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32 and taking a gap year. What's its like. Anyone?

SAPMonkey

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  • Added on: April 13th, 2009
I realize everyone is different, but perhaps some of you might share your experience.
LIke other here I long for the adventure that is a RTW trip, even if the idea is a lot more exciting than actually pulling the trigger.

For the 30 something year olds among you? Have you done this? Dropping a career, selling (dumping) the house, selling all the other stuff, packing a bag, hitting the road and then , a year or so later, picking up the pieces and actually making it work again.. Is that just dreaming given this economy? Is it career homocide?

:~Eric~:

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  • Added on: April 13th, 2009
Think about its like this... a year in your entire carrer is really nothing. I will be going on my RTW trip with my wife in 2 years when I will be 31 and my wife will be 28.

I say do it, don't look back, and you will not regret it.
Good luck to you.
Screw you guys I'm going traveling...

Jabberwocky

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  • Added on: April 14th, 2009
I'm close to 30, leaving in 4 months (hopefully)

Career - Yeah, it'll hurt it. It is part of the price of traveling
Selling (dumping) the house - Thank God my commitment phobia kept me from buying a home. I can't imagine how much of a pain it would be to sell one in this economy.
Selling all the other stuff - Craigslist and Ebay. It is strangely liberating every time I sell something.
Packing a bag - I'm almost packed, 4 months ahead of time, lol.
Picking up the pieces - I see it as another unavoidable cost of long term travel. Can't have the cake and eat it too.

Kate and Dan

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  • Added on: April 14th, 2009
I'm 34, my wife's 28. Leaving in two years (July 2011). We'll both be leaving careers behind — having worked for the same (fantastic) employers for six and five years, respectively.

We'll be selling the house, storing what little possessions we wanted to hang onto and then are planning to be on the road for at least a year.

When we return, we're gonna start all over again. And we're looking forward to the challenge.

We'll be 37 and 31 upon our return. Never too late to start all over! :lol:

And we might throw a kid into the mix shortly thereafter!
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redleader

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  • Added on: April 28th, 2009
I know how you feel. I tried a gap year last year, actually it was more like a gap two months, but failed miserably. I started out with a trans-siberian journey from beijing to moscow and was suppose to continue independently into europe/easter europe, ending in turkey. However, this was last fall right during the "big" announcements of the diasatrous economy. And so I got as far as moscow and then freaked out and came home to look for a job. In retrospect it was a big mistake. The others are right, 3 months, 6 months, a year, it's nothing out of your entire career. So, who knows, maybe after a couple more years of working, I'll try it again. Still, I take trips every year though and boy, is it hard to go back to work after those!
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Flackattack

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2009
I've ditched out twice. At 31 for 8 months and at 40 for 15. Both times I left stable job situations, and the second time I sold the house and kept practically nothing. I'm now in a 3rd career that I never would have picked originally. There could very well be a 4th and 5th career also before I am done.
I'm hoping for another year+ off starting in 2011.

You may be focusing too much on what you are giving up rather than what you will be gaining by traveling. The Western, consumer driven world will always be here when you return, ready to drag you back into a routine. But the unbelievable liberation that comes with being jobless and homeless by choice on a budget is amazing. This is your life. It is not a dress rehearsal. If there are places and things and stuff that you want to do in this world, it is up to you to make it happen. Live small, stay out of debt, and save save save. Good luck.
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"Fare and be well now, let your life proceed by its own design." Bob Weir

Bua

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2009
I'm not in my 30s yet, but I'm getting ready to leave for a long-term trip in the next couple of months and I've dealt with a lot of the same issues.

Career: I'll admit I didn't leave earlier because I was having trouble quitting, but ended up getting laid off - which pretty much made up my mind for me. My advice is your employer can (and will) fire you with little to no warning, so don't be afraid to leave anytime if you can and want to - you don't owe them anything!
House: The only big thing left for me to take care of, but I'm getting a lot of inquiries and really hope to have it sold in the next month or so.
Everything else: As I see it the worst that happens is you're out of the workforce for a year or two and find a job when you get back. Assuming you have a decent resume, 1-2 years out shouldn't make that big of a deal. Maybe you'll find an even better opportunity while you're on the road and never go home at all...
Check out my blog and my Flickr page

dman

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2009
Not quite 30 yet (I am 28) and have not left for my gap year yet - hoping to leave end of next year once I have my US citizenship.

Really worried about the career portion of it - I do have a great job and feel guilty thinking about or discussing quitting when so many people I know are currently out of a job. I think I will be ok when I get back - trying to do as much as I can in preparation. Saving extra $$ to have when I get back (hopefully), Im finishing up my MBA before I leave, and may take a course or two to help me find a job teaching english on the road.

Already getting rid of most of my possessions. Im a minimalist to start of with so it wont be hard - of course we all have that one or two things we can not part with and mine is my motorcycle.

The way I see it - it is just another adventure picking up again when you get back. Think of it this way - we are worrying about "will I have the same life when I get back (similar job, similar lifestyle, similar possesions etc ..)" But is the way you are living now the way you expected to live your whole life? Would coming back and starting anew give you the chance to change and consturct a life that resembles more of what you envisioned/value? I realize I have a good job but I do not think Im going to come back to living in a cube when I get back. Just another point of view I guess. Good luck!

Zuleika

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2009
3 times.
First time when I was 26 for 2.5 years.
Second time when I was 30 for 6 months
Third time when I was 32 for 7 months.

I work for the health service here in the UK which made it easy to pick up where I had left off each time either by full time or agency/locum work. Also made it easy to get work all around the world in my profession. NHS doesnt have many perks but this is definately one of them.
I would love to go again and may well do, but now I have a mortgage so may have to think about that one too, but short term renting out is easy in London if i decided to.

I say do it - its the best thing ever - and totally addictive!!! I've never felt so FREE!
Life is such an adventure, I can't wait to live it some more.

heymikey

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  • Added on: May 26th, 2009
"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." -- Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Anyway, I'm currently in your situation right now. Come to think of it, I've been in your situation for about a year now. And yeah, I know exactly what you're going through. I'm 28 and I'm thinking of doing a 2-year working holiday in London. After that, I'm thinking of doing a RTW trip for another year or two, and maybe do some volunteer work in between. And after that, well... umm... I don't know and that's one of the things that scares me.

I have a good stable job even in this economy. It pays well and that's also one of the problems. If I stay at my job until retirement (I just had goosebumps), I'll be set with a decent pension. Even if I stay at my job for about 4 more years, I'll be able to pay off my mortgage. But it occurred to me that even if I managed to pay off my mortgage and be completely debt-free, I'll probably want to start a family and buy a bigger place compared to my 1-bedroom 630 sq ft condo and end up in bigger debt than before (hence, the cycle continues). So I'm now starting to tell myself, "fuck the mortgage". But my career is something else. I work in IT also and it's one of those industries where things change so fast that you become irrelevant even after a 6-month hiatus. But the question is, do I (or you) want to go back working for the same job or maybe the same career? And not to mention my family (no, not a wife and kids -- thank god!). My parents are traditional Asian parents who, in their minds, have a specific idea on how their kids should live their lives -- go to college and get a degree, start a professional career, get married, start a family and settle down, etc. Taking some time off for about 4 years to pursue something that might be a mistake is too big of a risk. I'd also feel guilty since my parents sacrificed a lot to immigrate to Canada, and to my other siblings who aren't so lucky in the career department. Plus, in this recession, I'd also feel guilty for quitting a nice-paying job when there are people out there who would be glad to be in my place right now.

I don't know -- I have so many issues with this. Two more years and I won't be qualified for a UK working holiday visa and I know I will regret this if I don't go. I'm just scared and the clock won't stop ticking. Sooner or later, I'll wake up to my 60th birthday and realize how much I wasted opportunities to go.
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"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time" -- Fight Club

2wanderers

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  • Added on: May 27th, 2009
Plus, in this recession, I'd also feel guilty for quitting a nice-paying job when there are people out there who would be glad to be in my place right now.
Many of your dilemmas are good and valid, but this one is kind of nuts. Don't feel guilty for quitting because of all the people who'd like to have your security. One of them will get your job.

keifer94

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Location: Brooklyn, NY

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  • Added on: May 29th, 2009
I just got back from a seven month trip. I'll admit that the economy has me worried about finding a job. But, I also returned home less than a month ago. I suppose these things take time. I recommend being ready for that possibility. I thought the adventure was going to whisk me away to some different life and everything would work itself out. But, here I am back at home wondering if it was all worth it.

I guess my point is that you take yourself with you no matter where you go. I'm not the type of person who would try and figure out how to make a life on the road work, but I naively thought because I was taking such a grand trip that the fun would never end and something would happen.

heymikey

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2009
So Keifer, despite having trouble finding a job when you came back, do you still think it's a worthwhile experience worth pursuing?
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"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time" -- Fight Club

keifer94

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2009
That's a tough question. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure of the answer. Sure, I had a great time, but one thing I learned is that I could have been having a great time at home as well. I was living in Seattle, within close distance are mountains, the ocean, a great city, Canada, etc, etc, but yet I didn't realize that and decided I needed to travel around the world. Now, I'm doubting if it was worthwhile.

I recommend to anyone taking a gap year to consider the worst case scenario. Consider that it will take a long time to pick up the pieces after you return home from your trip. If you're willing to accept that and are prepared for it, they I say go for it. If you're not 100% sure then you really need to evaluate how important an RTW trip is to you.

Cube Dreamer

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2009
My fiance and I are both 32 and are seriously considering another RTW trip. We completed our first RTW (one year) in June 05 and had the time of our lives. While I am a huge believer in taking mini gap years throughout one's life (whether for travel or to pursue other interests), I am finding it a little more difficult to "bite the bullet" again at age 32- so I understand your hesitation. We are making more $ now (we both 2x our salaries since returning from our last RTW) and are more sensitive to the opportunity cost of gap years. We have a relatively substantial $ of cash saved now and no debt (perfect RTW financial profile), but feel that we are at the age where being responsible means starting a family and buying a home. While owning a cute home filled with crate and barrel sounds fabulous.... I also HATE the idea of becoming property. Life is way to short and unpredictable (we are never guaranteed tomorrow) to spend it slaving over material items. For most of us, with some hard work and flexibility, we can strive to find the right balance between both.

As for selling everything and trying to rebuild when you come home. I say, as long as you have a reasonable 6 month cash "return" fund ..... I think the "career homicide" risk is much lower than one thinks. We left at 27, returned at 28 and managed to sell ourselves into even better jobs than before we left (granted... the market was stronger). The key is to keep developing strong and flexible skills and maintaining a strong sense of self and career confidence. While rebuilding your life may prove challenging - it will... undoubtedly.... help you grow as a person. My last RTW really helped me put life in perspective and I am definitely more resourceful now than I was 5 years ago. I take myself less seriously, have a deeper appreciation for my place in the world and appreciate the value of 1 usd much more than before I left!

All in all.... I say DO IT.. You can probably easily predict what your life will be a year from now under the status quo. What is the fun in that?? Just make sure you have a small to reasonable level of cash to come home to and then throw caution to the wind! As for us... we will decide soon ... but I definitely want to go again!! :D


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