Should you quit your job and travel? Seven things to consider
Dream of saying goodbye to your dull, daily routine and taking your family on the road? Here are seven things you need to think about before travelling.
It’s hard, in the age of the digital nomad, not to be tempted to leave behind all the restrictions and tired routine of your everyday life, and take your family on the road.
But as easy as some people make it seem, leaving everything behind and travelling doesn’t work for everyone. Yes, experiencing new cultures and places is enriching, and it can open new ways of thinking and approaching life that you probably wouldn’t learn any other way.
But it’s also a heavily romanticised notion, and isn’t a decision you should take lightly. I’m seeing more and more online workshops and webinars promoting this lifestyle, without really honing in on some of the more practical or longer term considerations.
Should you quit your job and travel? Seven things to consider
So, if you’re toying with the idea of giving it all up and travelling, here are seven things you need to consider.
1) Can you afford it?
This is probably the most practical consideration. And however much money you think you need, double it.
When starting out on long term travelling it’s important to have a decent sum of money saved up. You can still live and travel relatively cheaply, but knowing you have a good bank balance to tap into when you really need it will take away a lot of stress. The less you have to put on credit cards the better.
It might also be worth looking to work visas to undertake some paid work to aid you through your travels. It’s a great way to keep your finances healthy as you go, meet new people and immerse yourself in a particular place.
Even better if you can find a way to earn money remotely. So you can continue working throughout your travels, and pay for your trip as you go.
2) What about your home?
If you have a rental agreement, mortgage or other assets, what will you do about them?
If your rental agreement is coming to an end and that’s why you think it could be a good time to go travelling, what about your belongings? Selling it all is one way to get some money together before you go, or you could put into storage – but again consider the expense for this.
If you’ve got a mortgage to cover, Airbnb could be a good way to keep some money coming in while you’re away.
And what about when you decide to come home? Or if you decide to settle somewhere else? You don’t have to have it all planned down to the smallest detail, but these are things you need think about.
3) Are you eligible for a sabbatical?
If your motivations are not driven by a lack of love for your job and you’d like to come back to the same or similar role after your travels, it’s worth speaking with your employer about unpaid leave.
Depending on how long you’ve been with a company, you might be eligible to take a six or 12 month sabbatical (or longer).
Many employers recognise that taking long term leave, whether it be for travel, education or something else, can be very beneficial for their employees, and welcome the ideas and experience they can bring back to the company once they have taken the time off.
4) How long do you want to travel for?
For every person out there living the long term travel dream, there are a whole lot more who tried it and failed after the first hurdle.
This idea gets romanticised because you only really hear about the ones who made a success of it. They rarely let you in on the cold, insect infested hostels they found themselves in, or the last time they actually washed their clothes properly (another reason to really work out your finances before you go!).
So think about how long you want to travel for, and plan half of it. Book your flights and accommodation and leave the rest for one you’re actually out there and have found your travel groove.
It’s much easier to plan as you go, once you know this is something you can do. It’s harder to take the hit if you book up six months of travel and decide after a month that you can’t commit to it.
5) How will you discuss the break with future employers?
Ditching a promising or successful career to tour Europe for a year might seem like an unusual thing to do to some employers – but speaking from experience of interviewing candidates on this point, it’s the ones who were honest and talked positively about their experiences and what they gained from it that stood out.
Brownie points went to those who could articulate the skills they developed through travelling and how they would aid them in their potential new role.
Knowing why you want to travel and what you are hoping to get out of it will help with a lot of things, and while this one can go at the bottom of that list in the short term, it’s one to keep in mind.
6) What about the children?
Having a family in tow doesn’t rule out travelling – plenty do it – but it certainly adds in an extra dimension when weighing up whether it’s feasible.
If you have a partner and children, your considerations need to extend beyond your own desires to travel, and incorporate any practical and emotional impact on their lives.
Yes exploring the world and other cultures is arguably more educational than a year in school. But you will still need to school your children somehow while you’re away, so they’re not too far behind their classmates when they return.
You also need to ensure that your family are as on board with the idea as you. Are they happy to leave their friends behind? And can they deal emotionally with saying goodbye to the security of a familiar, rooted environment and routines?
Yes there’s plenty to gain in showing your children the world, but make sure the dream is shared by you all, and you’re not dragging them into a homesick nightmare.
7) And finally… why do you want to travel?
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider. What is it about your current life situation, job or experience that is making you feel that long term travelling is the right decision for you right now?
Yes, if you’re unhappy in your job, then taking the time out to really think about what you want to do is important. But is this the right answer to that?
Travelling long term is a hugely rewarding experience, but it is not for everyone and it is definitely not as easy as it can be made to look. So think about what your motivations are for travelling and what it is you hope to get out of it – both during and when you come back.
Certain it’s the right idea? Do it!
If you’ve weighed up all the above and are still certain its the right idea for your family, then do it! Life is too short to live with unrealised dreams, and you never know what curveballs it may throw at you in future to take travel off your feasible list.
So if you’ve got the travel bug, and you’ve considered all the points above, do it!
Elaine Mead is a passionate education and careers consultant, and is particularly interested in empowering young women to be their professional best. You can follow her on Twitter and read more of her articles on medium.