I have heard this so many times over the last few months. People around me are shocked that Simon and I are heading off for twelve months to travel to Europe, then backpack from there back to Australia. It’s a pretty big thing to undertake, but it’s certainly not unheard of.
The next question is always “How can you afford that?’ Usually closely followed by a comment that the questioner could never manage to do it in a million years. My answer to this is that I prioritise travel over most other things. I don’t have a beautiful house or new car, and my wardrobe consists of everyday basics two years old. Rarely do I enter shopping centres, and I’m a coupon queen. I call travel hacking my second job, and just by spending a bit of time on it, travel can be cheaper than you think. I am always giving others hints and tips on how to travel for less, but many people just don’t want to put the time and effort into the planning. Which is perfectly fine, but realise THAT is why I can afford to travel. We also travel differently to many people. I was shocked to hear from someone recently that when their family of four travelled overseas they budgeted $1000AUD/day. Wow! No wonder they couldn’t get their head around the fact we were travelling for a year.
“But you’re…ummm…” Old?? Thanks! So maybe my age begins with a four not a two, but that’s not old! It seems so excepted in our society to travel the world when in your twenties, then you settle down, have kids, and slide nicely into retirement. No way am I going to stay home and do what is expected. I’ve already done that. I’ve worked hard, had kids, bought a house and done all the right things but skipped all those early travel years. I am fit and healthy and now ready to take on the world.
“How can you leave your kids?” My kids are 20 & 18. They are adults, and I have raised them to be independent people. They will probably make the same mistakes that I made at the same age – when I was also living by myself – and learn from them the same way I did. Will I miss them – of course, but that doesn’t mean I should stay home because of them. They will be joining us for the first month in Europe, and are then free to meet up with us at any time they want to stump up for the airfares.
“But your job?” Oh, my job! I’ve been in my job for eight years and it is definitely time to move on. If it wasn’t for this trip, I may have stopped working there a year ago. I don’t know what I am going to do when we return to Australia. There are so many possibilities and it’s exciting.
“Isn’t the Middle East dangerous?” I guess that depends on your perspective and what base you use. By looking at world events recently there are many places that seem dangerous – but is that mostly because we are better informed now? We see almost instant news worldwide as well as photos and videos so we can really experience the horror of events as they happen. It’s a little different to reading a newspaper article two months after the event once the news has trickled around the world as happened in the past. I’m fairly sure we won’t be venturing into Syria, but I won’t let terrorism keep me at home.
“Surely you know where you’re going?” Nope! I have a vague idea of the general direction. We’re starting in Oslo, then have to be in Rome about a month later for the kids flight home. From there – well, who knows? I really want to be able to go wherever we feel like going and to have the freedom to take up opportunities on the road or head to a place recommended by others we meet. We will either run out of time or money, then we’ll head back to Australia from wherever we are. This type of travel will actually be a challenge for me, because I’m a planner at heart, and a bit of a control freak.
So yes, we really are going! Yes, I do know how long a year is, and yes, we will be back!
Join me for the ride 🙂
Head on over to my Travel Diaries to read what we have been up to.
Here are some of the things we had to think about during our preparation for our gap year.
Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.