1. Why did you decide to take your grownupgap year? Was it a difficult decision to make?
It was just time, in fact it was overdue – long overdue. I had always wanted to travel but the younger me had the want but not the courage. So life happened; I got some qualifications and went to work. Then when I was in my late 30s I left an employer I had been with for a long time and started with a new organisation in the same field. But it just felt wrong. In fact everything about it felt wrong from day one. I persevered, but a few months later my heart just wasn’t in it. So I just on the spot decided to quit the job, put my belongings into storage and buy a ticket – and just like that I did. My actions finally caught up to my thoughts.
2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?
I had always expressed my wish to go overseas, so for my family and closest friends it wasn’t a shock that I was finally making the move. But those not so close to me were shocked that I had quit my job and was leaving it to go and travel.
3. How long did your trip take and where did you go?
I went with an open mind as to how long I would go for. I allowed a year out in my mind, but was open to longer or shorter as I didn’t really know what to expect. I had an ancestry visa that I had acquired due to family heritage in the UK, so the time allowed by a normal visa was never an issue. I based myself in the UK and travelled throughout Europe from there. I was away for almost 10 months, but when I came back home I didn’t return to work straight away and ended up taking over 12 months off.
4. How did you finance your grownupgap year?
I had savings before I left (as you can’t enter the UK on the visa I had without showing you have the means to support yourself). However I also obtained work through an agency while I was there, which also provided income.
5. Did you go alone or with family/friends?
I did the trip solo and it was the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. It was never scary to be travelling alone and I met so many fantastic people along the way.
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)
I mostly stayed in hostels because I was travelling alone so I wanted to be in a place where I could interact with other travellers. But as my travels continued I did vary the places I stayed in, as in some countries the prices were cheap enough to allow me to stay in mid-range accommodation, which was good when I wanted a bit of space.
I usually tried to pack in a lot in each country, but I did have a day or two for just sitting and lingering and watching the world go by. In hindsight I wish I had factored in more down time and longer stays in some countries.
7. Did you go for tours or do it alone?
I mixed it up. I love that you can be alone exploring a new city for hours on end. But I did opt for some tours as well, such as the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, visiting the palace of Versailles just outside Paris and the Auschwitz concentration camps in Poland.
8. What is the best thing about taking a grownupgap year?
That I will never live with the regret of not doing it and that I have been left with such confidence in myself and my abilities.
9. And were there any downsides?
In terms of the actual travelling, I would say no. Maybe it’s just the fact that your world has been opened up to so much more than the 9 to 5 life that you return to.
10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grownupgap year?
That the saying “take twice as much money and pack half as much clothing” is completely true. As well as the advice of: do it now, not tomorrow, not one day – do it now.
If you’d like to see pictures from Cherylea’s travels, check out Instagram.