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Chapter 2 - "How on earth do you get a year off ?!"

By Neil

The big comments about the Big Trip so far have been;
"How on earth did you get a year off ?", and
"I'm jealous".

So I thought I'd jot down a few comments about some of the "mechanics" of the trip.

To take any extended break from work, there is, in my view, four major things that need to be considered; desire, dough, work, and family. The stars have got to be aligned for an extended break to happen.


You've got one life and you've got to do what you want to do. Taking time to smell the roses is important. I have a friend whose husband is taking time out to write a book. Good plan. Me, however, I'm a junkie. A travel junkie. Always have been. Always will be. Whether it's busking in the central square in Brussels in 1986 (were perms ever cool ?)

To playing guitar in a mud hut in Cameroon, West Africa to the locals in 1992
To working with the pandas with my sons Alex and Michael in Chengdu in China in 2008.


To taking an expedition ship to Antarctica with Nikki in 2012.
Travel has always been massive part of my life. My friends at work have said to me on numerous occasions,
"You're always on holiday !"
My response is "No, I'm always talking about being on holiday !"

So you've got to really want to take the time out.


Ah yes. The dough side of it all. It's said that Lord Baden Powell picked up the phrase "softly, softly, catcheee monkey" from the Ghanaians in 1896. It means that patience and persistence will win the day.

Obviously, the Big Trip is going to cost a couple of bucks. However, as I said in Chapter 1, the gestation of the trip started in 2009, and it was in about 2011 that we started saving for the trip. A couple of hundred dollars a month over the period of 5 years mounts up. Add into that, some bonuses and things start to look better. Nikki saved up for the trip over the past 5 years.

I have been at AGL, an Australian Utility company for 15 years and, because Australia is a top notch first world country, as well as the 4 weeks holiday/ year, you also get Long Service Leave. This is 3 months paid leave that you are entitled to after between 10 and 15 years. I now have 18 weeks LSL. Once again, because Aussies believe in the work life balance, by law you're allowed to take this at half pay if you want. So, after discussions with AGL, I will be on about half pay for the year.

In addition, we wont be needing the house for a year so it is going to be rented out.

Oh, and I'm a great believer in making sure that there is a heap of "Oh Shit !" money available. Redraw on the house mortgage. Maybe some shares. Funds that are available if the wheels fall off. So we have some of that too. Just in case.....


Australia is a great place to live and, whilst there are a lot of benefits (Long Service Leave, Annual Leave) there is also the "walkabout" attitude that, to our American friends is so foreign. It is almost a right of passage that Aussie youth go walk about for a year or two in their twenties. Nik and I are stretching it a bit. We're not exactly in our twenties.

Also, AGL, and in particular my boss, has been supportive of AGL having flexibility to support the year off.

Corporations worldwide have a culture of almost constant reorganisations, and there are often retrenchments that accompany the reorganisations. One of these occurred for Nikki and my view is that, after 20 years in the workforce, Nikki will upon here return be at arguably, the most employable point in her whole working career !


We love our families. We love our friends. The timing of the Big Trip has been defined by Michael, my youngest son, reaching the end of high school. Alex is at Uni and living in a shared house. Alex and Michael's Mum has also been supportive of the trip.

I have offered Alex and Michael a return flight to anywhere where we are. Yes, I wont be paying for a flight for them to travel to somewhere we're not !

Of course we will miss our friends and family enormously, but we love travel !

57 days until take off.....

Posted by capetocape2017 23:07

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I'm loving the story so far, really great sentiments in this blog ?

by Kirstid

gosh who's that twit on your right in the third pic, he looks like an absolute tosser.

by Hi dad

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