I'm not one for snappy quotes or inspirational memes unless they're spectacular, but currently "the fear" has hit me and they help a little.
Whenever someone new asks about the trip, they inevitably ask whether we're taking sabbaticals from work or just quitting. We're both doing the latter, predominantly because we (1) don't work in industries where you can take sabbaticals, and (2) neither of us know whether it's what we want to return to. We're just both unsure what kind of country we'll be coming back to and everything is uncertain. 16 months of not working is where my fear begins.
I've had a job since I was allowed to work (and I'm not even sure I was legally old enough for that paper round) so I've always had my own income. That has varied from meagre (£3 p/h when I was 16) all the way up to to my current salary which has enabled me to save for various things. As much as we may dream of utopian halcyon days where we could live off kindness and goodwill, money really does make the world go round and when we tell people we're both quitting out jobs it looks like they feel "the fear" for us.
That fear is very real for a lot of people - not having a job and not knowing where your income is going to come from. We're voluntarily putting ourselves at the bottom of the hierarchy of needs (in a strange way, so that we can put ourselves right to the top).
It will be scary not having money coming in each month, learning to be even more frugal with our cash than we are even now. However, that, surely, is part of what we're doing: to show ourselves that we can be happy, I mean really bloody happy, without buying *things*. We'll be spending all our money on food, travel over water, and the odd tourist visit to places we can't pass without seeing. We're spending it on that rather than clothes I don't need to wear, fancy gadgets which won't make that much difference to my life or any other exciting yet unfulfilling things I can't imagine. Don't get me wrong, I love a good meal out, lovely new top or a beautiful handbag but I need to learn that the act of not having them won't really make a difference.
The most exciting point in my life (so far) is about to happen and having "the fear" of the unknown, the lack of stable financial support and all of the "what if" scenarios cannot hinder me, let alone stop me. My forensic training taught me to always consider "what if", but I need now to take that foresight and use it to my advantage of just being aware and prepared.
A lot of people come up with bizarre scenarios which *might* happen to us while we're travelling. Somehow I think they are always reasons which are stopping them from doing what they really want to do, and they're projecting onto us. But just imagine you're sitting in a comfy, yet overpriced and stylish, armchair with your grandchildren when you're in your 80s and you're telling them stories of your youth.
"Grandma, did you ever have a gap year?"
"No darling, Gap yahs were exasperatingly passé by then."
"Grandpa, did you ever go travelling and make friends on the other side of the world?"
"No sweetpea, I didn't want to get kidnapped by a gang of pirates"
"Grandma, what are you most proud of?"
"Affording this wonderful armchair, dear."
I imagine it would go something like that.
Of course, travel isn't for everybody and that is totally, totally fine. But if it's for you, don't let fear get the better of you and hold you back, you'll surely regret it.
There's no time like now to be brave and make those plans.
Posts by either Mike or Helen. Individual authors will be named.