Lonely Planet Writer

Don’t have the time for a gap year or long-term travel? Maybe try 'microgapping'

Finishing school or changing careers can present the ideal opportunity to take some time off to go on the epic trip you’ve been dreaming of. But taking a gap year or a career break aren’t always options for people who are passionate about travel.

A solitary lady walks down a path towards the cliff coastline of the Seven Sisters Country Park. Image by paul mansfield photography/Getty Images

New research from VisitEngland reveals that while 82% of 18 to 34-year-olds would be interested in taking a career break to travel within the next three years. However, only 8% of those millennials in full-time employment say they are likely to do so. There’s a number of reasons that taking some time off to travel is a dream for many – 59% say they want to explore new cultures, 34% want to tick something off their bucket list, and 25% would like to volunteer or support a good cause while travelling, according to the survey. But those dream trips are easier said than done; 75% of respondents said the main barrier is financial constraints, while 41% worried about the impact on their job progression.

e5 Bakehouse in London Fields. Image by ©Issy Croker/Lonely Planet

In response to this, VisitBritain is positing the idea of “microgapping” – or taking a shorter breaks near to home. About 64% liked the idea of doing so within the UK, and 57% said they would likely go within the next three years.

Changes to the way people work have opened up new opportunities to make those trips a reality, according to VisitEngland. Less people are working 9 to 5, with 40% of millennials surveyed in the UK saying their employers offer flexible working hours. That’s why 79% say that their flexible working arrangements do, or would make them more likely to travel.

Hadrian’s Wall near sunset at Walltown. Image by ©Dave Head/Shutterstock

That means that more people look to take a short break from home, rather than a full year or more of travel. It’s an idea that already holds appeal, as 58% say that being able to stay employed is the greatest benefit. But what can be achieved on a short trip? The respondents were looking for similar things they would on a gap year, like relaxation and well-being (50%), seeing iconic landmarks (41%), trying local food and drink (33%), learning new skills (16%) and supporting good causes (13%).