Imagine turning this daydream into reality: You step into your manager’s office and give notice that you’ll be departing for an indefinite adventure across the world, by yourself. You bad a$$.
Although this may seem like a fairytale only possible in your wildest dreams, it’s a choice many men and women alike are deciding every day. The move to quit your job for a journey across the world can be fueled by many different intentions. Whether it’s to escape the boredom and stiffness of the 9-5 cube life, to find your purpose, or to meet up with interesting international friends and the occasional romantic partner, there’s a good chance these 12 reasons below will make you want to book your ticket today. They will also assure you that it’s completely logical, fair and perhaps even compulsory to your happiness that you do so ASAP.
12 You dislike your job.
Especially for those us of early in our careers, there’s absolutely no reason to stay in a job that we dislike. When I quit my high paying consulting job to become a full-time freelance writer, my boss was completely happy with my decision. This is because, as a mother and a middle-aged woman herself, she saw the horror in waking up every morning without passion or purpose, struggling to get out of bed and constantly working for the weekend. Now I have no “week” or “weekend,” they are simply words for different days of the week because I actually like what I do.
11 Find your purpose.
Perhaps you don’t hate what you do, but you’re pretty bored by it. Maybe you’re awesome at your job, you get the best clients, have been promoted a few times, and know the ins and out of the business. But there’s something crucial missing. You don’t have a purpose - a meaningful purpose - you’re not growing creatively or adding anything of value to the world. When you travel solo, you’ll be inspired to try out new “careers,” harness new talents and get closer to finding your purpose.
10 Meet new friends.
When you travel the world alone, it’s a given that you’ll meet incredible friends from all over the globe. Your true friends at home will support your decision and stay in touch with you via the countless apps and communication platforms out there – increasingly available through cheap data plans and wireless connection. To meet new friends, we need to step outside of our comfort zone and go alone. You’ll be surprised how often you are approached, and how much more comfortable you feel walking up to new people who have the ability to become your best friends in less than a day.
9 Experience different cultures.
In the US, we’re bombarded with the image of the “American Dream” which runs our capitalist society. American ideas around hard-work paying off in the end, out-doing your competition, pushing your limits and accumulating wealth are completely contrary to other cultures. It’s important that we’re exposed to different systems of living in order to live a life with more opportunity, perspective and happiness. Plus, it’s tons of fun to immerse in another culture. Take Spain for an example – dance the night away until 6AM, take a siesta (adult nap) for 3 hours after lunch and do it all over again.
When we volunteer our time and effort in the selfless service of someone else, or a greater goal, we get much more than we could ever give. Scientifically, giving feels good, and has positive effects on our happiness, our feeling of self-worth and accomplishment. Giving has a ripple effect – they say if you smile at a stranger you can change the world. To boot, many volunteer opportunities found via platforms such as WorkAway and YogaTrade offer work exchange agreements where you are provided food and accommodation for free in return for a few hours of volunteering a day. Not bad.
7 Learn a new skill (at a discount).
When I flew to India to receive my yoga certification at a top-notch resort on the beach in south Goa, I saved money (flight included) compared to taking the course in New York City (total savings of a few thousand dollars). To add, I was provided my own personal bungalow on the beach, delicious all you can eat vegetarian meals, and courses from some of the best in Ashtanga Yoga. The opportunity to take time off to improve your skills or learn new ones, whether it be a language, teaching certification, diving license, etc. doesn’t come around that often – be sure to seize it!
6 Develop self-esteem and independence.
The most amazing part about traveling the world alone is that many people will look at you cross eyed when you tell them your plans. You then have the opportunity to prove them wrong and increase your sense of independence and self-worth. Realizing you can truly do anything you set your mind to will change your life forever. You will have no more self-imposed limits, and you will ignore those set on you by others.
5 You’re broke. (You: Wait, what? Me: Shh, listen, trust me and see for yourself.)
Tim Ferriss, author of New York Times Bestseller, “4-Hour Work Week” is quoted for saying “We don’t want to be millionaires. We want to live the type of life we think millionaires live.” The value of your money is multiplied by the freedom you have in regards to mobility and time. How much you work and where you work end up being much more important than pure dollar amounts. One hundred dollars in San Francisco will barely last you a day, yet it will support an adventure filled week in Thailand. Many who are low on funds opt for Australia, where an easily issued working visa will land you a job at the minimum wage of about $20 an hour.
4 Because you’ll regret it when you don’t.
It turns out that we often end up regretting more of what we don’t do in life, than regretting those things that we took the leap of faith and went for (with success or not). A good friend of mine worked in a hospice, where she heard the last words and regrets of those on their death beds. She later set out on a trip across the world, away from her bubble in Charleston, NC. A large part of her reasoning was due to the inspiration from the dying at her job. The elderly told her to go for it, that they wished they had done what she was planning. Most people on their death beds say they wish they’d taken more risks and followed their dreams. No matter what.
3 You have no serious ties to any location.
As a twenty-something-year old, many of our peers are without a family, a mortgage, etc. Even for those of us with financial debt due to student loans and credit cards, they don’t necessarily cancel travel out of the life equation (see point #8). With the advent of technology, we don’t need to cut ties with anyone. We can bend around the ropes if we’re still involved with someone from home (although we don’t have to). We have no mortgage, crying babies, teams to lead at work, divorce law suit in process, etc. Even if you do, with the advent of technology, you can deal with them remotely!
2 You can always come back
For most of us contemplating quitting our soulless 9-5, we underestimate the value of our skills that landed us the job in the first place. When you quit your job, you won’t lose the credentials, degrees and work experience. Worst comes to worst, think about the toughest situation you can find yourself in – you lose all your money and get robbed by a local mafia, you have to go home and live with your parents or crash on a friend’s couch. You get a new job in the same field, and you’re back to point A, yet you’re a completely new person, with a greater perspective, social network, and more interesting stories to tell than you can get started on. The worst isn’t so bad is it? Now realize that the worst is highly unlikely. Expect better, and be prepared for the worst (which isn’t so bad after all.)
1 You probably wont ever come back to where you are now. In fact, you'll never be the same.
So, we’ve established that you will always be able to come back to where you are now. We’ve eliminated the fear associated with failure. You can always go back to the old status quo. Now it’s time to break the news that this is highly unlikely in the best way. You’ll be a new person, developed into yourself, more patient, understanding, and open-minded. When you decide to settle down, (or continue traveling), you’ll likely see the boundless opportunities better suited for your life than what you were doing in the past.
If any of these 12 reasons to quit your job and travel the world solo resonate with you, perhaps it’s time to take action. Maybe you’ve been waiting for a friend or significant other to come around and make the decision with you (or for you). However, traveling alone will provide you so with much more in every way, through self-esteem, new friends, independence, purpose, and countless other benefits, than traveling with someone you already know. Most importantly, you owe it to yourself to avoid a situation when you’re facing the end and regretting not festering up the courage to live the life you were destined to have. The future of your dreams is just beneath the surface, it’s up to you to dive in and see what adventure awaits! Bon voyage.