The holiday season has officially kicked off, and while most everyone else is “Dreaming of a White Christmas“, or at least find themselves humming along as they mad rush through the mall looking for bargains, I find myself dreaming of far away places. While I ponder how to make a permanent move out of cubicle life, I thought about what type of Journeys might work for me and their pros and cons.
GAP YEAR – This is one of my favorite Ideas. I’m not sure why, but for some reason Gap Years are not very common in the American Culture, however it is very popular in other countries, especially in England. Mutter the phrase ‘Gap Year’ at a Party in London, and everyone will know what your talking about. Many cultures have a ‘rite of passage’, marking that journey from the young adult years to grown up years, and I consider a journey around the world to be a splendid rite of passage. It is an idea I sure wish I had thought about when I was younger, there was a period in my life of about 5-8 years out of college, before I met the wife, that would have been a perfect time for me to be traveling (and growing up).
The Great thing about a Gap Year is, typically, you will not have a lot of money so it forces you to make do with what you have and make your own way. You will learn a lot about yourself packing up all your belongings into a backpack. Also, It is a real core way of seeing the world, breaking down the barriers of stereotypes because you will get to meet many other nationalities and learn from their perspective. You will meet some fantastic people and make good friends for life.
It is so much fun to put a bunch of marks on a map, and dream about packing it up for a year, but for now this idea will stay in the dream realm, however, It is something I will encourage my children to consider when they get older.
FAMILY RTW TRIP – I like this Idea also, it is much more appealing to me personally, if not downright frightening, considering my situation. Family trips can be a terrific bonding experience or an incredible nerve racking, white hair journey. Currently there are several Families that I am following, like the James Family (www.thewidewideworld.com). Of course this type of trip is a totally different animal than a solo trip RTW. Transportation, Lodging and Eating for a family of four on a Budget could be a real challenge with tired, hungry and growing kids in tow. I’m certain the educational experience would outweigh the challenges, but I can’t help thinking about all the different challenges we might face. I really wonder how my kids would manage with this type of demanding trip. I think my kids (both 5yrs old) are still too young to really benefit from a journey like this… However, Soultravelers3 seems to be making it work with their young prodigy child.
LONG TERM Location Independence – This may be the ticket! This is really a broad category, something between working on the road, or picking a new place and then working from there. I would think this also depends highly on a revenue stream. There are lots of folks that I follow that are doing it, like location independent guru’s Lea & Jonathan Woodward . Then there is Kristy who has a bunch of sites and manages to keep it going on the road while volunteering also. I think this might be the best bet and something for me to shoot for.
There are some potential downsides to this, that I have to consider. One is the kids, with young kids like mine, it is important to give them a stable environment… right now the Grandparents are nearby, and that provides a great support network. Another is a Home, I consider our home as our base, while I would love to live somewhere else all the time or most of the time, I always want to come home. For some people, this is not that big of a deal, since they may or maynot be that attached to a specific home. Suppose we did go on the road and lived in Spain for six months, do we rent our place while we are gone, or sell it and pick up the pieces when we come back. Last but not least, Taxes and government regulations about working overseas… I know very little about this other than it seems to be different everywhere, and the impact can be significant.
The EXPAT – traveling for work can be a real bonus, and the best part is generally the Employer is helping pick up the bills. I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but I know that many US companies are not even considering Expat arrangements anymore. If your lucky enough to get an expat deal, then you know. I think generally they run about two years, but can be longer. You get to keep a good job, and explore a new culture at the same time. I would consider this in a heartbeat. It could provide the avenue for me to keep the family together and travel longterm at the same time.
Shorter Trips Traditional Vacations – this will continue to be the mainstay for most Americans. It seems that more and more Americans are traveling, but for most of us we work all year for that paycheck, and then we get two weeks to go somewhere, see as much as we can and come home Tired, Grumpy, and Broke.