I went to the dentist for my regular six month cleaning and it just so happens that my dentist is also the dad of a girl I used to work with about five years ago. So even though I haven’t spoken to her in almost five years, I get an update on her life from her dad every six months. I’ve heard about her big move to Chicago, her engagement, her wedding, her vacations, etc. She’s a nice girl, and though we were peers, I didn’t know her very well. We only worked together for about four or five months anyway. So I never thought much about the conversations with her dad and updates until today.
As it turns out, his daughter and her new husband quit their jobs to go on the adventure of a lifetime – one year of nothing but traveling and seeing the world. They’ll start in Argentina, then go to Brazil, then New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and so on. Are they wealthy? Not really, so they’ll be living in hostels, making their own food, and carrying little more than what can fit in a backpack. FOR A YEAR.
I spent the entire drive to work in my car in absolute silence. Of course I was jealous. But I was deep in thought trying to figure out how to make a dream like this come true. I had so many questions. How does one (or in this case, two people) plan and budget for such a trip? How do you know how much money you’ll need to buy plane tickets to get you from point A to B? And how much are the hostels? How far in advance do you plan? What do you do with all your stuff? How much money can you make by selling all your stuff? Is it enough to pay for a year’s worth of traveling? How often do you have to do laundry if the only clothes you have are the ones you can carry? How many pairs of underwear do you need?
I was in the zone, almost obsessing over this for a good 30 to 40 minutes. But the more I thought about it, the less appealing it became. I remember our European cruise last year. We were only gone 10 days, and we loved (almost) every minute of it (I could’ve done without the constipation. And Naples.) but I missed home. I missed my dog. I missed my family (phone calls were too expensive). I missed my job (strange, but true). I missed my country! Would I like to travel the world? Of course! But do I want to experience it as an almost-homeless person? Not really. I like staying in a hotel or eating out at a restaurant. They don’t have to be fancy, but I wouldn’t complain if they were!
So as far as I’m concerned, the girl I used to know can have her year off and her adventure. I’m sure it will be unforgettable and she’ll have no regrets. But I hope she writes a book or takes some really awesome photographs to sell when she gets back because trying to reenter the job market in this economy after taking an entire year off might not be so easy. How does “hostel jumping” translate on a resume anyway?