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

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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?

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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

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

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  1. I LOVE this post! I’ve been reading tons of travel blogs lately (I really need a vacation) and most of the posts I’ve come across make it seem like you have to go all in if you want to see the world.

    The thing is I really love my job! I’m a book conservator which means I work in a special collections library with rare books….they can’t exactly come to me, so I need to stick to my home base if I want to keep doing the job I love. Thank you for writing from the perspective of someone who wants a place to call home! I love traveling, but I really love coming home, sleeping in my own bed on my perfectly dented pillow.

    You have inspired me to take the time to plan my vacations around holiday days to get the most out of my time off. It’s a really good idea.

    All the best,
    Kristi

      I’m so glad you connected with this post, Kristi! It definitely does not have to be all or nothing when it comes to travel. I definitely believe you can have a settled life AND still have lots of cool adventures!

    Agree with you. I do have a 9/5 Job and travel nevertheless. It is not always necessary to fly very far away for a longer time. You can also do short trips to neighbour countries e.g. by using bridging days and fishing for some great flight deals. And it also counts as travelling ๐Ÿ™‚

      Any trip away from home counts as traveling in my book!

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m traveling full time with my boyfriend since a half a year, we left everything back, searching for a new purpose… and the pressure to become a digital-nomad is there. Well while travelling, seeing the influencers and other remote workers life, it looked for me really similar to my life in the office… I noticed, that I won’t be that dependent to a good internet connection.

      Work is work. Being able to work from anywhere is definitely nice, but it’s definitely still work!

    You are absolutely right, nowadays most of the post we received about travel blogger is focussed on quitting job and travel. I always keep thinking how can anyone afford to travel after quiting a job. You have mentioned valid points and reason to support and encourage those people who are traveller but can’t quite their job. It is an appreciable post. Thanks Amanda, will like to connect such inspiring people.

      Some people save up for a long time before quitting their jobs to travel, but that’s still not possible for everyone (i.e. people who have families, those who need medical insurance, etc.). Thankfully you don’t have to quit your job to travel!

    Thank you for writing this article and encouraging people that it is okay to keep their job while traveling. More often, I read articles on why people should quit their job and travel like it is easy as 1,2,3 but it’s not practical for them to quit because they have families, or debt, they need to pay off.

      Exactly – quitting your job to travel isn’t necessarily easy or a good option for everyone!

    Nice blog and very nice post too. In Africa we say a person who doesn’t travel thinks only his mom can cook the best food… fancy that! Nice pictures too.

      Ahh but sometimes Mom really does cook the best food! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I must say again that I love your blog. Looks like I’m going to be a daily visitor. Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you. Haha.

      Hey, I like daily visitors!!

    Very true! Some years ago, I wanted to quit my job to travel full time. That was long before this whole “quit-your-job-to-travel” became a thing. However, I figured out that keeping my job had bigger advantages. So, what I did was find ways to travel while keeping my job. It works well — travel is a good break to recharge me, office work is great source of funds for my travel. Great to know someone who share the same belief as mine.

      Yes! I think you can definitely find the balance between work and travel so that you don’t have to choose one or the other!

    I agree that going remote isn’t for everyone. I’ve met people who thrive in the corporate setting and not having a specific routine may end up boring them. Sometimes, I feel like going remote is a bit harder and requires more self-discipline. Everyone thinks I’m living the dream, but really, I’m just working in an environment that best fits my personality.

      Remote work definitely isn’t for everyone! There are even days where it isn’t for me because I have no one to prod me to not procrastinate. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Beautifully written amanda on this topic. It really an eye-opener reading your article.

    Hey there, so happy to have stumbled upon your article!
    Very honest, and full of choices for those who are waiting for the ‘right’ time to travel. There is no right time, you only have to make the most of it! ๐Ÿ™‚
    We have our stable jobs, but still managed to visit 10 countries this year! And soon a 3-months off without payment, will hopefully follow next year. So yeah..plenty of ways to travel the world without having to give up everything!
    Very good post!
    Safe and happy travels!
    Anita&Geo @haihuistory.com

      You really can have both if you make it a priority and get a little creative with it!

    I can say from experience that remote working is sometimes more hassle than it is worth. I work for a company that allows 1 week of paid vacation per year and 1 week for sick days. I always try to at the very least take a trip to another state or do something new. We are a small business, so I actually convinced my boss to use a joint “fun fund” we all pitch into to take us on a trip to ireland sinc he owns property there! Hes letting us work while we are there. Its a pretty awesome work around if you work for a small business.

      I love the idea of a “fun fund,” Julie! Sounds like a great incentive for employees, too.

    Thank you so much for writing this! I have been following travel blogs for years and I just cant find a way to make long term travel possible, even for like six months!! The economy crashed in my home province in Canada when I finished university and work has been hit and miss. I had to move to another province to find good work.
    Now that I have something going for me I can pursue a lot of my life goals here..but travel is still the hardest for me to swing, even though it is near and dear to my heart!

    It’s hard watching all my friends go to exotic places when I am stuck trying to pay for things here, but I know one step at a time and I will be able to make a dream journey come true. I’ve been to seven countries so far but my list is waaayyy longer! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks so much for posting that travel doen’t need to be an all or nothing choice! It helps keep my chin up and my heart optimistic!

    Best wishes to you!!

      Stay optimistic, Tiffany! It definitely doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing choice, but I do understand that travel isn’t always financially possible for everyone. But it sounds like you’re on the right track!

    Amen! We never felt like we were a part of “the community” because we both worked full-time corporate jobs. We’ve always said – do your own thing. The only right way to travel is your way. Thanks for writing!

      “Do your own thing” is good advice in just about any situation – and definitely applies to this crazy blogging world! We can’t possibly all do the same thing.

    Amanda! I love this post. It speaks right too me and is so freeing. You can live a normal life with a career, home base, friends and go travel too. It’s not all or nothing at all or the either or. Sometimes I feel my life wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t give it all up to go travel. This is such a lie! I with you, I like my comfort, my home to come back to, my friends, schedule and people that I’ve known for years. I work a customer service/retail job so it’s easy for me to request a sabbatical maybe 1-2 months off as long as it’s not peak season in the store. Thanks for telling us its ok to be “normal.”

      Just like with most things in life, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

        Update: I now live an work in New Zealand. I’m here on a working holiday. I might stay here permanently. I have a job as a mental health support worker here in Wellington. There are so many exciting places to go see within New Zealand that aren’t far to get to. Australia isn’t far away either. I feel like coming here to NZ has satisfied that part of me that loves to travel

          That’s amazing, Kara! I lived in Wellington for about 5 months back in 2008 and absolutely love that city!

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