Quitting your job to travel the world is a romantic ideal, and one that is frequently pondered by almost everyone as they struggle with the morning commute on another wet and miserable Monday morning, but is the reality all it is cracked up to be? Read on to find out what actually happens when you do finally quit and get on that plane!
It makes for the perfect meme doesn’t it? Quit your job and travel the world! How many times have we all heard the mantra, seen the memes on our social media feeds or even wished that we could do it ourselves? How many of you are sat at work right now reading this (then what are you doing, get some work done!) and dreaming of storming up to your bosses office, kicking the door down, slapping him round the face with your resignation letter and storming out of the building triumphantly! Okay, maybe that is a little fanciful, but the end result is the same. You want to drop everything, leave your job behind and follow your dreams of travel!
Well I have done it, numerous times in fact, and it has not only given me a whole different paradigm on life and society but it has also afforded me the experience to be able to tell you what it is actually like, what will actually happen if you really do quit your job to travel. So let me fill you in on a few (sometimes) harsh realities.
Nothing at work will change.
I don’t care how indispensable you think you are, or how much you tell yourself that you just can’t quit because how will they manage without you? Unless you are the managing director of the company (in which case you don’t need to quit you can swan off anytime you like anyway), you aren’t that important, everyone will move on and your workplace will keep chugging along just fine without you.
Quitting will not ruin your career chances or your job prospects.
There is no such thing as a job for life anymore, and it is perfectly acceptable to jump from job to job as it suits you. You just have to make sure you spruce up your CV in the right way to make those gaps when you went travelling look acceptable to future employers (here’s a hint, leave out those full moon parties and endless weeks bumming around tropical islands and lazing in hammocks!) In fact if you do it right, there are many ways in which taking a career break or a gap year can actually help your career prospects.
You will get another job when (if) you return home.
It may or may not be in the same company or position you have at the moment, but at the end of the day does that really matter? Jobs simply are not so scarce that once you have one you have to cling on to it for dear life! If you are a skilled professional, you will always be in demand. If you have a simple minimum wage self stacker job, there will always be other jobs. There are plenty of jobs out there regardless of what skills, training or qualifications you have, and you will find another one when you return. Trust me. In fact your gap year may change you enough that you want to pursue an entirely different career path altogether!
You may not get full support from your colleagues or loved ones.
It’s hard to understand I know, I mean you are doing something awesome right? Following your dreams and travelling the world! That should be something to celebrate!
Unfortunately not everyone will see it the same way you do. Some won’t understand, others won’t really care all that much and some may even be jealous! It’s true, it does happen. The point is the reactions from your friends and colleagues may not be as positive as you think they should be. But it doesn’t matter, if they won’t support what you want to do, do you really care about their opinion anyway? Ditch them and send them a selfie of you in a tropical paradise when they are stuck in work on a Monday morning! (Giving them the finger is optional depending on how nice they were when you left!)
Your relationships will change.
Taking a gap year changes you in so many profound ways that not every relationship survives that. Friends, family, even actual loving relationships can’t always stay the same. It’s a very common thing that experienced travellers deal with all the time. They are the same people they always were, still in the same bubble they lived in when you left. It is you who has changed, you who has had your mind opened and your paradigms shifted. There is a reason why many long term travellers have likeminded friends dotted all over the planet.
Your priorities will shift.
Alongside a complete and sometimes jarring paradigm shift that comes from being exposed to the world and its myriad of cultures, experiences and beliefs, you will also learn to care much less about many of the things society keeps telling you is important.
You will care a lot less about the rat race, about having that rainy day fund (ooh, there’s a great deal on those round the world tickets right now!) and even about work itself. Sure, work is still important of course, everyone needs to do it in order to survive. But guess what? You will learn that work is not the be all and end all of life. As important as it is, you will figure out that your work does not control you, you are not an indentured servant chained to your desk, it is not the all important, all consuming force you thought it was. You will learn that in fact YOU are in charge of your own destiny, that YOU are the one that uses work and your job or career to suit YOUR lifestyle needs, not the other way round.
You’ll find out you are a lot stronger and more independent than you thought.
Taking that leap of faith to quit your job, leave everything safe and secure and run off on a wild adventure is a liberating feeling like nothing else on earth, and you will discover that despite all those doubts and fears that plagued your mind as you planned your trip, you are stronger, more independent and more capable than you ever realised you could be. In short, travelling the world makes you a damn superhero!
Your savings account will not go as far as you think it will.
Travelling the world is definitely not the preserve of the rich and privileged, and it definitely can be done on a budget, but the simple fact of the matter is that it does cost money. Those RTW tickets aren’t cheap, and yes you can save a lot by staying in cheap accommodation or scrimping on those luxuries like eating at nice restaurants or getting a private room once in a while, but all those activities and once in a lifetime experiences that you are actually going travelling for cost money and sometimes quite a lot of it. Budget well, plan well, and make sure you have enough funds to follow through with your dream of quitting your job to travel before you actually do it.
And you will need a back up plan.
As romantic a notion as quitting your job to travel the world is, the reality of this situation is that you will need something to fall back on. You will need to know you will have enough income to cover your trip and ideally some to cover you for a period of time when you return. You will also need to think about your long term plans, as counter intuitive as it may seem to the romantic ideals of throwing off the shackles of the rat race to be free, it isn’t practical to do that without at least thinking of what you will do in the long run. What do you you do when your money runs out? Where do you get more funds from? Even if it is as something as simple as knowing you have a bit of cash to tide you over and pay bills when you return and are waiting to start in a new job. I travel for at least half the year every single year, and I am only able to do that precisely because of the fact I know my qualifications and career as a nurse will keep me financially stable in the months I am home, and will cover my expenses when travelling. Even if you don’t have a professional career, having a long term plan on when and where you will bring in some income will allow you to travel for longer and further in the long run.
But you will know that anything is possible.
Once you have done it, nothing else will ever seem impossible again. There is that old saying that the first step is always the hardest and nothing is truer than when it comes to quitting your job to travel the world. You are leaving everything safe, everything familiar behind to jump into the unknown and have a grand adventure. But once you have done that, once you have taken that first step, nothing will ever be the same again and you will know without doubt or uncertainty that life is what you make of it.