The great affair is to move. For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. To travel is to take a journey into yourself. And now I am on a very different road. A road to myself. And there are people who also have learned how to let go, how to travel the world from a place of abundance and to thrive. You will find inspiration in these stories. There is no greater joy than to explore...
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.
Let it go and travel the world!
Lawyer Michael Hodson left his career to travel the world without using any aeroplanes or advance reservations. This “hare-brained scheme” has led to a life on the road. "There really wasn’t any great reason why I wanted to circle the globe over land – I wish there was something more epic in my planning, but I simply wanted to do something fun, challenging and unique."
"I pay for much of it with my blog – but the business of blogging is a tough one, because few clients are willing to provide the types of working budgets to make a reasonable living. Over time, I branched out and took on some social media consulting for travel and tourism businesses, sold photographs and organised blogging trips for clients. You need to do a number of different things to make a living travelling and blogging, so you need to quickly sort through your skills and talents and learn as much as you can from your friends and colleagues. Everything changes so quickly in social media and blogging, so keeping on top of it all becomes part of your overall job."
When a series of tragedies struck, Dalene and Pete Heck quit their six-figure jobs for an uncertain life on the road – and they haven’t looked back. Sitting across from each other at dinner after a bad day at work, a bottle of wine sitting between us, my husband Pete and I would take turns growling about our bosses, our lengthy to-do lists and our overflowing inboxes – each gripe emblematic of a deeper discontent. “This is it!” we’d say, shaking our fists at the ceiling. “We’re dumping everything to go travel the world!”
"From the cubicle to the open road, Pete and I have created a life unlike we ever could have imagined. With the profound lessons that only travel can bring, we continue to grow as humans, as business partners and as spouses who can now barely stand to spend a minute apart. Now, coming up on our six-year travel anniversary, I can look back with confidence and see how these two acts in my life fit together. Although we will always ache for the hardships that set us on this path, for us, travel works with time to heal old wounds."
Liz Carlson traded a stable office job in the US for the uncertainty of full-time writing at the end of the world. "It was sunny and the trees had just started to sprout leaves the day I quit my job to travel. As a contract administrator for a shipping company, I’d spent 2012 working in a windowless office in Washington DC – and while it was a great job for a 25-year-old, potentially even a good career, it was not what I wanted. I wanted to write stories and see the world."
"Sometimes I wish for those regular paychecks, for the ease of turning off my computer at 5 pm on a Friday and knowing what will happen the next week, month and year. But then I pinch myself, look out the window at snowcapped mountains and remember where my choices have brought me.
My path has been far from linear, and it has definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions, failures, freak-outs and learning experiences. Two years ago I wanted to see as much of the world as possible, tick items off a bucket list and collect stamps in my passport. Now I prefer to travel slowly, really dig in my heels and get to know a country. I enjoy going back to places I’ve been before and seeing them in a new light.
Through all this, I have achieved my goal of becoming a writer, blogger, Instagrammer, whatever you want to call me; I did it. I gave up a comfortable life to pursue personal happiness – hopefully proving that dreams really do come true, if you work for them."
Mired in depression after the loss of both her parents, a corporate writer suddenly quit her job and went to India. What she found there changed her life.
"I'd never visited India; I’d never even been on a long-term trip. I was emotionally fragile, and at 45, I was at an age when more rational people would be thinking mostly about settling down and playing it safe. But I knew I had to go. I was trying to recover from a deeply entrenched depression brought on by a series of devastating losses, including both my parents, and the only thing that had helped was yoga. Three classes a week eventually turned into teacher training, which lead to a desire – a compulsion almost – to visit the country where yoga was born. It felt like my life depended on it."
"The greatest lesson I took from this experience is that sometimes, there is nothing better than to listen to your inner voice, the one that keeps you awake at night, disturbs your plans and makes you uncomfortable. When you step off the beaten path to "follow your bliss", as mythologist Joseph Campbell said, you are on a completely unique journey. There is no universally applicable advice from there, because when you truly listen to yourself, you will be creating your own path. Doors will open for you that would not open for anyone else.
As I write this, I am getting ready to leave for my seventh trip to India. I'll again be crisscrossing the subcontinent in search of adventure, stories and the feeling I love best –that I am truly experiencing my life and doing what I was meant to do."
Quitting your job to travel is not only an option for those who go solo. Here is how one couple did it – and how they have stayed on the road, and together, ever since. "When people ask us, “What’s the most frightening thing you’ve done while travelling the world?”, they often expect a story from Iran, Kazakhstan or Rwanda. Yet while we have encountered plenty of challenges during our travels, many of which have been fodder for stories on our blog, our most difficult moment came before all that. It was when in 2006, as mid-career professionals, my wife and I handed in our resignation letters, setting aside the security of one life for the uncertain opportunities of another – together."
"As a couple, meanwhile, our travels have provided us the opportunity to create a library of shared stories and life experiences. Our respect and appreciation of our differences has helped us grow together, not apart. But it’s important to remember that travelling and working together forces issues to the surface; work through them immediately, rather than letting them stew and simmer.
Oh, and if you board separate buses, make sure they eventually wind up in the same place."
Social media strategist Shivya Nath dreamed of world travel. After she entered a contest and won a return ticket to Paris, she took it as a sign – and took off. "I never planned to quit my job to travel. When I decided to break away from my cubicle-bound life, I was 23 years old, the daughter of a protective family in India and had graduated from university in Singapore only two years earlier with a not-so-helpful Economics degree and a not-so-comforting amount of student debt. In retrospect, though, my decision was not impulsive: the universe had been giving me signs all along."
"If you dream of quitting your corporate life to travel someday, make your current job count. Use the security of a monthly pay check to hone your skills, build your networks and experiment with types of work that you can do to finance your travels. You’ll know, like I did, when you’re ready to take the plunge. And the world will be waiting."
Travel blogger and global volunteer Urooj Qureshi explains why he left his stable job to serve the world community. "My decision to travel came as a surprise to many people. In 2012, after eight years as a social entrepreneur, I was headhunted for an important non-profit organisation in Ottawa, Canada. But I had already made my decision: 30 March would be the last day I would “go to work”."
"These days I am based in the small medieval town of Sibiu in the heart of Transylvania. Surrounded by the Carpathian mountain range, I am here with a girl that caught my eye early on during my journey. I call that girl my wife now. Together with her I am raising our baby daughter – the next generation travelling change maker. Though just six months, she is always excited to be outdoors, to travel and to light up the mood of strangers she meets with her charming smile. How grateful am I to have left my job to travel? More than I can express in words."
Travel and food blogger Jodi Ettenberg explains why she left a successful career behind – and no, it wasn’t to “find herself” or “pursue her passion”.
"it is important to let go of the external pressure to “find your passion”, an expectation that especially affects those who left a traditional career path. Those that don’t run the risk of falling into the “passion trap”, the idea that figuring out what you “love” in life can be to the detriment of your day-to-day living. Instead, that energy can be focused on getting better at the skills you already have, or learning new ones that apply to the life you want. "
"In my case, I did not quit to begin a new career. But in writing about culture and travel, and learning to experiencing a destination through its cuisine, I found one along the way. "
Travel blogger Kirsten Alana explains how, and why, she left her life behind – without savings, much travel experience or even a backpack.
"When I decided to quit my job to travel, I did the opposite of what I would recommend: I took the "just go!" quotes literally, read inspirational gobbledygook about how we only live once – and told myself that if I took even an hour to think things through, I'd never end up travelling at all."
"I had no savings (and only pennies in my checking account), plus more than $10,000 in debt, including a bill from my divorce lawyer that still needed paying. I had been abroad exactly four times, including just once as an adult. I had a comfortable income as a wedding photographer, complete with a three-storey house with two cars; I’d never stayed in a hostel or travelled alone. I didn’t even own a traveller’s backpack."
"I would advise others considering a similar decision not to listen to those who do not support your dream. But do not shame them for doubting, either. We are all different in our levels of courage – and in the way we view how life should be lived. As for me? In the words of motivational author Mary Anne Radmacher, “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
Texts and photos: BBC Travel
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