packing for world trip

So You Want To Quit Your Job To Travel The World?

Okay guys, I’m going to say this only once, so listen very carefully.


This is going to be the most controversial thing that you’ve ever heard on this blog but to hell with it, you guys need to know the real truth. And what’s that?


You don’t have to quit your job to travel the world.


(Sighs. I can hear you guys clicking the Unlike button on my FB now, but that’s okay.)

Wait, you say, blinking in confusion. Didn’t YOU quit your job to travel the world? Weren’t YOU the one who kept harping on about packing up and leave to chase your dreams?


Yes, I did quit my job to travel and yes, you should chase your dreams if putting in more effort is all that is to realizing them—but should you drop out from high school, leave a job that you love, your wife and kids, and your home that you’ve yet to finish paying just to travel?




I find it extremely troubling that readers have written to me, declaring travel as their ultimate life goal, even to the extent that they’re reconsidering their medical studies (it’s taking too long), their school (they’ve not finished high school), their relationships, their family, etc. Some even wrote, they aspire to be a travel blogger like me, because living a colourful life, one pure Instagram moment to another, sounded like the perfect goal to pursue in this era of social media and budget flights. Travel blogger, who? Me?


Guys and girls, you know I don’t pay my bills with this blog, right?


Ironically a decade ago, when I started travelling, no one around me thought that travel was a worthy pursuit. It definitely didn’t qualify as the ultimate goal in life. Suffice to say, my dad thought I was squandering my time and youth away.


tiny wanderer in genova

My Personal Circumstances Had Offered Me The Privilege To Travel

Your life, background, family history might defer from mine. My dad was not happy with my decision to leave everything behind to travel but he did not forbid it. He didn’t threaten to disown me nor did he throw me out of the house. He just didn’t fund my travels or openly declare his support for my travels. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to go against my dad– to leave it all and just go. However I did it anyway, not because I wanted to deliberately rebel against his wishes but because I trusted in my journey and knew that it was something I had to embark. It was a burning dream; something which needed to be seen through and it ended up playing a significant role in my twenties. I also know that my dad was healthy and financially okay so I didn’t need to hang around to ‘take care’ of him like how it’s usually expected of Asian children.


But your circumstances could be different. You might have an aging mother, a sister that you needed to financially support till college, a mortgage to pay and so on. To quit your job or your studies to pursue travelling then would have been proven foolhardy.


You Don’t Suddenly Become Fabulous Just Because You Travel

So you have a bunch of obstacles standing in your way, between you and your freedom to travel. But because you’ve been so brainwashed by aspirational travel posters on Pinterest that you’re now stamping on the floor, wailing but they all say I should quit my job and travel! And that will miraculously change my life!


Did you think by quitting your job and taking off, all your problems of boredom at work, in your family or just whatever rut you’re stuck in will somehow magically disappear?


Take it from a nomad, it doesn’t.


Yes, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and the world from travelling, but nothing magical is going to happen. Travelling can broaden your perspective, it can test you and it can teach you, but turn you from a nerd into a stud, or a shy girl into a fearless one? I doubt it. Travelling has made me a wee bit more adventurous but I’m still the same sociable-introvert that I started out with.


The Reality of Long-Term Travel Could Be Less Glamourous Than You Think

Yes, I had chased reindeers in the Arctic, lived through a storm on a ship, partied in the jungles of Mauritius, got sunburned in Seychelles, but those amazing highs during my journey were also accompanied by plenty of lows along the way.


Working on the cruise ship to support my travelling lifestyle was hard. Not having anyone to properly connect with while travelling solo for a long time was a torture. The back-breaking overnight busses through the worst sort of roads in South East Asia, when romanticized in hindsight could sound like it was pure adventure but when at that very moment when it happened, only one thought kept popping up: “Get me outta here, get me outta here!”


crappy bus ride from dawei to yangon

I literally sat like that for the next 18 hours


Waiting for the bus that never come. Peeing on the roadside with a sarong. Peeing in toilets without lights and with plenty of cobwebs in your face. Flight delays. Meeting annoying people on the road. Saying goodbye to loved ones again and again. No one at home could no longer relate to you because you’ve been out of the country for so long time. Gtalk Hangouts with friends because there are days when people around you just don’t get you. Or not being able to afford a Smartphone or nice clothes because you can’t afford to spend money on unnecessary things.


Have you seen my Instagram? You’ll see that I wear the same tops all the time and I don’t have a tonne of makeup on. Because more clothes and cosmetics mean more weight and space, and I need to catch the sunrise instead of spend those precious moments of dawn, putting my ‘face’ on.


My advice for you is this. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly:


How badly do you want to travel?

What is your true motivation for travelling?

What do you want to experience and what do you want to achieve?


And then ask,


Can I travel now?

Am I willing to give up everything to travel? And then to start from the very bottom again when you come back?


Stack the answers and compare. I’m not discouraging you not to travel, since I’m a big fan of travelling myself, but be familiar with the realities of travelling before you hand in your resignation letter to your boss.


Travelling can also be done in small doses. For example, I continued to travel, sometimes over the weekend, sometimes for 2 weeks, despite holding down a regular job as a copywriter in Singapore. Sure, the experience was different but hey, you can’t have everything at the same time.
packing for world trip


Don’t get me wrong, people. I’m all for travel. This is after all what my blog is about. However the vagabonding that I did, takes work, money and plenty of sacrifices. Whether you want to give up your job for that is completely up to you. But make your decision based on reality and not on fantasies. Else you’re not going to travel very far.



Ying Tey on FacebookYing Tey on Instagram
Ying Tey
Ying Tey Reinhardt (Piccola Ying) is a Malaysian writer and copywriter based in Germany.

In her vagabonding heydays, she's backpacked to many countries, lived in a few, funded her wanderlust by teaching English to sailors on Italian cruise ships and making coffees in hipster cafes.

Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Roads & Kingdoms, Bootsnall and OffAssignment.

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  • Ann Ric 21/05/2016   Reply →

    It’s practically quite impossible to quit entirely, these days especially, unless one has earn enough. House loan, car loan, debts everywhere. Unless the young ones whom just starting to live, I guess, with no commitments. Of course, other than PTPTN.

  • Piccola Ying 21/05/2016   Reply →

    I suppose commitments are what you eventually pile onto yourself. But of course, some people can’t choose not to have certain commitments, so I can definitely understand that. I guess we all just have to make the best out of what we have. 🙂

  • Yeo Chang Keat 23/05/2016   Reply →

    Mouse, I still remember that time back in a mamak near your house when you told me you have decided to quit your job to travel around the world.

    That was bloody long time ago, look at you now, what else I can say other than congratulate you on all your adventures and accomplishments, you are simply awesome !!

    • Piccola Ying 23/05/2016   Reply →

      Hey Chang Keat,

      Yeah-those were days, weren’t they? I’ve missed those mamak hangout sessions. I think they were crucial to helping me decide what I wanted out of life, and also to talk nonsense of course. 😀 Hope you’re doing well!

  • Keke Yohanes 06/06/2016   Reply →

    Yep, you’re right, people sometimes think traveling means running away from bad relationship, from obligation, from boredom, stress etc or see it fun & exciting.. but if they have had the experience of sitting crosslegged for nearly 20 hours in a packed train, had to spend each penny carefully, slept on the floor that made them got up the next morning with their back felt as stiff as a piece of wood, to have swollen feet… ah, that’s the real deal..

    I wish I could be a fulltime traveler but I have my elderly parents to support & my job allows me to take only one leave day a month so every month I can only travel for 4 days at max but it makes me learn to make the best of every journey & to be thankful & appreciate it.

    thanks for sharing your experience & thoughts, also to be honest & fair

    • Piccola Ying 07/06/2016   Reply →

      Yes, Keke, unfortunately for most Asian kids, we have familial obligations!
      I admire what you’re doing for your family and I hope you’ll continue to make the best out of your situation. 4 days is still better than nothing!

  • Lorraine 20/06/2016   Reply →

    I wanna do the same thing. I’m in my early thirties, an only child. Both my parents are aged and aren’t in very good health. Tell me how can I do what you do?

    • Ying Tey 28/06/2016   Reply →

      Hi Lorraine,

      I’ll perhaps maximise whatever vacations I get, if that’s the case. If I were you, I’d say, treat yourself to a place that you’ve always wanted to go, on your birthday or during national holidays. A journey doesn’t have to be very far, since adventures can also be found in your own backyard.

  • Erika Toh 21/07/2016   Reply →

    Hi Ying, I enjoy reading your travel blog. You’re an inspiration to me and my sister to pursue our love for travelling. 🙂 I agree that it’s not necessary to quit our jobs to travel around the world and though it looks glamorous, we have our milo and maggi mee cup moments too. lol

    I’ve a question that I’ve been dying to ask you. How did you manage to get a job and work in London? As far as I know, there’s no Working Holiday for Malaysians to London. Only Australia and New Zealand are offering it at the moment. I look forward to your reply.

  • Erika Toh 21/07/2016   Reply →

    Hi Ying, I enjoy reading your travel blog. You’re an inspiration to me and my sister to pursue our love for travelling. 🙂 I agree that it’s not necessary to quit our jobs to travel around the world and though it looks glamorous, we have our milo and maggi mee cup moments too. lol

    I’ve a question that I’ve been dying to ask you. How did you manage to get a job and work in London? As far as I know, there’s no Working Holiday for Malaysians to London. Only Australia and New Zealand are offering it at the moment. I look forward to your reply.

    • Ying Tey 21/07/2016   Reply →

      Hi Erika, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. Yes, that was in 2008, if I’m not mistaken. It was still available then but no longer now. What a pity!

  • Hasrul Wayne 12/11/2016   Reply →

    Traveling to me is about planning and dedication for willing to seek other culture and environment. Which is i think it is not about your current job situation. Nomad or quit job for travel is an option, the most important thing is you are what you want it to be.

    • Ying Tey 14/11/2016   Reply →

      Yup Hasrul! You’re totally right. It’s all about the mindset and it has nothing to do with whether you quit your job or not. 🙂

  • Evelyn Sandra 26/05/2017   Reply →

    Hi Ying, I enjoy reading your travel blog :). Thanks for the information

  • sinta bachir 23/10/2019   Reply →

    how to overcome fear when traveling alone? i decided to backpacker alone to south east asia. Thank you

  • voila ivone 17/09/2021   Reply →

    experiencing adventures in various countries at a young age will be an invaluable experience. its priceless

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