A few years ago, on my 30th birthday, I walked out of my corporate job, booked a one way ticket to Spain, and didn’t look back….at least for 8 months. When my year of teaching English in Spain was over, I promised my boyfriend and my parents that I would return home, that my year abroad was temporary. I didn’t believe in my heart that it really was temporary, but I told everyone what they wanted to hear.
I had planned to go back to graduate school, get my masters degree in two years, and then return to Spain on a more permanent basis. Those two years are almost over, and I will have my masters degree in May. But is living in Spain again in my future? Here is what people don’t tell you about quitting your job to travel the world.
The Down Side to Quitting Your Job to Travel the World
The day I quit my job and booked my ticket to Spain, I was the happiest and most optimistic I’d ever been. No one could bring me down or tell me anything negative; I just wouldn’t hear it. I realized I was leaving a steady, stable job for a transient, paycheck-to-paycheck life, but sometimes that’s just what you need. But how long can you live the carefree, come-and-go lifestyle? What happens when you get addicted to a nomad lifestyle? Click To Tweet
Your Family Might Not Approve
My family supported me on the outside but worried for me on the inside. Though they supported my move abroad, I could tell they maybe the idea didn’t thrill them. My mom worried I wouldn’t like living in rural Europe and would be stuck in a year-long contract with the Spanish government. My cousin told me her story of teaching English abroad in Eastern Europe and living with a host family, riding a bus 2 hours to her school every day and being expected to teach the host children English every night. She said that by December, she had had enough and broke her contract to come home.
Other family members implied I was getting too old to live this young, carefree lifestyle and was taking a step backwards in my professional career. They all were proud of me for taking this big step, but wanted to make sure I saw the whole picture. At the time, I was so excited for this big change that I knew wholeheartedly what I wanted, and I was going to Spain whether everyone approved or disapproved.
People Will Be Jealous
I know I was jealous of others when I was working a 9-5 desk job and saw people traveling or doing anything that wasn’t at a desk every day. I followed their lead and did it myself, and then felt the wrath of other people still at their desk jobs that were jealous of me.
People asked how I could afford to travel Europe for a year, wasn’t I worried about job stability when I got home, when was I going to come home and grow up. They didn’t know my “behind the scenes story” where the stars aligned and the “perfect storm” happened (literally and figuratively) and everything fell into place perfectly for me to be able to leave for a year, a story which I haven’t shared yet on the blog but maybe soon I will. If you're planning on quitting your job to travel the world, prepare for haters. Click To Tweet
No Stability for the Future
I was making a lot of money living in Spain (by Spanish standards), but I wanted to take advantage of my experience and see the world while everything was so close and travel was so cheap. I wasn’t able to save any of the money I made because I spent it all traveling. If I had planned for a more permanent move and given up traveling every weekend to live a normal life, I may have been able to save money. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to save enough money to live comfortably and save for my future.
My life abroad also dipped into my savings a little bit. Living abroad and working part time is perfect for a temporary job, but without a retirement plan or savings account, it just wasn’t steady or stable enough to survive on. I would love to go back to Spain for the long haul, but it’s just not as stable as a life at home and I don’t know that I would be able to save a nest egg for the future.
Love May Not Follow
When I initially brought up the idea of teaching English in Spain for a year to my boyfriend, he shot down the idea and changed the subject so quick I wondered if the conversation even really happened. The second time I mentioned it, it turned into an all out war that left me sadly trying to cope with the fact that it would never happen if I wanted to keep him. The third time I told him, I knew I was going either way, and I had prepared for the break up.
I went through the long process of getting my visa and booked my flights. Only a month before I was ready to leave, he decided to come with me. We had some snags with our school placements in Spain and almost didn’t go again because we would have been 6 hours apart. But the government worked with us, placing us in neighboring villages. We both got our visas and were set to go. If you’re thinking about quitting your job to travel the world, remember that love may not to follow you. If you’re thinking about quitting your job to travel the world, remember that love may not follow you.
Prepare to Spend Lots of Time Alone
Traveling the world means you’re never in one place very long. It’s almost impossible to find someone on the same page as you who wants to go to the same places at the same time for the same length of time. You’ll rarely run into people you know, so prepare to spend a lot of time without friends or even acquaintances.
If you’re living abroad, you may be able to adapt after a while and make new friends but if there’s a language barrier, that adds another layer of difficulty to socialization. I found that many times I wouldn’t be invited to social gatherings because no one wanted to speak English the entire time or wouldn’t want to translate entire conversations for us. While we did make friends and adapt to the new culture, we did find that we spent most of our time only with each other.
The Upside to Quitting Your Job to Travel the World
Don’t get me wrong. I had to start with the negatives to get you thinking and make sure this is something you really want, rain or shine. There might be lots of rain if you choose to travel the world or live abroad but if that’s something you’re ready to accept, the sun will definitely outshine any cloudy days.
You Will Grow In Ways You Never Thought Possible
Like Pocahontas said, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew. There is so much to learn in the world that you can’t learn at a school desk or in a book. Even movies or documentaries don’t do the world justice.
The best way to learn is to experience, because it's something you'll never ever forget. Click To Tweet Biased opinions won’t mean anything anymore as you figure out the world and its people for yourself. You’ll learn that it doesn’t make any sense to fear things like traveling, other cultures or religions you don’t understand, or anything unknown. When you do come home, you might find that your home town now bores you, or you might find that you have a new appreciation for it. Everything will seem so much different not because your home has changed, but because you have changed.
You’ll Be Less Afraid to Try New Things
Traveling the world has many hurdles and obstacles. No doubt you will come across one or two sticky situations along the way. If you conquer your fears and apprehensions of traveling the world or living abroad with success, you’ll realize you can conquer pretty much anything with success.
Traveling the world or living abroad comes with a lot of baggage. You’ll have to learn to overcome language barriers, overcome some less-than-neighborly people who may try to trick you out of money or goods, and overcome small challenges that turn into big challenges when you’re in another part of the world. Even going to the doctor is a struggle when you don’t speak the language and have to learn how to explain yourself in foreign medical terms. Once you can do anything abroad, you can do anything at home too.
You’ll Be More Likely to Get a Job Over Someone Who Hasn’t Traveled
Everyone says it’s easier to get a job if you already have one. I’m going to tell you it’s easier to get a job if you’ve lived abroad and have worldly experience.
When I had a job, I applied for graduate school at 3 schools, and every one rejected me. That wasn’t even a job, that was graduate school! When I quit my job to live abroad, I applied to the same schools again for graduate school halfway through my year abroad. This time, those schools fought over me to give me one of their precious seats in a program that only accepts 10-15 students per year. Every school accepted me and I had my pick of where to go. What made me stand out from the thousands of other people applying for the program? I had the worldly, cultured experience that makes me a citizen of the world, and they respected that.
In case my life example wasn’t enough, I will also give you James’s life example.
He was applying for the New Jersey State Police. Out of the 17,000 people who applied, the State Police took 2,500. As is already well-known, they have a gender and racial quota that makes it very hard for someone like James to get a job with them. Even with friends in the department, he still didn’t think he had a shot. When they chose him for an interview he was shocked, only to find out that his time in Spain made him a world citizen who could relate to more than just his own nationality and speak more than one language. What made him stand out among 17,000 other people? He had the world experience to make him valuable to such an organization.
You’ll Be More Culturally Aware and Socially Responsible
One of the main reasons for war is a clash or cultures and religions. Too many people don’t understand each other and don’t respect each others beliefs. Living abroad and traveling internationally will teach you about other people and why there’s no reason to fear what you don’t understand.
If you live abroad or travel the world, you will understand and respect differences and meet the most wonderful people in your travels. You will be single-handedly educating the world just by bringing your own culture to their land and bringing other cultures to your home. Any predetermined fears or preconceptions you had instantly disappear, and you’ll find yourself much more culturally aware and socially responsible.
Have you ever thought about quitting your job to travel the world? What influenced your decision to either do it or not do it? If you’re thinking about quitting your job to travel the world or if you’ve already done it, tell me about your experience in the comments below!
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P.S. You might also enjoy 10 Reasons Why Living Overseas Makes You A Better Person or Teaching English Abroad