It’s been a while, but as soon as I heard Claire and Anthony’s story I knew it was time for another If We Can Do It interview. These physics teachers met at the school they work at after Claire interviewed Anthony for a job. After falling in love and discovering a shared passion for travel, they both handed in their notice on Anthony’s 30th birthday and are now preparing for their very special grown up gap year.
1. Why did you decide to take a grown up gap year? Was it a difficult decision to make?
I (Claire) had been looking into a grown up gap year prior to meeting Anthony. I was actually interviewing him as my secret plan (my employers did not know) was that I was going at the end of the next academic year. When Anthony came into my life, he turned it upside down but luckily he wanted to travel as much as I did and it became a shared dream and then plan. Why? Put simply, because you only have one life and one chance at that life. Life can be short (you never know how long you’ve got) and the world is a big place.
I was also concerned that by the time we got to retirement age that we wouldn’t be up to travelling the world so it was a case of do it now while we are still relatively young enough and we have our health. For me it wasn’t a difficult decision as I had been thinking along these lines for quite some time. I think it took Anthony a while to get his head around the fact we’re actually going to do it – to give it all up to travel the world, just to love and to live – hence the name for our blog/website/twitter/instagram/facebook etc.
2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?
My friends and family were really not that surprised – I had been talking about it for a few years and had gone off on various solo trips to the western ten states of the USA, to China, around the UK and a few places in Europe. Anthony’s family and friends were a little more surprised on the timescale – as he had been travelling before to South America they knew he would want to travel again, just not on such a large scale. Both of our families were just glad we had someone to go with (I think they worried about us being alone for so long).
3. How long will your trip take and where will you go?
Our trip was initially going to take around 12 months – covering a full academic year as we took a short break from the craziness that is being teachers! However, we have added a five-month TEFL placement onto the start of it and now are looking at extending our travelling for as long as we can.
We are starting in the new year of 2015 with TEFL in China. Other places currently on the radar (though we are still working on THE plan) include: more of SE Asia, Australasia (Great Barrier Reef, New Zealand, Fiji), Central America, Peru (Lima and Inca Trail) and also walking the Camino de Santiago!
However, the more we look, the more places we want to go to. So at the moment the list is ever growing and so will the time needed to visit them all!
4. How will you finance your grown up gap year?
A mixture. The TEFL qualification, along with the fact that we are already both qualified teachers, should allow us to get some work as we go and do some slow travel. However, we have some savings and are currently selling everything we own (scary) so this will fund some of the year too. What’s the point in saving if you’re not going to spend it on something you have always wanted? As my nan always used to say: “You can’t take it with you when you’re dead”.
5. Will you go alone or with family/friends?
Just the two of us! Loving and living life like we always wanted to, but until we met each other never thought we ever could or would.
6. What is your travel style? (i.e. Budget hostels/Mid-range hotels/Luxury travel – less is more, travelling slowly/pack in as much as possible)
We are not ones for wasting money, but at the same time there is no point in us spending every night in a mixed 20 person dorm. I think we will take each place and location as it comes. Looking at apartments (through things like Airbnb or housesitting) whilst doing slow travel, especially if we are working on TEFL style jobs, but when we are backpacking around we will probably aim for private rooms in hostels as these can often be as good as cheap hotels. We won’t be splashing out on five star hotels – it just isn’t us, or necessary.
If in a location for only a few days we will be looking to pack in as much as we can but generally we really want to see a place, to try the food, meet the people and learn about the culture – for this we cannot rush and must take our time.
7. Will you go for tours or do it alone?
In a way we are starting with a tour as we are going with a TEFL company. The main reason is because working full-time as teachers means we have very little time to do all the organising of placements nearby or together, accommodation, visas etc. However, once on the road we will be looking to try and do as much as we can alone – learning from those who have already done it and learning together and from each other. There are some things we are looking at doing as tours (or more volunteer work actually e.g. Fiji) and where appropriate we will consider these.
8. What do you think will be the best thing about taking a grown up gap year?
Doing what we have always wanted but never dared to try – to love and to live – nothing more, nothing less. It may seem a little selfish to others, just to sell everything and travel the world for as long as we can. However, sometimes you just know that the life you are living is not quite the right one. The best thing will be being together and seeing all that this world has to offer.
9. Do you think there will be any downsides?
We are not naïve in thinking that it will be plain sailing, but we are not assuming that it will be a disaster either. There are plenty of people who have done exactly what we plan to do so we shall take their advice on board. We will also have each other and know we are stronger together. I guess what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!!
10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grown up gap year?
If you’re thinking about it, then do it. You can keep putting it off but deep down you know you want to, so sort out whatever’s stopping you and get out there!