London Gap Year Travel: Going Home
After six months of extensive and sometimes gruelling travel, I flew home to London from New York. When I looked back at all the events, places and people over the past six months, I felt I had truly accomplished something worthwhile and had more experiences in those few months than I had had over the previous six years working for a large international company.
I had been suffering from extreme exhaustion over the previous few weeks and felt very relieved to be going home. I had heard various stories about people who had changed after a period of prolonged solo travel after taking a gap year but I felt it was too early to tell if I had changed in any dramatic way inside. Time would tell.
After touching down at Heathrow airport, it was good to go home and meet up with my family and friends. The reactions varied from some people who asked endless questions about my gap year travel to a few friends who talked about it briefly as if I had only been away for the weekend. I had already prepared myself for my home coming after reading a variety of gap year books and decided to only talk about my travels to people who were genuinely interested. After all, if someone has been working in a crap job for the past six months and then has to listen about a friend who has been having a brilliant time in exotic places and meeting some great people, it can be hard to stomach.
After a week of relaxing and recuperation, I had to make some decisions about what I was going to do for the future. It was at this point that I realized something had changed inside of me. I no longer wanted to work for an employer but I had to figure out a way of making a living where I could still take a three to six months off a year to travel or visit other countries. For a period of two years I drifted from one IT contract job to another until eventually everything began to fall in place and I started earning a secondary income from websites and photography. For the past three years I have relied solely on running my own websites and photography business and this has allowed me to travel. I have been back to Asia three times for a period of 3 months each time and I also visit various European cities for periods ranging from a week to 3 months.
Taking a solo gap year to travel the world was the best decision I had ever taken and my only regret is that I took so long in reaching that decision. On the other hand, may be the timing was perfect as I would not have been able to make a living from the internet if I had travelled earlier as the internet was still in its infancy. Travelling solo has also given me a new sense of confidence and although it can be lonely or daunting having to rely on oneself for everything, I found the benefits of meeting new people and choosing my own travel routes to outweigh any negative aspects of travelling solo. I came across so many people travelling together who were constantly arguing or bickering and it felt good to be able to choose who I wanted to be with and who to break away from. It was the greatest sense of freedom I had ever experienced as I could just be myself and not be answerable to any friend or family member. I have travelled solo many times since for shorter periods, including travelling across thirteen cities in Japan to photograph them, and I would recommend it to anyone. I still enjoy long beach holidays with friends but nothing compares to that first gap year.