Gap Year to Career Breaker
It was 15 years ago this week I was wrapping up my first six-month journey. Here’s how it brought me to where I am today.
[singlepic=1823,225,,,right]Location: Somewhere over the Pacific
Date: February 7
Well, here we go. It’s so hard to imagine that after all this time of planning we are finally on our way to New Zealand and Australia. It’s just unimaginable what adventures we are going to come across. I haven’t even allowed myself to think about it because I know from past experience that it is impossible to do so. I just hope that I will figure out what direction life should take me, at least temporarily. I’m just living for the moment and will make the most out of everything.
This was my first journal entry at the beginning of my gap half-year, but it could easily have been an entry from the career break I took in 2001, the one in 2006, or even the one in 2007. And reflecting back on that time and experience, I am grateful that I was exposed to the wonders of extended travel early in my life (in fact, what led to this 6-month adventure was a summer of backpacking in Europe in 1992 followed by a study abroad program in London).
I’m grateful because it cemented in me a love for travel and the need to incorporate it into my life – not treat it as a one-time experience.
[singlepic=1825,275,,,right]And because of that a-ha moment, I’ve always looked at jobs and careers as more of a way to fuel my wanderlust. I wasn’t worried about climbing the corporate ladder – I was focused on earning money to climb the Inca Trail. Instead of saving for expensive heels that would give me blisters walking the cobblestone streets of Manhattan, I shopped for hiking boots that hopefully would keep blisters at bay as I hiked the Annapurna Circuit. And rather than acquire all of the latest labels, I am much prouder over the number of patches acquired on my backpack.
It’s been exactly 15 years since I returned from that trip and I’ve been making my way around the globe ever since, with breaks to fuel my funds as well as my need for a sense of home. Unlike many RTW travelers today, I don’t feel a need to trek around the world in one trip. Yes I want to see as much as possible, but I also like having a place to come home to. I like plotting my next adventure from my couch and the anticipation that builds up to that moment of departure.
For me extended travel isn’t a one time experience – it is one that lasts a lifetime. And I believe that those just discovering it for themselves will experience that as well.
HOW I TRAVELED IN 1995 vs. 2010
Travel Agent vs. Internet
Pay Phones vs. Cell Phones
Post Cards vs. Emails
Sharing the Experience:
Waited until we got home vs. Blogs
Travelers Checks vs. ATMs
Mixed Tapes (yes, tapes) vs. iPods
35mm vs. Digital
How we got around without the Internet, cell phones, emails, blogs, ATMs, iPods and Digital cameras? Just fine, if you can believe it.
The three things that are still the same?
My backpack – my travel journals – and my sense of adventure