This week’s if we can do it is with Beccy from Feed My Travel. She’s half way through a trip with her boyfriend Stephan. Here’s her views on their grown up gap year:
1. Why did you decide to take your grown up gap year/trip? Was it a difficult decision to make?
We were both approaching 30 when our travels started. We have decided that we do want to do the whole marriage and baby thing eventually and with this in mind and us not getting any younger, we decided it had to be now. We have both travelled before this trip, separately and together, so this is like our last blowout before we settle down. And no, it wasn’t a hard decision to make, we just knuckled down and saved and went
2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?
My mum took it better than any other time, I guess she knew we were up to something (mothers always know!) My dad has always supported my decision to travel and I think he regrets not doing it when he was younger. Stephan’s mum was upset, but would never stop him, and I think his dad thought it was silly and Stephan should be concentrating on his career. My sister thought I was too old, until I told her otherwise she just assumed gap years/trips were taken by 18 – 24-year-olds. Otherwise I think other friends and family kind of expected us to go again.
3. How long did your trip take and where did you go?
We started in February 2013. Cuba was the first stop, then Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Then we flew home for Christmas and New Year. Stephan’s job is a tax adviser and December and January are the busiest time, so he went back to work for a bit. But now we’re carrying on to Istanbul, the Philippines and then we are not sure of our destinations after that. We plan to be away for another four to six months at least – it’s just until all of our money runs out this time!
4. How did you finance your grown up gap year?
We used savings for the first part of our trip and we have both worked in the UK over December and January to save a bit more before going again. We haven’t worked abroad, although we did go to Spanish school in Guatemala, do our PADI Openwater and Advanced diving courses in Honduras and volunteered in a animal sanctuary in Boliva. We both have properties in the UK with mortgages, I rent out my house which gives me a small profit and Stephan rents out his flat which covers the mortgage, minus a little bit.
5. Did you go alone or with family/friends?
We travelled with just each other (we have been together for six and a half years) but we had two friends join us on separate occasions for their holidays and Stephan’s mum and his sister joined us for a holiday.
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)
We like to travel slowly, but ended up travelling quite quickly for some of it. What I didn’t say before is that while in Nicaragua my nan fell very ill and we ended up flying back to the UK for a month in June. Sadly she passed away, but I got to see her before she went and spent some time with my friends and family. That wasn’t on our schedule though so it put us a month behind in our travels. We ended up flying back to Mexico (our second destination, because it was the cheapest flights) and had a lot of ground to cover before ending up where we had left off in Nicaragua. So from then onwards we were restricted on our time in places. We have made a decision that when we fly off again in February we will be taking things slow and we are even thinking about renting places from a month or so, to really get to know areas and different ways of living. I think when you rush through places you end up missing so much and don’t get a real feel for the place.
7. Do you go for tours or do it alone?
We do both. If we can do it on our own we will or if not we will take a tour. There are pros and cons to both. It is generally cheaper to do it on your own. You can meet more people and get more information on a tour. Sometimes it’s good to take it at your own pace. I think a mix is best.
8. What is the best thing about taking a grown up gap year?
Compared to a non grown up gap year I think you have a bit more common sense and you tend to be more confident and comfortable with yourself.
9. And were there any downsides?
Just you get worse hangovers and a little less energy (or am I just a little more unfit?)
10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grown up gap year?
Just do it! Take each day as it comes. It’s not always a nice ‘holiday’, it can have ups and downs, but make the most of it – it might be the only chance you get to experience such amazing things. Don’t dwell on home life, trust me when I say that when you return nothing will have changed apart from you.