Home and Away's Sophie Dillman on taking a 'gap year' in your 30's: 'Genius or stupid?'

EXCLUSIVE: Sophie Dillman has opened up about taking a leap and following her travelling goals in her 30's.

Sophie Dillman is Yahoo Lifestyle Australia's columnist. Sophie brings insider insights into everything from her time on Home and Away to what it's like being in the public eye and falling in love in the workplace.

Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor
Sophie Dillman and Patrick O' Connor swapped the sunny beaches of Sydney for London town. Photo: Supplied

I have been living in the UK for almost six months now... SIX MONTHS! It feels like a dream. I should be waking up at 4AM and jumping in the car to head up to Palm Beach for a day in the Bay. However, that chapter in my life has come to a close and I am currently half way through a ‘gap year’ of sorts.

Patrick and I came to the decision to move overseas for many reasons. We both missed out on travelling abroad when we finished school. Specifically my parents told me I wasn’t allowed to because they were convinced I would never come home to study and upon reflection they were probably right. We were also incredibly blessed to work through most of our 20’s in Summer Bay. The combination of these things meant we felt we missed out on a crucial part of self discovery and adventure. So in December last year we packed up our incredible lives into three suitcases and off we went.


Doing something like this at 30 has its pros and cons. So if anyone is considering doing the same thing, here are some things to consider before you pull the trigger.

Patrick O'Connor drinking an Aperol Spritz and Sophie Dillman in a photo out of a balcony
The couple have been living in the UK for the past six months. Photo: Supplied

I found packing up my life in Sydney the hardest part. I loved my life, my apartment, my furniture and my friends; they had been my world for so many years. Especially because it was furniture that I bought with my money, friendships that I had worked hard to cherish and a life I could have happily stayed in forever. The older you get the less transient these things become.

I feared being the old girl at the party. Most people do their gap year when they leave school when they have less needs and much more stamina. My days of sleeping at bus stops and dancing for a week straight are definitely behind me- my knees aren't what they used to be.

I also was and still am worried about my career. Granted, my career path will never be linear but it does feel like I have gone sideways instead of up the ladder in a way, and I certainly understand that fear for those who have a definitive career trajectory. That is also coupled with the dreaded concept of my biological clock. Apparently, my eggs are well past my prime and I ‘selfishly’ have no interest in a European summer with morning sickness.

Patrick O'Connor and Sophie Dillman travelling
Sophie and Patrick's 'gap year' has been a rollercoaster so far. Photo: Supplied
Patrick O'Connor petting a donkey
The couple don't regret a minute of it. Photo: Supplied

In contrast to all these worries, there are definitely some positives to doing this at 30.

It is very helpful to have some financial plan in place. Holidays in my early 20’s consisted of scraping every dollar from my tip jar at work and still having to call dad to ask for a loan from a hostel pay phone. Paddy and I have been able to set ourselves up here with plans and systems which has taken some stress away. It has also meant we have prioritised and pre-booked places we want to see so we have so much to look forward to.

I also remember a lot more of my adventures this time around. I want to do more than just find the cheapest bar and festival ticket. I am a huge art and history lover and I have eagerly engaged in all those experiences. Memories are actually being made rather than drunkenly forgotten.

My gap year has been a rollercoaster so far. It's been hard and stressful at times but I do not regret a single second of it. I have learnt so much about myself, my partner and gained so many incredible memories I will have for the rest of my life.

If Covid taught us anything, it was you never know what the future holds, so bloody go for it.

Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.

Or if you have a story idea, email us at