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North Carolina Teen Goes On The Ultimate Gap Year Trip

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DNU joe baker gap year

Instead of heading directly to college after high school graduation, Joe Baker and Reade Paterno of Chapel Hill, NC decided to take a "gap year" and travel the world.

Read about Joe's decision to take a gap year >>

They waited tables for more than a year to raise funds for the nine-month trip, which took them to 11 countries across three continents. Baker saved around $9,000 before leaving; his grandfather donated another $8,000.

While they didn't nail down many specifics beforehand, the pair bought several major flights ahead of time. They tried to stick to a strict budget, at times eating only bread and eggs to conserve funds. Baker said he ran out of cash just a day or two before his family met him in Spain for the last leg of his journey.

Baker shared some photos highlighting the best moments of his travels, which he explains here in his own words. Click through to see what his gap year was like.

Click here to see the highlights of Joe's gap year >

Have an amazing travel story and photos to share? Send an email to thelife@businessinsider.com and we could feature your adventure next.

This is Reade and me at the very beginning of the trip as we were just figuring everything out. We decided that we wanted to get at least one souvenir from each country, so in Peru we could not resist the Bill Cosby-esque sweaters made from baby alpaca wool.



This is the beautiful view we had from our hostel room, overlooking the city of Cusco as the sun went down with the mountains in the background.



These baby alpacas are just as soft as the wool they provided for our sweaters. Groups of women would wander the city with their herds of alpacas and for a small price allow travelers to take a photo with them.



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