How To Quit Your Job to Travel
You might have dreamed about taking time off from your career or even quitting work entirely to travel the world. For many of us, this is simply a dream. But it is possible to follow through and make it a reality. Quitting a job—especially one that makes you unhappy—can provide you with an adventure, a chance to see the world, and an opportunity to consider what kind of career you truly want.
Another option could be to take your job with you. If you work remotely, you may be able to combine work and travel. Either way, traveling the world is a big change.
Find out what considerations to keep in mind before you make this decision, as well as tips on job searching once you wish to transition back to working.
Should You Quit Your Job to Travel?
Before walking out of your office and hitting the road, think very carefully about whether or not leaving your job is right for you. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you weigh this decision:
Do You Just Want a Different Job?
Before writing a resignation letter, consider if you really want to travel long-term, or whether you simply want a different job because you’re unhappy or dissatisfied in your current position. If you want a different job, begin a job search to find a job that fits your needs and interests.
Could You Take a Long Vacation Instead?
Think about how long you want to travel. Would you be happy traveling for a few weeks, rather than a few months or years? If so, you might be able to take an extended vacation rather than quit your job.
Check with your human resources office or employee handbook for information on how many vacation days you get per year, and whether or not you could save them up and use them for a multi-week vacation. Or, it’s possible you can find a new job and negotiate for a start date that’s several weeks or even a month in the future, providing you with the time to travel.
Could You Take a Sabbatical?
Instead of using vacation time, you might be able to take a sabbatical from work for a few weeks or months. Of course, this depends on your employer and industry. And, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to take this kind of leave if you are a valued employee, and one with a long tenure at the company. That is, it’s unlikely the company will allow you to take a sabbatical if you have only worked there for a couple of years.
Once you have a sense of how long you want to travel, talk to your boss. He or she might be willing to make something work if you give enough notice.
Can You Flex Your Schedule?
Another option, if your employer is agreeable, is to work a flexible remote schedule. It can be challenging to be in a different time zone, but depending on your job it can be a viable option that will allow you to travel while still earning your paycheck.
Do You Have the Money to Travel Long-Term?
If you know you want to quit your job (rather than taking a vacation or sabbatical), you first need to make sure you have the money to travel. Calculate how much money you will need, and then start saving. You might consider selling your furniture, moving in with roommates, or getting a second job to save money during this period.
Have You Thought About Your Responsibilities at Home?
Before quitting, think about your other responsibilities. Do you have dependents? Do you own a house? Do you have a pet? Do you have lots of furniture you would have to store? Come up with a plan for these responsibilities, so that you will be ready to pack up and leave.
Do You Have a Way to Earn Money Abroad?
If you can bring your job with you or save up enough money to travel, this is not an issue. But if you need to earn money, look into international employment options before leaving. If you want a flexible job, you might consider working on a farm, teaching abroad, waiting, bartending, or something else similar. You can take advantage of international job boards to find work, or consider looking for a remote job.
Have You Explained Your Plan to Your Employer?
Once you have decided you want to quit your job to travel, tell your boss. Make sure to give at least two weeks’ notice, but consider sharing the news earlier to provide the company with ample time to find a new employee. Talk to your boss, and then send an official resignation letter to your boss and human resources.
Take The Time To Plan Your Trip
Part of the thrill of quitting a job to travel may be the adventure. But it’s wise to think through the practicalities—how long will you travel? What’s your budget? Where will you go first? Thinking through these basic questions can help you establish a rough plan.
When You Are Taking Your Job With You
If you’re able to combine traveling with working remotely, it’s important to be prepared to be able to get your job done.
Have a plan for your Internet connection. In the United States, those of us who work from our computers or job search online are used to clocking in at a café and settling in for the day. But when you’re traveling internationally, you can’t always rely on the corner coffee shop. Not every city has a “café culture” that accommodates working. Before you travel, do your research on finding a connection in your destination, and have a backup plan, whether it’s connecting to a wireless hotspot, or securing a spot in a co-working space.
Carry around a notebook and pen. There will come a day when you can’t connect to WiFi, when you forgot to grab a converter for your laptop charger, or when you’re in a location not quite secure enough to pull out a $1,000 computer. But, the solution is easy: slip a notebook in your bag and keep a pen hooked over its cover. You’ll always have a place to jot down your ideas, and you might just find yourself grateful when inspiration strikes at a random time.
Figure out when, and how, you work best. This sounds like a given, but if you can settle into a routine that maximizes your productivity, do your best to stick with it.
Buy international outlet adapters before you go. Sure, you can pick them up at the airport, but you’ll pay less if you order online from a site like Amazon, which has a huge selection of converters.
Arrange your communication channels before you go. If you’re working with other people, or expect to be job searching and arranging interviews while you’re traveling, you should take a few minutes to set up your messaging systems before you go.
Plan ahead for video job interviews or meetings. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute if you have an important call or need to do a video job interview for a new position. For example, it’s a good idea to put on an appropriate shirt or blouse for a video interview or meeting. Just because you’re traveling, doesn’t mean you don’t need to dress the part. Make sure you read up on how to have a successful video interview, and take a few minutes to practice, so you’re not scrambling to get ready when the call comes.
Be flexible, but also upfront. When you’re communicating with professionals in other countries, you need to be aware of time zones and take into account whether you’re really going to be able to get online at 4:30 a.m. local time to accommodate someone located halfway around the world. You should also be upfront about your accessibility. If you know you’re going to have difficulty connecting to the Internet from a certain location, or if you’re going to be in transit for a few days, let others know in advance.
Be mindful of the time and date differences. Keep track of time zones, so you don’t end up calling a potential employer or another important contact at 3 a.m. without realizing it. Most smartphones allow you to set a clock for another time zone, or you can download an app to keep track. If you’re staying somewhere with a large time difference, you should factor in the discrepancy in dates, too.
Job Searching After Your Travels
If you plan to go back on the job market after traveling, there are small things you can do during your travels (especially towards the end of the journey) to set yourself up for success.
Depending on what you do during your travels, you can pick up a number of useful skills during your journey that might be useful on the job market. For example, if you become proficient in a foreign language, you can add this to your resume. Similarly, if you work during your travels, you can add these experiences (and the skills gained) to your job applications.
Before returning home, update your resume to include these new skills and experiences. Make a list of employers you might want to work for. Let your friends, family, and professional connections know when you are heading home, and ask for networking help or any other job advice. When you return home, follow up, and begin applying to jobs using your new resume.