After graduating with my master’s degree, I decided that I wanted to take some time off from work and life to complete a gap year- a year full of traveling and discovering my life’s passions. I feared many people would think a gap year at that point of my life was crazy considering I was a 26 year old recent graduate who had the type of job my parents described as a ‘good government job’, but I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I had been in school since age 6 and I had done everything I was supposed to in life by that point- so I decided I would finally embark on something that I truly wanted to do. I took every penny I had to my name and financed a year doing things that only brought fulfillment, meaning, and pleasure to my life. If I told you I wasn’t scared or nervous I would have been telling a big lie and the fact that I had never met anyone else who looked like me do something like this made me even more fearful- but I knew I had to do this. I budgeted, planned, made phone calls, consulted with friends and mentors, started a blog and put a plan in action. During my gap year I traveled to South Africa, Hawaii, Mexico, New Orleans, Bahamas, Key West, California, Georgia and ended by planning a 40 day solo travel trip throughout Thailand, Bali, Australia and Fiji. Words can’t express how much I learned, no I did not go to a formal “9 to 5” everyday nor did I have a boss or coworkers, but the lessons I learned from traveling far exceeded anything I could have learned working in a corporate setting for 12 months.
This is the question I get asked the most: ‘How could you afford to not work for a year?’ Well the short answer to that question is extreme saving and budgeting. I worked full time while in graduate school and lived below my means for quite some time which helped me save a significant amount of money. I also cut down on cable, cell phone bills, car insurance etc. I took advantage of every discount and promotion I could. Smart budgeting was very important to the success of my gap year so I gave myself a monthly allowance, I got rid of all major bills (read more about this in my book), and I only traveled if I found a great deal. Now, I can most certainly use my budgeting skills in any career role I wish.