Here’s a snapshot of some of the questions I’ve been asked over the last few days, as I’ve started to tell people that I have resigned and I’m about to go off travelling:
- Where are you going? This is the first question that everyone has asked – practical and closely followed up with;
- How long are you going for? Also a sensible question and asked by almost everyone.
- Are you coming back, ever? Asked by only two or three people and its rare appearance (and emphasis on the ever) is why I’ve included it here. Of course I’m coming back – my mother would kill me if I didn’t.
- Have you sorted out your vaccinations and malaria tablets? You can spot the pharmaceutical reps among my friends.
- What about the cats? This is the issue that has caused me the most anxiety and the furry little horrors are utterly oblivious to this – I may do a post all about it. I strongly suspect that there will be serious levels of cat huffdom when I do return.
- Can I come? Asked by only two or three, which may say more about me than my plans!
- Will you send me a postcard, just to me, from EVERY country? A question, no… a demand made by my five year old nephew.
- Have you always wanted to do this? And this is the question I will answer here.
Yes, I have always wanted to go off and see the world for a year. I have spent years imagining the journeys I would like to make and the places I would like to see. I wrote GSCE English Literature assignments on the subject.
So why didn’t I do it sooner? Time, money and situation: all MY choices.
A gap year straight after university would have been an expected route, even if I spent a year earning the money to pay for the travel before actually going. Like most graduates I was absolutely skint when I finished my degree. Worry about debt was also a motivator. However, I found a job immediately and that role made me decide to return to study for a Masters qualification. Once I had finished that, I was utterly focused on starting my career; thoughts and ideas about travelling firmly put on hold.
Once I’d found a job, I then bought a house which obviously entailed a mortgage and that was it, I was essentially on a treadmill. What I mean by that is that there was no obvious opportunity or ‘right time’ to jump off. The thing is, there is NO ‘right time’, there is just the time you decide to go.
Is there ever a right time to go in your career? A year out of Local Government and the NHS is a long time. I’m involved in projects that I am passionate about and it feels hard to leave behind. However, I also want to take a year out to learn new things and think about my options, and why not now? Maybe this is the interval between the first half of my working life and the second half.
I’ve decided to go now because I have cleared the mortgage and not having to find a way to make payments on the house makes it easier for ME to choose to go now. Others rent out their house and don’t let payment arrangements hold them back.
The other big factor is health. I’m fit, active and able. I’ve just had major surgery and recovered well – no worries there – but do I want to take a risk and leave it another ten years before I go? No. A lot can happen in ten years, and let’s give the last word on this to my mother: “You should go before you need to worry about finding toilets when you’re out and about.”
*Featured photo… this map, if you look closely, shows my intended route. It’s a gift for my nephew and nieces to track where I’m going.