If you’ve ever wanted to quit your job and travel the world, you’ve probably been just a bit worried about things like money, job security when you return home, or how to make the whole thing work. You’re not alone!
Dear Sarah, I wanted to ask you about traveling. I have no idea where to begin or what to do. Here’s the thing, I want so bad to be able to go somewhere and live for a few months without worrying about anything.
But then I know that when I come back I don’t know if I will have a job, and I don’t want to come back without having a job waiting for me. And I hate short trips because I feel too much like a douchey tourist. Thanks for your help!
Oh friend. That? That’s a million dollar question. I’m not sure that there’s a fool proof way to accomplish what you’re after, but I’ll give this question my best effort and then hand you query over to our very capable readers. So. How to begin?
How To Quit Your Job + Travel The World Without Ruining Your Resume Or Credit Rating
Shore Up Your Resume
Job security when you return back home from extended travel is one of the harder things to come by. It’s pretty tough to find a new job in this economy, much less a job that you can start, leave for two months and then return to. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it would require a lot of luck, an airtight resume and possibly offering up your firstborn.
If you don’t currently have a job, or if you’re doing the barista/temping/server thing, I’d spend a few months working your day job as well as volunteering, interning or job shadowing in your field.
Join LinkedIn, familiarize yourself with the appropriate software, call every contact you have and network your sweet ass off so that when you come back, people will know who you are, will recognize projects that you’ve worked on and will want to hire you.
If you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, doing all of the above will make you much more likely to find a job upon your return home, but nothing’s fool proof.
If you don’t want to spend your Ecuadorian jungle trek worrying about your bank account, you need a decent nest egg – or a Plan B.The amount you’ll need will depend on your lifestyle, spending habits and the types of jobs you’re willing to take upon your return.
If you live with flatmates, don’t have much debt and are willing to take a job waiting tables at Applebee’s two days after you get off the plane from Germany, your nest egg could be relatively small. But if you want to live in a two bedroom apartment, on your own and hold out for The Perfect Gig, you’ll want to sock away a lot more.
Similarly, you’ll feel a lot better if you have a Plan B in place for when you get back from global travel. Maybe that means crashing with your family or best friend, cashing in some of your stocks or working for your Dad’s company. Hopefully you won’t have to use Plan B when you return from traveling, but it’ll keep you from worrying away your days on the beach.
As far as creating that post-travel nest egg? Personally, I’ve found that I’m capable of working insane hours for a couple of months if I know it’s a) temporary b) going towards something that I’m really excited about. If you don’t currently have the funds you need to travel, commit yourself to two or three months of second and third jobs and a shopping ban. You’d be surprised how quickly it adds up!
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you should obviously go somewhere cheap. If you’re an Aussie or Kiwi, Southeast Asia is wicked cheap and not too hard to get to. Brits can go just about anywhere on all those great, cheapo airlines and for Americans?
I’d recommend South America. I really love Southeast Asia, but the tickets to get there can put it out of the price range of a lot of budget traveler Americans. South America is full of great beaches, good food, diverse cultures and all of it can be had very nicely for $40 a day.
Now Stay In Your Cheap Travel Destination
I’m a huge advocate of the ‘depth over breadth’ approach to travel. I love going to a single country for a few months, hunkering down and getting to know the majors cities well enough to say hello to the vendors in the morning, have my token breakfast place and know where they sell the best ice cream.
I find that I get to know the locals, culture and language so much better this way – rather than spending all my time bussing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, chatting with other backpackers in air conditioned buses. And popping round the continent? It eats up your money and patience real fast. For me at least, I’m more likely to stay relaxed (and solvent) if I stay in one place.
And Stay There for Cheap
As I’ve espoused so many times working in exchange for room and board is a great way to budget travel. Check out WWOOF or HelpX. Similarly, you can teach English (for pay!) or figure out a work/lodging exchange with your hostel. Or you can try to find some housesitting gigs!
Channel Some Travel Zen
Before you leave, accept the fact that things will go wrong on this trip and that, at some point, you’ll have to adjust your expectations. Maybe you’ll end up spending more money than you planned. Maybe you’ll come home and have to wait tables for three months. Maybe your luggage will get lost, your wallet will get stolen and you’ll hate the food. All of these things could happen.
However! I can tell you one thing that will, one hundred percent, undoubtably happen: You will have the time of your life. You will look back on your trip with pride and wonder and amazement and be so, so glad that you worked all those hours and saved all that money and took those chances to do it.