Should you Quit your Job to Travel?

We know what it’s like to read other people’s travel blogs and wonder whether it really is as easy as it seems.

As you scroll through pages of pure wanderlust you see countless stories of faraway places that you could never visit in a lifetime if you had to hold down a full-time job.

The blogger makes it look really easy too. Travelling is second nature to them and so they don’t think to write about the banalities of travel or just how long they spend researching each destination.

You can’t quite grasp the full picture and it makes you even less sure.

And no doubt you have a pretty nice life going on at home. I know we did. That’s why it took us three years to reach the decision to quit out jobs and travel.

But what does life on the other side look like? And was it worth it?

Life after leaving

I won’t lie, our first month on the road was tough. I really missed the routine of going to work every day and found not having a home of our own quite the shock to the system. We’re actually real homebodies and so it took a lot for us to give this up.

I couldn’t sleep at night due to all the worries thrashing about in my head and I couldn’t stop wondering whether we had made the right choice.

We’d given up a lot to travel and the more I thought about it, the worse I felt.

I really started to think about the people we would be leaving behind too and when we returned home briefly only one month into our travels to spend Christmas with our family, I became convinced we’d made the wrong decision.

On the back of a less than ideal trip to Finland where I fell ill and we just didn’t connect with the country at all being home felt amazing and it was a real struggle to leave again.

For the first time ever I actually felt sick on the way to the airport. In fact on the long flight over to our next destination, Thailand, I began to panic and briefly thought I’d need to ask the pilot to stop the plane – I needed to get off!

It gets better

Going through emotional turmoil is all part of the journey and it’s a step that you won’t be able to skip but it doesn’t last very long.

Within about two days of arriving in Chiang Mai we realised that quitting our jobs to travel was the BEST decision we’d ever made.

Every single day is a surprise to us. There are no boring routines, no stressful jobs and no mundane domestic issues to contend with. Not having a house to run feels amazing. Our biggest worry of any day is what we’re going to eat for dinner.

We meet new and interesting people all the time and always when we least expect it. We’ve seen tons of things we could only dream about from England and there is still so much more for us to explore.

And it’s not hard. The bloggers make it look easy because it is easy. The toughest part is finding good accommodation for the right price, getting the right visa and deciding on the best transportation to get you to your next place.

Beyond that… it’s all pretty fun.

Everything else your feeling is just fear but that reduces with every day you survive, every day you thrive in a new country.

You will change

One of the things that bothered me most before we left was not knowing how we would cope on the road. We’re living out of a backpack in countries that are completely foreign to us and on paper that really doesn’t sound too good.

Plus we’re not students. We’re not even young. We may be in our twenties but after living in our own house for almost 10 years and holding down big jobs, we’re much older than our ages suggest. We definitely can’t cope in hostel dorm rooms and we’re not even sure we want to take an overnight bus.

But actually we’re travelling in our own way, in a way that is comfortable for us and we’re still spending less than £1,000 per month.

We’re not sharing bunk beds with other travellers or getting the 2am flight just because it was £10 cheaper than leaving at a reasonable time. We’re making our own rules and finding that it’s still possible to travel cheaply even with those little luxuries.

It’s definitely not what we’re used to and we’ve had to adjust our standards but you’ll find that it happens naturally, that you actually enjoy living like a local and you really don’t need anything that’s not in your backpack.

Life is so much simpler.

You don’t need to give everything up

Sometimes we make it look like you need to completely drop your whole life to travel. Our bad.

We did sell everything we owned to become nomads but that doesn’t mean you have to. In fact lots of people who want to try out long-term travel will secure their old life before dipping their toes into the water of long-term travel and that’s a pretty sensible thing to do if you’re not sure that this life is for you. Rent out your home, ask your boss for a sabbatical or written agreement that you can return to your job, put your things in storage and leave your pet with  a friend temporarily.

You don’t have to turn your back on your old life.

The way we did things is a little more final but that was more due to our personal circumstances. Our home was holding a lot of equity that we wanted to withdraw to fund our trip. Our rental property was a time stealing bandit which would have been difficult to manage from the road and our jobs couldn’t wait for us.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t go back. It just means that when we do we’ll get to set up a whole new (simpler) life with less material items to weigh us down.

Should you do it?

I’m a bit biased and I think everyone should quit their job to travel. But I also think it’s important to do it at the right time.

In the three years it took us to reach a decision we got ourselves prepared for the trip and this is essential. Before you take the plunge ask yourself the following:

  1. Can I afford to travel?

    If you are drowning in debt or have no savings then you shouldn’t travel. It is possible to make money on the road and plenty of people do take this risk but if you want to guarantee that you won’t fall on your face in the first few months, you should make sure you have enough money to support yourself.As a rule of thumb with insurance, jabs, your initial international flight and your budget for the year, I would suggest saving a minimum of £8,000 per person. But don’t forget to keep some money aside for when you return home. Unless you have a job to walk back into, you’ll need some money to keep you going for a while.
  2. Do I want to travel?

    Sounds simple. Surely you know whether you want to travel or not. But it’s probable that you don’t.If you’ve always gone on all inclusive holidays or stayed in luxury hotels, you haven’t travelled. It’s not the same. You need to realise that travelling isn’t one constant holiday (though sometimes it feels like it). You will still be living your life but just not in one place and not at home. You need to be prepared to muck in and think on your feet. Where will you buy your food? How do you do your washing? How will you make money? What if you need medical care?There won’t be a holiday rep available to give you all the answers.That’s kind of the point. But if you don’t like the sound of it, you don’t want to travel – you want to go on holiday.
  3. Is now the right time?

    Part of the reason we postponed our trip for three years was because we were both doing so well in our careers. If we had left way back then we would never have known what our potential was and we’d have always wondered what might have been. Instead we reached our career peaks, earned loads of money and used that to travel.

We can’t tell you whether doing what we do is right for you, but we can tell you that life on the other side is pretty good and if you want it badly enough, you’ll love it just as much as we do.

Do you have any questions about life after leaving? Leave a comment below or send us an e-mail, we’d love to help!

Comments 8

  1. Ryan Biddulph 19th March 2015
    • Claire Michael 20th March 2015
  2. Kelly 19th March 2015
    • Claire Michael 20th March 2015
  3. Sigurdur Bjorgvinsson @theRedHeadExplorer 29th March 2015
    • Claire Michael 2nd April 2015
  4. Allison 17th April 2015
    • Claire Michael 17th April 2015

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge