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Advice to anyone thinking of a career break to travel

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Hiking Cuicocha Ecuador

Thinking of a career break to travel?

Tom writes about his six months travelling across South America.

The tour, with his partner Elena, encompassed Chile, Patagonia, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Galapagos and Colombia.

 

He writes:

“Just do it.

A gap year, a gap half-year or a midlife crisis (I’m approaching 40 fast): call it what you will.

It was the experience of a lifetime and one that we both wished could have lasted longer.

 

The experiences and people

Yes, the tarantula running at my rubber boots, fangs exposed, was alarming for me, but not the guide who laughingly dealt humanely with the spider’s aggression and my fear.

No, I don’t usually spend my mornings swimming with sea lions and turtles in Galapagos, but then again, rarely do my afternoons involve hiking up to glaciers in Colombia.

All Saints Day we spent with a Bolivian woman in Potosi, joining her and the community in paying respects to the dead, a fascinating insight into local life.

It was a chance to read dozens of books, ask locals their opinions and to understand that there are many different ways of looking at things.

 

Sea Lions on Beach Espanola Galapagos

Sea Lions on Beach Espanola Galapagos

 

Landscapes and sounds

There was so much more. Landscapes and colours I couldn’t have imagined, air of such thin quality it seemed to be an alien gas to my lungs, animals of prehistoric invention.

When people ask me how it was, I can only reply something bland like ‘excellent, amazing’.

The use of daily superlatives is because I cannot find the adequate extraordinary ones.

How to describe the difference in sound between the exhilarating waves of white water rafting, and the gentle lapping of the Caribbean sea.

 

Cabo Polonio sunset Uruguay

Cabo Polonio sunset Uruguay

 

Time and space

Travelling, and the space it allowed my mind in which to breathe, created a peaceful balance in thinking, expectations in life and of people.

As much as I missed people, it also made me realise that sometimes I took kindnesses for granted, that the moment really is that, as perchance those times may not return.

And woe betide the worst should happen and a family member were to die, I would be a day’s travel away – the same position I find myself in today, peering into the same screen on a cold and rainy day in Barcelona.

We put lots of limitations on our daily lives, from what we eat to what we do with our spare time and how we act in public.

Daily rationale will always battle to convince you not to go; what about the house, can I afford it, what if something happens while I’m away?

There are always risks.

Staying still is a risk, too.

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