I'm a city girl passionate about travelling, discovering new places and making the most out of my weekends.
Published March 22nd 2013
Quit Your Job and Travel: Here Are 4 Reasons Why
Ever wishfully thought about making that big leap to quit your job and travel the world? Have you caught yourself frequently daydreaming about trekking the Annapurna Circuit while staring at your work computer screen? Ever felt like that 4 week vacation to Europe is simply not enough and you're left feeling dissatisfied? If you've answered yes to all the above, then here are 4 more compelling reasons why you should seriously consider taking a break from your career to fulfil that wanderlust of yours.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating travelling as a means to escape an unhappy job situation or any other situation. I am merely voicing strong opinions in favour of long term travel regardless of your current situation.
Long term travel, and I am talking about 3 months or more is a lot for an average person to stomach. The first thing that comes to mind is the sacrifice of comforts. The amount of stuff that you can fit into a 65L backpack is what you'll be wearing/using/sleeping in for the entire length of your travels.
It sure sounds daunting especially for someone like me who loves my closet and shopping for it. But I've learnt that materials are just that, materials. And you'll soon realise that you can survive on the bare minimum and the superficialities of a new handbag and pair of heels fade away.
Some very long term travellers may have to downsize their entire apartment to fit into long term storage. That usually entails selling your furniture, 60" plasma TV and quite possibly that antique armchair inherited from your grandparents. In exchange for that, you are rewarded with an immense feeling of lightness and freedom. Stuff shouldn't be holding you down and getting rid of stuff is the most exhilarating feeling ever.
Quitting your job to travel also means that you will be living off your hard earned savings. Unless you have a massive trust fund or inheritance to fall back on, it teaches you how to be smart with your money and to learn to see value in the things you spend on. Long term travelling means that if I can sacrifice the luxury of a 3 star hotel and settle for a clean hostel bed instead, I will be able to spend the money I've saved on that elephant trekking tour in Thailand that I've always wanted to experience.
Learn more about the culture and language of a place
When you are limited to a 4 week vacation annually, if you're like me you'll want to cram as much travel into that space of time as humanely possible. An example of a 3 week holiday to Europe would usually involve a few days in London, a stopover in Amsterdam, a weekend in Paris, a quick trip to Barcelona, a week in Italy to cover the highlights and maybe squeezing in the Swiss Alps to make up for that dreadful 20 hour flight all the way to the European continent from the land Down Under, because who knows when I'll return again. Sounds like a mouthful already? Because that's how you'll probably feel at the end of that vacation. Exhausted, overwhelmed and in need of another holiday to truly unwind.
When you travel long term, you can afford to pace yourself, spend more time in one place instead of hopping from one city to another and actually learn more about the culture of that place. You can stop, reflect and interact with locals. One month in France will surely improve your French beyond any 4 week intensive French Beginner course.
You learn to appreciate the beauty of the country you're in, instead of getting frustrated at train delays that could impact upon your tightly scheduled travel plans. You become a true traveller rather than a tourist.
When was the last time you faced the challenge of finding your way around a new place with a map, no phone signal and an added challenge of a language barrier, freezing temperatures and the sun going down faster than you can blink? In that state of mind your fight or flight response kicks in, your adrenalin is pumping and you could almost fear for your safety and life.
That is what the travelling experience is all about. Of course the next time round you become smarter and arrive at a new place first thing in the morning, preferably not in the thick of winter and learn a few local words to help you navigate your way around better.
If you're reading this and your daily challenges revolve around navigating the long lines and crowds to your usual bus service or fighting for the best parking spot in the building, then maybe it's time to get out there and start exploring the world beyond.
When you've lived in a place for very long time you become comfortable and familiar with a daily routine. You know where to get the best coffee in town, you have your regular grocery store and you've even memorised where the pasta aisle is. Travelling pushes you beyond your comforts so you're constantly challenged with the unfamiliar and you become more adaptable as a result.
You learn more about yourself when you travel. You realise that you have more inner strength and capacity than you thought you had. You realise that you have a gift for learning new languages. You find out that you have a knack for reading maps. You learn that you don't need 5 different black dresses in your wardrobe to get through your week. You just need one.
When you travel, your soul is re-inspired. You are exposed to the world through sight, smell, touch and taste. Different aspects of your character emerge. You may realise that you don't want a career in finance after all, but rather you are passionate about sustainability and the environment.
You realise that you are good with people and you want to be a teacher so you are ditching that accounts job you were planning to return to. You discovered your love for writing and wrote the best travel book ever while on your journey.
But you may also realise and reaffirm that you are good at what you do, and you become surer of yourself when you return to your career as an architect.
Whatever it is, travel gives you that time out to truly think and find out what you want out of life.
At the time of writing this article I have resigned from a rewarding and successful job and am in the process of preparing for the biggest adventure I am about to embark on - long term travel.
These reasons and more have become my driving force behind wanting to travel long term. And seeing how many people have done it and reaped the benefits of it, why should I hold back?
I hope you don't hold back too.
Have a wonderful travel adventure Eunice. We are planning a year away, on the road backpacking across the world in 2015 with our 4 daughters...a much more simpler life and investment in an appreciation of the world, people, languages, food, and of course family. It's scary giving it all up (the life you have) but I think great to step out of your comfort zone and really live your life. Thanks for your article :)
I agree with everything you have said (while riding the bus to work dreaming of a long holiday) long service leave is 7 years away and I would love to do what your about to jump into. Hope you have a fantastic life experience!