To give you a better idea of the different kinds of gap year experiences, we are continuing our “Gap Year Experience” guest post series. First to share their gap year experience was Danny Magerman, who traveled to Israel to participate in Kivunim after high school. Now Kellie Mogg of The Wandering Movement, is here to share stories from her gap year experience, including touring music festivals in the United States while working on a food truck and spending a few months traveling Thailand.
Who is Kellie Mogg?
Hello all! My name is Kellie Mogg. My upbringing was in a smallish town in the middle of Oklahoma. During high school and college I would travel here and there mostly visiting my older sister wherever she was in the country.
Once I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Environmental Studies, I was on a plane a week later to go help out on her food truck on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
I lived in Hawaii for one year working on the food truck and eating copious amounts of fresh fish and giant buttery avocados. My body was happy and I was ready for adventures. After swimming with wild dolphins and stargazing from the top of Mauna Kea, I had been fully submerged into the realm of understanding that I can do anything and that everything is a possibility.
Me enjoying the view just after sunrise near Green Sands Beach on the Big Island
Peace Love Tacos
Starting in May of 2014, I began to seize opportunities as they came my way, resulting in an 18 month ‘gap year’ of flowing from one adventure to the next with beautiful synchronicity. I had no long term plan but I had saved up a little money and bought a one way ticket back to the mainland.
I was going to volunteer on the Peace Love Tacos food truck at Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois in exchange for my festival ticket, food for the weekend, and joining a group of people I now consider my family.
I flew in with just a backpack and no real expectations of what was about to happen. I did have thoughts of making it to Canada after doing a couple music festivals, though.
However, after falling in love with the crew at Summer Camp and then seeing Elton John, Umphrey’s McGee, Die Antwoord, and Greensky Bluegrass at Bonnaroo in Tennessee, I decided to do one more festival which took me to Dover, Delaware for Firefly Music Festival to see Outkast, Childish Gambino and Ziggy Marley. Then a spot happened to open up for Electric Forest in Michigan where I saw The String Cheese Incident for the first time.
The Peace Love Tacos crew from Electric Forest 2014
Each festival brought in some new volunteers to the truck and I just watched as our taco family grew to reach every corner of the country. Young people of all different backgrounds with a variety of tastes in music all unified by open minds and hearts. That can’t stop, won’t stop state of mind was something special that fueled all of us in the direction of our specific passions while we created something beautiful together.
Cooking forty pounds of chicken in the hot hot heat at Coachella Music Festival
I dismissed my ideas of plans and fully committed to this gypsy lifestyle, and I never did actually make it to Canada.
Winter in Thailand
I danced and slung tacos at twelve music festivals that summer. During the last half of them I began to get paid for my time and come October I had enough saved up to go to Thailand.
By mid-November, I had made my way to Pai, a small town nestled in the foothills of Northern Thailand. I fell in love with the countryside, the artsy night market, and the simplicity of everyday life there and decided to stay for nearly a month.
A photo I took during a scooter ride through the countryside of Pai
On my way south, I stopped at a farm called Mindful Farm for about 9 days. The premise of this farm involved backpackers paying a small fee (about 6 USD) in addition to about 3 hours of work per day on the farm in exchange for a room, lavish amounts of vegan food that all came from the farm, daily yoga, evening group meditation with the farmer who was an ex-monk, and an amazing community of like minded travelers from all over the world. To hear more about Mindful Farm, check out this post on my blog.
The view from our climbing spot in Tonsai
After celebrating the holidays in Tonsai with climbing and kayaking, we brought in the New Year on the beach in Koh Lanta. Then, I spent a month doing yoga and cruising the island of Koh Phangan before festival season started again. Our first festival was Coachella in California where my main travelmate and I bought Betsy, the Ford Econoline van we cruised the country in all summer.
Now, I settle and reflect on the past couple years to determine the ways in which I am going to pursue a location independent career that would be able to fuel my passions for travel, sustainability, writing, and freeing oneself from preconceived notions of what one should do in life.
Time and time again, people ask me who funded my travels. I feel like a lot of people don’t recognize the possibilities of work trades and volunteer opportunities that are both enriching and help in assisting affordable travels through cutting out the costs of food and/or a place to stay while also giving back to the communities that we are leaving our footprints on.
Currently, I’m working on a pilot project where I will travel with volunteer tourism and work trade as the overall theme. The eventual goal would be to create a more thorough guide to traveling in this way for young backpackers while also creating a network for organizations that offer such opportunities.
Me after a very liberating day of riding ATVs in Moab, Utah
After letting go of the control that I thought I had over my life, I was really able to find my purpose and drive which happens to be inspiring conscious, authentic travel.
Did you take your own gap year? If so let us know about your gap year experience in the comment section below