Should you just quit your job and go travelling?

by Yin on December 22, 2009

in Career,Travel

I believe there must be a number of people out there who are seriously thinking of quiting their jobs go either go for a lower paying job or go travelling. Because that is how I noticed a number of visitors have found my blog and stayed on to read more articles.

Since I have experience quiting my job and end up going for travelling, let me share my experience with you:

Actually, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve never thought about quiting my job to go travelling. I resigned after 9 years with the same company because I felt I needed to concentrate fully on my own research project into complementary healing.  My day job requires almost all of my available brainpower- leaving me like a zombie at the end of the day- I usually leave the office long after sunset. Weekends are used mainly for recuperating. There are not much energy left for side projects or extensive blogging.  So in the end, I thought of just giving myself a breather- and quit for 2 or 3 months. But I ended up travelling instead for almost a year.

I could not have selected a better time to quit- concerned friends said that I must be out of my mind to quit knowing very well the economy was heading for a sure crash- the greatest downturn since The Depression. But I went ahead, because the one who is burnt out is me, not them. Okay, I know they’re burnt out too- but they have too much commitments to just throw in the towel like htat.

Still, it is not a spur of the moment thing where I just arrogantly waltzed in and threw the letter- nope. My boss is someone I’ve known for many years- so I’ve dropped hints that I’ll be saying bye bye months before it actually happened. I did my best to train and prepare my friend to fully take over my position- I wrote some detailed instructions leaving nothing out when I did my handover. So no mess behind and parted in amicable manner.

Still, if you are seriously thinking about quiting your job, especially at a time like this, please read my previous article, 6 Considerations Before You Quit Your Day Job (Without a Job).

Money, money, money….

A very important question that you MUST address:

Do you have enough savings to last you for your travel plans + another 3 months (when you come back and look for a job)?

If you do not have savings, I would not advise you to go ahead with your decision. Times are hard- and many people I know are desperately unhappy in their jobs- they are just waiting for the economy to bounce back before they go and look for a better job. So, my dear friend, you are really not alone in your job satisfaction (or lack of) index. But you may want to consider cutting down on your expenses and switching for a less paying job that can meet your expenses. This is especially so if you have strong financial and emotional responsibilities (like small children) that you need to take care of.

But if you are single and have enough savings, you also have to reconsider if you can survive the possible dry spell when you come back after your holidays and find that you cannot land yourself on the kind of jobs that you were once qualified for.  Somehow, I find that potential interviewers do not really ‘digg’ the idea that you have been off travelling (while they can’t do so) after your last job. Another way is to plan your second income stream so that you have something to fall back to- by the time you would have established yourself in something that hopefully you have interest in.

Travelling really uses A LOT of money. Most of the time, you can easily exceed your travelling budget because there are many hidden charges, impulse buys, unexpected expenses (such as medical, emergency purchases) that may crop up.  The people who operate businesses in countries that you want to visit would tend to charge more once they see or know that you are a foreigner- which you cannot blame because times are hard for everyone. Therefore, it is important that you budget your travel accordingly.

The plus factor is that a lot of travel companies and low cost airlines like Air Asia are throwing in discounts in their airfare. Some of my friends have tried Air Asia’s Go Holiday packages- tickets with lodging and so far no complaints.

OK, let’s say that you’ve gotten yourself covered in all the above. Also, you know you will have to buy travel insurance, do your research to ensure safe travel, etc, etc. Now you want to know, how it feels…

Travelling, especially in budget style may not turn out to be the same with the fantasy adventure that you may be having. I’ve often seen strained tired faces of foreigners waiting at airport, bus and train stations. Was it memorable and is something worth giving up their bread and butter for? 

Still, it differs from one person to the other. Some people come back from their travels being a totally different person, with new motivation and inspiration. Perhaps seeing a totally different world can bring a totally new perspective to life.

For me, I did a lot of other voluntarily based workthat made the entire experience worthwhile. Like what Dan Fogelberg said in his song, Same Old Lang Syne, ‘the audience was heavenly but the travelling was hell’. 

Maybe discussing with the boss if he/she can possibly grant you a one/two month of no pay leave for you to go travelling. At least, you will still have a job waiting for you when you come back.

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{ 1 comment }

ash May 10, 2011 at 6:37 am

I was so glad to have found this post. I am currently typing this in the job that I am so ready to quit. It has turned me into a corporate zombie. I can totally relate to what you are saying about using the weekends to recuperate.

Thank you so much for your post. It has cleared alot of my doubts.

Thank you.

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