As I often say on the grown up gap year, making the decision to go travelling isn’t always easy. When you’re a bit older there is always considerations such as your job, your home and possibly even children to take into account when making your decision whether to pack your bags. That’s why I love running the weekly If We Can Do It series, as it’s all about stories of people who have been there and done it. Many of us will have had the same concerns before we set off on our trips, but I have yet to hear from anyone who has regretted taking that leap. This week’s interview is with Julie, from Moons Around The World, who is travelling with her husband Brenden. I think her answers perfectly sum up some of the fears people face when deciding whether to take a grown up gap year and I’m so pleased to hear that they are living their dream and loving every moment!
1. Why did you decide to take your grown up gap year/trip? Was it a difficult decision to make?
Taking this year to travel the world had always been my dream. I’m blessed to have found my best friend and husband that shared in that dream, however finding the ‘right time’ to make the dream a reality is a different story! Because Brenden and I were long-time career professionals before starting this journey, there was always that promotion or big project — just around the corner — that one or the other of us wanted to stick around for. Finally, we saw our opportunity and said to one another, “It’s now or never! Let’s go!”
2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?
Brenden and are both in our mid-30s, so many of our friends have settled down with kids, dog, big house, etc. So when we shared our plans, many of our friends expressed concerns over our “delay” in doing the same. We thought it funny actually that we received more hesitation from our friends than we did our families.
3. How long did your trip take and where did you go?
We are currently three months into our journey around the world. Since we left Chicago (our home) in late November, we’ve travelled to Key West with my family for Thanksgiving, then on to Cape Town, South Africa to share Christmas and New Year’s with Brenden’s family. We were blessed to have family throughout South Africa, so after a wonderful seven-week visit around Cape Town and the winelands with Brenden’s parents, aunt, grandmas, and sister (she was visiting from Sydney, Australia), we took off on a road-trip around South Africa. Three weeks into that trip, we jetted up to Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia for a week before finishing our roadtrip back in Cape Town. That is where we are today.
4. How did you finance your grown up gap year?
Savings, savings, savings! This trip had always been a dream of mine, so I was squirreling away money for a long time. I’m blessed to have found my incredible husband that shared in my dreams and savings!
5. Did you go alone or with family/friends?
I’m travelling with Brenden.
6. What is your travel style? (Ie. Budget hostels/Mid-range hotels/Luxury travel – less is more, travelling slowly/pack in as much as possible)
Brenden and I are very relaxed travellers. We believe in experiencing each day as it comes. We decided against purchasing a RTW ticket as we didn’t want to be tied down to specific dates of travel. We prefer the flexibility of changing course as opportunities present themselves. Regarding our travel style, the challenge for us travelling later in life is that we’ve become accustomed to a certain level of comfort when travelling. Having been career professionals for so long, I particularly enjoyed the perks of business travel, so the idea of backpacking through hostels as I did in my 20s is more difficult to realize now. With that said, together we came to the realization that we will enjoy our journey more if we travel at a level of comfort (mid-range to luxury) and budget accordingly.
7. Do you go for tours or do it alone?
To date, we’ve done our own travel. We prefer the flexibility of seeing and doing the things that most interests us rather than being ushered along at the pace of a group.
8. What is the best thing about taking a grown up gap year?
The advantage of taking this trip at this stage in our life is that our perception on life – its values and people – are vastly expanded. We realize that life is short, good health is not promised, and the world is really a small place once you open your eyes and heart to that around you.
9. And were there any downsides?
The downside for us is missing out on the specials times our friends and family are experiencing back home.
10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grown up gap year?
Think it through, plan it, and live the dream! The process leading up to the journey can be daunting and uncertain, but once you are over that hump and on the road, you will feel free and liberated. I can’t tell you the number of times during the planning process that we asked ourselves “Are we crazy?! Are we doing the right thing?” We were lucky to have each other to comfort during those anxious moments and remind the other of our desire to fulfil our dreams. Furthermore, we said from the beginning that we’d give it a shot and if it turned out to not be what we expected, we could always come home. We took a selfie on Instagram the night before our movers came, asking those exact questions. I can happily tell you, that was the last day we ever had those thoughts. Nearly every day since, we’ve reflected on just how happy and grateful we are that we took the leap and started on this journey.