“Quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, and never return.”
I was 21 when I started fantasizing about making this dream happen brought about by reading two great travel blogs, Adventurous Kate and Alex in Wanderland, featuring two women who traded their life in the United States to travel the world.
“But they are Americans. They have more resources to do so.” Still, I found myself saying, “one day, someday.”
In 2011, I was travel stoked by the story of Lois and Chichi of We Are Sole Sisters, two Filipinas who turned their backs from their corporate jobs in exchange for a whirlwind trip around Southeast Asia. Early this year, I was on my fourth job when I read about the inspiring tales of Filipinas quitting their jobs to live a life of wandering: Kach of Two Monkeys Travel, Trisha of PS I’m On My Way, and Aileen of I Am Aileen.
“This is it. I should really quit. What excuse do I have? If they were able to do it, why can’t I?!”
The pull to leave everything behind—including my full-time job—was so intense that I felt sluggish at work and put all my energy and creativity in planning itineraries, reading travel blogs, and writing travel memoirs of my past adventures…. But there was an even stronger force: at the back of my mind, my rational self was begging me to slow down and stay.
And so here I am, almost 26, with no intentions to quit my full-time job any moment soon to travel the world. I’m keeping my job and weaving my part-time travels around my ‘fixed’ life here in the Philippines. But you know what? I have no regrets at all. Let me tell you why…
Anyone who loves to travel has the equivalent of the “white picket fence” dream. It’s the “sell everything I own, quit my job, and travel the world” dream. While it could be the greatest decision you would ever make in your life, it could also turn out to be the worse since let’s be real, full-time travel is not for everyone. The nomadic lifestyle, along with the uncertainty that comes with it, is not for everyone. Not everyone is wired that way.
For most people, it’s unrealistic simply because they have responsibilities back home and they think of many possibilities. They want and need to keep their jobs and their families back home. So they resort to a more realistic way to live a life of wanderlust and adventure: they weave travel into their daily moments until it becomes a part of their lives.
It’s about making peace with the knowledge that traveling part-time does not make you any less of a traveler. Just because you choose the unpopular route does not mean full-time travelers are better students of the world than you are. It simply means you have chosen to live an authentic life centered on balance: if you enjoy the stability and routine of having a job, a family, and a permanent home-base and yet you still want to travel, then so be it! There’s no golden rule that says you can’t have both. You certainly can.
You just have to take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous journey by first, asking yourself what makes you happy and fulfilled. Do you really think that you can find the answers to your questions on the other side of the world? Remember that as humans, is it essential that we have everything we need first before we go after our wants. And when you do, go all-in! Believe in yourself. The fulfillment of your dreams will come but only after you know which ones are worth chasing.
Whatever you choose to do—part-time or full-time travels—stick to it but darling let me tell you that quitting your job to travel won’t magically make all of your problems go away. It’s neither the Band-Aid solution nor the permanent cure for whatever stress, issues, or chaos that might have wounded or may be hurting you today.
I came to this epiphany when my father had a stroke and his right side became paralyzed. Until now, he is unable to recover. My mother stays with him in the province to take care of him. My father was forced to leave his job; he needed maintenance medicines and is going through regular therapy until now; he became irritable. It dawned on me that my parents are becoming old.
As much as I love traveling to the core, leaving my family now isn’t the cost I am willing to pay. I’ve decided to keep my full-time my job not just for myself and for my family but because even though there are some awful days at work, I can tolerate it and generally, I love what I do, I love the company I work for, and I appreciate my time with my colleagues. So, I choose what is suitable for me at the moment: to travel around my settled life here in the Philippines.
Instead of buying the latest gadgets, designer clothes, shoes, and bags, or a fancy car, once in a while, I book a plane or bus ticket to somewhere. Sometimes, it’s out of the country. Most of the time, it’s just out of town. Wherever it is, my point is, I make regular travel a part of my life. Does this make me any less adventurous than the popular travelers and travel bloggers who choose a different way of seeing the world? Not at all! Full-time travel is NOT THE ONLY WAY to experience the world and satisfy your wanderlust! It comes in many forms just like most things in life. And whatever others say, you CAN travel the world and keep your job while doing it. Darling, you don’t need to leave everything behind.
I’ve read many stories of former cubicle dwellers who ditched their jobs, sold everything they owned and went on to travel the world full-time, without ever coming back. I applaud them for their guts to do such a drastic move. Most of these people have enviable and inspiring stories but unfortunately, there are some rotten lemons that are downright arrogant and preachy. They encourage everyone to drop everything NOW to travel as if traveling is the solution for all of life’s problems. They insinuate that if you don’t follow in their footsteps, you’re making a colossal mistake. They think they are better travelers for the reason that they do it full-time and they don’t do ‘touristy’ things. They make you feel guilty just because you choose to experience the world differently.
Oh come on! How I wish they can get off their high horses! There are many great ways to travel and it’s not an either/or option wherein you choose to keep your job and never travel or you leave your job and travel. It does not have to be that way. Again, it’s important to remember that you can do both. You can definitely find a balance between your travel adventures and your real life. You can find happiness and satisfaction in the in-between.
Don’t let anyone dictate how you appreciate and experience the world. Travel in the way and means you’re comfortable with—if it means keeping the job you love and need, so be it; if it means refusing to pack your life in a suitcase, so be it; if its means coming home to your own shower and own bed after a long journey, so be it; if it means having a weekend away from the city or a month around South America, so be it; and if it means balancing your priorities (your work, your family, your life back at home) and your interests (traveling), so be it!
I want you to remember that any travel is great travel as long as it’s done your way and your means. It does not matter if you choose to keep or quit your job to travel. There’s no right or wrong way to do so. But please don’t go out into the world chasing someone else’s dreams. Find your own adventure. Chase your own sunshine.