Q&A: Should I Quit My Job to Travel?

Question: I’ve been considering taking some time off from work. Should I quit my job to travel?

Answer: Many of us are used to weekend getaways or comparatively short trips that last for a couple of weeks. These trips often pass in the blink of an eye, and before we know it, we’re back at work almost without missing a beat. But when it comes to taking extended vacations – perhaps six months to a year – an entirely different set of preparations are in order.

Most companies probably have no way of accommodating such a lengthy vacation on your part. In order to take to the skies or jet ski across the Pacific Ocean, you will probably have to take a leap of faith and quit your job.

Don't Break the Bank

While we get that taking a year off from work is all about taking the plunge with not a care in the world, we would advise against taking that quite so literally. You don’t want to exhaust your meagre finances on a whirlwind of a trip, only to come back and find that you can no longer pay for your bills. There are of course other factors to consider, such as whether you have family or other dependents that rely on you for financial support. If you answered yes to the latter, you should probably hunker down and shoulder through with your job. Ultimately, your finances should be the first thing you evaluate when considering if you should take time off to travel.

Know Your Budget

Even after you’ve ascertained that you do have the means to travel, it’s not time yet to dispense with the budgeting. You don’t need to plan everything down to the cent, but you do need to have a general idea of how much you will need to spend. For instance, the same amount of money will probably last you longer in Southeast Asia than in the US or Eurozone. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your travel destinations should be limited by your budget, but that you should strike a fine balance between your place of travel and the duration you’ll be gone for.

What Happens When You Come Back?

It might seem like a douse of cold water to have to consider what awaits you when you return before you even set off on your trip. Nevertheless, you should consider what the trip will do to your career prospects. Are you looking to enter the same industry you are in now? Or are you in a line of work that changes rapidly, such that a year away will render your skills obsolete and leave you with a lot of catching up to do? It is crucial to have the long-term view in mind and consider the impact of the trip on your career goals.

The Point of the Trip

Finally, you should turn your gaze inwards and consider what the true motivation behind your vacation is. As American author Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” If you’re mainly seizing on the vacation as an opportunity to run away from your work or life, you should think twice.

In all probability, the problems that drove you away will still be here when you come back if you don’t identify their root cause. When your main goal is to escape your job and life, the return after a long time away will be even more crushing. You might feel momentarily rejuvenated, but it will not last long after your return. Instead, you should aim for a career that makes you want to stay. However, that’s not to say that we actively discourage vacations. If you are financially sound and want to take the trip to enrich yourself, learn, and see the world, you should not stop yourself.

What are your thoughts on leaving a job to travel? Share with us in the comment box below!

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