Quitting your job to travel the world is a pipe dream to most people. They set exotic beach scenes as the desktop background on their work computer and daydream about where they'd want to go first, but very few people actually leave their job to vagabond the globe. It shouldn't be because of the cost. If you do the proper travel hacking and planning you can travel the world for just $418.
Why is it that people don't do it then? Is it the fear of the unknown?
While there are a lot of myths about quitting your job to travel the world, I'm a huge fan of people taking calculated risks in their lives.
If you're hesitant about quitting your job to travel the world, this post is for you. What follows is ten of the best reasons for taking the leap from cubicle drone to cubicle renegade.
(Note: All of the pictures below are from a trip I took in 2010 to Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong.)
10. Get Out of a Rut
Going through a huge change like leaving a comfortable job and going on a round-the-world adventure might be just what you need to get out of a rut. You may be feeling stuck in your career, left with a broken heart after a bad break-up, or going through a quarter life crisis. Whatever the case, traveling is one way for you to move forward.
"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." - C.S. Lewis
I'm a big advocate for change. (Heck, the word change is in the name of this site.) The reason? When you go through a change you grow.
9. Finally Meet Someone in Person
Being in a country or city for just a day or two is a great reason to reach out to someone that you have never met in person. It can be someone you look up to or have been in contact with only virtually before . Just send them a simple email or tweet that says, "Hey (name), I'm going to be in (city) for a couple days and I'd love to buy you a cup of (warm beverage of your choosing)."
This is a less intrusive way of getting to know someone, even if you think they are "too busy" to meet with you. Who knows, they might end up becoming a mentor for you.
8. Learn to Live with Less
Minimalism is not just about living with less than 100 things or out of a backpack. Minimalism is the simplification of your life in all areas. When you travel you may feel the urge to adopt minimalism into your life for a few reasons.
- Traveling with less "stuff" is easier.
- You'll see how many possessions other people in the world have.
- The concept of cramming as much as you can into a day will get old on the road.
If you're looking for the best resource to get started living a minimalist life, pick up Leo Babauta's book The Power of Less. The Kindle version is only $3.49 and it can change your life.
7. Open Your Mind
When you are stuck in the same routine day after day you start to let other people do the thinking for you. You trust everything you read in the newspaper, see on television, and hear from your coworkers about what the rest of the world is like.
"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - St. Augustine
If you actually go and travel to different places around the world you'll begin to realize the world isn't as scary as you thought it was. You'll find that the people in other countries are extremely friendly and hospitable. Your mind will be opened to:
- New perspectives
- New religions
- New traditions
- New lifestyles
6. Inspire Others
If you face your fears, create a new life for yourself on the road, and leave the comforts of your life behind, you will inspire others to make big changes in their life too. You may not know everyone that you influence, but some of them will thank you.
"One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act." - Hannah More
I don't necessarily mean that you'll be the only catalyst for people to follow in your exact footsteps, but you may just be the last little spark someone needed to book that vacation to New Zealand they've been putting off for years or make a major career change to pursue their passion.
5. Learn Patience
When you spend an extended period of time traveling abroad you'll get used to waiting. Waiting in lines, waiting in airports, waiting on people. You can fill these potential wastes of time with productive tasks, or you can learn to just wait patiently instead.
"Lots of people do this — you bring a laptop or mobile device or some papers to do some work while you’re waiting at a doctor’s office or at DMV or on the train or in traffic. There’s nothing wrong with this, really, except in the philosophy behind it: that every second should be filled with work, or it’s wasted. I object to this... Life isn’t only about work, and productivity isn’t everything. Try some unproductivity instead." - Leo Babauta
Instead of being antsy when you have to wait, you'll begin to experience the calm of just sitting and thinking.
4. Experience a New Language
Notice I didn't say learn a new language. Unless you are going to spend a long time immersed within a single language (or a few months of extremely dedicated time like Benny Lewis), you most likely won't learn much of a language.
"All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer." Robert Louis Stevenson
By starting to pick up just a few phrases here and there though, you will become more familiar with the culture, instantly more approachable by locals, and appreciate the charm of different areas of the world.
3. Make Multinational Friends
Traveling can lead to meeting amazing new groups of friends. It is sad to get to know someone in a different country so well only to know that you are leaving in a few days, but with the right mindset and follow-up effort these can be some of the best friendships you'll ever make.
With the advent of the Internet and Facebook you can stay in touch, re-connect over Skype, and be virtual pen pals for your whole life. Through these friendships you can continue to learn about different cultures and practice languages learned without having to actually be in the country.
2. Experience New Kinds of Food
"Fettucini alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults." - Mitch Hedberg
Most people are picky eaters when they are growing up (myself included). These habits carry over into adulthood and it is easy to avoid trying new kinds of food.
One of the best ways to cure such a habit is by traveling to new places and not just eating at McDonald's or Starbucks the whole time you are there. You may see some really strange things to eat, but that doesn't mean you need to try something you are against. Traveling is about opening your eyes (and your mouth in this case) to new experiences.
Start creating a multicultural palette for taste buds through your travel and you'll find yourself exploring your grocery store a bit more when you get home.
1. Memories and Stories
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." - Bilbo Baggins
Most people point to the "you're lying on your deathbed and what will be thinking about most" reason for traveling or taking risks in your life. But I think the number one reason to travel is not to avoid some potential morbid source of regret, but rather to experience adventure.
Perhaps your life is lacking adventure like mine was back in May of last year. Perhaps you just need a change.
I encourage you to figure out what you really want in life and take a leap. You'll be surprised by how far you can go.
Your turn: What do you think is the best reason to travel?
I'd love to hear in the comments below this post.
For more inspiration to travel read the announcement post for the three-month road trip around the Unites States that my wife and I just took or read why I quit my job.