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.
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!”
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.
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.