How to decide whether to leave your job to travel

Now this is a big decision, no question. It is easy to know you want to travel, but a lot harder to quit your job in order to do so. Now egg and I have both handed our notice in, so we are committed. Egg has been lucky enough to be offered a year sabbatical (he must be a very good web designer- available for freelance by the way!) and upon explaining he couldn’t commit to being back in a year, they said no problem. If we return in a year there’s a job waiting, if not no one will be offended so he has a no-catch safety net- we are both hoping to be away for a lot longer, but who knows.

Of course not everyone will have such an understanding employer (myself included), so what are the things to consider? Firstly, obviously, money.

How is the savings position? Do you have enough cash to sustain you for your planned voyages? How much can you save, and will you have a reasonable amount by your leaving date? If not do you have an easily transferable skill that can earn you some money while you’re gallivanting? I guess if the answer to this is no it would be big leap of faith to leave your employment.


Ready to fly away and wave goodbye to work?

Secondly, commitments. If you have a family is now the time to travel, is everyone on board with the idea? As egg and I decided to up sticks together and are child free with non-dependent parents it seemed a perfect time for us to go. Even so we had to talk for quite some time about what we both expected from the trip, length, scope etc. to ensure we were in agreement before having the confidence to finalise our ideas.

Do you have a mortgage, or similar commitments to keep up with? A phone contract and home insurance were all we had to worry about fortunately, and they were negligible sunk costs so easy to ignore. Equally the existence of these things need not prohibit you from travelling, but they do need to be taken into account, how will you make repayments without the stability of a job?

Something that is forgotten is how many people get enjoyment from their work; a factor in giving that up has to be if the experiences that travelling offer outweigh the satisfaction of a fulfilling career. I have at least a couple of friends who love their holidays and going to new places, but wouldn’t swap with us as they genuinely enjoy their jobs, and in some cases have been building up a career and feel that now is not the ime for a career break. Having just qualified as a chartered accountant after 3 years of training I wanted to go before I became settled somewhere; it was a natural break point in my career and a good opportunity to ensure I am on the right track. If either of us had been slaving away for a promotion that was just on the horizon now may not have been the right time.

Left until last but maybe the biggest consideration is your own personality. If you are comfortable with uncertainty and like flexibility then giving up everything is more likely to suit than if you enjoy routine and security and comfort. And that comes down to knowing yourself and what you want most. I don’t think it is brave in particular, as I have been told repeatedly since handing in my notice, to commit yourself to nothing, in many ways I think if we were more courageous we would stay in London and settle down. But right now we are not ready to, we want to see more while we feel like we can. Different people, different paths, you choose your own.

I think overall you have to weigh up the costs and benefits for yourself; I put money first as a consideration, but if you were desperate to travel and weren’t that fond of your job it is possible to work around the world if you have enough determination. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge maybe your company can offer you a sabbatical, so you can dip a toe in the water. In short, there are options. And I think that if it is what you really want then it isn’t stupid to go, whatever point you are at in your life; it’s stupid to stay.

Let us know how you decided to give your job up, or if you have thought about it, or if you’re still thinking! What are your biggest factors?


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