I’m writing this because there are more incoming questions now that I am home than there was before I left. 14 countries in 14 months. Not super fast pace, but I did spend 8+ months in Australia.
Q: Where was your favorite place?!
A: This is the most common question. If you really want me to sum up my favorite part of the past 14 months in a sentence …. bah. Every place was my favorite in some way, the Viennese Christmas markets, watching the New Year fireworks over the Parthenon in Athens, shopping in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, teaching English in Sri Lanka, my mates in Aussie, I could go on.. If you really need an answer, I rank my favorite places by where I want to go back to right now, Prague & New Zealand. That does NOT mean all the other places are not worthy! There is just so much in this world to see!
Q: How much money did you spend? Did you work? How can you afford being unemployed for so long?
A: Little known fact, traveling CAN be cheaper than living in a static place. Fun observation, I spent only $1,200 on lodging for the entire trip, or $85/month. I kept meticulous logs of my money so I knew when it was time to come home. Yes, I did save up money before I left. No, I am not in debt. Yes, I have less savings than I did before I left (of course). Yes, I worked on the road, bartender and skydiving instructor. Yes, I was couchsurfing sometimes.
There are other cool stats, but it’s not so important. Just know that it is completely possible to travel on less money than you think. If I had a one way ticket and only a few hundred dollars, I would still do it. There are many travel bloggers solely writing about traveling the world on $50/day or even less (shoestring).
Q: How did a career break effect your resume/job hunting/career?
A: I accepted a job within 4 days of landing in USA. Of course, I was job searching while I was abroad once I knew my return date. Also, I was always looking for opportunities. The initial interview after a career break is fun, in my experience, over half of the interview is talking about traveling. A fun one was “Why the heck am I video interviewing you in Australia for a job in Minnesota, USA?” “Well, here is the story… (30 minutes later, we were talking about the job again)” — A great icebreaker. So, I definitely recommend adding a career break to your resume! On the flip side, I was rusty with the knowledge/skills that use to be on the forefront of my mind, that may have hurt me for one interview. Also, a tip, your old employer may hire you back if you left on good terms.
Q: Previously, stated that you might never need a phone again? True?
A: Mostly, I can definitely manage with a Google Voice phone number and utilize the abundance of wifi networks here. There is more free wifi in the USA than most other countries, in my experience. It is annoying to miss a “connection” because you can’t call but it is a simple lifestyle change that my friends have already gotten use to “leave me a message, I’ll see it later” (sounds like voicemail, doesn’t it?) With all that said, I need a 24×7 phone for work now.
Q: Why did you come back in the coldest day of the year? in December? Do you like being back?
A: Yes, it is cold, -20F (-30C) the second night I got back, but I’m Minnesotan and we are tough! Haha, seriously, life doesn’t stop when it gets cold. I came back in December because I couldn’t stand another holiday away from my family, I missed 2x Thanksgivings, 1x Christmas, birthdays, etc. Yes, I like being back.
Q: What is the biggest change/your biggest fear?
A: The “new me” is mostly the same, but I do have different views and different thoughts. I feel like I’m much more independent now and a better person for experiencing at least some other cultures. I have less fears so I don’t know how to answer that question.
Q: Where/What is next?
A: Who knows? I’m going to settle here for the foreseeable future, advance my career, and set up some more open opportunities that I can use in the future.. I have my paperwork complete to get my Australian permanent residency. I have wanderlust to visit Central & South America.
Q: What is the hardest part of being back?
A: Well, honestly, the hardest part is talking to the people who don’t truly care but say they do. It was emotionally hard for me the first few days but I have modified my speech now by making the other person ask lots of questions, accepting compliments, agreeing when people say that they can never do it, etc. That may sound mean but it actually works and it seems that some people like it better that way, instead of arguing. I’ve also eliminated some anxiety by participating in local meetups with travelers. The only place where it is ok to be unemployed and celebrated to be homeless (nomadic). Don’t get me wrong, there ARE plenty of people who do care and are interested, to them I love talking.
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