiny holidays? Itching to take an epic trip instead of a quick week here and there? If you need some extra incentive to make the leap and book that round-the-world trip, Lonely Planet author George Dunford has some compelling reasons for you.

1. Gap year

School's out for ever, so now it's time to see what the world can teach you. It might be the year that makes you work out what you really want to do at university or it might be the year that makes you forget high school. Volunteering or beach-bumming, no matter what you do a year off could be the best education you get.

Destinations: Australia and New Zealand are hot spots for European gappers (and vice versa), though some adventurous school leavers opt for Africa.

2. Break-up

Rather than checking themselves into Heartbreak Hotel, many of the broken-ups hit the road to shake the blues. And why the hell not when there's a chance to meet someone else (and be able to send postcards back to an ex)? Eat, Pray, Love was proof that Javier Bardem is just waiting for you to ditch that bad relationship and find a new love in travel.

Destinations: Rio's party spirit and beachy joie de vivre will put you in an outgoing mood, while Paris will put your old romance into perspective.

3. Midlife crisis

There's nothing like heading into another culture to work out what your life's all about - plus it's more rewarding than buying a sportscar. Whether you rekindle old interests, meet people who challenge your beliefs or just let yourself be lost for a year, travel will tell you what's important in life. Just try to do it while avoiding a comb-over or plastic surgery.

Destinations: Stage your own road movie on Route 66 or take a Buddhist retreat in Goa.

4. Redundancy package

In case you haven't heard, redundancy is the new employment. Take that package and look for somewhere to get more Bangkok for your buck. Who knows? You could switch that career as a consultant for one sailing yachts.

Destinations: Choose somewhere as far away from the office clatter as possible. Try going off the grid in a deserted spot in Madagascar or getting lost in a tribe in Papua New Guinea.

5. Retirement

Many travellers are choosing to give the grandchildren the slip by emigrating. After all, they've spent long enough looking after their own kids and deserve the break. It's a great chance to tick off the bucket list and enjoy everything you've been working your whole life for.

Destinations: In Australia they call retirees travelling in Central Australia SADs (for See Australia and Die) so look further afield – haven't you earned at least Bali or, to properly blow the inheritance, the Bahamas?

6. Compassion

Think for a moment about the way places you've been stay to really stay with you. Whether it's recent floods in Brazil or Greece's economic woes, these disasters are more real if you've been there. And you'll learn more about the resilience and spirit of people regardless of where they're from.

Destinations: We're not saying go visit disaster sites but even places in Queensland that weren't affected by floods have seen cancellations. Volunteering with an NGO is a good way of helping out as efforts in Haiti have shown.

7. Just because

Do you really need a justifiable reason? It could just be that you always wanted to see the Greek Islands or that you want to taste yum cha in Hong Kong, but whatever's raised your travel appetite, you'll never regret booking a round-the-world ticket and heading off. Inspirational, escape or just dirty old fun, whatever reason you take a RTW trip for you're bound to be surprised by what you discover on your journey - about the world and yourself.

Destinations: The world really is your oyster - spin a globe and stick a pin in it, or start roaming Lonely Planet's online guides and see what strikes a chord in you.

Great! You've made the decision to take a big trip. Get a whole bunch of information and resources for it on lonelyplanet.com.

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