In Defence of NOT Quitting Your Job to Travel the World
The internet is awash with articles and blog posts filled with inspirational, romantic stories about quitting your 9-5 and taking off to travel the world, mostly written by eager twentysomethings. Not that there’s anything wrong with being 22 and eager, but I’m 31 and largely cynical. Travelling is a privilege and no matter how many guides you read on ‘how to travel the world for next to nothing!’, it still costs money. It also takes time and long-term travel means saying goodbye to your loved ones for long periods. What if you’ve got elderly parents you don’t want to leave? A young family? A career you love which you don’t want to jeopardise? You can still travel the world, but you don’t have to quit your job. Just choose part time travel.
I was only bitten by the wanderlust bug fairly recently. I chose not to – or some would say, missed out on – travelling after I finished college. I went straight into the world of work, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life along the way (and promising myself I’d go to university at some point), then started my own business at the age of 21, mostly on a whim to see if I could do it. Most people I knew were either still at university or starting to build their careers at this point; some were doing the travelling thing. My twenties became a blur of working hard and partying hard. Travelling was never an option, I didn’t have the confidence to set off on my own and I felt tied to my responsibilities and my burgeoning business. It was so much not an option that I didn’t even think about it, to be honest.
I sometimes feel as if I did everything backwards. Most people my age are settling down, either relationship wise or career wise, having children, even perhaps leaving their careers to set up on their own after gaining so much experience in their twenties. Most people get the travelling itch out of their system by the age of thirty. Me? I quit being my own boss three years ago, for various reasons. It was a valuable learning curve and I had a lot of fun (although there were a lot of tears too). I’m lucky that I have a job but I’m still trying to figure out What I Want To Do With My Life. I am single, with no future plans for marriage or children. Surely this would be the perfect opportunity to quit my job and do the long-term travel thing?
I honestly don’t think so, as tempting as it may sound.
I have financial ties that mean it wouldn’t be possible for me just to leave the country for an extended period of time (this a very depressing Adult Thing to say). I have a cat who hates everybody but me. In a bid to make myself more employable (and as a personal challenge) I started a degree course in psychology two years ago and I have four years to go. I gave up renting a flat alone, to live with my parents and save up for a mortgage deposit. I have some semblance of an Adult Life Plan, but it is a shaky plan. My first solo trip ignited a serious case of wanderlust that made me re-think what I’m doing, but I’ve settled on a compromise.
Part time travel is my compromise
Why part time travel? I don’t want to travel long-term for the aforementioned practical reasons, I cannot bear the thought of having to give up buying things and going places for the length of time it would take to save up to fund it. I’ve already given up my social life (just kidding… or am I?) and the thought of being broke and jobless after a world trip in my thirties is terrifying (being self employed during a recession taught me a big lesson about money and job security). I earn a decent wage and have a generous annual leave entitlement and saving up for trips to punctuate my working life is exciting. I like stability, but I hate the feeling of being stuck. With concrete plans to see parts of the world that are on my ever expanding bucket list, I feel it’s much easier to deal with the routine and monotony of daily life. With part time travel I can go off and explore and have tales to tell to my friends and family when I come home without experiencing any of the loneliness or feelings of disconnection long-term travel could bring. It may not be as ‘authentic’ as immersing yourself in a culture for months on end but I have decided my travel status is part time, no strings attached.
What is your travel status? Would you ever quit your job to travel the world? Did you quit your job and later regret it?
This was also published by Huffington Post UK.
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Kevin Wagar 16/11/2015 8:33 pm
Great article Jackie, and so true! My wife and I are both working parents who love to bring our two young kids along with us on our travels. Dropping everything and becoming travelling parent’s would be amazing, but we have a number of connections that keep us attached to home for extended periods of time.
Travel is amazing, and kudos to those who can do it full-time, but that’s not most of the world and it’s good for people to hear from those who are just like them!
Keep travelling!View Comment
Natalie 16/11/2015 9:25 pm
I love this! I, too, am 31 and cynical. (Love that, btw.) While I live to travel with my family, I don’t think I could ever be completely location independent. I adore living near my parents and my sister, and I’d hate to miss seeing them often. Plus, if my husband and I left our current lives, we’d be taking our toddler away from both sets of grandparents, and that doesn’t sit well with me. While I work from home (something I adore), my husband has a full-time banking job that can’t ever be moved around. Since my husband is in banking, he is very passionate about finances (as you could imagine), and leaving the comforts of home to travel means that we’d have to give up planning for retirement and our daughter’s college.
At 21, going full-on nomad would’ve been fun for a few years, but it’s just not feasible a decade later. And, honestly, it’s just not something I want at the point in my life. Thanks so much for writing this! 😀View Comment
Mar 18/11/2015 2:00 am
Everybody should do what best works for them. If you are happy with an adult plan and a semblance of stability and traveling part time then that’s the way to go, don’t let other people’s opinions change that. In the end, it will be you who quits her job, not someone elseView Comment
Karen Francis 15/01/2016 8:38 am
Interesting viewpoints expressed in the article and comments. However…. when my long term relationship broke up in 2002, we sold our house and split the equity. I was faced with a choice: I could be sensible and use it to put down as a deposit on a flat OR I could just give up everything, including my secure post doctoral position, and travel. In the end I bought a caravan, installed my belongings (and my cat) therein and offered one of my students a free tenancy in return for looking after everything. I picked the longest overlanding trip then available – eight months travelling across Asia and the Middle East – and went. It was the best thing I’d ever done and I’ve never regretted it. Best thing is that life resumed when I got back; eventually I sold the caravan and bought a house, climbed back on the hamster wheel and continued my working life. I even met my current partner on the trip. So, there were no disastrous consequences of my ‘irresponsible’ decision to take time out from ‘life’ to live; on the contrary, travel changed my life, my viewpoint, my entire psyche. In 2002 I was fifty-oneView Comment
Wife with Baggage 16/01/2016 2:52 pm
Yes. Yes to it all! A girl after my own heart. I’m 32. I have a home and a career that I love too much to leave! And I’ve seen 6 continents in as many years!! It is possible!!View Comment
Hayley | Bitterballenbruid 02/02/2016 10:38 am
Hear, hear! I’m 33 and was recently bitten with the travel bug. I’m married (luckily he’s been bitten too!) and we’re childfree (by choice).
We have a mortgage, a cat (!) and full time jobs, so leaving long-term isn’t a viable option. So we do exactly what you do and travel part-time. Last year I left the country at least once, every single month. It works!
Thanks for writing this, a very enjoyable read! I was nodding throughout! 🙂 🙂View Comment