How To Leave Your Job And 'Travel The World'
Well, I did it.
I put my two weeks notice in with my "Corporate America" employer. I'm going to meet up with my girlfriend in South East Asia and explore what this planet has to offer. I won't get a steady pay check for at least the next seven months.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous as hell. I'm so freaking nervous.
Here's how I, a regular dude with an engineering degree, got to this position. It's the most exciting point in my life.
STEP 1: CATCH THE TRAVEL BUG
Do fun activities that you're interested in.
The travel bug bit me in 2011 when a roommate introduced me to a travel show called Departures. It's about three guys in their mid 20s from Ontario. They left their day jobs and traveled the world for a year. These guys went through unreal experiences that would never have happened had they stayed status quo going about their day jobs. With each passing episode, as I watched these three guys travel across places like India and New Zealand, my whole world flipped upside down.
Prior to the show, my general life direction was to accumulate wealth and material goods, particularly a BMW M3. I had a new hunger now. The thought of living out of a backpack and venturing into the unknown was a challenge I needed to take head on. No matter how close it sounds to being homeless, I needed to experience it. Throw in a reading of Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Workweek, with a dash of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist and hot damn! The travel fire was burning bright.
STEP 2: START WITH SHORT UNCOMFORTABLE TRIPS
Let's level set expectations. You've got to be OK with not staying at a 5 star hotel to do this right (in my opinion). If you can't be happy and content without the finer things in life, don't quit your job. Keep making that paper and spoil yourself on your two to three weeks of vacation.
While working full time I took full advantage of my weekends and ventured out on many short trips. I made sure to take the two week vacations I was entitled to for bigger ticket experiences. I made them as adventurous as possible. These longer two week trips enabled me to test my own hypothesis that perhaps I was okay with giving up most creature comforts for the sake of adventure and discovery.
In 2014, I put my bicycle in a 54" Sony Bravia TV box, flew to Cuba and rode around much of the country with a couple friends. In 2015, I drove a manual 1996 Mazda Miata with the top down the whole way from Toronto to Vancouver (and back), camping outdoors in Canada's underrated national parks. Two weeks per year wasn't enough. The hunger just got worse.
STEP 3: PRIORITIZE, HUSTLE, AND MAKE SACRIFICES (AKA SAVE UP)
Though this isn’t exactly a “How To” article, here’s the gist of how I saved to travel:
Prioritized paying off all debt (student loans) before saving for long term travel. I didn’t want that hanging over my head.
Moved to an area that has a lower cost of living and a higher salary in my field. Even though it had less family/friends/things to do, I moved from Toronto to Detroit/Windsor. On the flip side, this really opened up whole new cities for me to explore. I ended up meeting my girlfriend here who also shares the same travel mindset.
I kept driving my old cars and never indulged in buying/leasing a car like a lot of other professionals my age. That’s an instant savings of $250 - $400 every month.
I still took trips. I still ate out quite a lot. I still had fun. It took almost three years of working after graduation to get in a position to travel without financial stress. I wasn’t suffering by any stretch of the word. Hell, I even gained a ton of resume fillers with a side serving of practical work experience.
STEP 4: PULL THE TRIGGER
It's 2016, leaving employers is no longer taboo. It's almost expected, especially by millennials.
You're probably wondering why I'm giving up a stable career and a lot of savings to jump on the travel bandwagon.
I need to take a break from the routine and get away. I feel like i'm turning into a lifeless robot sitting in my cubicle. I'm looking for some creative inspiration which I'm lacking. I'm going to experience new cultures, live a healthy and adventurous life and take the time to meditate consistently. I hope to return home inspired to do more, not just for myself but for others.
Life is too short to regret this. Big decisions (at the time) end up being a blip on the radar. Maybe it’s that nagging voice in my head saying there must be more to life than sitting in a cubicle looking at excel spreadsheets. Maybe travel is my way of finding it. I want to come back having developed some skills in coding, writing and perhaps videography. Maybe i'll get inspired along the way to start a business. Who knows?
I'm taking this leap as the net impact to my life is unknown. It can be positive or negative. I know how my life will be if I continue to sit in a cubicle and grind away in my current career. I'll make good money, progress up the ladder but I'll always be frustrated. I struggle with being content and will regret not traveling in the long term. I'm all for planning for the future but can't discount the value of living in the present. The present is all we can guarantee with confidence.
If I remove myself from the grind for an extended period of time will my life story get interesting and more fulfilling? Only one way to find out. I'm taking a break Corporate America. Perhaps I'll see you upon my return. If not, thanks for giving me the drive to do something for myself and not you for once.