Should You Quit Your Job to Travel Long Term?

Should You Quit Your Job To Travel Long Term?

Should You Quit Your Job to Travel Long Term?

Quitting my job to travel long term was one of the toughest, yet most rewards things I have done in my life.

Jobs are stressful but necessary.

Without a job to earn money it simply isn’t possible to purchase items that we have come to expect for our comfortable modern lifestyles. Unless you’re currently living in a man-made shelter and hunting from the land, like the vast majority of the population you need to get a job. You need to earn money.

Now I’m not a professional adviser, so you shouldn’t be taking any financial or career advice from me.

However, let’s just imagine you’ve been saving for a reasonable amount of time. In the bank, there’s enough to get you by for a 12-month trip, plus a few extras. It’s been a dream far away, but after all this time saving, finally its judgement day.

I guess you thought it would be so easy to walk into the manager’s office, hand him or her the letter of resignation, exchange pleasantries, shake hands and then you would be free…

The problem is now you’re starting to have second doubts. You’re busy working on that big contract and no one from the team knows it like you. Yeah, that’s right, there’re rumours of a big bonus payout next month. Plus Joe’s just quit so there’s the possibility of his job – with all the benefits.

At this point, anyone with any common sense would probably start question if this is the right decision.

Well let me just stop you there for a minute and let you in on something I learnt first-hand from quitting my job:

If you want to escape and find freedom to explore the word, you’ve got to quit the job.

Now I don’t mind working as hard as the next person, but if you want to travel entirely unrestricted, without interference, then jobs are bad news.

When I say jobs, I mean it generically and it’s not directed at any one particular job. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mechanic or public relations manager, your company has 10 employees or 10,000, you have a job.

Jobs are bad when it comes to travelling because they’re restricted available free time and clamp you to a geographical area. Yes, it’s possible to have an exciting job that you mostly enjoy, but in the scope of long-term travel, they limit both time and location – two things very much needed.

Here are four reasons your plan to travel long term shouldn’t be dictated by a job.

Reason 1: Time

Who decided that swapping time in exchange for money was such a great idea?

Why is this crazy idea the kiss of death if you want the freedom to travel? If you’re chained to a job, to put it bluntly, you’re involved in an overvalued exchange of your time. You trade your time for a handful of paper every week or month that grants you freedom.

Jobs are bad new because they greedily consume your time.

In a job you trade your free time in exchange for money. If you’re lucky, by exchanging five free days from your week, in return you will get enough money to enjoy the two free days remaining. If you work more than five days a week, then the freedom shrinks even less.

In the real world, your time is your life. That’s right you sell your life for money.

You work you get paid, you don’t work, and then you don’t get paid! In a nutshell: You sell your freedom to get freedom (needed to travel).

It wouldn’t sound so stupid if most of the planet didn’t do it.

Reason 2: Experience

I learned more about life while travelling around the world than I did working for over 10 years in various jobs.

The problem with a particular work skill set is, it constricts your practical value to a restricted set of marketplace needs. You become one of many cogs in a wheel and if that cog becomes outdated or nonessential, you’re out of luck.

As a qualified Mechanical Engineer, I’ve worked in the automotive industry before. A vital sector, yet over the years thousands of workers in this industry based in the United Kingdom have been made redundant, either because their jobs are now outsourced to cheaper labour overseas, or replaced by robotics.

Yes, your years of experience and hard work for the company can restrict you when it comes to change.

Remember music and video stores? Sure, you can still find one or two smaller shops if you look hard, but, in general, how is business going for these guys?

The days of visiting the store to pick up the latest release have been replaced by logging into a laptop or tablet and hitting the download button. Jobs can disappear like last year’s fashion and there’s no guarantee you will have the same job next Christmas. One year your experience may have value, the next, it doesn’t.

Job experience is usually defined to a group of tasks that are routinely repeated over and over again, day after day. After a few days or weeks of the initial training and learning experience, your mind becomes accustomed to these tasks. Beyond this, the addition of new knowledge becomes few and far between. Unless you’re studying extra in your own time after work hours, a job severely limits your learning potential.

Experience comes from what you do in life, not from what you do in a job.

You don’t need a job to get experience.

Is the experience of a job designed to pay for the latest sports car or widescreen TV more important than the experience of being able to see what’s going on in the world, learn about different cultures and the ability to pursue activities of your choice?

Reason 3: People

I have good friends who are career people and life-long employees.

Continually I hear about their trials and tribulations. Despite over the years having held different jobs myself, both in different industries and different countries, I noticed nothing changes when it comes to office politics.

It’s the same repeated drama series, just with a different cast, based in a different workplace.

The secretary is sleeping with the married boss and reaping the benefits. Middle management is senseless but takes credit for others work. The admin girl has a 1970’s moustache and everyone’s afraid to tell her. The human resources team take 10 minutes extra on their pub lunch break. The IT guys wear the same smelly clothes every day. The cleaner falls asleep on the toilet etc. etc…same drama stories, different workplace.

No matter where you work, workplace politics plays a part every day.

Sure the big stage is different yet the actors are graduates from the same drama school. Unfortunately, as an employee wrapped up in the work environment, you have to play a part in the drama too. You have to be a character or face backlash from co-workers or your boss.

Sure you will meet the odd negative character and a few complainers while on the road travelling too. However, it’s comforting to know as you lie on a golden beach in Australia, relaxing after a surf and soaking up the 30’c sun, that your backpack is only just 10 minutes away from being fully packed and moving to the next town.

Reason 4: Control

A job is a little bit like being thrown out of an aeroplane.

You’re exposed to the harsh elements while the pilot of the plane sits comfortably in the front seat. And if the ride gets rough? You get bashed around or worse, your parachute jams. There is no control in being thrown out of the aeroplane door, and not being in control is not a good way to live your life.

If you don’t control your life, you don’t control your freedom.

If you’ve ever been employed by a large organisation, you will know full well that everything had a process. Got an idea? Great, email the manager, the manager checks it over and emails his manager, who then forwards it on to five other departments.

Of course, they are not sure whose responsibility it lies with and sit on it for 2 weeks, and then email it back, and so on! By the time, anyone takes action the “idea” either out-of-date or most of the office have made claim for it. If money wasn’t a factor would anyone stand for these petty processes in life?

Millions of employees sing the job song daily and believing that it’s the key ingredient to controlling their lives.

Sure, a job can reward you with a 2 week trip to Thailand, but is your goal only 2 weeks a year? What will be the response if you ask for 12 months in Thailand? Do you want a holiday, or to travel long term?

If you’re allowing the ability to travel to be dictated by a job, you’re gambling with life. After all there is no guaranteed safety or security in a job.

The only way to be able to take action is to control the variables and to do that you have to be running them.

Once you start travelling, you are responsible for everything, that’s right every action or idea you have can succeed, or fail – it’s all down to you.

Should you quit your job to travel long term image created by Tools of Travel 

Barry Sproston
Barry is a traveller and expat who spends most of his time between Asia and Australia. He has spent 12 months training at a Gung Fu school learning Wing Chun. Explored the island of Taiwan by scooter more than once. Been tricked into eating raw horse meat sushi in Japan. Even tried to overcome the fear of heights by bungee jumping in Thailand. One day he plans to open a guesthouse.
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10 thoughts on “Should You Quit Your Job to Travel Long Term?

  1. Lexie

    I am loving this post. One of my favourite things about travel is having control of your life choices. I quit one of my jobs in February to travel, and have taken a Leave of Absence at my other job (I don’t plan to go back ever but it is just a back up plan in case I run out of money). I think people think the ‘norm’ of find a career you dislike, buy a house, buy a brand new car, accrue a lot of debt is the way it has to be. When I took my Leave of Absence my coworkers thought I was insane and that I need to “stop travelling sooner than later” yeah fat chance! I wrote a post similar to this on The Planet D called 5 Unexpected Reactions When I Quit My Job to Travel and it has received quite a bit of success.


    1. BarryBarry Post author

      Lexie I couldn’t agree more. I’ve just returned home for a few weeks and it’s funny as I’m starting to feel like I could never go back to my old life. By refusing to buy into the ‘norm’ I’m starting to become more and more detached from society and buying things that I don’t need. Still that’s money saved that travellers like me and you can use to buy experiences – rather than material possessions. I will turn 35 in a couple of weeks but don’t plan on stopping travelling just yet. I’m going to check out the 5 Unexpected Reactions When I Quit My Job to Travel post you wrote.

  2. Luke Marlin

    Lol, love the office stereotypes you ran through: that hit a little too close to home haha. But I actually think you hit on a few important ideas here about the reality that we need jobs etc, and not just about quitting it to travel. The idea of trading hours for dollars is something that all entrepreneurs avoid – it’s not the way to true financial freedom, let alone physical/geographic freedom.

    1. BarryBarry Post author

      Cheers Luke. A combination of liking the travelling lifestyle far too much and being really bad at taking orders probably means I be unemployable for quite a while! Absolutely agree, trading time for dollars is a bad idea.

  3. Valter

    You are absolutely right especially on ‘Who decided that swapping time in exchange for money was such a great idea?’ and all these points are spot on! We will one day leave our jobs and travel throughout Italy…in the meantime, the chain remains…you have our deep respect for having had the courage to take control and so what you love – travel!

    1. BarryBarry Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Valter. Sadly we all need to earn money and for many that means being stuck behind a desk. Good luck with your Italy plans!

  4. richa

    Nice post Barry. I was a in the Fashion industry before I quit my job to live a “slow life” which involves lots of traveling 🙂 You’re right, leaving job is not as easy as it may seem. Not for the lure of constant money but at times you tend to get attached to the job in some ways (at least I did). I used to feel that my department would collapse if I leave and it will be injustice to my boss and the wonderful team which was working under me. It took me over a year to actually convince myself that- everyone actually moves on. And I was right ! Once I quit, things actually moved on. I quit my job of 6 years (in same company) in 2012 and have never looked back. I now freelance. I do have tough days, pulling myself up to approach clients for new projects and motivate myself. I earn less than what I was earlier. I sometimes have to give up on outings and parties in order to save up for travels. I sometimes do not know how I am going to pay next month’s bills. But I never want to go back. I am heading deep into mountains next week for a month. Now, was that possible with a job ?- No.

    1. BarryBarry Post author

      Yeah I know where you’re coming from Richa. It’s almost funny how we convince ourselves that the company would fall off the wheels if we had a day off. Yet once we move on, the company does too. It does and can function without us. It also took me a while to realise that. Life on the road and freelance is not all fun and games either, but a least you can do it while seeing some of the world.

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