Week 41 of the Indie Travel Challenge is all about career breaks and gap years.
Let’s define that first, shall we?
A “career break” is simply taking a hiatus from work with the intention of returning later. There might be any number of reasons for taking a career break, but of course here we’re talking about taking one in order to travel. A “gap year”, according to Wikipedia, refers to “taking time out to travel between life stages.” It usually refers to taking a year to travel before college and is mostly common in Europe and Australia/New Zealand.
Well, we didn’t take a gap year. That’s pretty uncommon in the US, and was never even something I considered. Unless you count it as a gap year that we took a break between a year or two after getting out of college and going into a ‘real’ career. Perhaps you can call it a ‘gap year’ then, although it’d have to be a gap 2-years.
I’m not sure if it’s a career break for us exactly either. Jeff had a career, sure. But I did not, I was simply cashiering and temping and I do not intend to return to that. Jeff doesn’t know if he wants to go back to the Census Bureau either, so the intention to return later is not really there.
Anyway, whether our particular situation fully fits the definition, it is in spirit a career break or gap year.
Our career break has lasted one year and one and a half months so far. The first year of course was spent teaching in Korea, which we are still trying to finish writing about. Now we are off on our grand adventure, having spent one week in Mongolia, one week in Beijing, one week in Shanghai, and 2 and a half weeks in Hong Kong (as of the time of writing this).
During our time teaching in Korea, we had plenty to occupy us. But now that we’re just traveling, the possibilities are literally endless and that is a little daunting. We have nothing in particular we ‘must’ do – although it’s looking good that we may be able to have a couple people join us for parts of the trip, so we do need to keep a schedule at least a little. Every day we can basically do anything we want.
That’s sort of freeing, but sometimes a little unnerving. How do you choose? Should we pack in lots of sightseeing, or relax? Should we spend hours and hours writing blog posts, or try to teach ourselves to cook? We haven’t quite figured out the right balance yet.
We plan to devote our time in Thailand (which will be up to 3 months) largely to learning to cook better and various other self-improving pursuits. Right now I am trying to learn to read Thai. We are reading a lot, walking a lot, and eating a lot. So far this is good for us. I’m not sure how it will pan out over future months.
By the time this is published, we should be in Vietnam. We expect to spend about a month there and then about a month in Cambodia, followed by a month in Laos and those 3 months in Thailand. Let us know if you’re going to be in any of those places, we’d love to meet up!
Have you taken a career break?