Why I DIDN’T Quit My Job to Travel

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You all know the story: cubicle-dweller dreams of travel, saves up money, and eventually waves adios to desk job and embarks upon a global adventure.

It's a pretty standard story among long-term travelers — and especially amongst travel bloggers.

Go to many of the “big” travel blogs out there, and you'll probably find a post titled something along the lines of “I Quit My Job to Travel the World.” With so many travel bloggers being digital nomads and working as they hop from country to country, I feel like readers sometimes assume that this is the only way to do it; that the only way to travel the world is to quit your job, sell your stuff, and buy a laptop to take your show on the road.

Well guess what? You definitely don't have to quit your job in order to travel the world.

Travel quote

I've written before about the fact that you CAN, in fact, have your cake and eat it, too. You CAN fit travel into a more “normal” lifestyle — one that includes a job and a fixed address.

And so I'm here to tell you about why I DIDN'T quit my job to travel the world.

To be fair, I HAVE quit jobs before. I quit a waitressing job after college in order to take a “big kid job” at a newspaper in 2009. And I quit that newspaper job in 2011 in order to go back to school once I decided to get my master's degree. After I finished graduate school in 2013, I chose not to look for a new job right away. Instead, I decided to try my hand at blogging and freelancing full-time — so I could travel more, of course.

This might *sound* like quitting a job to travel the world — but in reality it was taking on a completely different form of employment.

Office on Mykonos
My workspace went from a desk at Kent State's library to places like this.

Right after grad school, I took off on what was supposed to be a 7-month trip around the world. I was going to lay on beaches in Greece and play with elephants in Thailand and eat ALL the pasta in Italy. I was going to visit markets and soak up history and meet all sorts of cool people.

I decided my blog was at a point where it could support me financially (as long as I picked up some freelance work along the way, too), and only saved up a small amount before flying to Europe.

You probably think this sounds awesome. And, in many ways, it WAS awesome. Traveling is the single best thing I've ever done in my life, and it's changed me in so many ways.

Travel quote

But, before you idealize it too much, let me tell you that this sort of lifestyle is HARD, guys. Like, really hard. Yes, I got to see some amazing places. And yes, it was nice being my own boss and making my own hours. But, in the end, I just couldn't hack it.

Flashback. It was the summer of 2013, a couple of months into my epic around-the-world trip. I was in a hostel bar in Florence at 1 p.m. on a Friday, ripping my hair out as I fought to connect to the hostel's woefully weak wifi signal. It only worked in the afternoons (when nobody else was trying to use it), and so naturally getting any work done meant skipping out on other things like art museums and walking tours.

I cried myself to sleep one night because I was so stressed out about meeting my deadlines when I couldn't find a decent wifi signal — it almost ruined my week in Florence.

Flash forward a few weeks to me on a bus in Poland, close to tears once again because I was down to less than $100 in my bank account as I waited for nearly $2,000 in freelance invoices to be paid — of course they were ALL late.

Living this way was beyond stressful, and by the time I hit the 3-month mark of my trip, I realized that this sort of lifestyle wasn't really for me. I couldn't deal with hustling so much for work, and never knowing when I would get paid (and having to chase down money I was owed) gave me my first gray hairs.

I decided to go home early — mostly because I was broke, but also so I could spend some time re-evaluating things. For so long, I thought that the whole “I quit my job to travel the world” thing would become my story, too. But, as it turns out, my story was about to take on a slightly different plot.

Travel quote

I knew I didn't want to stop traveling, and I knew I didn't want to give up the freedom that goes along with being location-independent (i.e. not bound to an office). But I also knew that being permanently nomadic, jumping from city to city and freelance gig to freelance gig, wasn't going to work for me.

Yet, I knew I couldn't stop traveling, either. I've been bitten by the travel bug, and, as Michael Palin once said, “I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”

Giving up travel was not an option — so what was left to do?

Travel quote

Eventually, I decided to take a few months off from traveling and focus on finding work that I could do remotely but that would guarantee me a steady paycheck each month.

And that's exactly what I did. I GOT a job instead of quitting one.

Taking time to search for work that would still allow me a lot of flexibility paid off — I'm now working part-time for an awesome social media startup. The pay (coupled with the other freelance work I'm doing and the occasional blog ad or brand partnership) is enough for me to feel secure, and the fact that I work remotely means I can put in my hours from anywhere in the world.

GETTING a job instead of QUITTING one was actually the best thing to happen to me.

It means I have more balance; more stability. I don't have to rely on advertising on my site quite as much anymore to ensure that I can pay my rent (or my new health insurance bills — yuck). I can plan bigger and cooler trips. And I can be more selective about which companies I do and don't work with.

For me, it's the ideal situation. In 2015, I'll be visiting at least 2 new countries, and will be going back to about 4 more that I've visited and loved in the past. I know I won't have any of those crying-in-my-room-because-I'm-so-broke moments any more, which will mean I can tell even better stories than before.

Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook
There's no telling where I might go next!

I'm not saying you have to table your dream of ditching the cubicle to travel the world — feel free to keep that inspirational calendar on the wall and to keep squirreling away money in that piggy bank. I'm just saying that the travel lifestyle you've been dreaming of might not actually exist.

Instead of quitting your job and selling all your stuff to travel when you don't even know if you'll LIKE that lifestyle, find out how to pack more travel into the lifestyle you already have.

There are plenty of ways to travel a lot that don't necessarily require you to completely quit your job. The 9-5 doesn't HAVE to suck.

Here are 5 ways you can keep your job AND spend more of your time traveling:

  • Maximize your paid vacation time — In the U.S., I know that our paid vacation time sucks. Companies aren't actually required to give you ANY, so most people are pretty happy to get 2 weeks of paid vacation per year. If this is all you get, try to maximize it by planning travel around other paid holidays and weekends. If you're able to work holidays and “bank” extra days off, do it and extend your travel time even more.
  • Ask if you can do your job remotely — In a day and age where smartphones and wifi are the norm, many jobs can now be done from home — or remotely. Even if you've worked in an office all your life, that doesn't mean that your job HAS to be done from an office. If you have a good relationship with your boss, consider having a chat to see if your job might be able to be done remotely. You would still have to work, but this would give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to travel.
  • Ask if you can work remotely for a few weeks out of the year — If working remotely permanently isn't an option, see if you can negotiate a few weeks per year. You could then pair this with your paid vacation time to go on longer trips abroad.
  • Look for a job that requires you to travel — If you're not tied to your current job, consider looking for a new one that would require you to travel for work. A business trip on a Thursday or Friday could easily extend into a long weekend in a new city — and you could probably rack up a decent amount of frequent flyer miles, too.
  • Consider if you have skills/knowledge you could leverage into a freelance position — Lastly, take stock of your skills. Do you have any specialized ones that you could take advantage of? Maybe start a part-time business on the side and, if it does well, do what I did and go freelance! Now, don't get me wrong — being a freelancer can be more work than a normal 9-5 job. But getting to be your own boss and travel whenever you want certainly makes up for the extra hours.

And, at the end of the day, just remember that you don't HAVE to quit your job in order to see the world. I didn't, and it's working out pretty well for me!

So what do you think? Have you ever considered quitting your job in order to travel?



"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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214 Comments on “Why I DIDN’T Quit My Job to Travel

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  1. The great thing about travel is that it is meant to be freeing. No one should be stuck in the “you have to travel this way” mind-frame. It’s great that you chose to travel the way you want, when you want. All the best for your future travels 🙂

      Thanks for the support, Gus!

    I love this post, Its good to see a successful travel blogger that’s not a full time traveler or nomad. Travel is all about doing what works for you

      Thanks, Andrew! There are plenty of other bloggers like me out there – it definitely IS all about doing what works best for you (and sometimes about ignoring when other people try to tell you how you *should* be doing it).

    great post! I think it is a great idea to combine travel with your work passions – i too find that working short contracts abroad and relocating and travelling after and between each contract works well for me – giving me a few months off between contracts to continue with my masters and blogging – which i really really enjoy, and the work contracts are what funds what i enjoy for the time being 🙂 nice blog header too 🙂

      That sounds pretty perfect to me! Sounds like you have plenty of freedom – which is great for people like us who crave to be on the move a lot!

    Amanda I love this post, and I can certainly relate to travel/working burnout. I think, at least for now, I’ve come to realize that I need some kind of steady and work and paycheque to keep me going. The I quit my job to travel idea is great for some people, but it certainly isn’t what I want right now. Glad you’ve been able to find a job that you seem to love and gives you lots of opportunities to still travel.

      I’m so happy that so many people can relate to this! I’ve definitely found a good balance and couldn’t be happier!

    At last. Someone who agrees with me! Well done Amanda! I did all my travel around the world stuff in my GAP year and as a young professional and I had all the time in the world. I’m now an expat and a corporate professional in a job that delights me every day. Why would I want to quit it? However, once you have the travelling bug, you get creative, and make it work. I work 30 hours a week, I’m married, and I have a child and with all that, I still managed to travel to 10 countries last year without quitting a single thing. If it’s OK, here’s the post that I wrote about it: https://thebritishberliner.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/how-i-can-afford-a-life-of-travel-dont-choose-have-it-all/

      Yup, once you fall in love with travel, it’s easy to get creative and figure out how to fit it into your lifestyle!

    Hey, love this post! Also, I noticed that when I view your site on my iPhone the icons for facebook, pinterest, etc pop up right on the middle of all your beautiful photos. Kind of distracting.. just thought you should know. (not trying to be rude at all btw)

      Thanks for letting me know! The plugin I have for that must not be entirely mobile friendly.

      Glad you liked the post though. 🙂

    […] Why Amanda from Dangerous Business didn’t quit her job to travel, despite an overwhelming majority of travel bloggers who tout it as the best option for a travel lifestyle. This resonates with me a lot right now and is what would fit my lifestyle the most, I think. […]

    I have thought about quitting my job and backpacking around the world. Although, the sound of having a nomadic backpack toting life sounded like something I could totally do, I’ve always wondered if I could survive without flat irons, salon visits, limited wifi, skipping a mani-pedi here and there. Well you have definitely given candid insight on that, not so sure if that life is for me either. But it doesn’t change the fact that I love to travel and have a steady income. I guess I’ll stick to being a flight attendant along with my travel writing and blogging, Thanks for the info!!

      You could always try a longer trip (maybe a couple of months) to see if that sort of lifestyle would work for you. You never know!

    Excellent piece! There are many travel bloggers out here misleading people into thinking that everyone can AND should quit their jobs to travel. While I think it would be a wonderful thing to do, it’s not attainable by most folks. This post is a realistic approach to traveling.

      Thanks, Toya! I know my case is still quite different from most people’s (I travel much more than the average American!), but I definitely do try to take a more realistic approach when giving people advice!

    What a coincidence, I just finished writing a post about working online.

    I read a lot of these posts about “go quit your job and go travel” and always end up disagreeing with people.
    Or posts like start a blog and earn money while traveling. Not good advise at all, its like saying go to L.A. and become an actor.

    Especially in times like this with the recession, it is irresponsible to give advise like that.
    If you really want to travel for a long time and have to quit your job for it, then you can considering doing it. Maybe work out arrangements with your boss if you return home.

    We are lucky that we live in a time many things are done over the internet. Think ahead and start working on getting a job where you can work online and travel at the same time.

    Great post.

      Thanks for the great comment, Albert! I like reading inspiring “quit your job to travel” posts, but I agree that it’s probably not possible (or smart) for many people.

      I know quite a few travelers who went traveling for a year or so, and then returned to their previous jobs – it never hurts to ask your boss about taking leave like that!

    i loved this article and completely agree. I always question anyone who says quitting your job and traveling the world is supposedly the easiest thing ever. Having lived abroad for 10 years and traveling for my job, freelancing jobs, etc… It’s not easy, and anyone who says it is might be a bit of a charlatan.

      Haha yeah it’s definitely not as easy as some people make it out to be. I mean, sure, if you saved up a ton of money and then decided to go traveling it might be easy for a while. But what happens once you have to start making money again?

    This was such an encouraging post to read. I’m back in the U.S. after living the expat life in Korea, and it’s so hard going to back to the 9-5. But I agree that quitting your job to travel isn’t the only solution. I would kill for a remote job. What are the top skills necessary for the type of work you do? Thanks again for this refreshing post 🙂

      The remote job I have now came to me like most jobs come to people – I saw a listing for a (paid) internship with a great company that was blogging-related. So I applied for it, highlighting all the skills I’ve learned as a travel blogger over the past 4 years. They loved it, hired me, and eventually offered me a more permanent contract spot. In my case, I leveraged my blogging know-how into other work.

    Thank you for the inspirational post! I am too trying to build a solid freelance career while having a more stationary life in one place and hopefully this will give me more freedom to travel on the side too:) It’s so nice to hear this is possible!

      It’s definitely possible! You just have to be persistent and patient, but you certainly can make it work!

    I’m glad you wrote this! First, I fully believe that people should do what’s right for them and should be flexible enough in life to try new things at different times, so whatever type of work and lifestyle people choose should be respected. While I’d love to be location independent so that I could travel the world, I won’t, at least not any time soon, and I’ve accepted that. Part of the reason I won’t quit my job is that I have an awesome job! There’s such a middle ground between being “stuck” in a job and being location independent. There’s a rewarding job that does a lot of good in one’s community, that reaches people and fosters something positive.

    One thing I would add to your list is planning for a career that allows for flexibility. In my work, I can take a year off and then come back to the same position. I can also work extra for a while and bank the time (instead of taking the extra paycheck), and when I have enough time banked, I can take 8 months off fully paid. I also get 4 full months of paid vacation a year. Having a full-time job definitely doesn’t have to mean working in a cubicle and getting only 2 weeks paid vacation!

      Sounds like you have an awesome job, Jenna! And I agree about respecting how others choose to live/work. Other travelers ask me all the time why my boyfriend doesn’t travel with me more, and many are horrified when I tell them he works a “normal” corporate job. But guess what? He really likes it, so I would never suggest he do anything else if he doesn’t want to!

    Totally agree Amanda! I already started to write a blog post (in german) about why I don’T want to quit my job but am also able to travel a lot! Thumbs up from a german travel blogger.


      Thanks, Katrin! Good to hear you’re figured out how to fit travel into the lifestyle you want!

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