Quitting your job to travel the world is NOT for everyone. An oversized mortgage, young children, health issues, and crippling student loan or credit card debt are just a handful of reasons why uprooting your life to see the world might not be viable right now. But life circumstances are rarely static. With careful planning, and perhaps a little bit of luck, you might find yourself in a better position to consider alternative lifestyle options at some point in the future.
If quitting your job to travel the world is ever feasible for you, we think you should go for it! Here’s why:
1. Life is too short to settle for the mediocre
A bit morbid, but true! For the first time since 1915-1918, life expectancy in the United States is actually on the decline over a 3-year window. Experts blame this troubling trend on an increasing number of people dying in their 20’s and 30’s – highlighting increases in opioid addiction and suicide, among other increasingly common causes.
It can be uncomfortable to talk about, but our time on this earth is finite! And there is no better motivator in life than the undeniable reality that you are going to die at some point.
Each singular day that we’re given should be treated as the gift that it is and never taken for granted. Be open to new ideas and experiences that have potential to offer a greater sense of fulfillment. If your job doesn’t make you happy, find a new one that will. If you live in a boring city that is slowly killing your spirit, move somewhere else. If you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t make you happy, leave their ass!
Life is too short to settle for the mediocre. We should be adamant and unyielding in our pursuit of a life worthy of our precious time on this earth.
2. You aren’t getting any younger
Consider the state of your physical health now versus what it will be during traditional retirement years. Traveling the world is not an old man’s game! The planning is intensive, the airports are chaos, and the locations are unfamiliar. Walking around a brand new city for the first time can be a thrilling, even life changing, experience. But winding roads and hopelessly steep stairwells can take their toll. The LAST thing you want while traveling is an achey back and sore knees preventing you from properly experiencing a new destination the way that it’s meant to be.
Regrettably, the “normal” (and therefore most acceptable) life path demands a complete sacrifice of the present in favor of the future. Go to school, get a job, get a mortgage and buy a house, secure a stable job for 30+ years to pay off that loan, fund a 401(k) along the way, retire at 65 and enjoy whatever money you have left (with whatever energy you have left).
So many people spend decades saving for a lush, travel-filled retirement, only to find that the 65-year old version of themselves no longer has the stamina to lug a suitcase around the world. If life presents you with an opportunity to pursue your dreams sooner, why wait!?
3. It’s more affordable than you think
It’s true that traveling the world will cost money. Life costs money. But choosing to travel the world doesn’t have to be as unaffordable of an option as you might think it is.
Common perceptions about the cost of international travel are deeply influenced by how we much we tend to spend while on vacation. Consider a typical week-long vacation away from the office. You pay a premium to book roundtrip flights at peak times, departing Friday night and returning Sunday night – ideally over a holiday weekend so that you can keep an extra vacation day in the bank. You book a nice hotel because you only get a few vacations a year so might as well live it up while you can. You eat at nice restaurants and splurge on the most popular tourist experiences for the same reason. You pay for guided tours because you don’t have time to properly research where to go on your own. It’s no wonder why your vacations are so expensive!
But international travel doesn’t have to be that way. Long term travel affords (and requires) a much slower pace, lessening the pressure to cram all of the fun into a single, designated week. That means buying cheaper flights at off-peak times, booking AirBnb’s at a substantially discounted weekly/monthly rate, discovering cheaper restaurants where the locals eat instead of the top ranked touristy spots on TripAdvisor, and taking advantage of local grocery stores when you don’t feel like going out.
4. Your job isn’t going anywhere
The biggest myth about quitting your job to travel the world is the dreaded “resume gap”. As its typically described, you get back from a year of traveling and have a 6-12 month gap on your resume that strikes fear and horror into the eyes of prospective employers. They’ll question your lack of dedication for leaving your previous job. They’ll question the freshness of your skills since you’ve been out of the workforce for so long. They’ll even question if something is wrong with you because you haven’t been able to find a new job since.
The “resume gap” concern is typically voiced most enthusiastically by the same person who loudly brags about how he hasn’t taken a sick day since 1996 (congrats on that one, buddy). It’s also a complete and total farce!
For most jobs, 12 months really isn’t that long of a time period. In most professional services industries, the typical worker sees fairly limited variance in his or her job over the course of a given year. Sure, there might be a handful of small changes to personnel, clients, or the competitive landscape. But most people could hop into a time machine, transport one year into the future, and still have a pretty good handle on their jobs on the other side. Your 12-months away from the working world is no different.
Instead of thinking about your time away as a gap, think of it as a once-in-a-lifetime bridge that, if anything, is accretive to your business acumen and potential value-add as an employee. International travel is nothing if not character building and is a great way to become more empathetic and aware as a leader. Equally important, clients and co-workers of all industries want to spend time with interesting people – and what could possibly be more interesting than the person who has spent the past 12-months traveling the world!?
5. True growth happens outside of your comfort zone
This is really what life is all about. Stepping outside of your current bubble and experiencing the world in a new, eye-opening way that you never before could have imagined. Sure, you could remain in the friendly confines of your day-to-day, but is that really bringing you joy?
So many of us go about our lives defaulting into the decisions that will maximize our personal level of comfort without considering that our comfort is often inversely correlated with growth, fulfillment, and happiness. We say no to parties where we won’t know anyone, we pass on delivering presentations because the topic is slightly outside of our expertise, and we stay off the dance floor to avoid the embarrassment (even though you freaking love this song!). Personally, I’m guilty of all 3 at one point or another and I always regretted it after the fact.
Quitting your job to travel the world is an open embrace of the uncomfortable. There is so much to be gained by making a conscious effort to put yourself into situations that require you to be a little vulnerable and try something new. And while that vulnerability opens you up to the distinct possibility of failure, it also positions you for a wealth of new experiences, opportunities, and relationships that extend beyond your wildest imagination.
What do you think? Are there any other reasons to quit your job and travel the world in your 30’s?