This is a guest post by Phoebe Gill of Your Green Grass Project.
All photos, as well as items #7-10 below, are by Lindsay.
You might be interested in this post if you are thinking about quitting your job to travel, and that’s great! Quitting my job to travel the world had been my dream for a long time. Before I actually even started working I was already dreaming of a life filled with travel and making my own rules.
I quit my last traditional office job 6 years ago and since then I’ve been traveling and living abroad in exciting destinations. Along the way I’ve also learned a fair few life lessons about traveling that I wish I had known before I quit my job to travel.
Here are 10 things you should know before you quit your job to travel:
Table of Contents
Not Everyone Will Be Happy For You
Deciding to live your life a different way to everyone else is a brave decision. And this courage can make other people feel uncomfortable because it reminds them that they might be missing out on their dreams.
Other people might start making snide put-downs or false concerns that you are making the wrong decision, but keep in mind that their negativity is more a reflection of how they are feeling about their own lives – it’s not about you.
So ignore the haters and focus on you. After all, at the end of the day, it’s your life not theirs.
The Rush Will Be Insane
It doesn’t matter if you follow a carefully laid out plan to resign from your job, or if you quit your job on the spur of the moment without any plan (like I did). The rush when you finally tell your boss that you are quitting will feel AMAZING.
Then, probably half an hour later, you will be freaking out, wondering if you made the right decision. And this rollercoaster of being certain you made the right choice followed by fear, will probably continue for a while.
Let me clue you in on something I didn’t learn until later in life: there is no right or wrong decision. And even if things don’t work out, who cares? You can always get another job. But you might only get a few chances to go traveling in life, and you owe it to yourself to take advantage of it when the opportunity arises.
You Don’t Know Where The Journey Will Lead
When I first quit my job to travel, I had a rough plan to get myself to Colombia and then work things out from there. I had no idea that I would then find a job teaching English before starting freelancing so I could continue traveling while working remotely.
If you’ve made the exciting decision to quit your job and start traveling, then you are probably already an adventurous person. Take advantage of your adventurous nature and enjoy the ride, say yes to new opportunities, and see where life takes you.
This could include accepting a volunteering opportunity or maybe going on a spontaneous road trip with a new travel buddy. Who knows what could happen! Have a loose plan for the first few months but be open to new ideas.
You Will Get Homesick
Before you quit your job, you might be so excited to leave for your travels that you can’t fathom the idea of missing home, family and friends.
But sooner or later, you will have a phase of homesickness when all you want is to pet your dog and see your best friend face-to-face instead of through a phone screen. You might even find yourself missing things you didn’t expect to miss, such as the grumpy next door neighbor.
Realize that feeling homesick is normal and the best thing to do is lean into it for a few days. Allow yourself to wallow before picking yourself up again and immersing yourself in your current travels. Staying busy and making new friends will keep your mind off feeling homesick until the phase passes again.
Health Should Be A Priority
In the first few months of a whirlwind of new countries and experiences, it’s normal to let your normal diet and exercise routine fall by the wayside. The gym? Who’s even thinking about that when there are flights to catch, temples to see, people to meet, foreign beers to drink.
Traveling is fun, but you know what isn’t? Missing your bus because of a serious hangover or not being able to fit into any of the clothes you packed.
Try and keep a balance between indulging and eating healthy, maybe try and make it a rule to choose a healthy option at least once a day – not just for your body but also for your mind. Getting in a jog or a quick 10 minute workout every few days will help keep your mental health in check and ensure you don’t let things get out of hand.
If you really don’t want to work out while traveling, here’s an easy life hack that’ll keep you in decent shape: walk EVERYWHERE. Skip the bus or train and just walk everywhere when you’re in a city – it’s such an easy way to fit in some cardio without it even feeling like you’re working out.
You Will Miss Your Couch (and Routine)
Living in hostels and modest hotel rooms at first is exciting and novel. It’s fun meeting new people from all around the world and the constant partying is a pretty fun lifestyle.
These perks make you overlook the fact that you’re living in a small room, not a house or apartment. Netflix & Chill just isn’t the same when you’re trying to enjoy a movie on your laptop with 7 other people snoring in bunk beds all around you.
There will come a point in your travels when you’ll start craving a quiet living room with a great couch to relax on. And at this point it might be when you start thinking about settling down in one spot for a while, maybe rent an Airbnb somewhere, and get a casual job or even start working online.
It’s ok and even normal to miss having a routine after several months of traveling. Do whatever you need to do to keep your spirits high, even if it means taking a break and staying put in one place (with a couch!) for awhile.
You’ll Miss Out On Events Back Home
As nice as it would be to hit the pause button on life back home, the truth is that life there continues on after you leave.
Friends get married, babies are born, milestones are passed, parties are had – and you won’t be there to share in those memories.
FOMO can be such a bummer, but remind yourself of what you’re getting to experience instead of those things. Remind yourself that it’s all worth it (and if it’s not anymore, then you can always end your trip and fly home). And then go out and do something fun wherever you are, to take your mind off it.
You’ll Lose Touch With Some People
This truth can really sting, but the fact is that some of your friendships and relationships back home won’t survive your travels.
I had every intention of maintaining contact with my closer friends while I was galavanting around the world, but I soon learned that not everyone is good at responding to emails and messages. After awhile, you wonder why you’re putting so much effort into what’s become a one-sided relationship.
Then when I returned home for a visit after a couple years of traveling, I reached out to my friends to arrange a time to hang out and catch up. Some of them never even bothered to respond – and mind you, these were people I once considered to be close friends of mine, people I’d see on a regular basis before I quit my job to travel, people who were there at my going away gatherings and wished me well on my adventure.
I’ve learned not to take it personally – it probably doesn’t mean that they don’t care about me. People just get busy with their own lives.
You Might Not Be There When Someone At Home Dies
Every long term traveler and expat’s worst nightmare is to get that dreaded message or call letting them know that someone back home is seriously ill, injured, or dead.
First you try to figure out if it makes sense for you to go home and be with them. Unless it’s a close family member that’s dying, you’ll probably make the tough call to stay where you are.
Then you try to navigate the feelings of guilt and grief alone. I should be there with them! How can I be over here having the time of my life when so-and-so is suffering? No one understands! Hello, pity party of one.
And then you pick yourself back up and continue living your best life – because it’s what they would have wanted you to do.
It Gets Easier To Quit
Having quit 3 corporate jobs back home, I can tell you that the more times you quit your job, the easier it gets.
The first time I was working up the nerve to quit, I experienced ALL of the feels: guilt, fear, excitement, confusion, you name it. It took me months to work up the courage to hand in my resignation letter that first time. But once I finally did, oh man did it feel like such a relief.
Once I’d quit 2 jobs and done a handful of other Really Scary Things in my life, by the time I decided to quit job #3 I wasn’t even nervous about telling my boss. It was actually EASY for me to quit.
Just know that on the other side of fear is a whole world waiting to be explored, perhaps even a new life to be lived, and definitely a stronger and better version of you.
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