Why we’re taking the leap into a mid-life family gap year

Why we’re taking the leap into a mid-life family gap year

How did we get to this point? The one where I’ve given up my job, we’ve rented out the house, deregistered our seven-year-old son from his school and stand on the precipice of a round the world trip.

At 46 years old, I shouldn’t even be thinking about globetrotting for another 20 years. That’s the right time for poring over motorhome adverts and embarking on carefree travel, isn’t it?

It does take a certain mindset to consider a big venture such as ours but fortunately I share that way of thinking with Louise. We’d rather regret something we’ve done than regret not doing it.

Well, with the exception of a chalet break we once had at Hemsby in Norfolk when the accommodation was, let’s be generous and say, not fit for habitation (prompting us to clear the camp shop shelves of bleach), the mattress showed no effort to disguise that it was plastic-coated (each breath anyone dared to take in bed yielding an audible crinkle), and my brother-in-law’s rather nice car was targeted by what seemed like the messiest and most determined tree-dwelling flock who ever did ‘bomb’. Little wonder that the camp had barbed wire on the top of its fencing, presumably to stop people escaping.

Anyway, back to this trip. We recognise that there’s risk involved – leaving our jobs, eating into our nest egg, uprooting Our Little Man (OLM) from his settled life.

It is a trip that comes with a hefty price tag.

But here’s the thing…as far as we’re aware, nobody yet has managed to put a value on creating wonderful memories to cherish for the rest of our lives. So while the small print to the investment will remind us that, in terms of pounds, we most certainly won’t get back what we put in, it will also state that the value of it to us will only rise, not fall.

It’s been a couple of months now since we first ‘went public’ with our plan for life on the road in eight countries in about as many months. The concept had been hatched many moons previously, loosely based on a desire for further adventure, the appropriate age of our son and a longing to visit a close friend in Australia.

At this moment we enjoy good health, our son doesn’t yet see spending time with us as an embarrassment or chore and he’s at a point in his education where we at least understand what he needs to learn and can hopefully provide some of the answers! We’re not going to get these formative years with him again and with everyday life full of school, activities and work, this is a chance to press pause for a while and enjoy something different.

Perhaps surprisingly, once we committed to the idea in our own minds, there was next to no wavers from either of us – and the delighted reaction of OLM when we shared the idea with him will always stay with us. We’ll cover all the considerations, whys and wherefores in a future blogpost.

However the trip goes, the one regret we will definitely have is the time we’re missing with the rest of our family, particularly OLM’s sister who’s busy with her own biggest adventure to date in the midst of a degree course.

We’ve had the full array of reactions to the trip, from “wow, what an experience!” to “I couldn’t do that!” – all of it dotted with adjectives such as “brave”, “jealous” and “lucky”. We definitely plead guilty to the latter. We feel privileged to have been able to work our way into a position to be armed with making this choice and are fortunate our wider circumstances allow it.

The plan we’re working to begins in the school summer holidays. Now, what might be considered superfluous ahead of what is, essentially, a very long holiday? A short break perhaps? Guilty again.
We’re heading to Plymouth in Devon to stay with Louise’s best friend for a few days. An area that has already become a firm favourite of ours.

Then we start a five-week voluntary role in the UK for Real Family Holidays. The three of us will stay at five of its family activity centres, getting involved and doing some blogging, video footage and reviewing.

We offered our time to them early this year and were delighted when they took us on – we can’t wait to get started.

Real Family Holidays is an arm of the environmental charity Field Studies Council, which encourages inspiration in the natural world, one which we hope to see a lot more of thanks to our time with them and when we leave these shores in early September.

More on that in future blog posts. In the meantime, here’s a bit more about us.

5 thoughts on “Why we’re taking the leap into a mid-life family gap year

  1. What a big bold step but an amazing adventure. Looking forward to the blogs and following you…..its gonna be amazeballs. Good luck to you all. X

  2. A truly wonderful family embarking on a truly amazing adventure! There will be many twists and turns, despairs and delights but I don’t doubt that you will get the ultimate experience in everything you do! Travel safe and travel far!! See you soon!!xx

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