Gap Year Diaries: A year of adjustment between work and retirement

In late 2015 it became apparent that my husband, Tom, (then aged 62) could not continue working. He had spent over 30 years building a business but he had been doing far too much for far too long.

Something had to give. We had secured a buyer for the business but the long held plan of Tom staying on with the new owners (he had no plans to retire — ever!) to service the clients and the business he had lived for was just not going to happen.

If he wanted to walk our daughter down the aisle in the first days of the new year and if he wanted to watch our young grandson Thomas  grow, he had to walk away. There was simply no other choice.

Gap Year Diaries - Retirement Travel

In those dark days our daughter provided a light. She was busy planning a wedding and a honeymoon and she included her Dad in the preparations. Just by asking him for an opinion on this or that, she made him feel valued and part of the process. This helped enormously with the massive adjustment he was going thru.

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The honeymoon destination was New York and cruising to the Caribbean. Ever the organiser, she spent hours researching flights, accommodation and cruises. At some point she pointed out the latest plan and said to her Dad, “What do you think of this?”

Tom looked it over and said, “You know, Mum and I haven’t been to New York, mind if we come too?”

Gap Year Diaries - Retirement Travel

That question set in motion what became our gap year — a year of adjustment between work and retirement.

Of course the groom needed to be consulted. Fortunately, he had no objections. We set some ground rules, such as we would share flights but not hotels and would each do our own thing but meet up now and again.

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It became a win-win situation. Our daughter was concerned about her Dad’s health and it gave Tom something to focus on, something to plan for when his world of work had just crumbled around him.

Gap Year Diaries - Retirement Travel

Flights, transfers, accommodation and cruises for two became bookings for four.

The wedding was a great success. Tom proudly walked our daughter down the aisle and gave a great speech, too. No small feat given the turmoil he had been through.

So we left Perth in mid January in 39-degree heat and arrived in New York some 28 hours later to temperatures below zero, with cooler weather to come.

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We spent the first days completely agog. We found our way around easily by foot and using the hop-on, hop-off bus. Familiar scenes from movies and television materialised before our eyes. We visited Ground Zero, The Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, Fifth Avenue and more.

Through Facebook we found friends from Perth, who had relocated back to Victoria a few years previously. They just happened to be holidaying in New York at the same time! The last time we caught up we had been sipping bubbles and overlooking sunset at Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth, and now we were drinking wine in an Irish Bar on Lexington Avenue talking about the possibility of snow. And New York was about to give us a real snow show.

Stay tuned for more from Dianne Heels as she shares her gap year adventures. Have you been on your own gap year holiday? Let us know all about it in the comments section below. 

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