Posted Date: February 8, 2021
I have made two choices that have by far and away have had the most impact on my life.
The first was marrying my wife.
The second was quitting my job to travel the world for a year with her.
Marrying my wife was an easy decision. Quitting my job to travel the world for a year – which we can all agree sounds amazing – was not nearly as easy of a decision to make.
Was it the right decision? Would I be jeopardizing my career? Would future employers view me as unhirable? Should I really be spending my money on traveling, or should I save it for a house and retirement?
Those are challenging questions to answer. I had to think through them, write down some pros and cons, and had to wrestle with anxiety and stress as I considered all of them thoughtfully.
But at the end of the day, when it came down to deciding if we were going to do this or not, one thing stood out to me. Long-term travel was important to me. I channeled my inner 85 year-old self and tried to see life through his eyes for a moment. Would he regret traveling the world for a year with his wife?
The answer was simple: no, he would not. In fact, I saw how those experiences and memories of traveling long-term would enhance my life and bring me years of happy memories.
I had to mentally take a step away from the stresses and pressures of the moment so I could try to see a bit more clearly. Doing so helped me understand that my personal goals are every bit as important – if not more so, than my career goals.
Life is not just about work.
That nugget of truth became even more clear as we traveled around the world. It’s one of the reasons why I want everyone to experience long-term travel for themselves.
If that’s not enough reason, here are three reasons why you should travel long-term.
Your Dreams Matter
You are not your work.
While work is a necessary part of life for the vast majority of us, so many of us get caught up in a work situation that doesn’t match up with our hopes in life. We want to travel, but when will our bosses let us have time off?
For many of us, that’s the best case scenario. I have had bosses tell me that I can’t take off time from work even with unlimited paid time off. In the end, we may like our jobs, but we still have to ask for permission to take time off, and we only get so many days off each year.
Yet, no matter how many weekend trips we take, we still yearn to see the world. We should listen to that yearning. Why? Because your dreams matter.
If you want to travel the world for an extended period of time, you should make it happen because it matters to you. It might not matter to your boss, it might not matter to your friends, but if it matters to you, then you should go for it.
We do a lot of things in life because society says we should do them.
We go along with it for a while, and then one day, suddenly, we realize that maybe this path society wants us to go down isn’t the path that we want to go down.
Just because it is right for someone else doesn’t mean it is right for us.
And so, we have this big dream in our hearts to quit our jobs and travel the world, but hardly anybody else seems to be doing it. Yes, you’ll see people on Instagram traveling, but maybe nobody you’ve ever met has quit their job to travel.
We decide to tuck those dreams away and put our noses to the grindstone and we chalk it up by reassuring ourselves that that’s just how life works.
But you matter. Your dreams matter. What you want to do with your life, and what you want to make of your life are important.
It is so important to remember to go after the goals that we want in our lives. There is almost nothing more rewarding than the journey of making personal progress, seeing yourself improve and inch closer to the dreams of your heart.
I personally believe that we overvalue our work life, while simultaneously undervaluing our personal life. Your personal life matters.
We neglect our biggest dreams and desires because they “don’t fit in” with our work plans and career goals.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that you’d love to quit your job and travel the world, but don’t want to jeopardize your career, you’re not alone. I wondered the same thing. How is a year long gap on my resume going to look to potential employers?
For me, the answer was simple. I’ll just put it on my resume. Instead of trying to hide the fact that I accomplished a major personal life goal, I will own it. I added it to my LinkedIn profile, I featured it in my cover letters. And honestly, employers actually liked that.
But I am getting carried away. That’s not even the point. The point is, there is so much more to life than career goals and accomplishments. Your hopes, your dreams matter. What you do with your life matters.
This truth hit me hard when I saw sitting in the Museum of Natural History in London with about a month left of my year-long trip. The museum was featuring a special exhibition about outer space. In one of the rooms, there was a huge screen showing video footage of earth from the International Space Station. And at that moment, everything that I had learned from my long-term travels suddenly clicked.
As I watched mountains, oceans, and deserts slowly pass by on the screen, I realized that everything we do on earth, all of our rules and self-imposed expectations, don’t really matter that much.
I had come into the museum wondering what I was going to do next in life. Since my trip was wrapping up, I had been thinking a lot about my next step in life. What was I going to do when this year ended? After watching that video and reflecting on the experiences of the past 11 months, it became clear that I should continue to follow my personal goals and dreams.
I should put my time and attention into projects and passions that mean something to me – instead of spending my life working for someone else’s goal and vision.
If I wanted to be a travel blogger, why shouldn’t I start a travel blog? If I wanted to learn to bake, why shouldn’t I do it? My goals and my dreams are what will matter for my own personal success and happiness. Being a supportive husband while my wife goes after those same goals is also what is important to me.
If we never take the time to go after our dreams, we will always be left with the sting of regret.
So for those of you who are wanting to travel the world, but are a bit afraid about what it will mean to your career, I offer you this. There will always be jobs available when you return.
In fact, you may even want a career switch by the time you get back from your travel. Who knows, you may even want to be your own boss. I know I did.
But don’t let the fear of what someone else will think about you stop you from going after your dream to take a year to travel. After all, this is your life, and as far as we know, we only get one chance at it.
This is all about becoming the master of your own life, prioritizing your personal goals and making them happen.
I like to ask myself these types of questions in these scenarios “Has anyone else who has quit their job to travel the world been able to find a job when they returned?”
If you don’t know anyone personally, know that I am one of those people. In fact, my year abroad gave me the clarity and confidence to venture out and start my own business.
Lots of people have a desire to quit their job to travel the world, but relatively few actually do it. I want to help more people do it, because there has never been a more rewarding year in my life than my travels with my wife.
Long-Term Travel Helps You Prioritize Your Life
Sometimes when you’ve had a long day, or are struggling to come to a decision, the best course is to remove yourself from whatever it is you are doing so you can see things more clearly.
This removal process helps you understand what your goals and priorities are, and they help you see things more clearly.
Long-term travel acts as a one of these removal processes for life. Because if life isn’t complicated, challenging, and confusing, I don’t know what is.
While we were on the road, I saw a clearer picture of life for myself and how I wanted my life to shape up. I was able to reprioritize things that mattered to me – like being my own boss, and things that did not matter to me as much – like my previous career.
I talk a lot about work – but long-term travel deals with so much more than work – it’s just that work does play a role in all (or most) of our lives.
While traveling, I also learned important lessons about how to find happiness, how to treat others, the role of money in my life, and new hobbies and passions that I want to pursue.
When you have time to step away form normal day-to-day activities, you can suddenly take a step back and inspect your life. Not only does long-term travel help you reflect on how you are leading your life, but you also pick up new ideas about how other people lead their lives.
In Thailand, I learned how important it is to smile. In Bali, I learned the importance of family and friends. In Australia, I learned how to take care of and appreciate wildlife and the natural earth. In England, I learned that a career means something very different than it does in America.
All of these eye opening revelations came to me because I took the time to travel around the world.
Mind you, reprioritizing my life wasn’t the reason I set out to travel. The main reason I wanted to travel long-term is because it is fun.
Long Term Travel is Fun!
This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but traveling for months on end is exciting! You’re living a dream!
You’ll make new friends, see new cultures, try new food, experience new traditions, and cross off countless items from your bucket list.
When posed the question “If you could relive any year of your life, which year would you choose”, my answer is a no brainer. I can tell you that the answer wouldn’t come quite so easily if I hadn’t traveled the world for a year. I’ve had a relatively good life, but my year abroad was by far the best time of my life.
For one whole year of my life, I got to choose exactly how I wanted to spend each minute of my day from sunup to sundown.
On top of that, I can’t even begin to describe how free you feel when you know you have months of travel ahead of you.
Each day you get to take a deep breath from a new corner of the globe and pinch yourself to make sure you are awake. There were many times during our year abroad that I’d look over to my wife and say “I can’t believe this is our life.”
As we were preparing to leave for our trip, I went out with a bunch of my friends for a goodbye dinner. I had a friend ask me a question that struck me as odd then, but which I have thought about a lot since. He asked, “Won’t you get bored traveling?”
I was taken completely off guard. I had not anticipated that question, so I wasn’t prepared with a good response. I simply quipped back, “How could I get bored?” and the conversation carried on, but now I have a more thoughtful response.
The idea behind his question seemed to be that I would get bored without that sense of purpose that comes from work.
I understand the reasoning behind his question. If I had quit my job and then sat around my apartment all day, then yes, I would definitely lose my mind.
But traveling is full of purpose. I learned more about history, myself, and how the world works than I ever would have discovered at my job. Everyday I was utterly excited to explore nature, go for a hike, and get lost in the streets as I sought out the world’s best baked goods.
That’s not to say there aren’t dull moments while traveling. Taking an eight-hour bus ride or waiting for your flight is never exciting. But then again, I was often bored at work. Let’s not pretend that I was doing anything world-changing at my job either. I was a digital marketer for an agency – not exactly the most meaningful career. And in the worst case scenario, I’d rather be bored and traveling than bored in an office. At least I’d get a change of scenery.
If you’ve done much traveling before, you’ll know there at the beginning of a vacation, there is always a sense of excitement that comes alive in your heart. Your mind is full of possibilities for what your vacation might look like. That excitement you feel as you are on your way to the airport never goes away when you are traveling.
A Final World
In my year abroad, time stopped mattering for a moment. I don’t know how many people get to experience that in life – but I hope everyone does at some point. For an entire year, it didn’t matter if it was Monday, Tuesday, or Friday.
Each day was exactly what I chose it to be. I didn’t care about my snooze button, my old friend. I woke up at the same time I did previously, but this time, I couldn’t wait to get going!
I had time to think, reflect, and get to know myself. I learned so much about Jenoa and how we work together in a relationship. We forged memories that can serve as relationship pillars for our entire lives.
Whether I was headed to the beach, a museum, or preparing for a long hike, I knew I was going to have a great day.
I’ll often consider what my life would look like if I didn’t quit my job to travel. Would the outcome have been better than what it is now? The answer is a resounding no.
My decision to quit my job to travel the world was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have a renewed sense of purpose, a new thirst for life, and a bank of memories that will forever bring a smile to my face.