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Welcome to the Travel Wrighter Podcast, where I hope to inspire you to get out there and see the world one episode at a time. I’m your host, Megan Wright, and I’ll be sharing my travel stories, tips, and advice about exploring new countries, moving abroad, solo travel, grown up gap years and so much more.
Let’s get started.
Hi guys. Welcome back to the Travel Wrighter Podcast, and I am so freaking excited to record this episode because I feel like I have so much to catch you up on since the first three episodes that I’ve recorded. If you listen to the introduction episode, you would’ve heard me say that I’m really making a conscious effort and a real go at trying to turn this content creation into a new career path for myself and really taking it seriously. That’s why I’ve started my podcast. That is why I’ve been a lot more active on my Instagram because I’m just really trying to push out really good quality content that is gonna help inspire other peoples to take a gap year, inspire other peoples to go out there and travel and see the world.
And I’m really just excited to try and actually make a real go at this. So, I have been taking it very seriously the past couple months. I’ve been working nonstop every evening after work on my weekends. This is all that I focus my energy on and I just haven’t felt like I’ve been seeing the results in Instagram that I was expecting.
You know, I bought courses to see what the best way to approach this was. I’ve watched so many videos on this and it’s just like I’m just not growing as quickly as I would like or that I thought I would, and trust me, I know this is not an overnight thing, but, and maybe I was a little bit too naïve to think, you know, I could really take off in two months, but I’m gonna keep being consistent.
I’m gonna keep having to go at it. But that said, here’s what’s really changed, right? So my friend, he works with influencers in organic social media for a really famous company, and he knows that I’m really trying to make this into a new career path. And he was like, you know, I’m seeing how much effort you’re putting into your Instagram posts.
If you were to make that much effort and put that much into TikTok, I feel like you would be growing exponentially right now. And I’ve had a TikTok like on the side, but I’ve never really taken it that seriously because it’s just like a newer platform that I never really got into. I’ve just always been more into Instagram, but I was like, okay, yeah, I’ll give it a go, I’ll see.
And I kind of been sucked in like the past month, just like watching what other creators are doing and really gotten into TikTok because I have found it a lot more interesting and more authentic and real than Instagram. And so I was like, okay, I’m gonna make a go at this. So I have only been doing this for two weeks on TikTok and you guys, I have grown over a thousand followers in two weeks.
Like, how insane is that? In just two weeks, I’ve had two viral videos, and from that I’m actually gaining followers. And what that is telling me is that TikTok is actually pushing my content out to people who care and who need to see that or who want to see that. And I’m actually getting legit followers from that who want to hear.
So the first viral TikTok that I did, it was actually, it was a trend. It was to that Eminem song where, you know, he’s like, now this looks like a job for me. Do, do, do, do, do. Please don’t make fun of my singing. So that’s like the audio behind it and it was like such like an off the cusp informal video that I did of me just like swinging my backpack, like my huge rucksack that I took on my year traveling.
Just like swinging that over my back, my shoulder, and just being like whenever I hear a girl in her thirties say she thinks she’s too old to take a gap year, and then the audio goes, now this looks like a job for me. And that literally resonated with so many people. It just took off. And I got so many good comments, good followers and questions and everything from that.
And so that’s kind of what’s inspired this podcast episode because I was getting quite a few, just like normal questions, like very straightforward ones. Like, oh, what’s the backpack that you used? What countries did you go to? That kind of a stuff. But then I was also getting a lot of women commenting their common fears or misconceptions about what was holding them back.
So for instance, I had a lot of people be like, yeah, but like you didn’t have a job. What’d you do for health insurance? Or like, But you were off for an entire year. Weren’t you scared that you were gonna look unemployable by employers when you came back? Weren’t you worried about the gap in your resume?
And I was getting a lot of comments in that kind of nature, so I was like, I always had this idea that I needed to do an episode on common fears and misconceptions that hold people back. But after that viral TikTok, I was like, okay, I should probably record this sooner rather than later so I can release this and help answer some of those questions and comments that people have been making.
So I’ve come up with a list of not only the things that people were commenting on my TikTok, but also the common fears and misconceptions I had about before I went, because a lot of them were saying the exact same stuff that I was thinking before I went on my year off. So I’ve made a list. So I’m just gonna go through this list and I’m gonna tell you what my experience was.
So let’s just start with the most obvious one. And I think you’ll know right away what that’s gonna be. It’s kind of like the whole narrative that inspired this podcast and some of my Instagram videos and that is people thinking that they’re too old to do it if they’re in their thirties, if they’re in their forties, if they’re in their fifties.
And guys, I can say 1000% firsthand experience, you are not too old to do this no matter how old you are. This is not just like a 20, 21 year old thing anymore. When I went out there, I was meeting people of all ages and I literally felt like I was on the young side of things when I was 31. I was meeting people in their thirties, in their forties, in their fifties, you know, and everybody just kind of hangs out with each other.
And that’s the beauty of meeting other travelers and other people from other cultures like. Everybody is just kind of on the same mindset and on the same wavelength. Like we’re all out there to go travel, to go see the world, to meet new people. So I mean like age is kind of just a number. Like you’re only as old as you feel.
You don’t really have to make it a big deal. Like I was hanging out with 20 year olds, I was hanging out with 30 year olds, 40 year olds who, you know, like I was just hanging out with all ages and yeah, sometimes I’d come across like that kid that just got out of college and I was like, uh, this probably isn’t my thing.
But for the most part I was just meeting loads of cool people at all ages. And I think a lot of people are also kind of nervous that if they’re going on, like the Southeast Asia backpacker trail, it’s called like the Banana Pancake Trail. It’s just a very common backpacker route that people do when they’re in their early twenties.
A lot of people have this fear that, okay, yeah, you’re just gonna be surrounded by a bunch of drunk 20 year olds the whole time. But that is not the case. I mean, like, yeah, you could find yourself surrounded by drunk 20 year olds, but that’s exactly like if you were in London or in your hometown, you could also be surrounded by people like that.
You know? I think if you make an effort to. Go to places, stay at places, and hang out with people that are on the same wavelength, the same mindset, the same age as you. I think like you’re gonna find your people no matter where you go. And I promise, like there’s a whole range of people that you will meet and a whole age range of people that you are going to meet.
So, you know, like I said, making a conscious effort about where you stay. So for example, I tended to stay in either smaller hostels or I would get a private room in a home stay or a villa. So the first place that I went when I was flying out to do this whole year abroad, the first place I went was Bali and I had booked a private room in a villa, and that’s actually a really good way to meet people and I need to do a podcast episode about that.
But I found that that if you’re looking at a smaller place, that it tends to attract an older crowd or like a crowd that I was gonna get along with better. When I got to Bali, you know the first person I met who was also staying in a room in this villa, she was this 35 year old, she’s from California.
She had quit her job. She just come to Bali and she was just gonna figure it out and wing it. And she didn’t know what her next step in life was, but she just knew she wanted to be in Bali for a bit. So like there you go. Prime example, like the first person I met was like in their mid thirties and I met loads of people like that.
And like I said, I stayed in smaller hostels, so, If you see, like if you’re looking on hostel world for a hostel and you see the name of the hostel is blah, blah, blah, party hostel, then that one is probably gonna be geared towards young drunk backpackers who only wanna go for one thing and one thing only.
So like don’t stay in places like that. Like I would always avoid the party hostels and I would stay somewhere else, somewhere smaller or in a villa or a home. And you know, if you’re up for a night out and you wanna go to one of those party hostels, and maybe you’re not meeting enough people where you’re staying, you can just go there and hang out at the bar that night, and then you can just go back to your nice and quiet place for a bit of peace and quiet afterwards.
But honestly, I don’t want you to have this misconception that it’s only like young 20 year olds that are doing this gap year when you get out to anywhere, central America, south America, Southeast Asia, Australia, wherever you’re going, travel. You will find your people, I promise. Like just like you have done it at home, you will be able to do it on the road.
And I also just wanna make sure that we’re all on the same page about one thing. 30 is not old, okay? Your thirties, you are not old. You are still very young. And I remember thinking about my thirties in my twenties and being like, oh gosh, life’s gonna be over. I’m gonna be so old. And I’m thinking it was such a big deal when I turned 30.
But like there’s this fact that I love and that is that the frontal lobe of your brain doesn’t actually fully form until you’re like in your mid twenties, like 26 or something. So just think of it like you’ve only had a fully formed brain for like four or five years of your life by the time you get in your thirties.
So you still have a lot to learn. And I am 36 right now, and I 100% know I still have so much to learn. And I feel like in some ways, some parts of my life are really just getting started. You know, you don’t have to have everything figured out by the time you’re 30. Like, don’t think that you’re a failure because, oh, I don’t have a family, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a house.
I’m not at the top of my career. Like that is absolutely ridiculous. And I know I’m getting a little bit philosophical here, but I just like, some people don’t even peak until they’re in like their forties or their fifties and figure out what they wanna do in life. Please don’t let age hold you back from having this amazing life experience where you’re just gonna meet all these new people, discover all these new cultures, figure out how to travel to all these different countries and live independently.
Like just don’t let age hold you back because you’re only as old as you feel. Okay, so the next comment that I was getting quite a. And I feel like this might be kind of an American viewpoint because, I mean, I’m American so I can say it, but I feel like Americans are like workaholics and we kind of, our work culture is kind of a bit different to maybe like European or UK work culture.
We kind of just really work ourselves into the ground and don’t really take a lot of time for vacation or to do these types of gap years. But so the comment I was getting quite a bit was like, aren’t you worried about the gap in your resume and what employers are gonna think when you come back?
Don’t you think they’re gonna think that your. Unemployable and I released, I actually did a really quick TikTok video to address this comment, and I made the mistake of using the word conservative when I was replying to an American, and they immediately thought that I meant like conservative as in politics, and they were like jumping down my throat, like, oh my God, you work for conservative group, blah, blah, blah.
And I was like, oh my gosh, I forgot you can’t say anything. Oh geez. So anyway, so I took that video down because I realized I need to use different language. But what I was trying to say to this person was, I am an accountant and I work in the finance industry and the finance industry as a whole.
In the uk, in the US and Australia, wherever you work, the finance industry tends to be a bit more old fashioned and conservative in their work approach. So you know, they’re a bit more hesitant to go fully remote or they want you in the office X amount of days per week and maybe they kind of frown on things like this.
So that’s the kind of industry that I’m coming from. Right? And so I did this gap year and. When I came back, let me tell you the number one question that I kept getting asked the most in all of my interviews after my gap year. Was, oh wow. You took a year off to travel. Wow. That must have been amazing.
Where did you go? What did you do? Oh my gosh, I wish I would’ve done that. That’s so cool. And then we just sit there and talk about it for like 10 minutes straight and like that would be like a third of the interview, just talking about this year of traveling. So what I’m saying is like, if that’s happening to me and I’m in one of the most old-fashioned backwards industries, Like a little bit behind some other industries.
If that’s what my experience is, then I think that there’s a very high chance that you are probably not gonna have a problem with this. And you know what I would say is if you are interviewing with an employer who’s concerned about you taking a just one year off of your entire working career to take a gap year and go travel and do something that you love, if they’re worried about that, then you know what?
You probably don’t wanna work for them anyway. But on the flip side of that, if this is like your dream company, And they do have a problem with it. You know, you can turn this into a positive and I’m not just saying just like BS it, but like this gap year, this year of traveling, it is like a huge positive.
So like it’s gonna teach you so many things. You’re gonna learn about so many cultures. You’re gonna learn how to be very independent to take initiative. To speak to people of many different cultures, many different languages. You’re gonna learn so many skills by doing this. So if they are questioning you about this gap year, turn it into a positive and tell them all of the amazing skills and the things that you’ve learned from taking this year off.
So while we’re talking about work, I think it might be a good segway into the next topic. I was seeing a lot of, and that was, This being something that you’re just wasting money on or not having enough money and being able to stick to a budget. So let me, let me take those into different categories there.
Okay, so number one, that you are just wasting your money. I got this a lot from my grandpa. Love him, but like he was like, you could be spending this money on the down deposit for a house. Like what are you doing? This is ridiculous. Spending all this money and not working, like, aren’t you not gonna have enough for your retirement?
Okay, so here’s my rebuttal to this, and I know he was only coming from a good place, so I’m not like knocking him at all. But if anybody else is saying this to you that it’s just a waste of money and this money would be better spent going towards your retirement or maybe a house. Number one, I didn’t want a house at that point in my life, and I had no clue where I wanted to settle down.
I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in London, like I could even afford a house in London at that point in my life. But like I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in London, if I wanted to go home, would I fall in love with one of the countries that I visited? So I wasn’t ready for a house. Right? And okay. The other side of that was I could have been putting my money into retirement.
But me working in finance as an accountant, I will be the first person to tell you absolutely no investment is guaranteed and you are not guaranteed to make money on that. So like, you know, I put money into my investments this year. It has been a horrible year and I’ve actually lost money on my investments and I’m actually a decent investor.
So you know what? I lost money on my investments and I “lost” money when I was going traveling, but at least when I was going traveling, I was getting some really cool experiences and memories out of it. I wasn’t just seeing my money like go down the drain and I mean, a house is a little bit different.
Like, you know, those do usually appreciate, property does usually appreciate, so it’s a lot harder to lose money there. But again, it’s not guaranteed that you’re gonna make money on property. And like if you were like, You might not have been ready or like at that point in your life where you knew where you were gonna live or want to settle down and buy a house.
So there’s that. So that’s like how to address the wasting the money. The other one is saying that it’s just way too expensive, like you’re never gonna be able to live on. So what I did it for was like 24,000 pounds. You’re never gonna be able to do that. That’s ridiculous. Blah, blah, blah. I am here to tell you after going to Southeast Asia and seeing what the prices of things are in other parts of the world compared to like the UK or the us.
Guys, it is so much cheaper in other parts of the world. It does not have to be expensive to travel around. Like my flights in Asia were like 50 qui a piece. My really nice accommodation that I was staying in, like for example in Bali, I had a pool and it was in a villa. It had a huge kitchen and a living room, and all this like really nice stuff.
Seconds from the beach. Guess how much I was paying per night? 20 pounds per. Like if you were doing that in Europe or the UK or the us, you would easily have been paying 200 pounds a night for what I was staying in in Bali. So people have it in their mind that travel is this like really expensive lifestyle choice and that you just have to spend loads of money to do it, but you absolutely do not.
And there are like ways that you can like be even cheaper about it. Like I did it for 24 K per. Oh my God. There are people out there doing it for half as much as that, and they’re not like, I mean, yeah, that’s called like a shoestring budget, so like they’re really getting by on the bare minimum. But there’s stuff that I could have even done that saved me a little bit more money.
So like, I liked staying in private rooms as much as I possibly could. So the limit that I set for myself for accommodation was 20 pounds per night. Like, that was my splurge. Like how ridiculous that, like, that was my splurge was 20 pounds per night, guys. But it like if you book out, you can do like a dorm, and I would stay in female dorms, like very small female dorms.
If I couldn’t find a private room or if I just like wanted to meet some people easier. And you can also stay in Airbnbs. You can book them out for a month and you get like a monthly discount or like even a weekly discount. So there are ways to make. Travel so cheap and it’s just like in other parts of the world, it’s just not as expensive as it is back home.
Like I spent a third of what I would’ve spent just living normally in London than what I did spending and going traveling to 12 different countries in Southeast Asia. Okay, so the next fear or misconception that I wanna address, and this is a big one, it’s gonna gonna go down a rabbit hole here, I think, but that is.
Solo travel for females is just far too dangerous, and you should not be going anywhere by yourself or traveling long-term by yourself because something dangerous could happen to you. So right off the bat, I’m gonna start by saying, There are just places in the world that are just dangerous and nobody, male or female should go there, right?
So there are just places in the world that I personally would never go because I just wouldn’t feel comfortable going there. But that doesn’t matter if I’m a male or a female, like just some places are more dangerous than others. Building on top of that, unfortunately in the world, there are some places that as a female, Maybe their treatment of women isn’t as liberal as it is in the western world or culturally what we’re used to at home.
And so I would also avoid those places as a solo female traveler or just as a female traveler in general. Like I probably wouldn’t even go there with friends. But if you are a grown adult, independent woman taking care of yourself at home, I don’t see any reason why you should be scared or anybody is gonna think it’s any more dangerous for you to do the exact same thing, but on the road or in a different country.
Like it’s just like everywhere else in the world. It’s just like when you’re at home, you have your wits about you. Just like, if I’m in London, I’m not gonna walk down a scary alleyway by myself in the middle of the. And I definitely wouldn’t do that in a foreign country either. Like just use your common sense and like, don’t act any differently abroad than how you would at home.
There’s, you know, what I have found, and this is another philosophical kind of point here, but what I found when I was traveling is that people, human beings are generally good people. They generally want to look after each other. They wanna help each other. They wanna get to know you. They wanna introduce you to their culture and welcome you with open harms.
Obviously you’re gonna run into some assholes, just like you would run into some assholes at home. But generally people are very good. So like I don’t think you should be scared about going to a foreign country just because it’s new, but I know like we as humans, You know, we have this fear of the unknown and I think the thought of something always seems to be a lot scarier than the actual thing itself.
So like I definitely had a fear of going off on my own, not because I like feared for my life or like thought my safety was in question. But you know, it was just like it was a part of the world I’d never been to before. I didn’t know anybody there. I’d never packed, I’d never gone on a trip this long.
But literally, you just have to go. And once I got there, literally all my fears just faded away because I just realized how easy it is to meet other people and make friends. And you’re surrounded by people that wanna experience the same things that you do. They wanna support you, they wanna be your friends, they wanna help you.
So I wasn’t nervous going into this solo, and I don’t think that me being a woman in this part of the world was negative at all. So like I went to Southeast Asia and I never felt like it was more dangerous for me because I was a woman. I felt safe at all times. So I went to places like. Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, like all these different places.
Some places were a bit like crazier than others, like Sri Lanka got a lot of stares, but you know, I wasn’t like, oh gosh, they’re gonna do something like, no, people are just like, we’re just interested because maybe they’ve not seen someone like you before. But yeah, like I didn’t think being a female and doing this solo was anything that should have held me back.
Just as there are things that are different for you because you’re a female at home, that’s exactly the same kind of stuff you’re probably gonna run into abroad and that really shouldn’t stop you from doing this altogether. So another common question that I was getting, and maybe this isn’t like a fear, but it’s just kind of like, An issue that people were pointing out that maybe they weren’t sure like how to solve it.
And there was a few of these actually. So I’ll start with the first one I was getting quite a bit and that was what did you do about health insurance? Because like you weren’t employed, so how did you have health insurance? So for you, lucky Europeans, if you are, you know, thinking of doing this gap year in Europe and your European, you’re obviously covered.
The EU healthcare system. But if you want to go to, say, Southeast Asia, or you’re an American who wants to go to Europe or Southeast Asia and you’re not employed, then you won’t have health insurance through a job. So what I did is I just purchased backpacker insurance, and it doesn’t have to be backpacker, but it was travel insurance that was geared towards.
Long-term multid destination trips. So I don’t think Americans usually buy travel insurance, cuz you’re kind of covered through your health insurance. But travel insurance is a very common thing to buy in the UK and Europe because not only will it cover for emergency healthcare, but it also covers. For travel incidences.
So travel incidences are gonna be things like the airline lost your luggage or your flight was delayed, or there was maybe somebody stole something from you, like there was theft. So I went through this company, I’m not even gonna name the company cause they really messed me around in January. They really pissed me off with something.
I used to really love them. But all you have to do, there’s a million companies out there that. All you have to do is buy long-term multi destination travel insurance. And what I was gonna say before is like most of the time if you buy travel insurance, like just a normal kind, it will limit you. It’ll say like, okay, it’s good for an entire year, but your policy only covers like a trip to like one destination.
That’s up to two weeks long. So if you get the multid destination, long-term travel insurance, that’s gonna cover you like for the entire time that you’re on the road to all of the different destinations that you pick. And like I picked worldwide coverage, but you can pick specific destinations, you can pick for a shorter period of time, a longer period of time, like the world is your oyster.
So that’s what I did for health insurance. So it would cover me for emergency medical healthcare, and it would cover me for travel incidence. The other thing that I was getting quite a bit was like specific questions on things that you just can’t leave behind in your life, or that you think like, oh, but like what would I do about this?
So one that I was seeing was, oh, I have an apartment, or I have a house. Like, how do I leave that behind? Well, you just rented out guys. You know, like if you have a mortgage, Then you’re gonna need to rent. If you can’t like build that into your budget and keep paying that with nobody living in it, you’re gonna need to rent it out to someone and just make sure that the rent covers the mortgage, it covers the bills, and it covers, you know, if you need to hire a management company to.
Take care of things while you’re away. Make sure the rent would cover that as well. Or maybe you have friends or family that could help you out where you’re gone to just kind of look after it. Or maybe you could rent to friends and family at a discount that maybe just covers your bare minimum mortgage, but you know your house is being looked after.
By somebody that you trust. Another thing was like, yeah, but where do I keep my stuff? So like I had a lot of stuff. I had moved over here from the US and I’d accumulated all this stuff and I was like, okay, what do I do with this when I leave? And luckily, my best friend’s family let me keep some of the stuff in their loft while I was away.
And you could also, if you don’t have friends or family where you could leave some of your stuff, you could hire out a storage unit. You can just get like a cheap one, I’m sure. But yeah, there are solutions to things like this. Oh, and another one that I was saying was like, yeah, but I had student loans.
Like, what? You know, what do I do about that? I had student loans too when I was traveling. I just made sure that I factored the expense of this into the budget of like how much I saved so that I could keep covering it while I was. Okay, so that is it for now. That is all I could think of, but I think that’s a pretty exhaustive list.
But if you do think of something else, just shoot me a message on Instagram or you know, TikTok where I’m gonna be at a lot more lately. And you know, I really appreciate it. As always, if you could like or subscribe to whatever platform you’re listening on, and I will speak to you guys.