Things to Consider Before Quit Your Job and Travel Long Term
For the past few years, I have noticed many articles talking about the benefits of travel and why you should quit your job and travel long term. Travel bloggers making a decent income frequently posting pictures about their travels – tropical vacations, luxury hotel rooms, and multi-course meals. Additionally many day-job employees who only have limited vacation time each year, it seems that quitting your job to travel is becoming a trend.
I am not here to say quit your job to travel is wrong, as this is exactly what I did before. I moved to the United States in 2006, living abroad and traveling frequently until I temporarily settled down in Toronto 12 years later. Two years ago I left my job, prepared for my South America trip, and eventually went there for six months. Although I had no regrets about it, there are things you need to take into account before you quit your job and travel long-term.
Long-term travel is not an extended vacation
Before you travel long-term, you should know that travel is not just about five -star hotels, inclusive resorts, airplanes, delicious meals, and beaches and sunshine every day. In some parts, it is uncomfortable and challenging, and not everyone likes it.
In South America where I traveled, the infrastructure is severely lacking in most parts. There are times you need to hitchhike, camp, and walk for hours to get by. I did not see long-term travelers staying in resorts and the five-star hotels. I usually stayed in a shared room in a hostel, slept on a bus and train, and lived with the locals. Sometimes a beautiful place needed a few hours’ trek in the mountains and the walk is tough.
There were risks and unpleasant things that happened during my travels – like I lost my passport on my first solo trip, got all my money stolen in Chile, and was stuck on an uninhabited island in Patagonia, slept on the airports’ floor many nights to catch an early morning flight, got sick on the road, but these are really what travels are about. I did not leave my job and my home just for the luxury holidays. Because of the challenging and uncomfortable parts the journey provides, I cherish the relaxing days on the beach and the comfort of home more than I did before.
You need to be financially prepared
Before you travel, you need to be ready to face the situation that you have no transfers of money coming into your bank account, only expenses. This means you need savings, and imagine when your accounts have a few hundred dollars left, would you be panicking or would you be willing to find a way to get through.
The finance part needs to be well-planned. Before you travel, make sure to research the expenses of the destinations you travel to and plan your savings and budget accordingly, and be sure to have enough money to be comfortable. I have seen people travel with no money, with a limited budget, and they hitchhike and volunteer on the road. It may get you through for a few weeks but it is not ideal for the long term. I have tried hitchhiking, sleeping at the airport, traveling with a limited budget, and working on the road. Over time, it has given me too much mental and physical stress.
Travel is not a cure for all your problems
If you are happy and have no personal issues, quitting your job to travel is a great option. However, if the purpose of your travel is to get away from your problems, you need to think twice. There are people who travel to figure out what they need to do with their life, and meeting people and experiencing new things will definitely open you up to different lifestyles people live, but you eventually need to make your own choice or you will still return to the beginning.
Travel cannot solve your financial issues as well. If you have a tendency to overspend, living in a cheap country and getting a job as an expat may help you to set off financial burdens, but eventually it is down to you to change your financial habits. If you have issues with your partner, traveling to exotic destinations may help you escape it temporarily, but eventually, you still need to deal with your relationship issues. So, my recommendation is that whatever problems you have, solve them before you go traveling.
You will hit by travel burnout
The initial excitement of traveling will not stay for the length of your entire journey. When the excitement fades, you will have travel fatigue and boredom, and that takes away lots of fun. Almost everyone on the road for a while has been bit by travel burnout. We travel to establish a new way of life, but, over time, travel has become a routine and it is not as exciting as we expected.
I once walked on the streets in Buenos Aires at 7 am on a weekend. The whole city has shut down, and the hostel I was about to check in to asked me to come back at 2 pm. I wandered aimlessly, had nothing to do, and felt so alone. By that time, I had been traveling across South America for five months and felt like giving up and returning home.
Travel cannot guarantee your career opportunities
You probably will meet someone that offers you jobs and asks you to take care of their business, but most times, when travel is over, you still need to consider your career choice – if you want to do freelance work and start your own online business, or if you will change careers and find a new position. Additionally, you need to make sure you not only have enough savings for your journeys, but also extra funds when you come back that last till you get a job.
The post-travel blues is real
Possibly the most difficult part of quitting your job to travel long term is returning home. Despite that long-term travel is not all roses, it is rewarding and will change you in some way. If you stay in a foreign country for long, you will gradually be assimilated into a different culture and that adds more difficulty in the adjustment of your own culture, and results in reverse culture shock.
The reason you will have difficulties returning home is that nobody at home will understand your experience, and you will feel like a guest in your hometown. I was emotionally overwhelmed and felt like hell when I returned to China from the United States. While my trip to South America lasted only half year, it still took me a few weeks to readjust in Toronto.
Final thoughts about quitting your job to travel
There is nothing wrong with quitting your job to travel. I love to travel and if I could go back in time, there are many things I could change but travel is not one of them. Travel offers you new perspectives of a destination and this world, and you will pick up lots of skills along the way, but make sure you are mentally, physically, and financially prepared, and be ready for the fact that when travel is over, you will eventually return home and face a different reality.
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