Mums Musings

“We’re taking a GAP Year”

I don’t think anyone was truly surprised when I announced that I was taking my son out of school and taking a career break to go travelling for a year. Everyone knows my passion for travelling and after many, many years of dreaming and talking about it, finally everything seems to have fallen into place to enable it to happen. The time feels right and yet I still feel like I am taking a MASSIVE leap of faith.

My parents always encouraged us to travel from a very early age, Dad had seen quite a lot of the world whilst serving in the Army for 9 years and Mum had sailed out of Southampton at the age of 25 on the £10 package and had lived in Australia for 2 years. As part of the 6 week voyage each way she had circumnavigated the globe, sailing out via the Suez Canal and home through the Panama. (Yes and all for a tenner!). She said she had become so complacent about her travels that when the ship docked in Trinidad on the way home she didn’t even take her camera ashore.

As a child however I remember the excitement of Mum setting up the projector and screen and showing us all her slides of Australia (this was quite a regular event if friends ever came to stay) she even came into school to show her slides – and oh how I too dreamed about visiting this land one day.

My own childhood did not involve any foreign travel however, money was incredibly tight for my parents as it was for most families in those days. Our holidays were either staying with Aunts & Uncles, a caravan in the Isle of Wight, or the ‘big’ holiday when we youth hosteled up to Scotland. Nevertheless I have the most glorious memories of all of these holidays.

When I was 14 Mum & Dad gave their all to ensure my sister and I were able to go on an educational cruise trip with the school, I am forever grateful to them for this because I know it crippled them financially but they were absolutely determined we were to have that experience. So aged 14 I boarded a plane for the first time and flew to Athens where we spent a week cruising around the Mediterranean for a week. (It was far from a luxury cruise ship, it was a converted Liverpool to Ireland ferry but that’s a whole other story; it was nevertheless an incredible opportunity)

All through my early teens I pictured that I would get to 18 and would be on the first plane out to Australia – it didn’t happen, at the age of 18 I fell in love, got engaged and was tied down with a flat and what was then a HUGE mortgage by the age of 19.

Australia had to remain a mere dream

(Australia had to remain a mere dream)

 

During my early 20’s many of my friends travelled and lived overseas, but I stayed in my little flat in Lancing and was completely skint! I am just thankful that there wasn’t social media in those days or I would have been green with envy watching my friends travel the globe whilst I couldn’t even scrape together £5 to go out for a drink at the weekend, still it was my life choice at the time and that was that. I did manage to have a holiday to Tobago with my best friend when I was 26 but it had taken us about 2 yrs to save for it and we both ran out of money before the holiday was over as we had massively under budgeted on the cost of food!!

A year later I had my daughter and having escaped an abusive relationship I was left to raise her alone. The day that she was born I promised that I was going to show her the whole world (I’m not quite sure how I thought I was going to do it at that time because I wasn’t even sure how I was going to afford keep her in nappies! but I made the decision there and then that I wasn’t going to be the stereotypical single mother on living on benefits – I was going to give my child my all and I was going to do whatever it took to do so)

Georgia took her first flight just days after her 2nd birthday, little did I imagine then that one day she would make flying her own career. We only went to Turkey on a package deal with a friend, but it was fun. A year later I took Georgia out to see my cousin in Vancouver for my 30th birthday and from there on we just haven’t stopped travelling. When she applied for her Cabin Crew job with the airline last year we worked out that she had already made over 100 flights by the age of 19.

I couldn’t be prouder of her and love the fact she has inherited my love of travel and is now being paid to see the world for herself.

Georgia’s ‘wings ceremony’ with Thomas Cook Airlines. Spring 2017

 

Georgia with other members of Thomas Cook Airlines Cabin Crew, recently down route in Gambia. (April 2017)

 

Georgia was 13 when she found out that she had a baby brother on the way. We were in Australia at the time. His father was by coincidence an Australian who was travelling around the world and working for a while in Brighton. He was a lovely guy but wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of being a father and hence returned to Australia before Cameron was even born! …..Not as I ever imagined life was going to be but I now found myself a single parent to both children.

Having a second child wasn’t going to stop us travelling though, it would just add to the fun. In fact whilst I was pregnant we travelled to 4 different continents and 4 American states in my first 14 weeks!!! (I tell Cameron he was the worlds most travelled embryo)

I took my first big holiday with both children when Cameron was just 9 months old, we set sail from Southampton on a cruise to Iceland and the Norwegian Ffjords – it seemed the easier option at the time than battling with excess baggage and buggies at airports. And with a baby rucksack off we went…..

Our first holiday as a family of 3 – Photo taken in Norway (Summer 2012)

Cameron took his first long haul flight just in time to spend his 1st Birthday in Cape Cod U.S.A (the place that Georgia and I have always considered our 2nd home). He is 6 now and has completed 27 flights and been on 4 cruises.

from Barbados to Lapland (2017) we have travelled from extreme heat to extreme cold!!

It took me until mid-life to truly benefit from taking out my first mortgage at the age of 19. At the age of 46 I have finally paid off my mortgage and have spent the last year saving what I was paying to the bank each month.

I have watched my children learn, grow and thrive from their travels, My business is at a point where I can manage a lot of it remotely now, but I am still taking a massive gamble & long term risk, and will still have to spend at least the rest of this year coming to and fro the U.K. every few weeks to honour existing work commitments I have here. Yes, I could have waited another year to do it, but the time just felt right and the universe whispered in my ear “the time is NOW”.

I have come to trust my instinct over the years so I didn’t need telling twice.

I am SO ready for this, it feels like I have waited since childhood to do it. I know it won’t be plain sailing, I have to ensure I still educate my son and whilst I truly believe that Travel is the very best education you can give a child, I also want to ensure he stays on track with the school curriculum so that he won’t be behind once he returns in September 2019. I also have to keep my business going to the best of my ability, but with thoughtful planning, discipline and most importantly WIFI I know everything will be OK.

I am feeling incredibly grateful at the moment; family, friends and colleagues have been so encouraging and supportive, as have Cameron’s school. I feel more than slightly apprehensive too, it’s a massive responsibility for a single mother, however I am not the first to do it and I certainly won’t be the last.

I am excited to meet new friends and to re-connect with some old ones.

Making new friends in Barbados – Summer 2017

We are ready for take off – let the adventures begin…….

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