Tips to help you quit your job for long-term travel
Last week we were having dinner at the Jazz Club in Cuenca with some new-found friends. When they discovered Dave used to work as a senior producer for the BBC, their first question was, “But WHY did you quit?!”
Dave replied, “Because after reporting on the world for so long, I felt it was about time I saw some of it for myself.”
People are often shocked that Dave would leave his stable job at one of the world’s best news organisations to go gallivanting around the world. Some see it as irresponsible. Some think he’s trying to run away from something. Others believe he’s down right crazy.
But the truth is, Dave could always get another job. Perhaps working for the BBC again. Or perhaps working somewhere else in a job he loves more.
But does he want to? Probably not. Because travelling has opened new doors leading to many more job opportunities than working at the BBC ever did. We now own our own business. Our first client we met after we stayed with her through Airbnb when we were travelling in San Francisco.
But let’s rewind the clock a little…
Eighteen months ago, Dave and I were both in what people would classify as ‘good’ jobs. And although some might’ve given their right arm for the chance to work at the BBC, neither his nor my job was making us happy.
But it was scary to quit. Super scary.
We had some savings to sustain us for awhile, but we knew at some point we’d run out of money and then we faced going back to jobs we weren’t passionate about.
“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.” — W. Clement Stone
But then we thought, screw it. What’s the worst that could happen? We travel for four months and then run back home with our tails between our legs?
We knew that if this was a worst case scenario we’d still have had four months of travel under our belts… and so we took the risk.
We said goodbye, packed up our bags and flew to the first point of our itinerary – Toronto.
And little did we know that this flight was leading us to the journey of a lifetime.
People may often tell you that long-term travel is a myth. That there’s no way to do it without winning the lotto. Well, to put it simply, that’s a load of bull.
If you want to make the jump into long-term travel, you CAN. To help you get there, I’ve come up with a few pointers to get you on your way.
You might not quit your job this month, it might not even be next year, but if you’re passionate about travel I believe at least one long-term trip in your lifetime will be beneficial for your soul.
Tips to help you quit your job for long-term travel
Evaluate why you want to travel – but don’t overthink it
Quitting your job isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. It might feel easy to simply walk out after a bad day and pack your suitcase, but in reality more thought should be put into this big life-changing decision.
Think about why you want to leave, and why you want to travel.
Is the passion you once held for your career now the size of a small raisin in the pit of your belly? Do you wake up every day and have to force yourself out of bed because you’re not enthusiastic about what lies ahead?
These are signs that something needs to change.
Don’t overthink your decision too much however, otherwise you might never take the leap. Remember that if you plan your long-term travel then it’s unlikely to go tits up.
Don’t travel to escape; travel to learn
Many people think Dave and I must be ‘escaping’ something to be indulging in our life of long-term travel. Just read this article for a pessimist’s view.
And if we can do this while making some money to keep this passion alive, then why shouldn’t we? The only thing we’re escaping from is being bound to a desk for eight hours a day. And rather than call this ‘escapism’, I’d name it ‘freedom’.
It’s important, though, to travel with an open mind. Time and time again I see Aussies knocking beers back all over Europe. They spend two days in a place and all they see is the four walls of a different bar before moving on. What’s the point in that? You could’ve done the exact same thing staying at home.
Open your mind when you travel. Do things you wouldn’t normally do at home and experience different things. It’s these things that’ll inspire you and continue to motivate you when you return home.
Remember: The world isn’t scary
We’re often told places are dangerous by people who’ve never been there. Very rarely have we heard of a destination someone’s recently travelled to where they’d never return because they felt threatened.
The media makes us think the world is scary. And this is because the news only reports the bad stuff. In reality, nearly everyone is a good person. In fact, many will most likely go out of their way to help you on your travels – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
So don’t sweat the small stuff, eg. the ‘what ifs’. Instead embrace the ‘what can I do…’
Learn a new language so that you can make small talk with the locals. Embrace new cultures by discovering why people live differently around the world, and find out what it is you love about these new and interesting places.
Be open to trying new things, like food. At best you might discover something new and delicious, and at worst you can at least say you gave it a go.
Don’t feel intimidated by what’s out there – get excited instead.
Get your finances in order
You need to have money saved before you quit your job and buy that plane ticket. Without money you’re not going to get far. Start off small by getting rid of any debts. Sell your car if you need to or flog all your clothes at a swap-meet. We did before we left Australia for London and I can safely say we don’t miss the items one bit.
Once your debts are clear, it’s time to save. Figure out how much money you’ll need for each day of your trip and multiply it by the number of days you’ll be away. Add your airfare, travel insurance and any visa costs. This total should give you a rough idea of how much cash you’ll need before setting off.
For example, when road tripping around the US last year, I figured we’d need around US$100 a day, plus money to buy our minivan (we budgeted US$5,000), along with our plane tickets, visas, travel and car insurance.
If you want to travel more cheaply, consider visiting destinations in Asia, as it’s easy to get by on US$30 a day in many countries there, such as Thailand and Laos.
If you want to travel indefinitely, save up for around six months of travel. When the six months are up you should know if travelling is something you want to keep doing, or if you’re ready to return home.
If you decide you do want to keep travelling, then my next tip may help.
Consider how you could make money on the road if you needed to
When Dave and I left London last year, we had a vague idea of getting freelance work if we needed too. Thankfully, we won clients easily and getting enough work hasn’t been an issue. (Although sometimes trying to manage our workload amidst all of our travel has!)
If your current day job isn’t something that’s transferable into a freelance role, consider working while you travel.
You could teach English in China, work on a construction site in Australia, waitress at a bar in London, or pick grapes on a farm in France. The options are limitless.
Sometimes these odd jobs on the road for a few weeks here and there are all you need to make your travel go a lot further.
Check out this blog from A Little Adrift for more work away resources.
Think outside the box to save cash and make your travels last
Along with working on the road, there are many other little ways you can make your dollar stretch further. To cut down on accommodation costs, consider couchsurfing or housesitting over staying in a hostel.
Try eating out for lunch each day instead of dinner, as it’s often cheaper.
Buy a car rather than hire one if you plan on driving around the country you’re visiting for longer than three months, as it’s often cheaper. And then use the vehicle as a campervan like Dave and I did in the US and Canada. At the end of your trip you can always sell it and get some of your money back too.
So there you have it – some tips to get you started and motivated to quit your job to travel!
Have I managed to entice you and make you believe that long-term travelling can be an option?
Or are you already travelling long-term and have some tips to add?