Earlier this week Milo and I skyped to buy his plane ticket to Istanbul and we couldn’t think of a better time to begin documenting our adventure…
Who We Are
We’re Jeremy and Milo from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we’ll both be graduating high school in early June. Rather than immediately continuing on to college, we’ve decided to take a breath of fresh air from the thirteen years of formal education we’ve nearly finished to do something entirely different.
Although Milo and I only met a year ago, we instantly connected. While he was lucky enough to have studied abroad in Germany during his sophomore year, I was lucky enough to have very laid-back parents who allowed me to join my brother exploring new places throughout high school.
Speaking of my brother, he’s a part of this adventure too and he’s just graduated college! Prior to Milo and my trip, Jonas and I will be flying from New York City to Berlin on June 16th to spend the summer backpacking from Berlin to Athens. We decided what better way to celebrate us both graduating than spending a bit of our hard earned cash on what we know will be a priceless, shared experience. We’re starting in Berlin not only because we were able to find very inexpensive tickets, but also because we’ve got tickets to this year’s Fusion Festival, Europe’s equivalent to Burning Man.
What We’re Doing
As summer comes to a close, Milo will be leaving the United States to fly to Kiev. After two days exploring the city, he’ll be flying to Turkey to meet up with Jonas and me in Istanbul. Once we’ve all arrived, Jonas and I will part ways and Milo and I will begin our gap year as Jonas will begin his. The following ten months all three of us will be traveling in Africa, Asia, and Europe, Jonas independently, and Milo and I together.
At first traveling for a straight twelve months sounds like it’d break the bank, but in reality it doesn’t have to. Besides all three of us saving money from working one, two, three, or even four simultaneous jobs the past few years, we’re traveling with a twist to budget our money.
While there are endless opportunities that already exist for those interested in taking a gap year, we felt that most were either too expensive or too restrictive. And with the new, exciting independence that comes with turning 18 (or 22 if you’re Jonas), what better way to celebrate than creating our own plans for the next year?
After spending hours researching all of our options, we discovered work exchanges where we barter our time and skills for food and a place to sleep. Exchanges like this exist in almost every country.
WWOOFing was one of the original websites dedicated to pairing people like us with hosts around the world to work for. But since WWOOFing caters specifically to those interested in organic farming, we sought out alternatives, leading us to Workaway and HelpX. Both of these websites have similar concepts to WWOOFing, except they aren’t just restricted to farming. This means that we can work jobs at backpacking hostels, curating art galleries, babysitting tri-lingual kids, teaching at Montessori schools, and every other odd job in between. When else in our lives are we going to get the chance to help a felt hat maker make hats while living in Istanbul (Milo and my first work exchange)?
Not only does traveling through work exchanges mean that we’ll be able to choose the countries we’ll be spending time in, but it also gives us the opportunity to learn about local culture, develop new interests, uncover our dislikes, explore new places, try local cuisine, and best of all, travel long-term inexpensively. Living and working in this manner, we’ll skip the side of each country specifically marketed to tourists and instead experience life as a local. In the words of another HelpX-er, “[It] often felt like we lived in Europe rather than traveled in it. Our time in Europe was less about capital cities and sightseeing; and more about long scenic walks, and home-cooked dinners with our host families.”
Sounds too good to be true? We’ll be able to tell you for sure in a few months time, but from all of the research we’ve done, we’re convinced it’s exactly what we’re looking for and we’re very eager to go put it to the test!
In the months following this post, all three of us hope to populate this blog with stories, sights, and thoughts from places afar. We encourage you to follow along with us by adding your emailing address to our mailing list.
You’ll be hearing from us soon!