When you ask someone that is stuck in a position they hate, whether that be a job, location, or relationship, a common response is:
"I want to travel."
I reply to this first with a "that's awesome", but instead of following it up with asking where, I ask the more important question of why.
You see, full-time travel to most people is a foreign concept (pun intended). Perhaps they've spent a week in a tropical resort sitting by the pool, on a touristy romp through Paris, or a cruise through the Mediterranean, but they've never really "traveled".
They've vacationed, but they've never traveled.
I'm going to dispel some of the biggest myths about taking a sabbatical to travel, becoming location independent, or being a vagabonding nomad who wanders the world.
What this post is about is having realistic expectations for quitting a job, taking a year off, or planning a gap month to travel the world.
Sticking it to the man and going out on your own to "find yourself" is a life changing decision and I'd love to help anyone take their first big step towards making it a reality. (Just head on over to the Pocket Changed Facebook page and leave me a note.) And on Thursday I'll be publishing a post naming the best reasons why you should travel the world.
But for now,let's discuss the six biggest myths about quitting your job to travel the world.
Myth #1: Its Easy to Minimize Your Possessions
By all means, sell your crap and pay your off your debt before you travel. It will give you some extra cash to spend while you're on the road. It is not as easy as it sounds though.
I believe that anyone will buy anything off of Craigslist, especially in a populated urban area, but sometimes not at the price you'd expect. You will end up donating or throwing away a lot of your stuff. And unless you can say goodbye to everything under what you can fit in a 50 pound bag, you'll need a place to store your stuff until you get back.
This task is also extremely time consuming. You'll spend hours and hours trying to get rid of your things if you want to get any substantial cash from them. In my opinion it is still worth it to do this, but know what you are getting yourself into.
Understand that you don't have to get rid of all of your stuff before you go travel.
Myth #2: It is Always Fun
When you are traveling non-stop there are bound to be problems that come up. It was not fun when my car disappeared in Chicago or broke down in Phoenix. (It ended up being towed and had a dead battery.)
If you are traveling with others, conflict can easily arise between the people on the trip as well. I had a friend tell me that he and his girlfriend broke up mid trip and flew back on separate flights. Build in alone time for yourself when you travel with others so you don't reach a breaking point.
Some people told my wife and I that we were crazy to plan on spending three straight months in a car together during the first few months of our marriage. We survived, but that much time living out of a suitcase, not having a regular schedule, days spent driving 14 hours, and sporadic exercise can be wearing on anybody, even if you're in love.
Understand that there will be ups and downs during your trip and don't take them too hard when they hit.
Myth #3: People Will Understand Why You Are Doing It
Your friends and family will be happy for you, but they won't fully understand why you are doing it. You'll have to explain how you are paying for it, why you left everything behind, where you are going, etc.
Some people will begrudgingly tell you they are jealous and that they "wish they could do that". When you try to explain to them that they could do it too, they will think of every possible excuse why they can't.
Understand that you will have doubters and get used to explaining why you gave up XYZ to travel.
Myth #4: You Only Work 4 Hours a Week
So you read a book and now you think you can start a business, make money from anywhere, and only work a few hours a month? Great! Let me know how that works out for you.
Not to go anti-four hour workweek or anything (I still read it once a year because there are so many great principles and hacks in it), but to think that you can try to build a successful and scaleable business while at the same time you are enjoying the world on the road is a myth.
The order needs to be:
- build a successful business
- remove yourself from the process
- sit on a beach drinking mai tais
Understand that if you want to only work a few hours while you travel, you better spend a lot of time up front building a business that supports that.
Myth #5: You Can Do It Forever
There are a limited few that can actually travel full-time at length without a having permanent home. Both Jodi from Legal Nomads and Benny from Fluent in 3 Months have been traveling for years straight. I envy their travel stamina.
My wife and I learned that our breaking point for being on the road was about two months. The novelty started to wear off and living without a schedule started to really get to us. Waking up in a different bed every night is something that is hard to get used to.
And it wasn't as if we could just say, "okay, we're done, let's go back home." We still had a month left on our trip and had to drive from the east coast to the west coast of the U.S. We had fun in the last month, but we were running on fumes.
Understand that at some point you are most likely going to have to "come home", deal with what you left behind, and have a real life again.
Myth #6: Living Out of a Suitcase or Backpack is Freeing
It is actually kind of a big pain to only have a few possessions to your name. When you get rid of all of your things you do have the peace of mind knowing that everything you own is on your back, but its not all rainbows and unicorns. I am all for living minimally and going against the consumerist mindset, but you need certain things.
Unless you are going to never have a permanent home again or you are going to mooch off people like your family every few months, you are eventually going to have "stuff" again. I am talking furniture, kitchenware, more than two pairs of underwear, etc. When you come back you are going to need to buy a bunch of your "stuff" again. That's going to cost money that you probably won't have to spare if you do travel like most people do and spend your last dime on the flight home.
Understand how frustrating it can be to not have all of your first-world luxuries when you decide to travel full-time.