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Mid-40s -- Taking a Gap Year

Pelke

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  • Added on: May 17th, 2005
Well, I don't consider myself a golden oldie quite yet (I'm 43), but I guess compared to the average member here, this is a good plave for me to start!

I've been working steadily for 21 years now and decided I'm ready to take a year off to travel before I become a real golden oldie. Obviously, I'll have to quit my job and deal with other issues, like renting out the house, etc.

I'm curious if there are any others out there in their 40s who've done the same? If so, what issues did you face in preparing for your trip and in finding work on your return? Did you return to your previous career, or head in a new direction? Do you have any regrets in taking off for so long?

Any of your insights will certainly be appreciated!

Thanks.........John
Pelke

mina olen

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  • Added on: May 17th, 2005
Good for you!!! I'm way behind you, but you are inspiring~

out of curiosity, do you have wife/kids? (dont answer if that is too forward)

any theories about travel at a ripe age vs. a spring chicken?? I got some Wink (theories that is)
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socalgirl

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2005
Hey John from Austin!

Welcome to the Boards. I find myself in the same situation. I've been working since age 16 and I'm 44 now. In my mind I'm at the mid point in my life, which can cause some soul searching.

Just happens my parents are selling their house that my sister & I live in and will be giving us both a stack of cash to put down on a house or whatever.

When better in life could I make a move?

So here's my plan. Take 1/2 the money and buy some housing I can pay cash for or tuck it away in the bank for the year I'm gone. The other half I'll pay all the bills and travel around the world. I'm so ready. I'd rather go explore while I'm young enough to enjoy it rather than wait 20 more years when I have a bad hip or bad knee and need a walker. Yuk!

Others may think we're crazy. I'm thinking they're crazy. I can always get a job when I return.

Good for you John. What's your itinerary?

Here's my wish list. LAX to Tahiti, NZ, OZ, Manila, Thailand, Bali, Jerusalem, Greece, Italy, Malta, France, Belgium, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, NYC, Altanta, San Antonio and back to Palm Springs.

When are you leaving or are you in the planning stage?

Cheers.
Kiss, Kiss, Kiss and still no prince...

Urban Kitten

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2005
I'm doing it Pelke. I'm 43 and female and will be quitting my university job to travel. I got my TESL certificate and am looking for jobs overseas now (I have an interview with a Moroccan school next week) - my husband will join me after the last freaking debt is paid off. We have no children so there's no complication on that front.

The very few friends & family that I've told are unbelievably supportive. The ones I haven't told are known for being judgmental so I'll just send them a postcard. Wink
www.gatita.gringa.blogspot.com

Pelke

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2005
Hi Everyone!

Thanks for your feedback, so far. I appreciate it. I'll try to answer each of your questions in a separate post, so here goes, starting with Mina.....

Hi Mina:

Thanks for your words of encouragement! To answer your question -- no, I'm currently single with no wife or kids. That makes extended travel a little easier to consider. It's hard enough deciding to take a year off on your own, let alone having to convince one or more people!

As for my theories on traveling young vs when you are older -- I don't think one is better than the other. Travel is somewhat like reading -- the experience you take away from it is different for different times in your life. What I got out of reading "Catcher in the Rye" when I was 18 was completely different than what I got from it when I read it again 15 years later. How you view your travel experience will be different as well. You may visit the same place at two stages in life and have two completely different experiences (and both may be very positive, just in different ways).

Obviously, when you are younger, you typically have some more tolerance for discomfort (no sleep, bad food, hangovers, dysentary, etc). So, going low budget and getting to the more exotic locations may be easier. Also, depending on your career status, it may be easier to get away and come back to a new job later. It gets to be a little tougher to get away when you're older, especially if you have family obligations.

However, there are some advantages to waiting until you are older. In many cases, the longer you've been working, the more money you'll have put away. This can make it easier to go for extended periods without income. Also, when you're on the road, you might be able to splurge more often on better accomodations and not have to eat Ramen Noodles for 100 days in a row Wink At an later age, you may also have a different appreciation for various cultures as a result of your personal reading, work experience, other travel, etc. One downside to doing an extended trip when you are older, is that a lot of people you talk to just don't "get it". Of course, this should never stop anyone from traveling, but I do get a lot of odd stares from people (especially my boss!) when I tell them my plans.

I think there is no reason for you to have to choose between traveling when you are young or when you are older. There's no law that limits you to one extended trip per lifetime. I personally plan to travel to some of the more difficult locations (SE Asia) while I'm relatively young and save some of the easier stops (Western Europe) for my "golden years".

Good luck with your travel plans, Mina, and thanks again for your comments!

.......John
Pelke

Pelke

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2005
Hi SoCalGal:

Thanks to you, too, for your words of encouragement! It's good to hear from other people considering the same move. I'm with you that that we are not the crazy ones for wanting to travel. I have worked for quite a while and have accomplished quite a bit professionally. But, what could be sadder than living a one dimensional life of never doing anything but working non-stop for 40-50 years? What's so crazy about wanting to see new places and learn new things?

As for my plans -- I'm shooting to go July 2006 or 2007, at the latest, so I have a year or two to plan (need to find a clean break from my current career). Right now, I'm planning to work on Asia, and the Middle East, if I can fit both into 12 months. I've done some traveling in Asia already, but this time, I really want to immerse myself. So, I may get to fewer countries, but stay in each longer.

Here's my first pass on the locations I'd like to see:

Thailand -> Laos -> Cambodia -> Vietnam -> China -> Mongolia -> Tibet -> Nepal -> Pakistan -> Iran -> Jordan -> Egypt -> Mali (Timbuktuu, of course!) -> Morocco -> Spain (just for 1-2 weeks recovery, then transit home) -> Home

Good luck with your trip plans and I hope you get away soon!

Take care.....John
Pelke

Pelke

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  • Added on: May 18th, 2005
Hi Urban Kitten:

That's great to hear that you are taking off so soon! It sounds pretty exciting for you to work in Morocco. That is on my list of stops, so you'll have to keep us posted on how you like it there.

I've had a similar reaction from my friends and family. Actually, my Mother (of all people!) is quite supportive of my plans, as are my friends. The only person who has had a somewhat negative reaction is my boss. He claims he doesn't understand why anyone would want to travel for a year ("can't you just do this thing one month at a time, every other year?"). But, I suppose my departure means work for him finding a replacement, etc.

Thanks for sharing your plans with me and best of luck on your travels!

........John
Pelke

Urban Kitten

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  • Added on: May 19th, 2005
quote:
Originally posted by Pelke:
Thailand -> Laos -> Cambodia -> Vietnam -> China -> Mongolia -> Tibet -> Nepal -> Pakistan -> Iran -> Jordan -> Egypt -> Mali (Timbuktuu, of course!) -> Morocco -> Spain (just for 1-2 weeks recovery, then transit home) -> Home


This is a great itinerary John - I really hope that you get to fulfill this dream.
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kayajoy

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  • Added on: May 27th, 2005
Wow. I'm so glad that I found this thread. I'm 35 yrs old planning to take a year of this fall (2005). I'll be going to New Zealand with a WHV (just young enough to qualify for one). Other side trips will depend on how much money I can make/save. I had been reading other travelling boards and starting to feel a bit insecure when realzing how young most of the other travellers are.

I feel so much better now that I see that there are quite a few others who understand that age is no barrier when it comes to travel. The last time I hostelled I was 24. I do wonder if I'll have the same tolerance for drunken revelry as I did back then. Unlike some other "older" travellers I don't have a lot of savings so I'll be doing the budget thing. Hostels all the way - maybe a night or two in a hotel if I can swing it. (100 days of Ramen noodles is not something I think I can handle though, lol)

When I travelled as a youngster in my early 20s I did encounter a couple of older travellers. I remember one in his 30s and one in his 40s. The 30 yr old was a little self-conscious at first being amongst a bunch of kids. But we didn't care. Eventually, he began to fit right in with the rest of us. Very cool guy. The guy in his 40s had been travelling continually since his mid 20s. Sometimes he hung out with us kids and other times he did his own thing.

So far, everybody I've told has been very supportive of my plans. I haven't told my boss yet. But ironically, a co-worker - who doesn't know either what I plan to do - suggested that I take a year off to travel. She said that she'd do it if she wasn't married and had kids.

I hope no one feels that I'm out of place posting on this board (I'm even less of a golden oldie than the OP) but I wanted to let you know that reading this has been very comforting.

Ztraveldiva

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2005
I'm also 43, and I took a gap year when I was laid off with a nice severance package, so the planing was kind of haphazard and hurried.
I allowed a nephew and his wife to take over my home while I was gone, with reservations, but since I'm the Coolest Aunt in the World, I figured it would be OK Roll Eyes
I followed my heart to China, pursued an ongoing long-distance romance to its inevitable end, saw more, did more, felt more than I could have ever imagined, and regret nothing. I learned more Chinese than I would have in a classroom. And I cemented a desire to return to teach English there when I finally quit the work rat race for good.
As a skilled Executive Assistant, I didn't have trouble returning to work, but I took my time and found a good fit. I had been in the non-profit environment for all of my work life, and I am now settled into higher education. The flow is different, and I have less time to travel now, and I am restless, yearning to wake up in a noisy, scruffy hotel to the sound of car horns and an inbound train. Laid off after 20 years with the same organization, I now have no attachments to my current job, and I do feel another gap approaching in the not-too-distant future: perhaps not for an entire year, but then you never know...

Pelke

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  • Added on: June 1st, 2005
Hi Kayajoy: Great to hear you are taking off this Fall -- I'm jealous! Sounds like you have some traveling under your belt already, so you should be prepared. It does not seem odd at all to me that you are taking a year off at 35. I only wish I had done the same when I was 35! Career-wise, I can't see how that could hurt and I think it may actually be a bonus for you when you return. Good luck and have a great trip!

Hi Ztraveldiva: Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with me! It's good to know there are others out there in my age group contemplating the same move. I pretty much already made up my mind to go, I was just curious how others have dealt with the "baggage" of a house and career. Seems like there's a work-around for all those issues so now it's time to just start planning the trip! Thanks again for sharing your experience with me.

.........Pelke
Pelke

TrevorJoe

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  • Added on: June 13th, 2005
It has been very inspiring reading all your stories.

So now, one of my own. I am 41 and in the second year of a fultime undergraduate degree in ecotourism. Always wanted to complete university, so a couple of years ago I gave it all up, to do just that. Now I have just been granted a scholarship to study on exchange at USM in Penang for 5 mths. Not only do I have the worry of being the oldest backpacker travelling, I have to contend with a student lifestyle, as well.

At the moment I am loving it! Should be writing a tourism marketing report, but instead at almost 6.00am I'm writing this.

Your'e never too old to do anything. I will be a long time dead of that I am sure.

I have worked in the tourism industry for close on a decade now and have seen some awesome older travellers. I am talking 60+ and taking Outback Adventure Expeditions. They put many to shame. The sheer joy and intensity of some older travellers I have met inspires me still.

cheers
Trevor

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  • Added on: June 28th, 2005
quote:
Originally posted by kayajoy:
The last time I hostelled I was 24. I do wonder if I'll have the same tolerance for drunken revelry as I did back then. Unlike some other "older" travellers I don't have a lot of savings so I'll be doing the budget thing. Hostels all the way - maybe a night or two in a hotel if I can swing it. (100 days of Ramen noodles is not something I think I can handle though, lol)


I've learned to be a little more selective of the hostels I stay in as I get older depending on where I want to go and what I want to do. I've learned to be able to tell what kind of an experience I'll have at a hostel: I'll read thru a few hostel review sites (hostelz.com, etc.) and will learn a lot by reading what its reviewers like/dislike about the place. I still do Power Bars for a lot of meals, partly becasue I don't mind staying on a budget, and they are incredibly easy to pack, nutritous, and they don't melt.

I know that as I get older, my body doesn't bounce back from jet lag like it used to. So, I might do a South America trip during my school year (I work at a school) that's on the same time zone as me, and save an Asia one for my summer. Or, I'll make sure to include a day off (or two) post-trip in my vacation time request to allow a little recuperating before plunging back into the office.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. ---St. Augustine

Amadeus

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  • Added on: August 20th, 2005
Hey, I would just like to add that at 48 I sold my house when the prices boomed, invested the money and now I wander in Asia indefinately. I have been in China for the last 10 months and upto a dilemma, life has never ever been better, apart from those sunny days of youth and innocence

Dustyshoes

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  • Added on: August 21st, 2005
THIS THREAD HAS BEEN A HUGE INSPIRATION. Goldenodlies at BNA rock. Right now, I am working and saving money.... this thread will be very useful next year, to wake me up!
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