Last Friday was a colleague of mine’s last day in the office for some eleven months. He’s taking a career break to do some travelling in an attempt to see rather more of the world than he has been managing with his annual holiday allowance.
As you might imagine, this is an impulse that I can well understand.
There are some significant differences between us though. My impetus to get up and go was provided by my diagnosis with MS together with the sudden financial freedom that my medical insurance pay-out gave me. I may be fit and healthy for many years yet, but equally I may not be: suddenly I had an extra motivation to break out of the 9-5 and decided that there was more to life than spending time at my desk. Nine months later and I’m back at that desk (well, actually a different one), but I’ve been around the world now, seen a few things, and I think my sense of perspective on life has been slightly, but significantly, shifted.
My colleague was in a quite different position to me, and the decision to get up and go was made over a number of years rather than over a number of weeks. Not having the luxury of a lump sum payout to fund his trip, my colleague and his partner have been planning and saving for two whole years in order to be able to afford to take the time off. They’ve kept to a strict weekly budget and have deprived themselves of all sorts of things. They’ve shopped at Aldi, for heaven’s sake.... hard work, I’m sure, but the net result of this self-discipline is that they managed to save themselves some £40,000 for their trip of a lifetime.
Where we basically did what we wanted (albeit actually not spending all that much money whilst we were away) these guys have got a strict budget when travelling of £50 a day between them for everything: food, accommodation... everything. Whilst this shouldn’t be too hard to manage in South East Asia and Central America, two of their planned destinations, I think they’re going to find it a lot harder in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Mind you, if their self-discipline to get this far is any kind of an indicator, then I’m sure they’ll be fine.
We met a lot of know-nothing, numb-nut GAP year students in SE Asia with ethnic clothes, ratty white boy dreadlocks and a sense of entitlement. These idiots were busy spending mum and dad’s money getting sloshed on cheap booze and then throwing it up into the Gulf of Thailand. They like to think that they’re better than tourists and that they’re somehow “finding themselves” when they aren’t anywhere near being off the beaten track enough to be lost in the first place. Dave and Suzanne couldn’t be more different: they’ve both worked for a while and have had to scrimp and save to be able to afford their trip. In no way has this just fallen into their laps. That has to give you a different perspective on the whole experience, doesn’t it?
I think they’re going to have a blast. And I’m not jealous at all.
Not a bit of it.
In no way.