Quit your job. Sell your shit. Buy a ticket to the other side of the world. Travel in your twenties or miss out on life…might say an inspirational quote on Instagram, because #wanderlust.
Many people have fallen in love with the idea that pressing pause on their careers is the best way to satisfy a travel bug. And some take the leap, like I did.
Six months ago, I traded a promising marketing job for a one-way ticket to South East Asia and a backpack full of dreams. While this journey has been incredibly rewarding, it hasn’t always been an easy one. When you ditch your career to travel the world, you embark on a learning experience of a lifetime.
1. Life on the road is mostly business as usual.
It’s tempting to believe that once you leave your job and get on that plane, your life changes beyond recognition. But here’s the truth: it doesn’t. Your daily habits remain the same and you don’t become a different person overnight.
You still message your friends all day, read the news, stalk your ex on Facebook and binge-watch your favorite shows on Netflix. The biggest difference is that your 9-5 now consists of exploring the world rather than sitting at your desk. But even that starts to feel normal after a while.
2. Not having a plan is awesome but scary AF.
When you’re no longer obsessed with climbing that career ladder, you finally feel you can live life to the fullest. Instead of spending your life playing the office politics game, you’re meeting amazing people, learning new skills and educating yourself about the world.
But not having your future mapped out can be terrifying. Deep down, you know you’ve got this, but you can’t help but worry you’ll never find another job, or run out of money sooner than planned.
3. Office life isn’t actually that bad.
Never trust the social media accounts of anyone who quit their job to travel. The gorgeous beach pictures and bikini selfies might be jealousy inducing, but they rarely tell the full story.
Nobody shares pictures of smelly buses, moldy street foods and cockroach-infested hotel rooms on Instagram, but these situations are far from uncommon. After sitting on a bus for 12 hours, crushed between a trash can and a cage full of chickens, you start to consider the possibility that your office wasn’t such a horrible place after all.
4. Not giving a fuck about your appearance is liberating.
No longer having to dress up and look flawless everyday is one of the best things about being unemployed and on the go. When you travel, you start embracing the hobo way of life in no time.
You proudly wear the same outfit five days in a row and hardly ever wash your hair, because you can’t be bothered and would rather spend the shampoo money on beer anyway. There’s nothing quite as liberating as not caring what you look like and what other people think of you.
5. You don’t need to spoil yourself to enjoy travel.
When you’re trying to make your savings last as long as possible, you can’t afford the same luxuries you enjoyed when taking a holiday from work. But you don’t need a fancy hotel, swanky restaurant or infinity pool to have the best travel experience.
When traveling on a budget, your standards drop so low you realize you never needed these things in the first place. Nowadays, any hotel room will do, as long as the sheets are clean and there are no cockroaches in your bed.
6. Travel blues are a thing and they suck.
Just because you’re living the dream doesn’t mean you never feel like crap. Some people find it hard to believe, but travel blues do happen.
Sometimes you have zero desire to get out of bed, even if you’re staying next to the most beautiful beach in the world. Other times you can’t help but feel bored, exhausted or just uninterested in the places your visiting. And here’s the worst part: this makes you feel sick with guilt.
7. You’ve been wasting your paycheck on the wrong things.
Once you realize that wearing the same cheap clothes for 6 months isn’t actually that bad, your attitude towards shopping changes.
You regret spending your earnings on things you never really needed. You now understand that splashing your hard-earned cash on experiences rather than material things makes you much happier.
8. Finding yourself is harder than you think.
Most people assume that quitting your job to travel goes hand in hand with finding yourself. But self-discovery is much more challenging than anyone ever tells you.
You can’t just show up in a foreign country and wait for it to happen. It takes a lot of work and it certainly won’t happen overnight. Travel makes you question who you are and who you want to be, but it rarely gives you the answers right away.
9. Ditching your career to travel is the best decision you can ever make.
“So many people tip toe through life, so carefully, to arrive, safely, at death” – Tony Campolo
Taking a career break is not the safest or most responsible life decision you can make. But it’s 100% worth the risk. Travel shapes you in ways no corporate job ever can. You shouldn’t miss out on a huge learning opportunity just because it’s an unconventional one. You’ve got the rest of your life to climb that career ladder. So what’s the rush?