5 Tips Before Quitting Your Job for a World of Adventure
If it's a dream of yours, then do it.
These days taking a year off to go travel isn’t new or counter-culture. It’s almost another notch in the belt of societal approval. Just ask the million-strong throngs of 18 year-old backpackers cramming themselves into cattle-truck buses on their pre-determined exploits of the Thai party islands. They’re everywhere, and they’re having a good time. So should you quit your job too?
I’ve quit the 9-5 lifestyle in favour of freedom twice now. The first time was easy, that epic youthful optimism and a ‘who gives a @#%’ attitude of being 21. Nothing was stopping me. I was determined to lose myself in the endless barrels of Indonesia, or some heady religious city of northern India. And I did - it was 4 years before I returned home.
I left for the second time when I was 30. It took me longer to muster the courage. Before then I’d been rattled, the reality of returning from my first travels into a world where my peers had gotten serious. They were all talking about buying houses, jobs and babies. These people are my friends too, so I tried to fit in. I stuck it out for a couple of years, trying to play the game, grimacing through my office-chapped lips.
I had a good job working for a production company shooting photos and directing commercials. But deep down I wasn’t satisfied. I craved real freedom again. I wanted to eat off the streets. I wanted bare feet, to climb mountains, to get tubed, to get lost, to dance all night on the beach, fall in love and wake up with her hair across my chest and the salt water of last night’s skinny dip encrusted in my eyelashes.
Photo: Matty Hannon
So I left Australia. I bought a motorcycle in Alaska and pointed it to South America. I brought 2 surfboards along. Met an amazing girl somewhere in Canada. We arrived to South America 1.5 years later, and swapped the motorcycles for some horses and spent the remaining 6 months chasing waves along the Chilean coast on horseback. It’s been about 2.5 years now, and I haven’t been home yet…
Leaving the rat-race was the best decision of my life, but not just for the places I’ve seen…
Photo: Drew Hyland
Here’s a couple of pieces of advice to someone considering taking the plunge:
1. Be True to Yourself
If you’re still trying to make the decision, because you’re concerned you’ll be behind in your career or have less money than your peers, realize that people are always going to judge you. But also understand whose opinions actually matter. Do you really care what some passive-aggressive ‘friend’ means when she exclaims ‘oh you’re going traveling – that’s sooo… fun’. The world is full of fake and insecure people – you are going in search of the opposite of that. Be true to yourself. Listen to the people that matter to you – your family – your close friends.
2. Be Creatively Frugal, Not Stingy
To travel takes money, there’s no doubt about it, but it doesn’t have to take a lot. I never left home with enough money to survive for years on end – trust yourself to make things happen. It’s still possible even if you have a kid or if you have a mortgage. Life in the developed world is mostly about choice, especially if you have the privilege of reading this through your fancy laptop. Sell your laptop, sell your house, sell your child. No, don’t sell your child - bring your child with you like this awesome family.
3. Free Your Time
Have a goal, but don’t overdo it. If you’re booking yourself into a 16-country tour of Asia over 3 months, that’s fine, but realize that you’re also missing one of the best parts of travel by locking yourself into a schedule. You want freedom, not deadlines. Remove the schedule from your life and replace it with honest and intelligent curiosity. You want to be able to follow whatever or whoever truly interests you.
4. Learn, Learn, Learn
What are you looking to get out of the trip? Are you after pure unadulterated living, somewhere in the jungle without social media while growing/catching your own food, or are you more interested in snapchatting from the basements of the black-metal clubs of Scandinavia? Maybe you just want to learn Thai massage? Ice fishing? Photography? Spanish? The important thing is to learn. This way you’ll never regret anything down the line, and it can even help your career. Think laterally about it.
5. Fulfill Your Dreams
Deep travel is not for everyone, nor does it inherently make you a better person - far from it. But if it is a dream of yours, then do it. Simple as that. The people in this world who get things done, are merely the people who do things. Fulfill your dream. Don’t be that old person on their deathbed with the benefit of hindsight and the tragedy of regret.
Photo: Matty Hannon
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.