This blog is mainly to share with family and friends and as a permanent record for us, but we are reaching a wider audience (we’ve had readers in over 40 countries so far) so here are the main questions we are asked……
Why are you doing a gap year?
Rather than drift into comfortable retirement we wanted to do something different. Also there are many parts of the world we want to see and we figured continual travel would be more of a switch off and better value for money. One aim is to experience countries as travellers rather than time-conscious tourists.
We had kids soon after we married so hadn’t travelled much as a couple and wanted to experience living abroad for an extended time.
How are you travelling?
We’ve bought round-the-world flight tickets through a company called Flight Centre (highly recommended). These cost us £4K each, and allow up to 15 flights within 12 months and 39,000 miles. And we paid a bit more to have the reassurance of flexible dates.
Between the flight “hubs” we are taking a mixture of public transport and car hires (depending on the country).
How much pre-planning was involved?
We spent the previous year getting our house “rental ready” and putting our work and leisure interests on ice. The hardest bit was finding a new home for our cat.
We actually started thinking we would just live in Europe for 12 months – renting for three months in four different countries. Then our thinking got more ambitious.
The big decision was where the 15 flights would take us to. We must have drawn up so many lists – trying to strike a compromise between each of our wishes and flight practicalities.
Beyond this, detailed planning was minimal, since we take the view that you have to be flexible, and be dictated by weather, energy-levels and local circumstances which you really can’t plan for. So, we’re only planning two or three days ahead at most. The internet makes this relatively easy.
Where are you staying?
A mixture of Airbnb, backpackers’ hostels and cheap hotels. Possibly also camping in the USA, since we love their national parks.
The beauty of Airbnb and backpackers’ hostels is that you can cook your own meals. But a mix is ideal as Airbnb flats give us privacy whilst hostels are sociable.
How can you afford it?
We have rented out our house for the year and also get income from an office rental. So it’s payback for many years of hard work.
Living on an average budget of £100 per day, the overall trip should be fairly cost-neutral.
We are hoping the expensive countries like Japan are balanced by the cheaper countries like Paraguay.
What are you missing back home?
Our children, friends and local gossip. Playing tennis down the local club. And cycling; although we have hired bikes on this gap year a few times.
But the great thing is we are not out of touch, thanks to wi-fi everywhere.
What are you not missing?
English winter weather, housework, daily routine, the pervasive BBC view of the world and Brexit!
What did you pack and was it right?
Amazingly, we seem to have got this about right. Our experience of driving round Italy in a car for the first two months made us realise just how little we needed to take.
We’ve packed everything into two Osprey back packs plus two small day packs. So far, we’ve used about every item and the only thing we’ve missed is a sink plug.
In terms of technology we have a mini-iPad, two iPhones, a small camera, a GoPro and a Kindle. Our iPhones are permanently on airplane mode to avoid international charges racking up and we use free WiFi wherever we can.
The full kit list is here.
Aren’t you getting fed up of each other’s company?
Actually, no. There is a lot to do and plan each day, which keeps us focussed on working together.
We have plenty of conversations with others in backpacker’s hostels and elsewhere, so we’re not too insular. We also give each other “quiet time” to read books / browse internet / do emails etc.
How are you recording your travels?
We both have hand-written diaries, and are taking lots of photos so we can create a digital book when we get back. And of course there is this blog.
Also our regular postcards to our children should be a good record.
Roger is not making a film of the trip – he wants a break from the day job.
What do your children think of this?
They have both been very positive and encouraging. An unexpected outcome is that they seem to be more proud of us and actually talk about us to other people!
Our son, who is studying Geography at university, is taking more interest in where we are and it seems to be widening his horizons of the world.
We also think it is giving our children – aged 22 and 20 – space to grow up and mature as young adults.