A Big Trip is a multi-month travel adventure to your dream destinations and living your travel dreams. A Big Trip can be taken anytime in your life, with anyone, and, if you are blessed enough to have a passport from a Western country, then anywhere. And it’s completely affordable and doable with a little planning and faith in yourself.
I borrow some concepts for the Big Trip from the British idea called a “Gap Year” which is a wonderful idea and travel practice for many British young people. Schools, family and friends all encourage them to travel around the world on a 6 month to one year “Gap” between university and work. I am American, and admittedly a little jealous, so I write from the point of view that we don’t have the Gap Year concept here in common practice and the groundswell for mid-career sabbaticals, like Big Trips, is just starting.
Why Big Trips are Necessary
Most forces in American society push us to Learn and Earn immediately after high school graduation. Learn at college for four years and then travel a little to get it out of our system with some Spring Breaks and Study Abroads. Then, Earn and your only travel is quick week-long exhausted beach vacations in between all that earning. I have heard that some companies offer sabbaticals for their employees, but these have to be strategically-timed in one’s career trajectory and with a lot of planning and assurances.
In addition to Learn and Earn, there are heavy expectations to marry or cohabitate and, unless you have discussed a Big Trip with your partner prior to engagement as a shared vision of your life, marriage doesn’t usually mean taking several months to travel – far away from both your careers and families and homes. I believe anyone can take a Big Trip, it’s just a matter of priorities, faith and a little planning. I haven’t done it, but I also believe one can take these trips alone, with friends, or a partner and a family.
To take a Big Trip is to check out of an expected, comfortable existence that may or may not feel right and this great big, wide world. You’re reading this because there’s an itch in your heart to travel and may not know where to start. That’s OK. Having the urge there is enough to start thinking about your Big Trip.
My Big Trips
I have bucked these forces and, over the past two years, taken three Big Trips. These Big Trips have been:
- India and Nepal Fall 2008: 2 1/2 months all around India and a week in Nepal.
- Middle East Spring 2009: 2 1/2 months to England, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Spain
- India, Southeast Asia, and Morocco Winter/Spring 2010 (this one does not have a tidy regional title): 4 months to India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Morocco and Italy.
The purposes of these trips are varying and the destinations completely personal. There’s a mix of World Wonders, friends, family, and experiences mixed into each of them. They may or may not make sense to you, but they all have the same thing in common -all include places I am drawn to and span more than two months of travel time.
As I’ve said, it’s a matter of priorities for me to take these Big Trips and there are things I have given up: a career, a marriage, and my own home. These are big things, but I’ve given them up over time without regret (albeit with a lot of sadness). I write with perfect hindsight and say from my heart and soul that travel and these trips are what I’m meant to do at this time in my life. They are my path, my code, and my destiny. I don’t know if I’ll do them forever, but right now they are what I want and I have faith in myself that when my heart is pulled towards other priorities, I will follow that.
It’s Time for Your Big Trip
You’ve read my story, but I don’t believe it’s the only story, one does not have to transition from such huge things like relationships and careers to take a Big Trip. There are ways to do it and keep your relationship (heck, make it stronger with travel!), your home, and your career all safe and sound while you go on a Big Trip. More to come, but this Blog, will serve as inspiration and resources for your own Big Trip. Really, it just takes asking what you want and a lot of faith in yourself, it’s all about taking that Big step.