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What I Wish I'd Known Before Leaving My Job to Travel

Picture of Alice Johnston
Food Editor
Updated: 5 October 2017
It might seem like quitting work to travel around the world is what you’ve always dreamed of, but this is what you need to consider before you go.

Know that such a drastic move might not be for everyone

Just because you loved the week you spent backpacking around Cambodia doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy doing the same thing for months on end. Travelling long-term isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Consider whether your itch would be scratched with an extra-long holiday instead.

Money

Specifically, how are you going to manage it? If you’ve got a trust fund or have been saving for years, great. If not, consider how to begin padding your savings account or think about the possibility of working while abroad.

Travelling long-term might not be everyone's cup of tea | © mimagephotography/Shutterstock
Travelling long-term might not be everyone’s cup of tea | © mimagephotography/Shutterstock

Make sure you’re not running away

Some people travel to discover more about who they are, and that’s alright. Just don’t expect all your problems to disappear because you’re in a tuk-tuk instead of at your desk. If you’re unhappy with yourself, your choices and your relationships, you won’t be able to run away and leave those problems behind.

People’s reactions to your choices will be mixed

You’re thrilled about the countries you’re going to visit and the amazing sights you’re going to see and many of your friends will be nothing but excited for you. Others might react with bewilderment that you’re leaving a traditional life path to do something unusual. Some might even be jealous. If you’re happy with your decisions, you’ll be fine.

There's no point bringing the kitchen sink – pack light | © sebra/Shuttstock
There’s no point bringing the kitchen sink – pack light | © sebra/Shuttstock

Sometimes things will go well, and sometimes they won’t

Life is not like Instagram and not everything will magically fall into place while you travel. You should be ready for cockroaches, cancelled trains and toilets that are very different to the ones you’re used to. Then you’ll look down at an amazing view and thank your lucky stars that you were able to leave your job to travel. Be prepared for ups and downs.

Pack carefully

Don’t bring too much stuff. You don’t want to be laden with old memories when you’re trying to make new ones. Do your research about what gadgets you need and which you won’t – a waterproof phone case might be handy, but do you really need that portable clothes lines?

Learn to give serendipity a chance

If you’re a planner this can be hard, but the nature of travelling is going with the flow and seeing what looks good. If you fall in love with a city while you’re visiting, stay a little longer. If the weather turns terrible in one country, go to another! You could have the best experience by diverging from what you’d intended.

Rather than spending time online to find the best place to go, get out there and find it yourself | © WAYHOME studio/Shuttstock
Rather than spending time online to find the best place to go, get out there and find it yourself | © WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Avoid FOMO

It’s impossible to do everything. Don’t fall into the trap of spending hours on review websites searching for the very best places to get street food – just go outside and experience life in the place you’re in.

Homesickness

You’re living your dream and that’s amazing – but your friends at home are also living theirs, which means you might miss out on attending weddings, meeting babies and going to that fabulous party. It’s okay to miss what you’ve left behind. Combat it by keeping in touch with friends and family and Skyping your dog when you’ve finally found a steady WI-Fi connection.

Always say yes to opportunities to make friends | © Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Always say yes to opportunities to make friends | © Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Be comfortable spending time with yourself

You’ll make friends while you’re abroad but you’ll also probably spend a decent amount of time by yourself. Being alone in a foreign country can be scary. If you’re not comfortable in your own head, it might be a good idea to learn how to spend quality time with yourself before you leave.

Make as many memories and connections as possible

Say yes to the road trip suggestion and the invite to grab a beer. Celebrate your differences and work out how you’re the same. Write everything down and take as many photos as possible.