Redefining ‘retirement’

The Grey Gap Year


More and more people over 50 are delaying the quiet life and are looking to take their time travelling the world.  Why not?  You deserve it.  We took time to speak to a couple that took travelling a step further and embarked on their very own “grey” gap year.


Lyn and Peter followed the great Australian dream to the letter.  They both worked hard through multiple career paths, bought and sold a few houses, had three beautiful children who subsequently yielded loads of beautiful grandchildren.  At the age of 65, together they did what the traditional ‘retired’ model does and cashed in their super to finally relish in a well-earned break from working full time.


As it turns out, stopping to smell the roses was not how they thought it would be.  “It only took about a month before Pete was out looking for more to do,” Lyn reminisces.  “The odd fix-it tasks around the house were finished, Pete had done heaps of fishing, we caught up with old friends and now we were bored.  We had already achieved everything we had planned to do when we stopped working full time and we lacked purpose.”


It was through the grapevine that the idea of volunteering abroad first popped up on their radar. Peter recounts, “A friend of ours introduced us to a person who was already teaching English to orphaned children in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Something sparked inside me, inspiration I suppose, and before I could even suggest it to Lyn she jumped in and said “Yes!”.  


Instantly motivated, they were able to find a tenant to rent their Queenslander while abroad and this provided them with a small income. The school in Georgia provided modest accommodation to volunteers which they were able to utilise while teaching. 


To be able to receive the necessary VISA to enter Georgia they required a letter of invitation. This was arranged through the school that is associated with an orphanage where the children live. “Our VISA’s came off without a hitch and the school welcomed us with open arms,” says Lyn.


Being a mature aged volunteer proved to be an added advantage.  Peter’s hands-on mechanical knowledge was hugely valuable.  He could use his background and experience to help educate the younger volunteers who had also travelled there. Together they made improvements to the orphanage and to the surrounding neighbourhood.


Lyn initially found the language barrier a bit of a challenge however, with patience and persistence, she was surprised at how capable she was teaching willing students.  It was fun to also learn what differences there are between Georgian and English concepts of animal sounds (in Georgia dogs say “ruff” not “woof”). 


Overall they spent over 9 months living in Tbilisi.  In this time they connected with the local community, helped to build new facilities at the orphanage, teach children English, travel to Western Asia and Eastern Europe and establish some new lifelong friendships with volunteers from all over the world. 


Since they have been back in Australia they show no signs of slowing.  Peter consults with a local business a few days a week and Lyn works her own hours from home.  Together they plan to take off on another adventure in October this year.  ‘Retirement’ will just have to wait a little longer.


Seize your Kairos moment with a new adventure!

For more information on volunteering abroad see below:


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