Meetup in Chiang Mai, Thailand
In 2015, I met Stephanie in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the time Stephanie was on her adult gap year. We went out to dinner and ate Thai food. As we were preparing to go home a young man by the name of Binky from Chicago stopped in front of us on his moped. He invited us to an open mic night that he was performing at.
As the night was coming to a close Binky took us outside and said, “I want to show you something”. We went outside looking for something spectacular but he simply pointed and said, “This is what I want to show you”. He wanted to show us the city of Chiang Mai. He said, “I am a black man from Chicago living in Thailand and this is life”. He informed us that he came for vacation and never left. Once he decided that he was going to stay in Thailand, he found a job teaching English and shares a house with a friend. I was so happy that we met Binky on the street corner in Chiang Mai. Binky taught me that sometimes you may not have a plan or have it all figured out but you have to take a chance on life and see what happens. “Take a leap even when you can’t see the whole staircase” It may just work itself out.
I met Stephanie during her gap year. Meeting these two people showed me that I can absolutely live the life I want as it relates to traveling. At the time I met Stephanie she was not blogging and neither was I. So it’s super cool that we are now both travel influencers and content creators.
Check out, in-depth interview with Steph about an adult gap year, pet sitting and house sitting.
Interview with Stephanie Perry
Tiffany: What is an adult gap year? What was the deciding factor in your decision to take a year off?
Stephanie: When I was 41, I quit my hospital pharmacy tech job to take a gap year. A gap year is just a break from school and work, it usually allows you the opportunity to travel for an extensive amount of time. You can call it a career break or a sabbatical if that makes you feel more grown-up. Most of the time, people think only students take a gap year before or after college, but adults totally need them too!
Tiffany: What motivated you to try an adult gap-year?
I felt like I worked so I could afford to travel, but I’ve always had jobs that practically made me jump through hoops to get my vacation days approved. I usually had to book my flight and then pray that my job would approve all my days off. And of course, they would not.
As a result, I decided to take a whole year off. I wanted to travel to the places that I had saved on my screen saver, and see them for myself.
Tiffany: How would someone know if they are ready to take that leap of faith and try adult gap year?
Stephanie: Take my quiz “Could You Quit Your Job To Travel For A Year” and see if this is something you could do for yourself in the near future.
Stephanie: What was your budget and how did you determine how much you needed for the entire year?
Stephanie: I visited 12 countries in 12 months. I spent $14,000 USD in total, so that was $1200 per month or $40 per day.
Since I was headed to SE Asia, I knew that my budget would be enough as long as I planned my schedule and didn’t go overboard with shopping. $40 per day is a pretty common figure that budget travelers aim for. You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner for $10 a day.
Tiffany: What countries are best for traveling economically?
Stephanie: SE Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philipines are really budget-friendly. In Central and South America visit Colombia and Ecuador to stretch your money. In addition, Mexico is a great place to travel for cheap.
Parts of Europe are relatively cheap too. I have a list of 50 Cities Where You Can Airbnb for $500 Per Month that covers most of the cheapest countries to visit.
Tiffany: Have you gone outside your budget for incidentals? if so what did you do?
Stephanie: Even with all the research I did, I still had some surprises pop up. After I accidentally drowned my iPhone in the Philippines I had to purchase a new one.
At the last minute, I flew to Australia from Cambodia to get a break from the heat and humidity. So I had to rearrange my budget. I decided to volunteer in exchange for free room and board through WorkAway while I was in Australia. That was the only way I could afford to spend time there because Australia is EXPENSIVE.
In order to avoid coming back home early, I decided to cut back on some excursions but refused to give up my gelato obsession. Although I had minor setbacks, there weren’t any major money emergencies.
Tiffany: If someone is interested in house/ pet sitting, what websites or apps should they use?
Stephanie: If I knew then what I know now, I would have been able to stretch my $14,000 a lot further.
As a house sitter, I get free accommodation when I travel. TrustedHousesitters, is a worldwide site where people look for house sitters and pet sitters. Due to the fact that I am not authorized to work in other countries, I do not get paid for any house sits that I book through the company. If you have never house sat before, Trusted Housesitters is a great way to earn word-of-mouth recommendations.
While in the United States, I use Rover.com. Rover is an app where pet owners put in requests for people to pet sit or walk their dogs for money. This app is great because I am paid to pet sit.
I talk all about the pros and cons of each site and how to get started house sitting in my video Get Paid To House Sit.
Tiffany: When you are traveling what types of accommodations do you usually stay in? Many people over 40 think they are too old to stay in hostels, what advice would you provide to someone who thinks that?
Stephanie: Like I said, I was 41 when I started on my gap year, and since I could only spend $40/day, I stayed in a lot of hostels.
In SE Asia, I spent somewhere around $16 per night on accommodation by staying in a dorm room, but modern hostels are pretty comfortable today. They really cater to digital nomads who need strong wifi and a more relaxed vibe as opposed to a party atmosphere.
For travelers from other parts of the world, staying in hostels isn’t just seen as something young people do, so I never stood out as the oldest person or the only fat person. Check out my video on staying in Hostels over the age of 30 years old.
Tiffany: Feel free to discuss positive and negative experiences while traveling solo.
Stephanie: The most surprising thing about traveling solo for a year is that I made so many new friends. I met other travelers from all over the world, including my own backyard. The local people in most places were very friendly and welcoming.
I never felt like I was being mistreated because I’m black or a woman traveling solo. If anything, people went out of their way to help me. One time a woman in the bus station waited with me to make sure I got on the right bus. People even invited me to dinner with them more than a couple of times.
Tiffany: Please tell us about any upcoming travel or projects you are working on.
Stephanie: I will be a panel speaker at Audacity Fest in Memphis Tennessee. Audacity fest is a conference that will be discussing all things travel and the best part is panelist will be people of color. If you would like to go please check out the website and clear your schedule and plan to attend September 28-29, 2019.
In addition, I will be launching an online course called Luxury For Free. Please be on the lookout for the release date! Coming to a computer near you.
Tiffany: If people want to reach out to you, how can they contact you?
Youtube: If you’re interested in taking a year off to travel, come check out my YouTube channel and get info on how to do it without a trust fund.
Tiffany: Thank you for allowing me to interview you. As a budget traveler, I always look for ways to make my trips cost-effective. I think house and pet sitting are great ways to save money while traveling. I also commend you for pursuing your dreams and taking an adult gap year. I think reclaiming your time and investing in self-care is important.
Would you be interested in taking an adult gap year or house or pet sitting?
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