Should I quit my job and travel the world?

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Should I quit my job and travel the world?

My favourite thing about travel blogging is connecting with our readers.

I ADORE the emails we get from readers sharing their stories and their fears. It inspires me and gives me motivation to keep helping people overcome challenges so they can live the life they really want.

We get a lot of questions and sometimes I’m not sure if I can give the best advice. A recent question was so borderline as to which way to go, and so relevant to many people, I thought I would share it here and ask your opinion.

I’ve included my response below, but I, and the person contacting me, would love to hear what you think.

It would really help him to make a very important, and life-changing decision.

Should I quit my job and travel the world?

I’m 26 years old and from Chili. At the moment, I’m in your beautiful country Australia. I have been all over the East Coast which is stunning (I loved Whitehaven). And in a few weeks more I’m going to Melbourne. But then I’m leaving because I’m going to NZ and after that to South East Asia (for 3 months) and Europe (for 1 month).

I already have been in many countries in my life (20) and on this trip I’m going to visit 16 more countries.

I love traveling and I would like do it for the rest of my life. The problem is I’m a Navy Officer and this year I asked for one year off without pay (this is the reason why I’m here). Being in the Navy is not too bad, you can travel around your country and live in different locations. It’s not bad money, but I don’t like it.

But if I stay in the Navy for 13 more years I can get my pension, that means, if I quit, the Army will pay me good money monthly, for the rest of my life, just for nothing. With this money I could travel around the world without problems. But if I quit before 13 years I wont receive anything.

Also with the pension I can get free health, I mean if I get some injury, medical problem or disease, all the costs are going to be free, for me and for my family. So it’s all about stability, good money and good health.

But like you told me, that is not my real dream. My real dream is traveling around the world. I wanna be everywhere, I wanna meet new people, new places, have more memories, stories, videos, photos, etc.,  and I don’t know if I want a normal life.

I don’t want to be normal. I want to be different, make crazy things and then the people can watch my videos and say “wow, he has been all over the world, in amazing places doing whatever he wants. He has a free soul.

What can I do?

Every day I ask myself the same questions over and over again. Maybe at 39 years I will be too old to travel and it wont be the same if I start traveling now. What do you think? Could you give me some advice please, I’m very confused about what to do?

My response:

Tough decision for you to make! You are definitely at a crossroad. Usually when we are at this place where we agonize endlessly, we really know what we want to do, we are just afraid to take the giant leap.

What you need to do is write a list for each choice – the good old pros and cons. Then for either decision, think

“In 10 years time, what will my life be like if I decide to do this? What will my life be like if I don’t?

I would suggest even projecting yourself forward to a time in that future and writing a day in my life diary entry as if you are actually living it. You’ll have to do this in a quiet space and dig deep within your soul so you can tap into what your true feelings would be.

After you have done all the analyzing and fact gathering and have a clear idea of what your life would be like for either decision, and what your possible regrets would be, you need to sit and allow the right answer to come up from within you, from your gut and your heart.

If you meditate, this would be a good time to do it.

Sometimes you may have to sit on this decision for several days or weeks. Don’t push the process, just let your inner knowing speak to you. Constantly check in with your body to see how it feels with your choice.

Don’t let your head make the decision. Listen to your gut. Your gut knows.

I know this might sound like a strange way to approach making a decision, but it is the best. Your mind speaks through fear, your heart and gut speak the honest truth and will guide you to the right path.

The very last thing you have to do then is to take a giant leap of faith. What ever your decision is, trust it is the right one and everything will work out perfect. Believe that you have the support of the Universe to make it happen.

Just some of my thoughts:

    1. You say you don’t like the Navy. It’s hard to bring a lot of happiness and fulfillment to your day when you do something you don’t like.
    2. Your decision at the moment seems to be based upon money, which is very fair, but try to look it from the angle of making a decision based upon your heart’s calling first. Money can come to you in so many different ways and you don’t want to say no to your heart because you are afraid of not having the money to do what you want.
    3. Maybe continue with the Navy for now, but start putting intentions out there from today for something else to arrive for you where you can still travel and earn money doing something more you are interested in.

Usually the money will come when we follow our heart, BUT it’s very difficult to trust in this, so you may have to take slow steps in order to gently build that trust and push out your comfort zones.

What would you do?

Would you quit your job and travel the world?

Share your thoughts below…

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48 thoughts on “Should I quit my job and travel the world?”

  1. Sweet and short “YES”! If I think back 40 years ago, I should have done what you are thinking of doing! Life is to short not to enjoy every day. Now in saying that, we grew up in a very different world with limited opportunities, so I blame that and because I became responsible for looking after my mom when my dad passed away. Just do it! Good luck! You will become a better person because experiencing different cultures makes you think different about things in life. ENJOY!!!

  2. Well, my answer would be YES. Thirteen years is quite a while to wait, especially if you are not happy. I dropped everything because I wanna see the world. It’s not easy, I tell you. I often cry because I would love to have a stable job I love (because it seems like life would be easier), I miss my friends and my family. But those moments I’m somewhere new, when I can feel my heart beating faster… I realize I made the right choice. I have a huge school debt, but I find the way to pay it while traveling, dollar after dollar. You can work abroad, it’s not always easy, I eat pasta quite often haha but in the end, I feel ALIVE. But hey, you are young, it’s time to explore the world, learn about yourself and with all those new experiences, you’ll find yourself and in the end, you’ll have a job that makes you happy, wherever it is. JUMP! Something awesome is waiting for you on the way…

    1. I feel you.
      I’ve been dreaming and planning about quitting my job and travel around the world.
      But, I, too, don’t have any idea what to do.
      I’m considering about my income while travelling, actually.

  3. great post. i found myself recently in a similar decision making situation. i listed all the reasons i was staying somewhere – at the end of it i asked myself, with all those reasons how many were based around fear? and how many of those reasons actually made you unhappy to think about?

    We focus so much on fitting into societal norms, too much of we think we “need” to do it this way, too afraid of what if we do it different.

    sometimes we just need to take a leap and go down a different path, you might not have the right or wrong answer at the time, but at least you can look back and say you made a decision that you felt was the right thing to do then. Who knows, it might open up even better possibilities down the track that might not have been there if you haven’t have gone down the “wrong” path… 🙂

  4. This is a tough one because you are in a position that most of us are not – at the age of 39, you will get a full pension for the rest of your life. Boom! Just like that. That’s pretty awesome.

    Most others have to choose between quitting their jobs or working until they are 55 or older to get that pension… But your situation is so different from that.

    So I don’t know… I think if it were me, I’d stick it out 13 more years to get that pension, and THEN take my freedom. Otherwise, I think at 39 all I’d be thinking about is “damn! I could have had a sweet pension now!” It’s a risk, since you never know what will happen to you health-wise in that time, but the odds would be good enough for me – 39 is still pretty young and most people still have their health, as long as they take care of themselves in the meantime. (Mind you, I’m not sure how dangerous your job is… if the odds of getting badly hurt, or even killed, are high, then forget it – quit now – it’s not worth it!)

    Also, if quitting your job now means you have a good plan for supporting yourself when you travel, and you have a good plan for where your money will come from in your retirement years, then by all means, go for it! Why not!

    1. I totally agree with this comment. I’m 34 yrs old, married my high school sweetheart and have a 5 year old son. I work in corporate America – health insurance to be exact, and the organization is not always the most inspiring. However – I firmly believe that only u can choose to be happy, no matter where u are, or what you’re doing. I find joy, awe and wonder at work through helping others, instilling confidence, and inspiring those around me. I’m like a little ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy cave. You too can be that ray of sunshine – no matter what you do or where you are. My family and I travel all the time. It’s all about the journey – not to mention who u r on that journey with. There’s no one I’d rather be with than my husband and my son. “This little light of mine -I’m gonna let it shine” 😉

      1. Yes I agree with the two above. 13 years will fly, believe me I’m just turning 40 and can’t believe how my life has flown before me. In two years time we r setting of RTW but we have done the hard yards of “living the Aussie dream” House,kids, jobs etc etc…. If I was in your position witch i might add looks like your on a good wicket, is stick it out, save as much money as you can and every holiday you can backpack to some new and exciting place and before u know it you would have seen soooo many great places and will have so much experience for the big RTW trip!!! Good luck in your decision.

  5. Nobody knows your life, your situation and what you really want – only you do!! But here’s the thing, you can plan all you like for the next 13 years of your life but you have no idea what may come up in those years.

    Say you stay in the navy until you qualify for your pension and then you have the money and benefits for life and can set about your travels. 39 years old is not too old and you can still do so much. But who knows how you will feel then and what may have changed in your life.

    The question I always ask myself is what would I regret most if I didn’t do it. I am 41 years old and currently on a world trip that started 2 1/2 years ago. I was about to buy a house and do what is supposed to be ‘normal’ and then I thought about what I’d always dreamed about, living in South America. So I asked myself, ‘Do I really want that house or would I regret more not having ever lived in South America?’

    Needless to say here I am in Argentina, writing to you to follow your heart and do what it is you truly want. I’ve recently visited Chile, a lovely country I must say but where having spoken to many new friends I discovered that many people there are living a life they don’t truly want because of fear or just because that is how it works there. Maybe because I am Australian I have a different view point on life. Life is now, it’s today and it’s for doing exactly what you want to do and what you want it to be. When you do that, the rest takes care of itself.

    I cannot make a decision for you nor advise you what is right for you. However what I can share is that for the past 2 1/2 years I have been living the life of my dreams and not for a single moment have I ever regretted my decision. I have experienced such incredible moments of joy and met some of the best people I’ve ever met because I chose to take the risk, pack up my life and follow my dreams. I am not rich, I had a great job and who knows where the future will take me….but I don’t care. I am happy NOW, I am free NOW, I am living my dreams RIGHT NOW!!!

    Good luck with your decision, whatever you choose will be right because it is your decision. Just remember that whatever decision you do make, accept it and make it the life you want. Don’t allow it to be something that makes your life sad and stressful, you can still be happy regardless by making that choice every single day.

    If you ever need someone to chat to I am happy to do say…..BUENA SUERTE!!!!

  6. I wish I would have never traveled. Said no one. EVER.

    I had a similar situation where I had a home and a great career but wasn’t my passion.

    I chose to sell my home and quit my job. I booked a one way ticket to London with barely any plans, and a year later I’m Western Australia with more amazing experiences and zest for life than I could have ever imagined in a lifetime.

    It is, and probably will be, the BEST decision I could have ever made. I know it sounds a little much, but it’s the classic scenario of “if a doctor told you that you only had a few days to live, what you regret not doing?” You honestly never know when “you’re gonna go”.

    For all we know this is the one shot you get on this earth so don’t spend another minute longer not pursueing your dreams.

    Good luck, and like others have said trust your heart/gut. If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.

  7. Wow, that is one loaded question. You can drive yourself crazy with “thinking” and you will always find obstacles if you are looking for them. We are in our mid 40s and decided to quit our jobs and travel last year. It has been the best decision of our lives. We are a family of 4 and are certain if all fails, we will find another job.

    As Caz states, you need to follow you gut and that is what we did. It is amazing how “easy” things can seem when you follow your passion. That said, it is our passion. You need to figure that out on your own. You have no idea what the next 13 years is going to deliver to you, whether you do or don’t stay in the Navy. Dig deep and do what feels right and what you can live with. Money and health care are important things to consider.

  8. Personally, I would love to quit my job and travel full time, but for me to take that decision I need to be financially stable. I mean I should have sufficient savings. And traveling full time does not mean I wouldn’t make money! I think traveling full time with a source of constant income is an ideal choice – but the question is how to achieve that? Even I am seeking that answer! I am also one of those who would like to quit the meaningless cubicle and head to the rewarding road! I see myself slowly moving towards that – where I can just sit at home, make a few bucks to sustain myself and save something for travel as well. I am looking for freelancing in writing & photography and also some entrepreneurship.

  9. As the saying goes: When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
    So don’t waste your life doing something you don’t really like.

  10. I would have to say no, 13 years isn’t really that long. 13 years and you can have the rest of your life to enjoy and you and your family will be taken care of. 39 really isn’t that old. You will still be able to enjoy life and enjoy the world. Take care of your family now so you can have a blast later. That is what I would do but its all up to you.

  11. Good questions. Good replies. It all takes a bit of absorbing in quiet time. About 12 years ago we quit our jobs moved into our gypsy house bus and traveled New Zealand. We still do it. At the same time we had no money and trusted to living “Off the Road”. The first year was the hardest but since then endless opportunities came along. We are older people, I’m 61 and my wife is 52 but age doesn’t stop us. We work around NZ then spend months traveling overseas seeing the sights and experiencing the world. In the last few years we have been through much of South America, a little Asia, much of Europe, Eastern Europe which a lot of travelers miss, Australia Pacific Islands United Kingdom.

    It takes a bit of soul searching to make the decision. Most people are a afraid of the unknown and by leaving a job and a secure pension it makes the decision hard. We can’t make the decision for you but we know there are opportunities to do what you want experience life. I think you are single? In another 13 years you could be married and have children. They may not wish to follow your dream. That becomes another excuse not to travel.

    Agree follow your gut feeling, it works and we are all programmed to think inside the square and conform with society and the majority. Sit and think, make a decision and do it. Either stay in the Navy or Travel on your own. There is much help on travel Blogs and if you travel don’t rush the country visits by cramming to much into a set time. feel the country experience the life and enjoy your life.

  12. We recently made the decision to quit our jobs and travel to Australia at the age of 26. Working for the same company in a small town in Canada got repetitive and we found that we were looking for more for our lives.

    So far we have been in Australia for 2 days, so I cant exactly tell you that we made the right decision, but I don’t regret anything.

    The reader has such a unique scenario and I would have trouble quitting my job if putting in only 13 more years for pension. Good Luck! Hope everything turns out well!!

  13. Don’t regret the things you’ve done, regret the things you haven’t done!!! – Thats what a 64 old Lady told me when i met her travelling. It made me think alot about my life. I’ve travelled to Australia September and October 2012 and realised that I enjoy the freedom of travelling so much that i want to quit my job and come over to Australia for 1 or 2 years.
    I’ve arrived in Zurich/Switzerland on the 31.10.2012 at 6AM and went straight to my office at 9AM to quit my job 😀 my working collegues weren’t too surprised, cause they knew im a backpacker girl. So i got my visa, gave my appartement away, all my furniture, everything except of 3 boxes full of stuff which is stored at my parents place.
    So i came to Australia in December 2012 and im still here and happy 😀
    Don’t think there are always good times, i had hard times here aswell, felt really lonely sometimes. But in general its the best thing i’ve ever done in my life. At the moment im running out of money, have almost nothing in my pockets, but i know… that i can easily find a job or do volunteering, as more I relax and lean back and accept what live is giving me, i get the good things and im starting everyday with a smile :)!

  14. I also quit my decent paying job at the age of 28, moved to Australia, and have just worked part-time and odd jobs since then. Life is too short, and 13 years is a long time. A lot can happen in 13 years, and I would fear the possible regret I’d feel a few years down the road if I remained in a job I hated. There are plenty of ways to live without working full-time, and finding those ways is part of the adventure.

  15. Four years ago we quit our jobs to travel fulltime. But before we made that leap we spent a decade making sure we had a workable plan and a backup plan for how we were going to survive without those jobs. I was 38 when I pulled the plug and I’m glad I waited.

    One thing often overlooked on travel blogs is that we all eventually get older. We’ll all eventually need health care. We’ll all reach a point when we’ll no longer be able to work. The time to get ready for those unavoidable burdens is when we’re young, through savings, the earning of a pension or both. These things will not take care of themselves and they really are worth sacrificing for.

    It seems to me that you are in a terrific position to have the best of all possible worlds. In your current job you can travel more than most people get to and you can effectively retire at the still very young age of 39. We’d hesitate before walking away from that unless we had some realistic idea of what would replace it.

    Good luck and happy travels.

  16. I would try to imagine myself 13 years older and what I would wish I had done now. I know that if it were me, I would wish I had gone. I have a good job too, and while I don’t travel full time yet, in 2 years my husband and I are buying and RV to live on the road full time. Then, we plan to spend a few years traveling around the world taking odd jobs and making money however we can.

    Its really nice to have security and effortless income, but 13 years is a long time to be unhappy. I think it’s important to challenge yourself. Having money and security create comfort and comfort is numbing. Challenge and excitement and even wondering how you will afford your next trip will breed ingenuity and creativity. You might have an amazing idea trapped under all that security and comfort and you’ll never know what it is until it’s forced to come out.

  17. Sorry to be blunt, but you could be hit by a bus tomorrow and then what good is a pension in 13 years time?

    You’re a young male of the species – go out and explore, you may find something better than the promise of a pension.

  18. I reckon 13 years is a long time not to be happy– personally, I’d talk to my boss first and see if you can negotiate a situation that you enjoy more. Is there a different position that would be more fulfilling? Is it possible to negotiate something that excites you more? I don’t know much about the military, but in the corporate world, I’ve been surprised many times by how much people are willing to bend when they want to keep you. I wouldn’t quit without first discussing all the options with the key decision makers.

    If the answer is no and they are not willing to work with you, then yeah, I’d quit. As I said 13 years is too long to do something you don’t enjoy when you have other options.


  19. Thank you very much. All The answers have some true. I have read it all of them and are truly amazing.
    Now I have more clear the idea about what to do in my life.
    Thank you again for all the answers and the experiences on it, really appreciate and im very grateful for all of them.

    1. Hi Jai, saw this and wanted to reply because it seems like a biggie. It’s kind of like “if you knew you’d win the lottery in 13 years, but only if you worked for that whole time in something you don’t like, would you do it?”

      Here’s another perspective: what if that lottery win was not guaranteed?

      You have no idea what the world will be like in 13 years. The economy of many countries is screwed. I know it isn’t equivalent but a big wake up call for me came when seeing all those people lose their lifetime-of-sacrifice investments/pensions in the crash of 2008. Those people who said “I’ll work hard and get my pension”, many of them didn’t (or it was too small to live the life they wanted so they had to work again. (It’s not a co-incidence that this is when I left my job and went self employed, something which I hadn’t done before and had little idea how to make work at first.

      Turns out it was a very smart decision: I don’t usually like talking about earnings but it seems relevant here. The other day I opened up an old email account and saw I was still on some old list for jobs in my old industry… and the jobs at the level I would have been at now (ie: senior ones!) are paying LESS than I now earn, while being a digital nomad. Imagine if I hadn’t left, I’d still be doing something I didn’t love and saying “I can’t afford to quit, I can’t earn this much elsewhere…” a statement which frankly would have been based on not knowing enough about my options.

      To be clear, I’m not saying this is the case for everyone (it isn’t – especially for travel bloggers!).
      But I am saying that people find a way to make it work so my question is, why not you?. How do you know that in 13 years you can’t build up something that brings in a consistent income, while letting you travel and do something that brings you alive? That’s a long time hon, are you sure you can’t use your obvious brains to create this in that time?

      If this were me, I’d only make the call to let 13 years (!) of my life slip by if I were crystal clear that there was a very good reason why it was impossible for me to do something I love that supports the life I want (a good test for that is to look at others who are making things work and asking yourself “what did they have when they started out that I don’t have?” and “Is that the case for every person who makes it work, or is it possible anyway?”).

      On the other hand: maybe you don’t really dislike your job. Maybe you are quite fond of it and are willing to take the gamble that you will be in that same place 13 years down the line and actually like it. In that case you’d have a nice pay off and it would have been worth it. Unless your country’s economy crashes and the payouts aren’t what you expected and your currency is devalued so that you can’t travel on it anyway, of course.

      Bottom line: 39 certainly isn’t too old to explore something new (lots of my clients start around then!)… however you’re not a 36 year old asking this question. You are 26. Do be sure you’ve explored the alternatives before committing to staying, I suspect your future self will thank you for looking beyond the surface.

  20. I have a love hate relationship with work (my day job) but i dont think i would quit and travel the world however the thought has crossed my mind. I think i would get bored and the way we enjoy travelling is expensive so it would be hard to maintain on a bloggers wage or min wage wherever we could find work

    Great post though! its often a question many people ask

  21. Sam you are absolutely right, it’s not a right decision to quit the job before 13 years as you told that you will not get anything like pension, medical health etc.You have to think about your family also. At the age of 39, you can also fulfill your dream.

  22. I love traveling and I would like do it for the rest of my life. The problem is I’m a Navy Officer and this year I asked for one year off without pay (this is the reason why I’m here). Being in the Navy is not too bad, you can travel around your country and live in different locations. It’s not bad money, but I don’t like it.

  23. I think at the end of the day, you need to decide if the purpose of your life is to arrive safely at the end….or is it to live?

  24. the thing is that we want to make decisions base on what would happen, let me tell you something” tomorrow could not even happen” nobody has a bought life

  25. I quit my job and became a chronic traveler at 22, I am 41 now.

    I would just like to warn anyone that does this, that your friends and family will not have as much time for you anymore, once they get used to you not being around, and you will eventually lose contact with many of them. You will miss weddings, births, and funerals while your gone, and will not be a part of many people’s lives anymore.

    Also if you do not have a large some of money, or are not very good at budgeting you will be forced to work again, and with gaps of several years in your Resume, it will be difficult to get a job once again….you can kiss the idea of a career Goodbye.

    If I were the person considering this, I would keep working until I got the pension. 40 is still young, and if you can travel for thirty years from 40-70 say, on a pension, it will likely be better than a few years now.

    1. Hang in there and wait for the pension. Thirty nine years old is an excellent age to start world travel. I am retiring in three and a half years, selling everything, and hitting the road. I will be 60. If you get the pension, you will never have to worry about money for the rest of your life. I have been tempted to quit my job and take off many, many times. But there is no way I want to work while I am on my permanent vacation. No way. And I sure as hell don’t want to have to ask anybody for money or sleep with roaches if I don’t have to. I am a budget traveler and I have been to a lot of places and loved every bit of it. Believe me, thirteen years is not that long, because the payout is so worth it. Good luck and God bless you my dear.

  26. I’ve been working and traveling in Australia and Malaysia for 3 months with a Working Holiday Visa. I had decided to leave my job and my family cause traveling was my dream. Then, I had a job offer in France and I decided to came back cause I felt some pressure from my family and friends and I decided to be “reasonable”…Huge mistake. This job is making me unhappy. So I’m saving money and trying to find a new way to leave again in a few month…And this time I’ll enjoy my experience 🙂

    1. Vanessa…Onwards and go gal. My daughter left for London not knowing a soul. Since then she has been to over 54 countries and at the moment she is Scotland. Check out workaway site and couchsurfing..Feeling your pain. I regret not sticking to my plans before I got married and travelled. Maybe thats why my gal is so fond of adventure. goodluck 🙂

  27. Great post! In 1997 I gave up everything to travel the world. I spent a year backpacking in Australia and have never stopped. I am currently living in Sardinia, Italy with my Sardinian husband. My advice to anyone wanting to travel – Just Do It – we have only one life to live. 🙂

  28. For a while I was debating whether I should change jobs or just quit my job to start my own business. I wasn’t happy at the place I was working at to the point that I really started to hate the job. Finally, I made a decision to take a chance on myself, so I quit my job to start my own business and I haven’t regretted it since (it’s been over a year).

  29. At age 26? Yes I would quit my job and travel. I travelled overseas from age 23 to 30 and have no regrets. The absence did not have any impact on starting a career and my overseas experience actually helped me in achieving my dream job. Now, that I older, I would not be able to pursue the adventures that I could when I was young. I now have responsibilities and a family. Enjoy your 20’s when you can.

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