Planning to quit your job and travel the world ? Here are some tips..
Am always asked how does one quit your job and travel the world – here are some tips from my experience
Everyday I wake up to emails and queries on twitter and facebook relating to travel, solo travel, travel writing, blogging. And while I reply every mail, it is difficult to respond to every single query. Very often, the questions are the same. I want to travel. I want to be a travel writer . I want to be a photographer and a blogger. Am I on the right path ? How do I take the first step ? What are the dos and dont’s ? How does one quit your job and travel the world ? What are the opportunities out there ? I am no career counselor but I will share my story, my experiences, the opportunities that came my way and some professional tips and do let me know if these will help you in your journey.
Can passion take you places ?
Yes, it can. Passion is not just a craving. It is not just an impulsive desire that makes you whimsical. It is a deep desire inside you, a conviction that this is the path for you.You need to feel it inside you – the hunger, the drive and then work towards achieving it. Sometimes it takes a while for you to feel it. It may be hidden inside you and you may not be able to figure out for a while, caught up in the demands of your regular life. Like it happened in my life.
I had been married to my media career for almost 15 years and I would willingly kill myself to grow in my career. It gave me such a high that I would live and breathe media . But then one fine day, I was burnt out. Designations like Vice President did not matter to me. I was not motivated by seven digit salary either. I realized that corporate life was a trap and I was not able to grow beyond it. I enjoyed it while it lasted but I needed more out of life. I took a break, I travelled, I wrote, I blogged. I met people from all walks of life. I was a nobody then, stripped of my fancy designation and bank balance. It took me a while to realize that my dream was to be somebody outside the company I worked for. I wanted to be known for being “me” and I had no personality or an identity besides my job. And so, I created one .
So whats your passion ?
Do you want to travel ? Be a travel writer ? A photographer ? A blogger. All of the above ? A freelancer or be employed in the travel industry ? Or is your primary goal just to travel and you will do anything to travel ? Its important to know what is your primary passion . I like to travel, but i also like to tell stories and hence I am a blogger/writer. If you are planning to quit your job and travel the world, ask yourself what your key passion is.
It is not a glamorous path but loads of hard work
Following your passion is not a glamorous path. It is simple hard work. In my earlier post on tips on travel writing, I had written the same.
Read my post – ” Travel writing is simple hard work ”
It is about being humble yet being confident, being mentally strong while being able to handle rejection. If you want to be a travel writer, be prepared to get no responses for days or months. For every story that has been commissioned to me, there are at least ten stories that are rejected. For every editor who responds to my mail, there are at least five who do not.
If you want to look for projects in the travel industry, ask yourself why people should entertain you. Do not wear your arrogance on your sleeve. Be open, be flexible. Read up, meet as many people as you can, listen to their stories, ask them pertinent questions. There are no short cuts. I get emails from people asking me to mentor them. I am sorry I am NOT going to give you a single contact. There are no short cuts here. Earn them yourself. I used to comb every magazine and newspaper and look for email ids and send emails by the dozen and wait patiently for responses.
You are always a professional
You may be on your own, but you are always a professional. First believe in it yourself. And then show your professionalism to the outside world. In a corporate world, we look for people who are proactive, confident, with a positive attitude and great communication skills besides functional knowledge. You need all of the above even here. If there is one skill that I would give more importance to, then it will be a proactive approach. And if there is one skill I would request you to avoid – its this “I know it all and its my my way or the highway approach.” Believe me, it does not take you places.
Do not wait for opportunities to come to your door. Send pitches to travel magazines. Keep sending them till they tell you to stop. Pitch to your prospective clients, let them know you exist, tell them why you are the best person to work for them. Have goals every month and see how they are working out for you. If your approach is that of a hobbyist, then your response will also be similar. This is an approach that I have been pursuing for a while and it has helped me convert some non existing opportunities into projects.
What are the opportunities out there ?
Most opportunities to be very honest do not exist. You need to create them. I started out as a travel blogger, a travel writer, became a columnist, edited travel supplements for newspapers, edited guide books, managed blogs for travel companies, set up blogs and trained marketing resources in travel companies to blog and build blogs. I have taken up several freelance projects, especially when i am not travelling. I keep my eyes and ears open for projects. If you do not want to be a freelancer, then work with several start ups in the travel space. You can be a guide, help them take tourists, manage their social media. If you are interested in sustainable tourism, then there are several travel companies who are doing the same. And for those who want to do work in nature and environment, several NGOs, wildlife tourism organisations are looking for naturalists and volunteers. Look at opportunities in your own city. Get a grip somewhere as long as it interests you.
Finally money is important
Its very easy to quit your job and travel the world on a whim but you need money. Every day, a student straight out of college writes to me, wanting to be in the travel industry straight out of his/her college or from someone who has worked for barely a couple of years. As much as its your life and passion, it is also important to note that there is very little money in this industry. So, my suggestion would be to first think hard and ask yourself is this a “real” passion or just an “escape” route ? If you are not sure, then take a break and try it out for a couple of years before plunging into it. It worked for me. I decided not to go back to my corporate life eventually after two years of being a nomad.
I strongly suggest that you plan your finances first. Ask yourself how much you would need in a year – to travel, to meet your personal expenses, to live out your fantasy.I wish I had done this earlier but now I do this every quarter. I travel only if I have earned out of my previous trip. As conservative as it sounds, save. Do not jump on to the first bus or train and cover as many places as you want, just because your “friend” on facebook has been there. It is important that you travel at your pace. I am a hard core Capricorn, a mountain goat and I am slow but sturdy and I take my own time to get where I want.
Its great to take risks but it is also important to be practical .But at the end of the day, everything in life is about choices and very often, choices make our lives. If there is one poem that has been the story of my life, then it is the Road Not taken by Robert Frost. Read the entire poem if you havent, but I will end the post with these lines…
Let me know if you have any specific questions and I will be happy to answer them. If you have any more pointers to share for those embarking on new quests in life, do share them here. And if you are planning to quit your job and travel the world, then all the best !
Loved this article. I am here: I realized that corporate life was a trap and I was not able to grow beyond it. …
Thanks Lakshmi, reading pieces like this gives me energy and hope that I would shed the shackles and move on too.
Have you read this: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/travel/a-10-month-family-trip-around-the-world.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
Thanks Vani..I hope you break the shackles sometime..its a tough call most of the time.
This is really inspiring
I am tempted to use your advice. Completely drained out, have a good idea of a travel related website.
All the best Vikas..do let me know how it goes..
Well said! Especially about the escape route bit… See so many people getting into this for this reason. Just couple of days ago I got an email asking for editorial contacts and what are the rates!
Thanks Prachi..yes, I sometimes get alarmed when these 20 somethings want to quit a well paid job or a good career and wonder if they are being carried away
Great post – particularly the bit about needing to plan and budget finances. There are so many posts around about how money shouldn’t be an object to travelling, and in a way, I kind of agree with that, in that you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire in order to travel. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s wise to go off with totally empty pockets. Money is important for living day to day while you’re travelling, the same as when you’re not. Saving is definitely the key!
Thanks Katie..I do agree that money is not a major consideration when it comes to planning a trip, but then like you said, one cannot plan trips on an empty bank balance..I have often realized that it is also important to also make money out of travel..
Truly inspiring life story Lakshmi mam. I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors. 🙂
Thanks Raja ..
Honest, impressive, inspiring and heart warming not to mention very practical write up. I have seen you present at so many right places online that I can easily say you are the hardest working travel blogger in India and extremely talented too. Well done.
Thank you so much..thats very inspiring and humbling ..
Great tips, Lakshmi. I think one of the biggest things people don’t realize is that travel writing (and other travel-related jobs) is not an escape or a way to be on permanent vacation. Yes, it can be fun and exciting. But much of the time it is, indeed, very hard work. Because of my career, I have rarely been able to take a vacation by traveling because the minute I get on the plane my brain goes into work mode.
The past few years have also made it much more difficult to make money, with the slow death of print. It can be done, but it is a LOT of work.
Thanks Randall..Most of the time, I hear people say, “You are so lucky..” For, a lot of people think that travel writers get lots of free trips and thats what the role is all about..
April 16, 2014 at 5;30pm
Love the post. When i lost my job as a nurse i did not see that one coming, because i love what i did love my patients, co-worker and my doctors, but i did not look at it as a bad thing, it just open my eye to now i get to travel all over the world for pennies on the dollar for the rest of my life, and make money doing it. I vacation for a living now i have the freedom to go on mission trips for my church, help with fundraising in my community and also being a business developer, so for the young kids coming out of college follow your dreams there are ways to fund your dreams and goals in life
Thanks so much for sharing your story..very inspiring indeed .
Many people say, “Travel while you’re young.” I did some of that (lived in Mexico, England and Colombia by the time I was 21), but I’m also not sorry I went to law school, had a legal career, married and raised two children. I never gave up traveling, but now I can do it more intensely again. Bottom line. “To thine own self be true.” Being able to travel is not a zero sum game. It doesn’t have to be “either–or”.
I agree Suzanne but there are many who want to quit the shackles off their corporate life and get on to doing new things..that is why I shared my story too. I too enjoyed my corporate life while it lasted but I needed more out of life.
Thank you, Lakshmi, for an inspiring and practical article. I am at the exact point you were at when you changed your life course. I’ve been employed as a magazine editor at the same company for 24 years, have given of myself above and beyond, and am feeling burnt out. More than anything, I love the people here, but I am in search of something more fulfilling—for me. Like you, I feel the need for a separate identity other than my workplace, especially since I have no spouse or family. I started a website and because of my job and knowledge gained over the years, I wish to write about it in my blog (it’s the place I live after all, Hawaii!). My boss, however, doesn’t want me to pursue it. This is by no means stopping me, but I do know now for sure what it is I want to do. There’s also a part of me that’s squirming with the thought: “He can’t tell me what to do outside of work hours!” : )
One more thing…your sentence about liking to tell stories so you designate yourself as a blogger/writer—that really hit home for me! I’ve compared my blog to that of other travel bloggers, and find it different. I’ve been wondering if I should change how I write. But I want to instill my personality, a bit of me, into what I write. And if I write like the many blogs I’ve seen on the web, I feel it wouldn’t be true to me. Now I know. I’m a traveler (when finances permit!) who likes to blog AND tell my stories. Many people have visited places I’ve written about and will write about, but none can do so from my shoes. Thank you for turning on that lightbulb in my head! : )
Thanks Sarah for the long comment. I do hope that you start your website and tell your stories to the world. I dont think anyone – including a boss can say what one must do in life..wishing you all the best.
Lakshmi here I am , taking tiny steps to kick off and what perfect timing ! Thank you for your insights. They were practical and gave me perspective.
All the best Payal
nice article indeed…. i hope i do this one day 🙂
Thanks Mahesh..hope you get to do so sometime
Wonderful tips mam. I have a question. In travel writing, how can you bring the feel in an article instead of visiting that place?
Thanks Pradipna..you cannot bring the feel of a place in a story if you havent visited it, especially if you are writing a narrative..this is my opinion
Inspiring article with a clear vision….. Thanks , Lakshmi………..
Realistic words and its apply for all jobs. Thanks for your information. All picture and blogs are very natural.