My fiancee and I have quit our lucrative jobs, sold almost everything we owned, and left the United States to see the world. We're doing something that the Aussies, Israelis, and many Europeans are already very good at -- taking a Gap Year.
Those lucky enough to have a Gap Year built into their cultural fabric see it as a right of passage. They usually do so directly after college and travel with friends to cheap, beautiful, beach-filled countries.
We're in South East Asia now, heading to Eastern Europe next, and finishing our year in South America. In that time we hope to visit upwards of 30 countries. We have friends and family visiting us along the way. A few of our stops are to visit others or attend weddings.
A Gap Year to Katie and I means that we are going to all of the places that inspire us. We're taking cooking and massage classes together. We're wreck-diving and jungle trekking. We're hoping to see all of our favorite animals in the wild. We see this as our chance to do something amazing that wouldn't be as easily possible once we have children and a mortgage.
Almost every person we've spoken to about our travels has told us that they're envious and want to do the same thing -- to that I always say, "You can. Just put a date on your calendar and give your jobs six weeks notice before you leave."
We both were living in San Francisco, so extended travel isn't completely unheard of. Others that we know have done so, but it isn't an ordinary thing. As Americans we seem to be a little hesitant about the concept and perhaps a little afraid of the possible consequences. The biggest consequence or challenges that I could see when we started planning our trip were jobs and money.
Katie and I have both been extremely lucky in work. We both left jobs that valued us as team members and offered to take us back once and if we return. She was an engineer at Speck and I worked as a Sales Director at AOL and The Huffington Post.
At the beginning, leaving work seemed like the hardest part of our departure process. In my industry it isn't unheard of to let someone go as soon as they put in notice to leave and go work for a competitor. I wondered if we'd get the same treatment. As it turns out, giving notice was the easiest part of leaving. Both companies were extremely supportive and we were congratulated rather than shunned. If we do go back to what we were doing, I now feel confident that we'll find our way without much trouble. Technology and business may progress without us, but it won't take much to catch up again.
Money is a factor that I understand scares many folks off from long-term travel. What we've found so far is that we can survive for very little. A meal can be gotten for a dollar or two. A hotel is $10 or $20 a night with air conditioning, hot water, and a bed for two. Either that or you can really splurge. We're at a resort in the Philippines right now where $80 a day gets us a well-manicured beachfront property, three awesome meals a day, and a significant tour or adventure each day. We're particularly excited to see the world's smallest primates (tarsiers) and to snorkel with dolphins.
We have our passports, enough savings to support us for some time, and a strong sense of adventure. That's really all it takes. The items that I've listed above only make things a little easier and our packs a little heavier. We're no different that the Aussies or Europeans in our willingness or ability to travel, it just isn't the normal thing for young Americans to do. I hope that our stories inspire others to do the same thing as we're doing.
If you'd like to follow our adventures or here more, please have a peek at our travel blog: www.codyandkt.com.