Should You Quit Your Job to Travel?

Tips on Quitting Your Job to Travel

Woman traveling and holding camera
••• Moof / Cultura / Getty Images

Many of us have dreamed about taking time off work or even quitting, to travel the world. For most of us, this is merely a fantasy. However, leaving a dissatisfying job to travel can provide you with an adventure, a chance to see the world, and an opportunity to consider what kind of career you truly want.

There are steps you can take to make this transition to full-time traveler smooth. Read below for information on whether or not you should quit your job to travel, and read a list of tips on how to go about quitting your job.

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. 

Do You Just Want a Different Job?
Before writing a resignation letter, think carefully about whether you really want to travel long-term, or whether you simply want a different job. 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 quitting 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 years and then use them for a multi-week vacation.

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. 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 about 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 right away. You want to be open and honest, and give your boss as much time as possible to begin finding a new employee. Talk to your boss, and then send an official resignation letter to your boss and human resources.

Tips on Quitting Your Job to Travel

Once you have made the decision to quit your job and travel, it is useful to get advice from someone who has done the same. Read these travel tips by Leon Logothetis, an author and TV host who quit his job in finance to travel the world. He provides advice on how to make the move from dissatisfied employee to traveler.

  1. Own your Big Dream: Many of us have a Big Dream that we have hidden away due to our daily life circumstances; mortgage payments, raising kids, job commitments. The first step towards finding your deepest passion is to give it a voice, which then brings it to life. Write it down and then share it with someone close to you, someone safe. When we give a voice to our dreams magic often follows.
  2. What is getting in the way: We are often our own worst enemies, and we unintentionally sabotage ourselves from reaching our greatest potential. Maybe we work too much; maybe we eat too much, maybe we spend too much time watching TV or any other myriad of subtle self-destructive behaviors. Whatever the great escapes we engage in are, we need to be conscious of them to stop them.
  3. Getting out of your comfort zone: We tend to stay stuck in the swamp of mediocrity because, well, it’s easy! Some of us stay in a job we’re not happy with for years because we’re afraid of change. What would happen if we consciously put ourselves in a bold and difficult situation to see what life is like beyond the ordinary? What better way to get out of your comfort zone than by taking a calculated risk, or better yet, throwing caution to the wind and taking a big risk!
  4. Who is your Zorba*? We all have individuals in our lives that inspire us, someone who has walked the walk and found the personal success we crave. Try and connect with a person who inspires you and find out what makes them tick. How did they go out into the world and find their purpose? Listen to them. Meet them. Be with them. Share with them your Big Dream * The name Zorba is of Greek origin. In Greek, it means: Live each day.
  5. Create your dream based on a foundation of love: Success in life is not just measured by how big a person’s paycheck is or how many zeros one may have in their bank account. True success is measured by how much good we do and how many lives we touch, so instead of focusing so much on monetary success, commit yourself to living a life where your adventures become ways to help others. It can simply be committing to show up with kindness on a daily basis. 
  6. Taking baby steps towards the Big Dream: Many of us don’t know how to take that next step into the unknown, so handing in your notice to travel the world can be extremely daunting. In these life-changing situations, we can take a giant leap off a cliff, or we can simply take baby steps towards our ultimate destination. If we take baby steps the dream becomes more manageable and the feelings of being overwhelmed as we follow our true path recede. Take. It. Slow.
  7. Never, never, never give up: Many of us don’t even start our journey because we fear what may happen down the road. It is one of the main reasons people stay in a job where they are miserable. Will there be setbacks? Will there be dark moments? Yes, there will be, and when they arrive, we must never give up on our dreams. We must keep on going, even when the bad times come calling.

Never give up on yourself. Ever.

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 at 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.