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.
1. 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…
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Does this mean I won’t be earning any money while I’m travelling?
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, 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 and elance where you can offer your services on a freelance basis to potential clients from all over the world.
When you make the big leap to travel, there is always a lot to think about, so it’s always best to break it down into small chunks. If you have any other tips or questions, please leave them in the comments section below. In the mean time, why not check out this recent blog post on this subject. And congratulations for getting this far… you are one step closer to the travels of your dreams!