By Hillary Hoffower
For many, the transition into adulthood goes something like this: Attend college for four years, graduate, get a corporate job, save money to buy a house, buy said house.
For Dinah Chutz, a 24-year-old who recently embarked on a mini-retirement, it was a little different.
Chutz went to college and landed a full-time corporate job in San Diego, but decided to save her money to take a hiatus from work and travel. Roughly seven months and $14,000 later, during which she worked overtime at her job and hustled through various freelance gigs, she left it all behind.
She and her partner Josh packed their bags with one-way tickets to New Zealand in hand and their sights set on traveling for 12 to 18 months. And instead of a house, she bought a traveling van that she calls her home.
“As we grow up, we are always thinking about what’s next and we end up rushing through life without stopping to really enjoy it,” Chutz told Business Insider. “My mini-retirement is about slowing down, experiencing the world, getting to know myself, and finding what I love while I’m still young.”
“The more I think about it, the stranger the notion of working your whole life to then retire once you have numerous obligations becomes,” she added. “In my opinion, taking this time off now has only better situated me for my future. I had a taste of the corporate lifestyle, enjoyed those challenges, and then found a way to pursue another dream of mine before feeling ready to set down roots.”
For more than seven months Chutz and Josh have been on the road in New Zealand. Their days are spent discovering hidden beaches, browsing local farmers markets, diving for abalone, making jewelry, playing chess, and photographing the sunset. She records it all in her blog, The Mini Retirement. They plan to take their retirement back through Asia and onto India towards the end of the year.
To help fund her nomadic lifestyle, Chutz has taken on a remote freelance role with the same company she worked for back in the US and picked up side jobs, such as nannying for local families.
“Taking this time to relax and clear my mind after rushing through college while working several jobs to then immediately join the workforce has been extremely rewarding and even more productive,” Chutz said of her mini-retirement.
“Spending time away from the hustle and bustle of life, especially in a place like this, has made every creative bone in my body happy,” she wrote in her most recent blog post. “I am learning to let go and enjoy every moment. I am beginning to understand the value of staying in the present each and every day. I am telling myself to take more chances and expanding my interests.”
Once her travels end, Chutz plans on returning to San Diego and channeling all of this creative energy back into her work.
She likened her journey to a pair of sunglasses — the frame as her life and the lenses as her experiences, each set of sunglasses a different shade affecting how she sees the world.
As she wrote, “I don’t know what the key to happiness is, but I’m pretty sure you can find it living in a van.”
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Originally published on businessinsider.com