Flashback to 2014: I was fresh out of university working in a 9-5 job that I grew to majorly dislike.
I was on a temporary contract and the company was restructuring. My incredible boss had just been made redundant after over a decade of loyal service.
And I’d had enough of giving my all to a business where my hard work went unappreciated and my future was uncertain.
To put it plainly: I wanted out.
I was sad to leave the friends I’d made in the office, for sure. But my Grandad had just passed away and I was living three hours away from my home town. And it all became a bit too much.
Therefore, I decided to fulfil a life-long dream. I decided to quit working and travel the world.
Flash forward to 2016: I was a few years out of university in a 9-5 job that was in a completely different field to anything I’d done before. And it didn’t utilise my passion for writing in any way.
One of my bosses was a bully, the other one turned a blind eye and I was constantly getting ill from the stress of working in a toxic environment.
Again, I wanted out.
Therefore, I decided to inject joy back into my life more once. I decided to take a year off to travel the world again.
Given that I was only 25 the second time around, making the decision to pack up and leave again for an infinite amount of months was a huge risk. Heck, it was a huge risk the first time around, when I’d barely even started climbing the career ladder.
Would the gaps in my CV be an issue for future employers? Could I be jeopardising my career at such a young age? Am I ever going to work again?
Even though I constantly had a steady stream of doubts, I chose not to focus on the risks. Instead, I chose to focus on the amazing benefits.
You see, my two backpacking periods are some of the best times of my life so far.
Not only does travelling shape you into a better version of yourself, I believe, but it also provides you with the tools you need to become a stronger candidate for future job opportunities.
(“Life skills,” if you will.)
As corny as it sounds, here’s how I quit my job to travel the world (twice!) and changed my life forever.
Let me break it down for you.
How I quit my job to travel the world 101: before I even left the country, I couldn’t just leave my job on impulse one week and then book a flight to Southeast Asia the next.
Kudos to those people who can live life on the edge like that, but I’m far too sensible for it.
No, I thought long and hard about such a big decision (both times). I had to weigh up the pros and cons. And I had to think about the consequences of coming back home at the end with little or no money.
It wasn’t an overnight decision, that’s for sure. I went backwards and forwards for months to make sure it was the right move for me and whether it tied in with my whole life plan.
Becoming a full-time traveller is something that you have to work towards because you need a lot of money behind you to be able to do it.
From my experiences of doing it twice in my twenties, I think it’s best to have an “end date” in mind when it comes to quitting your job to travel. You should also have an ideal date in mind to start your adventures.
Personally, I always worked several months ahead so I had the time to save and prepare accordingly.
It’s so important to get as much information as possible from friends, family members or acquaintances that have already had similar experiences. I spoke to as many people as I could and asked loads of questions.
The idea was to give myself more of a picture of what full-time travelling would be like.
To be honest, I was probably irritating AF at times. But most people are only too happy to talk to you as it means they get to relive some of the best memories they have.
I mean, it’s human nature to want to help other people, after all.
Even though it was a super scary thought, I knew I needed to be in a semi-decent financial position to just take off around the world for multiple months at a time.
I mean, I didn’t want to have to rely on anyone to bail me out if the money suddenly ran out.
Therefore, I started cutting down my expenses at least six months to a year before I even stepped foot on my first plane.
I stopped grabbing a cheeky coffee on the way to work. I prepared lunch instead of buying it. And I cut down on buying clothes every month when I already had a full wardrobe.
It’s amazing how little things can add up at the end of every month, so I had to be super strict with myself.
Was it challenging? Of course. But I always pictured my end goal, being on a beautiful beach somewhere exotic on the other side of the globe, having ultimate freedom and living an extraordinary life. And it made all the hardship so much easier.
Just before my first backpacking trip in 2014, I worked out pretty early on that continuing to rent my flat in Milton Keynes just wasn’t going to work. Especially if I wanted to save the maximum amount of money.
For that reason, I made the incredibly tough decision to move back in with my parents.
Having lived away from home at university and then in Milton Keynes for a year and a half, it was difficult to get my head around the thought of losing my independence initially.
That said, it made complete sense in the long run.
Why? Well, I could eliminate renting commitments and ultimately save more money.
I’ve actually been at home ever since and use it as a base in between travel trips. And it’s honestly the only way I’ve been able to afford to do all the wonderful things I’ve done in the last four and a half years.
Parents, I’ll be eternally grateful for your hospitality!
Even if you’re unable to move home, it’s still possible to save a nice pot of travel money. It might just take a little longer for you as you’ll have a higher amount of expenses.
By “a nice pot of money,” I’m talking thousands.
To tell you the truth, there’s no way I would’ve began either of my journeys if I hadn’t saved at least £5,000. In actual fact, the real amounts that I left home with were closer to £10,000.
I was told by other people who had done it before me to save around £1,000 for every month I planned to travel.
If I was travelling to cheaper countries (for example, Indonesia or Vietnam), I was told I wouldn’t spend this allocated amount per month. However, if I was travelling to more expensive countries (like Australia or New Zealand), I was likely to spend over this allocated amount.
Consequently, it would all balance itself out. And to be honest, this advice was spot-on.
In addition to listening to those people who had already done it, I did my own research. I worked out how expensive each place would be to live in for a set amount of time in accordance with:
I then made a rough plan when it came to how long I wanted to spend in each place.
It was important to make sure I had enough savings to cover the duration as well as unforeseen circumstances. (For example, a flight being unexpectedly cancelled or delayed to a later date.)
Even though I must have filled three notebooks with all the research and planning I did, in the end, I just had to go ahead and do it.
Of course, I was incredibly nervous about handing in my notice at both jobs.
That said, I was just honest about my plans and feelings about how it was time to move onto the next chapter of my life.
Most people tend to be supportive and view your bravery to do something that’s considered outside of the norm as inspirational. But you will get the odd few who have to put a dark cloud over your sunshine-y attitude.
“How on earth can you afford that?”, “what if you can’t get another job?” and “aren’t you worried it won’t work out and you have to come home?” were just some of the negative questions I received.
Be that as it may, if you’re concerned you’ll never work again, let me just put your mind at ease for a second.
When I finished travelling both times, I came home and got a job within a few weeks of applying. It didn’t affect my job prospects whatsoever – on either occasion.
You’re always going to find another employer. After all, there are thousands of paid opportunities out there!
To summarise: I quit my job to travel the world twice and I don’t regret any of my experiences. They made me the person I am today.
Even though the idea of giving up a life that’s safe and secure is nerve-wracking, you can’t let fear stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Otherwise, you’ll wake up at 80 years old and realise you never did all the things you wanted to do.
You’ll have major regrets – and do you know what? That’s even worse than doing the damn thing in the first place.
Sure, it’s difficult to go against societal expectations when everybody seems to be living the same kind of life. (I’m talking about going to university, graduating from university, getting a job and making their way up the career ladder.)
However, the path that works for one individual isn’t necessarily going to be your path to happiness. It certainly wasn’t mine.
Don’t go for the easy option and get too comfortable plodding along in the same old routine. Mix it up, work out what’s best for you and live a life of adventures before it’s too late.
After all, you’re only on this planet once – but if you do it right, once will be enough.
What do you think to the fact I quit my job to travel the world (twice)? Have you done the same yet? What’s stopping you? Let me know in the comments!