Friends thought Auckland single mum Rebekah Tyler was crazy when she told them she was selling her house and quitting her job to take her children around the world.
Six years ago, deciding to embark on an OE with toddler Jack and 10-year-old son Marco in tow hardly seemed like good timing, but for Rebekah – who was fed up with juggling work and family – it couldn’t have worked out better.
“I was sick of my life, being a single mum and doing the same repetitive routine, day after day. It was relentless and I wanted a change.”
The death of her beloved grandmother – who raised her from the age of four – was the catalyst for Rebekah, pushing her to break out of her shell.
“I was grief-stricken after she died and just thought, ‘What’s keeping me here?’
“I wanted an adventure, so I quit my job (I was working as a teacher), sold my house and bought a round-the-world ticket. It certainly beat being
at home and feeling sorry for myself,” she explains.
Travelling for eight months through countries such as Canada, England, France, Spain, Italy and Vietnam, Rebekah (46) says in some respects being single meant she and her sons had a better time on their trip than if she’d had a partner.
“People all round the world just opened their arms and welcomed us into their lives.
“I think because I was a single mum and didn’t have that traditional family unit, people felt sorry for me.
“They would come up and help me lift luggage, and next thing I knew they would be inviting me to dinner.
“I don’t think I could have done it without Marco – he’s a strong boy and would lift my suitcases.”
But there were definitely logistical problems, such as where to change nappies – as well as trying to keep a toddler quiet in hotels.
“But, for the most part, I had a rich experience,” she adds.
Single for most of her life, Rebekah separated from her now 16-year-old son Marco’s father when he was two. Six years later, she met the father
of her youngest son Jack (now 8).
“We met in the car park of a supermarket – like you do.
He professed his love to me, but the day I told him I was pregnant [with Jack] was the last time I saw him,” she says.
Like Jack, Rebekah hasn’t met her own father, but believes he may be Spanish – which is why Spain was one of the countries she wanted to experience.
“I knew I wouldn’t find him on that trip, but I wanted to feel what it would be like to be in that country. I do dream about him owning a beautiful villa.”
Many people thought that Rebekah could only afford the trip because she had inherited her Devonport house from her grandmother, but she says this
is far from the truth.
“We never owned a house, never owned a car and never had a telephone,” she says.
“From an early age I knew if I wanted anything in life, I had to make it happen.”
Rebekah had actually bought the North Shore property using money saved from her job as an Air New Zealand flight attendant.
“A lot of people around me were spending cash and shopping at exotic places.
“But I ate McDonald’s, brought money home and paid off my mortgage by about 30.”
After selling the house, Rebekah also had enough money to invest in two units, which she rented out during her big trip.
Since returning to New Zealand, Rebekah decided that some of her hair-raising adventures would make a great book.
She’s now in the process of publishing her manuscript, Full Tilt, through Kickstarter – a website that funds creative ideas through financial pledges from the public.
Rebekah has reached her goal of raising $10,000 thanks to presales of her book, which is due for release in September.
She has never counted the financial cost of her trip, and says the hardest part of it all was the return home.
“I was seriously depressed,” Rebekah admits.
“It was like nothing had changed, but writing my book saved me because it gave me a purpose, and through it I’ve also met so many amazing people.
“A lot of my friends said you must be mad when I told them I was leaving, and I’ve written the book in part to prove those people wrong – I wasn’t mad and
I highly recommend this journey to others.”
Photos: Chris Loufte
For presales, visit kickstarter.com and search “Full Tilt”.