The GAP Year & The Big FEAR

Before I left on this adventure, all I could see was what we were sacrificing. I had yet to see and understand the multitude of experiences we would be gaining.

Leaping into the Tasman Sea, first week on the road.

One Month Ago.

“What do you mean you sold the car?” I stare at Rob in disbelief.

“You said to put it on Kijiji?” he replies.

“I didn’t think someone would actually buy it!”

“Well, that’s kind of how Kijiji works.”

This was yet another step in purging our conventional life and preparing for a year on the road.

A woman pulls up in front of our house. As Rob goes out to meet her I call after him, ”Tell her it’s a good car! It was my first new car. Tell her we drove to the West Coast on our honeymoon in that car. We drove to the hospital in that car to give birth to two kids!”

“Yeah, okay, I’m not telling her that. She doesn’t care.”

“She has to care. She has to take care of the car. I love that car!”

“Do you want to sell the Civic or not?”

“Yes, of course I want to sell the car. We have to. It can’t sit here for a year.”

I watch through the window as Rob talks to the woman. I can’t take it. I go outside, tears streaming down my face.

“Are you sure you want to buy this car?” I ask. The woman holds up the money as way of response. I turn to my Honda, openly weeping and address it, “I love you. I’m sorry for selling you. It’s not personal.” I stroke the hood lovingly. “You’ve been such a good car.”  The woman shifts awkwardly beside me. I have officially turned into a Kijiji crazy person.

The next evening, the night before we fly away, it’s a similar story as I had over the keys to our house that we’ve rented out. I love my home and yet I’m handing the keys over to a total stranger. I’m about to say something to him, but I know if I do I’m a goner, I’ll be opening floodgates I will never be able to close. (Besides, I’ve left 12 pages of typed House Notes on the counter - like they’ll give a shit about my prized hydrangeas.)

I turn and walk away, a lump the size of Lake Winnipeg in my throat.

What the hell are we doing? Have I lost my mind? Our house had been a revolving Kijiji door for months as we purged things we don’t use or need anymore. The car is gone, the house is rented. I’ve taken a leave from my job. The kids have been pulled out of school. Saying goodbye to family was still to come.

I felt like I suddenly had no roots and even if we wanted to change our minds about this whole Gap Year business, we couldn’t. I couldn’t help thinking we were making a colossal mistake.

We were trading in all of our security and things we’d spent a lifetime accumulating for a year on the road. This is simply crazy. In planning the year, I’d only ever focused on the romanticism and adventure of it all, now the reality was kicking me in the gut – hard.


So it’s been one month on the road.  Here are just a few things we’ve experienced on our first stop in New Zealand:

  • hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

  • swam with jellyfish that don’t sting - and had a jellyfish fight!

  • boated through caves lit by glow worms

  • surfed in the Tasman Sea

  • dug and soaked in thermal pools at Hot Water Beach

  • hiked up to the base of a glacier

  • cruised through Milford Sound

  • tramped through rainforests

  • watched a wild New Zealand bird eat bugs off our shoes

  • pitched and lived in a tent for weeks amidst the Lord of the Rings mountains

  • luged down a mountain in Queenstown

Boating through the glow worm caves

Seeing my kids’ wonder and amazement at so many things has been unparalleled. The amount of decisions we have to make on a daily basis is dizzying. Abandoning the tiresome daily routine has been especially refreshing. I’ve also really started thinking about what I value and what’s truly important in life. People and places. Not things. The trip hasn’t been without challenges (stay tuned for that post), but I can earnestly say best decision ever.

Before I left on this adventure, all I could see was what we were sacrificing. I had yet to see and understand the multitude of experiences we would be gaining.

Bailing out of conventional life is difficult. My car, house, job, kids’ school – these things are serious security that we spend a lifetime building up, things that we are conditioned to protect.

Is selling the car and leaving our house for a year worth it? Hell, yeah! And we still have 11 months to go.

The GAP YEAR should become mandatory. And the government should subsidize it.

Oskar (8), Isla Blue (5) Rob and Daria (ages undisclosed) are spending the year traveling around the world. Stay tuned (or better yet subscribe to this blog) for these upcoming posts:

  • How the Hell Do You Really Pull Off A Year of Travel?

  • Best and Worst Day on the Road…

  • We Will Eat Our Young

  • Best of Middle Earth

 (I’m also taking Blog Post Requests. Put them into the comments below.)

Some sheep and some Southern Alps, New Zealand

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