This week I’ve been chatting to Nicole from Suitcase Stories who, along with her partner Michael, gave up her career, sold her possessions and left her ‘conventional’ life for a life of travel. The couple have been on the road for over a year now and I love the fact that they travel the world by house sitting.
1. Why did you decide to take your grown up gap year? Was it a difficult decision to make?
I’ve always loved travel. It’s been a dream of mine to take an extended trip around the world for many years. But of course life always gets in the way and I never had the chance.
Then I lost a parent. Nothing makes you revalue your life like losing someone. The last conversation we had we spoke in depth about travel and my dreams of an extended trip. She told me to do it; to follow my heart and everything else would fall into place. A week later she was gone and I made a vow to follow her advice.
2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?
Everyone was supportive of the idea of our desire to travel long term. When we left, we had no idea if we would be gone for six months or a few years so I think most people, including ourselves, just presumed we would be back within a year.
And now that we have been on the road for longer than 12 months, and since we have told our family and friends we have no intentions of coming home anytime soon, I think they are very used to the idea of us being away for a while. They are all just very happy that we are doing what we love to do.
3. How long did your trip take and where did you go?
We are still on our trip! It’s been nearly 14 months since we left Australia and in that time we have been to some amazing places: USA, Iceland, UK, Ireland, Amsterdam, France, Monaco, Spain, Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Mexico.
We have no plans to return home yet and at this point we think we will be on the road for at least another two to three years.
4. Did you go alone or with family/friends?
I am doing all this with the love of my life, Michael 🙂
5. What is your travel style? (Ie. Budget hostels/Mid-range hotels/Luxury travel – less is more, travelling slowly/pack in as much as possible)
This is always a hard question to answer because our travel style is a little unique. For the most part we house sit as we travel. This saves us a lot of money on accommodation costs but also gives us a unique perspective by living in each place we go.
Between house sits we stay in short term apartments or hotels.
So while we are not your typical ‘budget travellers’ staying in hostels and such, we are also not staying in 5 star hotels.
We definitely travel slowly for the majority of the time but we do pack in some quick trips if we have limited ‘free’ time between house sits.
6. Do you go for tours or do it alone?
We do it alone most of the time because of the way we travel. We have done quite a few day tours or walking tours, which we love to do. A walking tour is a great way to get to know the city before you go off and explore it on your own.
7. What is the best thing about taking a grown up gap year?
Finding out how much more there is to life than just a 9 to 5 existence! Also, I think you can appreciate it on a different level when you are older. If I had done this when I was 18 I wouldn’t see things in the same way. I am glad I waited until I was in my late 30s before taking a gap year (or gap life!)
8. And were there any downsides?
Not that I can think of! I can only think of positive reasons to take a gap year later in life. For example, I wouldn’t be able to be away for an unlimited amount of time if I did this 20 years ago because I wouldn’t have had the financial stability behind me.
9. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grown up gap year?
Do it! Plan it, save for it and just go. Life is too short and too important to settle for ordinary when extraordinary is within your reach. Do your research and talk to other gap year travellers to get ideas of how you want to go about it. There are plenty of people out there, like ourselves, who are willing to help others plan for the time of their lives!