Turn Your Gap Year Dreams Into Reality.

Solo travel Sri Lanka

Do you dream of travelling around the world? Do you wish you could just get on a plane and explore the world for a year or more? Of course you do! Everyone does! The good news is that you can. There is nothing stopping you. You just need a plan to make it happen! This article will take you through the steps you need to take to make that dream a reality.

How many times a day do you wish you could travel the world? How many times do you sit at work and wish you could be sat on a tropical beach instead? How many destinations are left unticked on your bucket list?

Many people sit at their desk jobs day in, day out just dreaming of dropping everything and flying off to some far flung corner of the world. They sit and stare out of the window or ignore the customers as they fling their groceries through the bar code scanner, dreaming of a hammock on a tropical beach or the adventure of a life on the road.

Yet for the vast majority of people, that is where it will end.

They will tell themselves it is too hard. They will think of any excuse they can not to leave that safe little bubble of their comfort zone.

They will go back to their dreary little jobs, their own little bubble of existence, and they will dismiss those dreams as just that. Dreams. They will dig themselves deeper and deeper into that comfort zone until one day they will find themselves so mired in it that it seems impossible to claw their way back out again.

But it really doesn’t have to be this way! Take it from me, I know, I’ve done it! I’ve quit work, bought a plane ticket and disappeared around the world on a whim for long stretches of time! Not just once, but multiple times! And you can too!

I mean seriously, what’s the alternative here people? Stay in your comfort zone because it’s easier? Stay at home, keep that boring job and clock in and out every single day in that endless cycle of groundhog day banality?

You will work for another 20, 30, 40 years or more, reach retirement age and then get forced to carry on working anyway because the government will steal your pension! And just before you finally drop dead from sheer exhaustion, your last words on this earth will be ‘I wish I had’.

So do!

There is a wonderful quote by Mark Twain that I absolutely love and have always tried to live by.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor, Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

Don’t get me wrong, I know it takes guts to follow your dreams, believe me. Before I started travelling I felt the same way. Everyone does. I’ve been there and done that. It takes guts to pull yourself out of your comfort zone and do something completely different. That’s totally natural. It’s normal to be afraid when faced with something daunting, that will never really go away.

The big trick is to not let those feelings stop you from following your dreams! Because when you do, when you overcome them and take that first step you will feel like you have been given wings. The world is a vast, wonderful and amazing place, and it is yours for the taking! Anything is possible and you will have reminded yourself that you are not some mindless drone following the same path as everyone around you, you are capable of much, much more than that!

So when you take that first step, how do you turn those dreams into a reality? Here’s the good part, it is surprisingly easy.

5 Easy Steps.

Start Saving.

This is the first step. You may have had the dream of backpacking or travelling the world for some time, but what have you done to make it a reality? Start saving NOW. Backpacking costs money, and you will need a big pot of it to go on an extended round the world trip or gap year (or more).

It isn’t all that difficult to save up for travel, just budget well. Do you really need that expensive sandwich every dinner time or cup of coffee from the fancy coffee shop every morning? Just remember that cash you have just handed over for your big sandwich will have paid for a beach hut in Thailand! You don’t have to be a total recluse either, just minimise those big nights out, cut back on the DVD buying marathons and the luxuries, just save!

Make a monthly budget, stick to it, and give yourself a target to reach in six months time. It is surprising how much having a goal can galvanise you.

Get A Rough Plan.

While you are saving, keep the inspiration alive by planning for your big trip. Get on the internet and read about the amazing travels and adventures other people are having, find people that really inspire you. Grab every and any brochure or travel literature on places you think you may want to see or things you may want to do. Join a few travel forums and talk to like minded people.

As you do this, you should start formulating a rough plan of where you want to go. Get a big map and pin it on your wall, then stick a load of pins in the places you must visit on your gap year or backpacking adventure. It doesn’t matter about the practicalities at this point, just get excited about the places that inspire you.

Narrow The Plan Down.

Once you have all of that, your excitement levels should be brimming over. Your round the world adventure is looking more and more like a possibility isn’t it? Told you it would! You have a long list of places that inspire you, a rough plan, and by now you should have a fair sized pot of savings too.

Now is the time to start getting serious about that plan. Narrow down the rough route you have into something more practical.

  • Ask yourself where you want to start and where you want to finish.
  • Do you want to visit just one country, one  region or travel the world?
  • Are there any specific dates you need to be in certain countries by to take in certain festivals, events or religious holidays?
  • What is a reasonable and realistic route to be able to do all this?

A little bit more specific research is required here. Have a look at suggested route itineraries adventure travel companies have on their books and copy them. Go and speak to the experts, travel agents who specialise in backpacking or other backpackers on travel websites and forums who will be able to advise you on how to whittle your rough plan into something practical and reasonable.

This is the point where your dreams start to coalesce into something more tangible. This is the point where your fantasies about travelling the world are about to become a reality!

Expect The Plan To Fail.

By now the light at the end of the tunnel is more than in sight, you can almost feel the soft sea air on your face already, smell the aromatic BBQ satay chicken in the air from Thai street vendors, taste that beer on that sun kissed beach in Mexico, your dreams are becoming reality!

But all those well made plans will probably end up going tits up, that is unless you sort out all the necessary practicalities so you are ready for when your flying out date finally arrives.

Make sure all your necessary visas – if you need them – are all in order. Get your budget sorted, you will have saved up most of what you need already and will hopefully continue to do so as you start your serious planning, but now is the time to find out how much your daily budget should be in the places you are wanting to visit and make sure you have enough, and remember to make sure your emergency budget is in place. Research what travel vaccinations you will need and get them sorted now (the earlier the better), and talk to a medical professional to see if you will need to look at antimalarials.

The more you prepare now, the easier your actual trip will be.

Take The First Step To The Rest Of Your Life.

After you have done all this you should have a pretty good stash of money saved up and most of the planning and practicalities sorted. Now it’s time to go and buy your ticket. Don’t worry, believe it or not this is often the hardest step for people because they see that plane ticket as the point of no return. Up until now it has all still been just a plan, a dream. Actually handing over the money makes it real. Once you have it, your course is locked in! But don’t worry, once you do buy your ticket then all you have to do is look forward to your trip and sorting out any last minute details and planning, there is no turning back now!

It really doesn’t matter if your planned departure date is six weeks or six months away, whatever time you have just means more time for saving, planning and enjoying the excitement and anticipation of going away!

And that is it. That really is all it takes to drag yourself out of your comfort zone and turn your dreams into reality! It doesn’t seem like much once you break it down does it? Well that’s because it isn’t. Once you have broken it down into little manageable chunks you realise the impossible has suddenly become possible, your dreams have actually come within reach and you can grab them with both hands if you want to. All it takes is the will and the guts to do it!

So go and enjoy your travels, say goodbye to the mundane 9 to 5 existence and say hello to sipping mango juice on a sun kissed island! Get on that plane and experience backpacking the world first hand and realise that you can live your dreams!

Take charge of your life and do it! You will never regret it!

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

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 Warning! Reading This Can Be Extremely Hazardous To Your Comfort Zone!

What You Should Consider Before You Start Planning Your Gap Year.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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9 comments on “Turn Your Gap Year Dreams Into Reality.
  1. This is great. Those are exactly the steps needed to do it. Thanks for explaining it perfectly.

    • Thank you very much for the feedback, I’m glad you liked it. I just hope to inspire people and show them how easy it is to follow their dreams and travel the world.

      • Steph Lathom says:

        I LOVE this post! Thank you so much! I’m planning my first gap year at the moment and it is so daunting, it is nice just to get some inspiration and reassurance! The website is great btw!

  2. Nick says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. All too often, people I know will go to the bars every weekend, or buy expensive meals at restaurants and then wonder why they can’t go to go enjoy the grand things in life like travel and vacations. You said it very well, “Just remember that cash you have just handed over for your big sandwich will have paid for a beach hut in Thailand!” Every so often I need to reminded of that and this article serves as great motivation to continue my thrifty, goal-oriented spending habits :). Cheers!

  3. peterdraper472 says:

    Love this article!

  4. Pete and Christine says:

    Good article. Did exactly that 25 years ago, then got married sorted out the family, now we have grandchildren and are doing the same again. People should remember its never too late, whatever your age 21 or 51, just do it enjoy yourself. We’re enjoying it still as much now as we did over 25 years ago and you notice the changes to places too, so it’s always worth revisiting places.
    Pete and Christine

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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