I applied for my work holiday visa when I was 30, left for New Zealand when I was 31 and returned to Singapore just 2 weeks before I turned 32. I’m not trying to point out how old I am here (oops >_<) but rather to highlight that the decision to take a break from work for travel was not an easy choice. I had a good career position, stable income and a healthy social life (or as healthy as can be for an introvert, that is, hehe).
Yet, I felt I had to take that risk, the chance to try something different before I lost the opportunity to try. The age limit for a work holiday visa, after all, is 30 years old. It was literally the last chance for me to give long term travel a chance, even if I may be years older than the other backpackers I ended up socialising with at the hostels. True fact: I only met one other traveller who was around the same age group as me when I was travelling around.
I also wanted to try something different, to take a break from the routine of work, to explore other possibilities that could be. It was meant as a way for me to freshen my outlook by challenging myself to an experience that I never dealt with before and forcing me out of my comfort zone. For so many years, all I did was work and work so I felt that I needed something different to jog me out of the mundanes of life.
When I started my work experience in New Zealand, for example, I had trouble looking for administrative work even though I was quite qualified to do so. Instead, I ended up working as a cleaner or a receptionist during my time there which was a really humbling experience. It gave me a different perspective and a different set of challenges after being used to working in an office for so many years.
Taking a break from work during my 30s was not something I had planned, the timing just happened to be right. I was fortunate enough to have an income that allowed me to save money for travels. I had no obligations nor any responsibilities to anybody else yet. With friends starting to settle down and setting up their own families, I realised that there can never be a more perfect timing.
Being in my 30s, I was able to appreciate this privilege more and savor my time spent to the fullest while it lasted. It was never meant to be a long break but a short break could be just as meaningful and fulfilling. My 20s was a time spent building up a career, saving money for the occasional travel so it was a good opportunity to just take a step away from that routine. During this break, I was able to have time to just enjoy living in the moment, challenging myself with a new environment and appreciating things that I wouldn’t have time for when I was working full-time.
Time waits for no one, after all. I felt that it was better to seize the time now rather than later. I had so much learning opportunities when I was travelling alone that I was really grateful I chose to do this while I could. I also felt better equipped now than before at handling myself. I already had a sense of myself but taking this break after my 30s really allowed me to explore and develop my confidence in handling myself. The learning curve would have been much steeper if I had taken this time for myself when I was younger.
This great leap of faith into the unknown was scary but also exciting as I didn’t want to wait too late to miss the opportunity to do so. I might have missed out on a lot but I also felt that the potential to gain is also there. In all, I don’t regret my choice in taking this break at this point of my life to travel. In fact, I would definitely love to do this again if I ever have the opportunity to do so. Or perhaps I should do it again when I am in my 40s? That’s another great idea to ponder on, haha!
Have you ever thought of taking a break to travel? Please do share your thoughts, would love to know your opinion as well…:)