I have decided to write up my gap year travels so that I can self-publish a book to pass on to my niece and nephews. I hope they enjoy reading about my adventures and are encouraged to explore the world themselves, or just know what their Aunty got up to when she was an intrepid explorer 🙂 I decided I would also publish my travel tales in sections on this here blog to get me back into the habit of my creative passion – writing. I hope you enjoy my story.
London, November 2005
I was 26 when I booked my gap year ticket…encouraged by family who knew how long I had been thinking about it, yet not believing in myself that I could or would do it. However, following a romantic rejection and feeling the need to make a big life change, I had been spontaneous, made some enquiries and was now booked to leave the UK in February. Which gave me three months. Enough time to hand in my notice on my job and my house share in London, move myself and my belongings back to the homes of my parents in Kent, and get organising. I was so busy doing all of this that it gave me little time to question what I was doing. Which is a good thing for a master procrastinator. It felt absolutely surreal.
I had known people who took gap years to travel – work colleagues, friends of friends – but no-one in my family or close circle of friends had done so, which is why it seemed like such a momentous thing to me. But a seed of thought had been sown by hearing stories of the travel adventures of others – discovering new places, experiencing different cultures and meeting new people was so appealing to me. I had been in my job in Human Resources for a large accountancy firm for nearly eight years, and things were starting to feel stale. Friends were settling down, getting married and popping out adorable children, whilst I was just not in that place at all after a bad break up in my early 20s. And what with the aforementioned romantic rejection (are you sensing a heartbreak theme here?), it seemed now was the time to, literally, take flight.
I remember the exact moment I decided. It was a Saturday morning and I was lying in bed in my pretty room with whitewashed floorboards in a rather crazy house-share in Brockley, south east London – thoughts of work blues and frustration over my failing love life consuming me. I remember crying and thinking, ‘you know what, there must be more to life than this…there’s a big world out there to discover, what on earth am I waiting for?’. That was the moment that I made one of the best decisions of my life.
Although I didn’t have too long between booking the trip and leaving to worry too much about the details, I did have one main concern and that was being homesick. The thought of being all on my own on the other side of the world was sometimes overwhelming. I had done a ‘test the water’ four-week round the world trip a year previously which I had loved, but a year just seemed like an unfeasibly long time to be away. Still, I didn’t much time to dwell…I had a ‘gap year on a shoestring’ book to read, a rucksack, sleeping bag, pegless washing line, universal sink plug and long list of other ‘essential items’ to buy, and Lonely Planet travel guides to familiarise myself with. There was much to be done!