Should I quit my job and go travelling? This is a question I struggled with for a long time, and perhaps you are too. For me, it was balancing the idea of believing that the dream of travel could be a reality with the practicalities of making it happen. Here are five tips to help you make the best decision for you.
You’ve worked hard in your career and you’re proud of what you’ve achieved, but you have a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to life, more to you. You’re not alone.
In the Daily Telegraph, Sam Baker explained her decision to quit her glamorous job as editor of one of the UK’s top women’s magazines, with no job to go to. A year later, does she have any regrets? (Spoiler: she doesn’t – far from it).
But it’s not an easy decision. In order to taste the freedom you’re craving, to satiate that ‘something else’ feeling that’s been nagging you for a while, you’d be giving up everything you know – the security blanket of your 9 to 5 (or 9 to 7, and beyond) routine and the monthly pay cheque. The ‘you’ that is safe and familiar.
And if it’s globe-trotting adventure you’re leaning towards, you’ll also be faced with the prospect of leaving behind your home, your friends and family. It’s a big decision. Potentially a life-changing one.
Your mind will be clinging on to the thought of everything you’d be giving up, and encouraging you to play it safe. What would it look like on your CV to have a career break? What will people think? What will happen when you come back? So many questions raise their heads to feed the fears that want to keep you in your comfort zone and not taking any risks. How would you deal with potentially no longer having a regular income? Read on to find out more to help you decide.
Should I go travelling?
In short, if you’ve been thinking about it for a while, then yes. I’ve not spoken with a single person who regretted taking off to travel the world. In fact, everyone said it was simply the best time of their lives. Even the person I spoke with who gave up her job, then found it hard to find work when she returned said she didn’t regret a thing. Which brings me to some other potential worries.
Will it look bad on your CV? No – many people take time out at some point in their lives to travel and many employers view it as an asset that you are capable and ambitious enough to embark on such a trip. Will you be able to find a job when I get back? The good thing about travelling once you have already established a career is that you will always have this to fall back on. You have experience, skills and contacts in your field. In any case, there are other options at your disposal, which brings me to my next point…
Will I have to quit my job?
Not necessarily. Before the thought of being jobless sends you into a spin, consider whether your employer might consider offering you a sabbatical. It is increasingly common for people to agree a set period of a few months to embark on their journeys before returning to their post, giving you the safety net of guaranteed employment to return to.
If you work for an international organisation, another option you could explore is the possibility of a temporary transfer to an office in another country. This would give you the experience of living abroad without having to sacrifice your monthly salary, and you could use your weekends and holidays to travel the local area.
Handing in your notice
You’ve made the big decision to leave your job. So how do you go about it? First you will need to consider your timing. When do you intend to take your first flight out of the country? Will you want a break to sort out practicalities or would you prefer to work and earn money up until the day before you leave? How long is your notice period? You might want to offer to work until your employer has hired your replacement.
When the timing is right for you, write a polite and professional letter briefly explaining your decision. You may wish to thank your manager and company for the opportunities they have given you during your time there. Set up a time to meet privately with your boss and let them know your decision, then leave your letter as official confirmation.
Remember you may need a reference from them, so be sympathetic that this news may not come at the best time for your manager, but keep positive and clear that this is a decision you have not taken lightly.
What else do I need to think about?
Do you have any outstanding leave in your work contract? Then make sure you are reimbursed any money you are owed. Are there clients or contacts who you want to personally notify that you are leaving? Agree your last day of work and ensure you have everything wrapped up as you would like to leave it.
Does this mean I won’t be earning any money while I’m travelling?
Often, a big concern when planning travels is how to manage your money. Maybe you will have a passive income from renting out your house or flat, or perhaps you have set up an online business that you can manage from abroad. Otherwise, unless you have a lot of savings, you might want to consider taking up some contract or freelance work in your field while you’re away.
There are opportunities for year-long work visas in countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, so you can gain international work experience. You might also consider schemes, such as WWOOF or Workaway, or hostel cleaning or admin work, which allow you to exchange your skills and labour for free accommodation. There are also sites such as fiverr where you can offer your services on a freelance basis to potential clients from all over the world.
Final thoughts on quitting your job to go travelling
If you have been wondering whether you can afford to take this big leap to travel, the real question may be can you afford not to?
Part of you knows that when you look back on your life in years to come, there will be that dream that you never pursued. This is your opportunity.
Ask yourself, what is really holding you back? If this answer is you – your fears – then grab this opportunity with both hands and don’t look back. You owe it to yourself. Like Sam, you won’t regret it.
One thing that helps is hearing from someone who has already done what you’re about to do. Someone who can guide and inspire your unique journey. I have been in your situation, so why not read my story, explore my blog and feel free to ask me questions. This will help you take another step, whether emotionally or practically, towards living your dream for real.
Whether you decide to go travelling or not, there is a lot to think about, so it’s always best to break it down into small chunks. Financial worries are often a top concern, so why not check out my blog post on how to manage your money while travelling.
And congratulations for getting this far… you are one step closer to the travels of your dreams!
Now, discover the surprising benefits of travel and why it’s good for you.