What gives you the guts to make the big decision, to quit your job, leave your home and take to the road? What did it take for us to do it? It was never going to be a permanent state of travel but it was still quite a big decision.
Karl and I graduated from the same university course in 2008. Our student loans had run dry and we still had rent to pay on our shared house until September. We rushed out and got jobs. I started at Harrods in June, and in September, a full scale financial crisis rocked the banking world. Those of us who had jobs watched our friends struggling to find one and so we clung onto ours fiercely. I was making reasonable money and so I stuck fast.
Then the management team in my department changed. A manager who was a real bully took over and I started to dread going to work every day. I worked with some great people but its amazing how a bad manager can sour the whole experience.
In November, Karl travelled to South Africa for six weeks and I felt awful. He was off in the sun, I was having a dreadful time at work and then I got ill and felt completely isolated from him. It was at that time, I demanded we book a trip to Brazil’s Rio Carnival the following February. Work was still rubbish and the long winter nights still took their toll but at least there was something to look forward to.
Staying in a very cheap hostel in Rio de Janeiro, we were exclusively in the company of people who were backpacking long term. One woman in our dorm room was travelling solo for a year. She was out partying in sparkly tops, meeting new friends every night and seemed to be having a wonderful time. The cogs began to turn and I asked Karl, “Remind me why we aren’t doing this!?”
The Gap Year
It is a very common thing to do, to take a gap year between college and university. Some people just take the time off to work, some to do nothing and some to travel. I’d thought about it, but the year after we finished sixth form college was the last year before the government increased university fees three fold. Taking a year out and then paying more on my return seemed like a very financially silly thing to do. Karl had done the same and I think we both had a sense that we had missed out on a very special experience. So if not now, when!? My mind was made up, we were going to go.
I worked out how much I could save and then it was time to convince Karl. Our contract ended in our London flat at the end of September 2009 and so I took the decision to make that our departure date.
In the end I just took to telling him that it was going to happen and this drip feed seemed to do the trick. He agreed and we both started saving properly.