It never feels like the right thing to do at the time.
In fact, it’s damn scary.
The first job I gave up to travel I was at the top of my career. As a head chef running a restaurant in Sydney, I’ve never been so well paid; I could quite comfortably afford a $350 a week room just a turn from Bondi Beach, and still put money away for travel and wear all the latest fashions.
Bondi, Australia in April - 28 Degrees Celsius and no tourists
You probably know where I’m going with this.
But I was bored. I had more money than ever before but still essentially the same routine as before. I felt like I’d peaked in my career at 23 years old and yet felt I had nothing to complain about.
One simple, but inspiring conversation later I knew I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to travel. I was still afraid. I’d never visited a non-English speaking country before and I was worried about my safety as a solo female backpacker.
At the foot of Mt Taranaki, NZ
Eventually, after months of scouring the internet for blogs like this one, I bit the bullet and quit my Sydney job. I had AU$15 000 behind me and hoped that would be enough for six months in Southeast Asia. Boy, had I overestimated how much I would need. The whole idea of travelling the world on less money than I spent going to work five days a week in Sydney seemed absurd.
Kayaking at Halong Bay in Vietnam wearing my trusty elephant pants
I set off for my trip starting with Singapore and I had the time of my life for $7k all up. A fraction of what I would have spent if I’d stayed at my job. With the remaining money I returned home to New Zealand, found a job I loved within two weeks, bought a car and moved in with Jack, whom I said a temporary goodbye to while in Asia. I loved my new job. I loved being home with my old friends and family, but I loved travel even more and just over year later left my life behind for with another adventure. This time to South America with Jack.
Colca Canyon in Peru
Not everyone will have it as easy as I have; restaurants are everywhere these days and I’ve never spent more than a month looking for work, so I have that security of knowing that work will fall into my lap upon my return home. It does mean a couple of months of living with my parents, but they don’t seem to mind.
Back in New Zealand with Wolfe Dog
But quitting isn’t the only option available if you want to travel. My skillset isn’t difficult to replace so my bosses wouldn’t hold my position open for me, but a sabbatical may make more sense for you. You may have other skills to fall back on and if hospitality was something you did for a few years in college and could be a fall back job when you return from travel.
But could and should are very different words, so the question is ‘should you quit your job to travel?’
If you’re reading blogs on the topic, you’re probably pretty seriously considering long term travel. It’s a huge, huge, life changing decision that doesn’t get any easier the more you do it. On both occasions I fretted and combed the internet for someone to tell me I was doing the right thing.
So, to help with making a decision, draw up a ‘pros and cons’ list, create safety nets, and look at worst case scenarios. Talk to friends and family and look at your finances. What are you going to do when you get home? On your return will you have to take a job below your capabilities? And how will you feel about it? Will you study? Move in with family and friends? Make a plan for when you return, and you’ll know if you’re making the right decision.
In the moment, travel is always worth it. When you’re back home and trying to fit back into the life you had before, it’s easy to regret leaving in the first place. It was a much harder transition than I had ever realised.
And yet here I am, wanting and waiting to do it all over again.
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