Grown-up Gappers

Why should youngsters have all the fun? After all, more and more over-50s in Britain are taking time out from their everyday lives.

Trevor Sullivan, 61, took a career break to fly round the world with his wife Glynis.

Trevor and Glynis Sullivan, Grown-up Gappers

young at heart

Trevor, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, was 56 when he opted to take a break from his 24-year career as a town planner for Sheffield Council. “Glynis and I always planned to travel when we retired,” he explains. “But after three friends became very ill, we realised we weren’t as young as we felt. We decided to take a big trip while we were in good health. Glynis had already retired from her job as a public transport advisor, and it felt like the right time to do something for ourselves.”

their odyssey

Trevor’s grown-up children from his previous marriage gave their blessing and his supportive employers agreed to keep his job open for three months. So, in November 2010, the Sullivans boarded a London to San Francisco flight for the first leg of their round-the-world odyssey.

Although their trip was packed with world-famous sights, including San Franscisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Cambodia’s “awesome” temples, the couple soon discovered that some of the best moments come out of the blue—literally.

“I had a condor tattooed on my right shoulder four years ago because they’re an endangered species,” Trevor remembers. “I never thought I’d see one, but when we were driving down Big Sur in California we spotted not one but three of them, soaring on the up currents!” In his photos, though, the magnificent birds are mere dots. “There were many times when no photograph could capture what we were experiencing,” he says. “It was the same when we saw the fireworks at Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year’s Eve. I practised really absorbing what was around me, taking things in with my eyes and living in the moment instead.”

From America, the Sullivans moved on to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Cambodia. “It was so liberating to live out of a suitcase and leave responsibilities and possessions behind,” says Trevor. “And sharing so many experiences made Glynis and I even closer.”

out of control

Of course, things didn’t always go to plan. Flooding in Brisbane bought such chaos that they had to fly straight out without seeing their old friends. And Trevor had terrible seasickness when they went whale watching one windy evening in New Zealand. But his abiding memory? “It was absolutely magical to see the whales and albatrosses,” he beams.

Time out helped them appreciate their lives more too. “Travelling opens your eyes,” explains Trevor. “We saw people in Cambodia living in abject poverty. Some had lost limbs to landmines. If we feel like complaining now, we remind ourselves how lucky we are.”

Re-evaluating things

Back at work, Trevor found his priorities had changed for good. Last summer, he cut his job down to three days a week and the couple have since travelled to Brazil, Jerusalem, New England and cruised the Rhine.

While some people float through life, waiting for something to happen, Glynis and Trevor are big believers in being proactive. “Life is very short,” says Glynis. “So if there’s something you want to do, do it now!”

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