Quitting your job to go travelling sounds like it would be an easy decision to make right? In truth, I struggled to make that decision for months before I actually did it…
But as I’m writing this from the Little Blue cafe at the top of the pier of St Kilda beach in Melbourne, Australia, I must have done something right. And as the sun shines through this little cafe window, leaving the shadows of seagulls on my table as they fly overhead, and the water is twinkling like it’s made up of a million pieces of mirrored glass, I’m reflecting on all the feelings I went through before finding myself here.
I was always someone who took pride in my work. I really wanted to do a good job, I really wanted to make a difference. I was confident that I could manage both a career and all my passions outside of work at the same time. But for a few months before handing in my notice, I just couldn’t rustle up the motivation I had before. It was this little sense of hollowness that triggered something inside me. It wasn’t anything that my job, or my work could change. It was in me, I needed something more to get excited about.
When I first started thinking about travelling for the long-term, I was filled with doubt. I couldn’t leave my job. I didn’t have enough savings. I didn’t want to go alone. I couldn’t give up my flat. I wouldn’t be able to find a new job. I’m happy to say this period lasted all of about seven hours. Long enough to pull myself together, make a budget, decide on some timeframes, and figure out my rough plan.
I wanted a new challenge and it was staring me the face. The challenge was to accept and believe that this was the right decision. It all aligned. There was no real, tangible reason that I could say no to this change. I needed to power through and take on this new, backpack-driven challenge. For over a year my screensaver on my phone has been a Cheryl Strayed quote that says ‘Trust your gut, forgive yourself, be grateful‘ and there was no better time to go and follow that gut feeling to explore more.
You have to be incredibly determined (or at the very least head over heels in love with the idea that you’ll be living out of a suitcase for the foreseeable) to hand in your notice at a full-time, well-paid job and say ‘thanks but no thanks’ in the kindest way possible to the boss who has only supported and encouraged you. I have never left a job without having one to go to. I have never had time off without a plan in place to come back to the ‘real world’ of meetings, emails and a regular salary. Determination helps you pull together that resignation email, it helps you find the words to explain that it’s something you need to do. Not because you need to find yourself, or to take a break from ‘the real world’, but because it feels like the only right thing to do right now and you have to follow it.
Once that hard part was done, and I started to work my notice period and get organised for the trip ahead, I went into this state of disbelief. People asked where I was going, why I was going, who I was going with, how long I would be away for and I barely had answers for them. I didn’t know and I could hardly believe I was doing it myself. Even when I booked my flights to the other side of the world and danced around my sitting room, giddy with the thought that I had spent more than a month’s rent on flights and I still didn’t really believe it. It didn’t feel real. It didn’t sound like something I would do. It didn’t seem possible until it was done.
I’ve lived in the same house for nearly seven years. My whole life was in London and now my whole life needed to be relatively packed up (and separated into my housemates’ bedrooms as they’ve kindly agreed to store some stuff for me!!) and get everything I need for the next two months into a backpack. It was a little overwhelming to think that life would be different, that things will change. They’re changing for the better, but in that moment all I could think about was how many pairs of shoes I’d need.
Yup, back here again. I packed my bags, I applied for my visa. I hugged my friends and family goodbye and got into a taxi to the airport and still I didn’t quite believe what I was doing.
8. Relief and gratefulness
These two came together in an intertwined wave. I was sitting in my seat on my first long haul flight of the trip. I buckled my seatbelt and looked out to the window onto the tarmac of London Heathrow’s runway and I let out the longest sigh of my life. My shoulders dropped about three inches and my rib cage retracted as all the air left my lungs and entered the cabin. The Qantas flight safety video ties some of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes and locations with onboard saftey protocol. And for some reason, this triggered tears. So many tears. They trickled down my face as the video told me about buckling up (to the backdrop of Sydney Harbour) and about emergency lighting (in Uluru’s Field of Lights) and there it was – relief and gratefulness that I had found myself here. On this airplane, on my way. Not sure where I’m going, but I’m here now.
Have you ever quit your job to go travelling? I wold love to hear how you did it and where you travelled to! Leave me a comment below!