Everyone is an individual and has their own motivation for wanting to take some time out and travel, perhaps for weeks, perhaps for years. Of course, the format of travel will also vary with the individual and your personal circumstances: travelling on a budget in a motorhome is a very different experience to taking a world cruise, or to volunteering in a school in Africa, for example. Most people we meet who are travelling for a long period of time are retired, but not everyone; some are like us and have a long working life ahead of them.
One of the biggest questions I had when researching this trip and reading of other people’s experiences was: why? Why do people take off and travel around? I read blogs and books, but not many gave a reason for the actual motivation behind the trip (update: see end of this page). This is perhaps understandable: it’s a private thing and once it’s published on the Internet or in a book, it’s public, forever, for everyone to read. However, I’d like to try and explain our ongoing motivation for taking the trip, although it remains something of a mystery to me too!
We both left well paid, secure jobs to come travelling, in the midst of the greatest economic world crisis of our generation. Brave or foolish? We don’t know, time will tell. All we know is we were almost 40, and our lives were missing something. We have no children, by intention, since neither of us had felt the urge to start a family. We had good careers, and a great bunch of friends, but something was still missing. We’d managed to pay off the mortgage on our 3 bed Midlands home, and that seemed to be the clincher. A desire for excitement, adventure, to escape the ‘rat race’, to ‘find ourselves’… these all seem like cliches but I think they best summarise what happened to us. We suddenly had the ability to save the money we needed to take such a trip, and an asset we could rent out to also help us. Among all of this thinking, a good friend’s father passed away, my first experience of death, which also left me asking the question ‘am I doing the right thing with my life’, and leaving me with a fairly certain answer of ‘no’.
Whatever the original reason, we found the hardest part of our trip was actually making the decision to do it. Who takes a ‘mid career’ gap year? Would it ruin our careers? What would our parents, friends and family think? Would they be OK while we travelled around? Would we miss them so much we’d have to come back quickly? Would we be able to find work when we came back? Would we actually enjoy life ‘on the road’? Would we be safe? Could we really afford it? How would we cope with our relatively poor language skills? Would our house be destroyed by wayward tenants?
Once the decision was made, we just ploughed on with it and within 2 months we were on the road. Have we regretted it? Not yet!
As I write this, we’re about 40 days into what we hope to be a 360 plus day trip. In those 40 days we’ve had more new experiences than we have had in years. We’ve taken more risk, which has meant we’ve felt and worked through some minor hiccups, but on the whole the payback has been breathtaking. We’ve met some inspirational people, and been dumbstruck at the helpfulness and friendliness of locals, and seen some amazing places. We don’t know what we’ll do when we return (I continue to worry about this more than Julie does), but one thing seems certain: we won’t regret our decision.
If you’re thinking about taking a break from your career to travel, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and will offer whatever advice we can, should you want it.
Update: other travellers we’ve found who’ve shared their motivation stories…