Many of us have dreamed about taking time off work or even quitting work entirely to travel the world. For most of us, this is merely a fantasy. But it is possible to follow through and make it a reality.
Quitting a job—especially one that makes you unhappy—can provide you with an adventure, a chance to see the world, and an opportunity to consider what kind of career you truly want.
Of course, quitting a job and traveling the world is a big change. Find out what considerations to keep in mind before you make this decision, as well as tips on job searching once you wish to transition back to work.
Should You Quit Your Job to Travel?
Before walking out of your office and hitting the road, think very carefully about whether or not leaving your job is right for you. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you weigh this decision:
Do You Just Want a Different Job?
Before writing a resignation letter, consider if you really want to travel long-term, or whether you simply want a different job because you're unhappy or dissatisfied in your current position. If you want a different job, begin a job search to find a job that fits your needs and interests.
Could You Take a Long Vacation Instead?
Think about how long you want to travel. Would you be happy traveling for a few weeks, rather than a few months or years? If so, you might be able to take an extended vacation rather than quit your job.
Check with your human resources office or employee handbook for information on how many vacation days you get per year, and whether or not you can save them up over a couple of years and then use them for a multi-week vacation. If the company has a carryover vacation policy, this could be a workable option.
Or, it's possible you can find a new job and negotiate for a start date that's several weeks or even a month in the future, providing you with the time to travel.
Could You Take a Sabbatical?
Instead of using vacation time, you might be able to take a sabbatical from work for a few weeks or months. Of course, this depends on your employer and industry.
It's more likely that you'll be able to take this kind of leave if you are a valued employee, and one with a long tenure at the company.
That is, it's unlikely the company will allow you to take a sabbatical if you have only worked there for a couple of years.
Research shows that sabbaticals are good for companies as well as employees, so it's worth pitching the idea to your employer. Once you have a sense of how long you want to travel, talk to your boss. He or she might be willing to make something work if you give enough notice.
Do You Have the Money to Travel Long-Term?
If you know you want to quit your job (rather than taking a vacation or sabbatical), you first need to make sure you have the money to travel. Calculate how much money you will need, and then start saving. You might consider selling your furniture, moving in with roommates, or getting a second job to save money during this period.
Have You Thought About Your Responsibilities at Home?
Before quitting, think about your other responsibilities. Do you have dependents? Do you own a house? Do you have a pet? Do you have lots of furniture you would have to store? Come up with a plan for these responsibilities, so that you will be ready to pack up and leave.
Do You Have a Way to Earn Money Abroad?
If you save up enough money to travel, this is not an issue. But if you need to earn money, look into international employment options before leaving. If you want a flexible job, you might consider working on a farm, teaching abroad, waiting, bartending, or something else similar.
Have You Explained Your Plan to Your Employer?
Once you have decided you want to quit your job to travel, tell your boss. Make sure to give at least two weeks' notice, but consider sharing the news earlier to provide the company with ample time to find a new employee.
Talk to your boss, and then send an official resignation letter to your boss and human resources.
Have You Thought Through the Practical Steps?
Part of the thrill of quitting a job to travel may be the adventure. But it's wise to think through the practicalities — how long will you travel? What's your budget? Where will you go first? Thinking through these basic questions can help you establish a rough plan.
Job Searching After Your Travels
If you plan to go back on the job market after traveling, there are small things you can do during your travels (especially towards the end of the journey) to set yourself up for success.
Depending on what you do during your travels, you can pick up a number of useful skills during your journey that might be useful on the job market. For example, if you become proficient in a foreign language, you can add this to your resume. Similarly, if you work during your travels, you can add these experiences (and the skills gained) to your job applications.
Before returning home, update your resume to include these new skills and experiences. Make a list of employers you might want to work for. Send a letter to friends and family telling them you are coming home, and asking for networking help or any other job advice. When you return home, follow up with these friends and family members, and begin applying to jobs using your new resume.