You Don’t Have to Ditch the 9 to 5 in Order to Travel

Last updated on:
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

I've been at this whole travel blogging thing for a while now – nearly seven years, in fact.

And in those seven years, I've noticed a trend that has remained fairly constant throughout my world of travel blogs and Instagram accounts: the insistence that you'll only ever be happy and fulfilled if you quit your job to travel the world.

While many cubicle dwellers probably do dream about handing in their two-weeks notice in order to go gallivanting around the globe, there are plenty of others for whom that's either just not feasible, or who simply don't have the desire to leave their current lifestyle behind in order to travel.

And I just wanted to say today that that's okay.

Amanda at Fort Island Gulf Beach

The people out there who insist that travel and a 9-to-5 job can't possibly exist in harmony together in someone's life have missed the mark, in my opinion.

Sure, I love the location-independent life that I've been lucky enough to be able to build for myself, but I would never tell someone else that this is the only route to happiness and a travel-filled life. I never truly “quit my job to travel,” mostly because I never felt comfortable enough to do so – and I also realized fairly early in my travel career that being a digital nomad without a home was not the lifestyle for me.

You don't have to ditch the 9-to-5 in order to travel. And here are a few reasons why you maybe shouldn't.

Reasons you SHOULDN'T quit your job to travel

1. Travel is not cheap

There's no way around it: travel costs money. And, depending on where in the world you want to travel, the amount of money required can balloon exponentially (I'm looking at you, Australia and the UK!).

Unless you've spent years saving up money in order to take a long-term dream trip, chances are it's not going to be financially feasible for you to quit your job to travel.

Amanda on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland
Some parts of the world just simply are not cheap – like Iceland!

And this is fine! Quitting a job to travel when you aren't financially able to do so just isn't smart. I can tell you from personal experience that stressing about money on the road takes away from your enjoyment of your travels.

2. Remote work isn't for everyone

Many people will tell you that, in order to afford the digital nomad lifestyle, you just need to get a job that will let you work remotely. And, while this is good advice in theory, the reality is that it's not always easy to just “get a remote job.” Many remote jobs still require you to work a certain number of hours per day – and sometimes even a specific set of hours per day.

Remote work can also be challenging if you've never been your own boss before. Do you know how difficult it can be to get motivated when you have the freedom to work in your pajamas and check Facebook whenever you want??

GowithOh apartment in Barcelona, Spain
Remote work isn't always this scenic.

And, when it comes down to it, some people actually do enjoy working in a corporate or office environment with a set routine every day. Maybe it's not everyone's dream to work in a cubicle, but I don't think anyone has the right to judge people who do really like things like set work hours, a steady paycheck, health benefits, and a 401K.

3. Long-term travel isn't for everyone

Like I mentioned before, I discovered a while ago that long-term travel and I just don't mix. Even though at one point I assumed I would be perfectly happy to travel indefinitely, I learned that a state of constant movement just wore me out and actually made me a little unhappy. 

I really *like* having a home base and familiar things to return to after being away for a while. My travel style, it turns out, is one more suited to shorter adventures.

Many bloggers and digital nomads will tell you that you can't truly “travel” on shorter trips, and that you need to spend a lot of time in a place to truly experience it. And while it is true that you'll probably never feel like a local in a destination if you only stay for a few days, it doesn't mean that one travel style is inherently better than the other.

Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and interests, and this means that one travel style doesn't fit all.

Amanda at Horseshoe Bend

So if you feel like the only way to “really travel” is to quit your job, pack a backpack, and hit the road forever, I'm here to tell you that that definitely is not the only way.

4. You don't *have* to travel in order to be fulfilled

Lastly, this whole post kind of assumes that you do actually want to travel, or that you feel that your life will be more fulfilled if you go out and explore the world. This has certainly been true for me, but it would be naive and maybe even ignorant of me to assume that this is true of everyone.

You've probably heard this travel quote by Saint Augustine before:

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

It's a good quote, to be sure, but it actually kind of bothers me. If you think about, it basically suggests that people who don't travel are uneducated and close-minded; that they're somehow missing something vital in their lives if they don't travel.

But I'm calling bullshit on this one.

Travel is not a priority for everyone, and not all people would be upset if they never left their home country, state, or even city. And yet we're supposed to look down on people for this? That's just silly.

Amanda in Cleveland
Hey, I like being home in Ohio, too!

I *do* think that travel helps break down prejudices and can teach us a lot about the world, but I don't think it's fair to judge people for whom traveling just isn't important.

For me, traveling and running this blog help me feel fulfilled. But for other people, working a 9-to-5 and raising a family might be the things that make them feel fulfilled. And neither scenario is “better” than the other.

So if you've never been inspired by all those “I quit my job to travel the world” posts, that's totally fine. That doesn't have to be your path.

You don't have to quit your job to travel

Let's say you DO want to travel, but leaving your job isn't something you want to do. There are definitely ways to have both a job and home base AND still travel a lot.

Some ways you can do this include:

Make the most of vacation time and holidays. If you're an American, you probably don't get a lot of paid vacation time. But assuming you do get *some* time off, be sure that you're taking advantage of it (don't be like all those people who leave vacation days on the table every year!). You can stretch your 2 weeks much further if you plan travel around paid holidays, or if you can elect to work your holidays and save them up for later. And if you have a work trip during the week? Extend it into a weekend so you can have time to explore without using any vacation time.

Amanda in Seattle
There are tons of great destinations for long weekends – like Seattle!

Keep an eye on travel deals. Going back to that point about travel being expensive, you can make it more manageable by keeping an eye on and taking advantage of travel deals. Check sites like Groupon for local deals, and sign up for mailing lists from specific airlines, or from travel aggregators like TravelZoo, so you can be alerted to big savings opportunities.

Travel closer to home. Many people assume that “traveling” has to include long plane journeys and far-away destinations. But this isn't true! You can travel closer to home, too, which costs less and usually doesn't require nearly as much vacation time. And no matter where you live, chances are there are really interesting things to see and do within a couple hours of you.

Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie
Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie in Ohio (less than 2 hours from where I live!).

Take a sabbatical. If you think that long-term travel *might* be something you'd like to do, I always recommend trying it out first before you go all-in. Before you completely quit your job and sell all your stuff, see if it's possible to do a trial run for at least a few weeks. Talk to your boss about taking a sabbatical or some unpaid leave – it won't work with every employer, but some might be agreeable to it. And this way if you decide you hate the nomadic lifestyle, you'll still have the safety net of a job to go back to until you figure out what to do next.

Look for jobs that require travel. Even though traveling for work usually isn't the same as traveling for fun, there *are* plenty of jobs out there that require some amount of travel. Maybe looking for a job like this would help you scratch that travel itch while still giving you the financial security of a full-time job.

Cultivate skills that can be done remotely. Think that maybe the 9-to-5 isn't quite the right fit, but can't rely on savings to feed your travel habit? This is the case for many people, so don't feel like you're alone. Before you quit your job, I would figure out what skills you already have that could be translated to freelance or remote work. (Can you write? Edit? Build websites? Design awesome graphics?) And if you don't already have a skill that could potentially give you some location freedom, figure out if there's a way to cultivate one of these skills. Is there a night class you could take after work, or a weekend seminar, or even an online course?

Amanda at Moraine Lake
Travel photography is tough to make money from, but it's an option!

At the end of the day, just remember that you are living YOUR life, and you know far better than anyone on the internet what will and won't work for your lifestyle (and hey, that applies to me, too!).

If you don't feel the urge to quit your job and travel, don't. And don't let anyone make you feel bad about it.

Because the truth is that you can absolutely have a 9-to-5 job and still enjoy traveling the world.

READ NEXT: 10 Tips for How to Travel More with Limited Vacation Time

What do you think? Do you think there's pressure to either have a job OR travel the world?

Pin it for later:

You don't have to quit your job 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

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

120 Comments on “You Don’t Have to Ditch the 9 to 5 in Order to Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. This is why I love this blog, you’re a great source for realistic/helpful advice for someone like me – I take a few trips a year with my girlfriends, we’re in our late 20s, we all have jobs and limited vacation days (some of up more than others ;p) and a lot of the travel advice out there just isn’t feasible for us. I’d love to spend at least a month in every city that I go to savoring every detail, but I just can’t. Your travel style is so much like ours as far as length of trips, how much you spend/ when you splurge, the activities you choose and they types of places that you like to stay. It’s so refreshing to see advice from someone who is relate-able. Every trip there’s at least one experience where my friends are like “This is awesome! Where did you find this? It was on that blog wasn’t it”. We went to Thailand and Cambodia in November and did an overnight at ENT, and my friends kept saying “I’m so glad you read that blog…” because I don’t know if we would have found such an awesome and ethical experience. Even places that I visited before discovering your blog…we did like, the exact same things lol. Our travel souls are kindred spirits ๐Ÿ™‚ Safe travels!

      Aww thank you so much! This is pretty much the best comment ever, and I’m so happy that you and your friends have gotten some ideas from my blog! It’s always awesome to meet kindred travel souls. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve enjoyed your posts on this thread in the past and I like this one as well! I feel like the whole “quit your job and travel the world” thing is just not…realistic and not what everyone wants. Sure, it sounds great, but quitting your job doesn’t mean you won’t be working in a different way. I am trying to quit my job and work remotely (thankfully, I enjoy writing and the work I get as a virtual assistant) but I really am doing it for the freedom. I can work and do something that I enjoy (or at least do not hate) and have plenty of time to travel without having to worry. That is pretty hard to do in the field I have my 9-5 in.

      So true! It’s not what everyone wants, and not something that will realistically work for everyone, either. And, like you said, you still have to find *some* kind of work in 99% of cases!

    I just discovered your blog, and I’m so very glad that I did. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am one of those people that would love to be nomadic, but I have three young granddaughters that keep me tethered, and a son with one more year of high school, not to mention I’m not financially there yet. My husband is convinced that he can’t feasibly earn enough either, and currently he is right. I would love to be someone who could earn money wherever I am, while seeing plenty of my kiddos and the world in some awesome stew of fulfillment. Someday I will sell my house, get something much smaller and cheaper, and take them all traveling with me. Ahh, there’s the real dream (for many locations at least, I do daydream about solo travel sometimes, and/or just me and the Mr.). I’m rambling…

      Definitely something you can plan for in the future – downsizing in order to save money for travel is a great (and attainable!) idea!

    It is one of my bugbears: Too many travel bloggers are very condescending (or at least come across that way) about those of us who don’t travel full time. My children’s’ education makes full-time travel impossible and, anyway I agree with you, it would just be exhausting.
    However, my 10-year-old son has still been to well over 20 counties. I am a teacher! However, we have been living abroad since the turn of the century. Every major city in the world has at least one international school and provide the opportunity to build a career in a more relaxed environment compared tom say working in the UK or US systems. In that time we have lived in 5 different countries, so get that in-depthness you blogged about. We go away on shorter trips often, have the money and security to do this thanks to working full-time, a home base, pensions and those other benefits too.
    Many (most?) jobs would allow one to work abroad if you are willing to make the leap! However, each to their own. Just showing that the options open to one are many and varied.

      Sounds like you guys have an ideal set-up! The stability of full-time jobs, but the freedom to see a lot of the world and the flexibility to live abroad. That’s great, and I’m sure your kids will really appreciate it when they’re older!

    I love this article. It breaths reality and opens the door for most people to see how they can enjoy the freedom of travel while having a full-time career. I work for a major tour operator and get to travel quite a bit for both work and fun. While I love the fun destinations and people I get to visit, I actually spend many of my free weekends exploring my own backyard (Colorado and the 4 corners area). North America (Central and South America too) have so many wonderful places if people would leave their car in the lot and use their own power (feet, bike, boat, etc.) to get out and enjoy the amazing environment around them. I find that spending a few days a month in nature makes all those busy trips to major cities more exciting. Great post and thank you for sharing your insights!

      I try to dedicate some time each year to exploring closer to home (or at least within the US), too. There are SO many amazing places to discover right here.


    What a beautiful lifestyle you have! And what inspring photo’s! I’m really jealous now, because apart from the money this is also something which I cannot combine with my social life (family, kids (teenagers). But it really is something for my whishlist! So thanks for the inspiration!

      You can definitely still travel with kids/teens, though!

    Yes, this! I’ve always said that I could never work remotely; I would have zero motivation and also feel guilty whenever I was exploring since I wasn’t doing work. What’s worked for me the past couple years is working for a year then quitting and taking a month or two to take a big trip with money I saved up. It works for me because I live with my parents so don’t have rent and can save almost my entire paycheck, and also I’m still young and working at service jobs that are easy to quit and easy to find. But someone else might hate that technique of saving and traveling. It’s really individualized

      You’re so right – travel is such an individual thing. As long as you’ve found something that works for you, that’s all that matters!

    I just came across your blog today. (3-27). Very inspirational. As a retired air traffic controller who travels with my disabled daughter, I haven’t been very focused, but I did recognize sitting at home 24/7 isn’t an option. I am switching to aviation photography so I can remained connected to aviation. 2016 was a fun summer for my daughter and myself and 2017 promises to be even better! Following your blog will allow me to get a feel for the blogging thing. I look forward to joy of travel even more!..โ€ฆโ€ฆ.Tom

      Aviation photography sounds cool! I have a few aviation fans in my own family. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you do indeed have an even better travel year in 2017!

    It drives me crazy, the stigma in our travel universe that you’re only a true traveler if you live the life of a full-time nomad. Anytime, I have back-to-back trips and am gone more than 10 days, I start to feel panic with all the work that piles up in my absence and am more than happy to get back home again. I like living a life of balance and I LOVE owning a home. So excited for you to start your next chapter, too =)

      I’m with you – back-to-back trips tend to stress me out because I can never fall into my “work routine” when I’m on the road, and I end up falling so behind on everything!


    This is so what my blog is about!

    I have a corporate job which I absolutely love and I still travel a hell of a lot. In fact, I’ve already been to 4 countries, and we’re still only in March!

    p.s. Even though I love travelling to exotic places my husband doesn’t, and that’s perfectly alright! ‘Nice one Amanda!

      Wow 4 countries already this year! That’s awesome! And definitely proves that you CAN have both!

    I think there is so much pressure to quit your job and travel if you want to travel “for real.” I’m glad you’ve called this out because it’s just ridiculous. Personally, I have a location independent business and my husband has a 9-to-5. When I’m at home (which is most of the time!) I run my business based on his works schedule so that we can make the most of our time together. And I love the routine. I enjoy quitting work at 6 and cooking dinner in my own kitchen. But I love location independence too because offices exhaust me and when I do travel I can stay a little longer because I don’t have to take off from work. I imagine it’s better (at least for me) than the vagabonding existence I wanted for myself when I was 22.

      Different things work for different people, but I’m absolutely with you! I’m technically “location independent” now, but I actually find it really difficult to work when I’m not at home in my familiar “work” environment!

    Yes! I also try to combine my regular full-time job with travels. I’m a teacher and I try to use my holiday and break time to go hiking. I hope to go more often for long weekend trips and use my summer vacation to the fullest.

    I not only can’t afford quitting my job, but I also like it! Writing a blog helps me re-live my trips for much longer (going back to my photos and writing a focused story on it).

    As I’m mostly a hiker, I probably wouldn’t be able to do more than a month in a row of hiking non-stop, it’s actually really tiring! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Happy travel, Amanda and thank you for this post!

    Ioanna (A Woman Afoot)

      Teaching is a great profession for travel-lovers since you get some pretty great breaks throughout the year!

    Good points but in practice unfortunately travelling only couple of weeks a year keeps the unfilfillement sentiment all along and the attempt to do as much as possible within the holiday period is ending up typcially in higher spending costs all across, not mentionning flights in itself, willing to see as much as possible in as short time as possible. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!=)

      I don’t necessarily agree – and there are plenty of people who, frankly, don’t have any other choice. Not everyone is able to have unlimited vacation time, as much as they might like it. (Not to mention that not everyone would feel “unfulfilled” with only a couple weeks of vacation every year. Not everyone loves travel!)

    Thank you for writing this post. Every word you wrote is 100% true. Although a sabbatical interests me, I could never travel full-time; I need the comforts of a home! Plus, where can I display and enjoy all those goodies I’ve collected while on the road?

      Haha good point about all those cool souvenirs!

    This post speaks so much to me. As a remote worker who tries to travel as much as possible while still maintaining a home base, I can tell you: it can be logistically challenging. I’m lucky to be able to take my job anywhere but I have to maintain an 8-5 PST schedule. Currently, I’m focusing more on travel within my own state and trips I can do over the weekend.

      Ooo yes, having a set schedule of work hours definitely makes it tough! But it sounds like you’re striking a good compromise – and actually you could travel virtually anywhere in North (and South!) America and be able to stick to those hours.

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On