Should I leave it all behind? Where do I start?

by Lindsay S.
(Alberta, Canada)

I just turned 29, have left my husband, have a great job that I hate and have started a charity in Uganda that I love but don't make money working at. I have realized in the last year of my marriage and since that I have something missing in my life yet I lack the courage and that "go" factor to just do it - to see the world, live and experience another culture (other than Uganda) and quit my job and go.

It is not the responsible thing to do...but it calls at me every single day when I sit at my desk plugging away at meaningless work making money for a conglomerate where I am truly nothing more than a minion. Every single day I look at the wall of my cubicle in our open office concept and stare at the pictures I have posted of Uganda and hate myself for not having the courage to go...and for not knowing what to do.

Where do I want to start? Everywhere! What do I want to see? Everything! Where do I want to work? In the field...but how do you take that step? I know I did in leaving my husband simply for not being happy...I went to Uganda and discovered this passion and began this charity amongst my divorce.

I guess I am wondering how to get past doing the impractical to get the most practical result of happiness? How do I take that risk? How do I not? Sell my home and quite my secure job, making great money with total security that I really am good at and just going? I guess I wonder how women get to that NEXT step...I want to so badly and just do not know where to start. I also know I won't be happy until I do...I have at least figured that much out!

What advice can you give to someone struggling to start their life at 29...who knows only that she needs to have this adventure to be happy but doesn't know where to begin?

Answer: Linda, you're where so many of us have been at some point. I faced a relatively similar situation (but I was 43 at the time) and didn't know which way to turn. I especially felt I'd never find a good job again at that age if I simply upped and left. I know from my readers that many of us have faced similar situations.

I can't tell you how to find the courage to go, but I can help you with some of the more practical aspects of getting ready to go.

You could start with asking yourself seriously: should you quit your job? I found that fretting about whether I'd find a job again was wasted time. I not only found a job when I returned (after three years on the road) but I found a better one than the one I'd left. Of course there's never any guarantee but travel broadens you and makes you stronger, more resilient and resourceful - all of these are qualities that are well appreciated by employers.

Once you've actually decided to go, the next logical step would be to think through the best travel destinations and decide which way you're headed. A browse through the web's best travel forums should inspire you.

The next steps would be to deal with finances and planning, but that's another story.

No one can tell you how delve into yourself and follow your dreams. But experience often shows that a dream unfulfilled is often simply postponed. If deep down inside you want to 'go' and you don't do it now, the pressure will probably grow until the choice becomes inevitable.

And how do you tell your friends and family once you've decided?

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Are all RTW tickets valid for only one year?

by Sherry
(Florida)

Back in the day I think it was 364 days?

Answer:

I'm afraid the day is still here - and yes, it's a year minus a day. The only way you could extend the validity of your ticket is if you plan to stay at your first destination for several months - in which case you'd buy a cheap round-trip ticket to your initial destination, stay as long as you want, and then start your RTW journey from there.

For example, lets say you're in New York and you plan to stop over in London for three months before continuing on to Europe and Asia. You could buy a rock-bottom ticket from NY to London, and start your RTW journey from London, since the ticket isn't valid until you actually start using it. Conversely, you could do the same thing at the end of your trip, by ending your RTW ticket at the final stop before home, and flying home on a separate cheap ticket. Not easy, not cheap, but do-able.

The rules are pretty much the same for all flight networks, I'm afraid. Have a look at round the world tickets in case I've missed anything out!

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Time Away: How long should I travel?

All of the information I've read has been extremely helpful and motivational. I love to travel, and I want to really travel more before I get older, married, children.... I was hoping to travel around for at least a year. Quit my job. Use money saved. Work as I go and as I need money, and travel everywhere that I want to go.

The stories, tips, suggestions provided within the website, how long have you/women traveled at a time? Is it ongoing, hopping country to country and city to city for months/years?

If I do this, I want to go all out. No looking back. I dont want to plan a week away for vacation. This is going to become a new lifestyle.

Answer:

Every woman has her own story and travel style. I took off for six months - that was the plan - and I ended up traveling for a full three years. On the road, I met people who had traveled longer.

I had a specific travel approach: I would spend a month in each country. Not enough to really get to know it, but enough to get a sense of its people and culture. So for about 18 months, I crossed Africa and Asia, spending four weeks traveling around a country and getting to know it. The last part of my trip was a bit different: I settled in Bangkok and used it as a base for getting to know Southeast Asia.

I went home once during that time, because I missed my family, so I traveled back for a few weeks, soaked in my family's love, and left again (difficult for all of us). I did get my mother to come and spend a few weeks with me in Asia.

Everyone travels differently. I conducted a number of travel interviews with wandering women and found as many styles as there were women, and as many reasons to travel.

Some women travel for work, like Helen Tirebuck, who clears landmines for a living, or Kim Wildman the travel writer. Others volunteer, like Kirsty the Nerdy Nomad. And still others just want to see the world, like my friend Lisa Lubin, an Emmy-award winning television producer who left her job for nearly three years on the road.

All these women had at least one thing in common: travel opened their worlds and for some has become a lifestyle, not an adventure.

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Sep 25, 2010
Culture Shock When You Return Home
by: Anonymous

Just an aside to the "How long ..." question.

When I returned to the USA in 2000 after five years out of the country aboard my sailboat, mostly in third world or emerging countries if not just at sea, I found that I would be forever out of touch with common knowledge events of that period. Granted I had little access to TV or internet (still primitive by today's communication standards) but the actual attitude and pace of my former society had also changed. It seemed that I had returned to a much more depersonalized, America.

Those were the Clinton years of blossoming dot coms and bull markets and credit score systems - while I was cautiously steering my way around mud flats up the Amazon. Friends and family told me about their soccer games but never mentoned much about current events. I had to keep asking 'What about Jon Benet?'

No regrets for my adventurous travels of course but a gentle warning that the price may include a permanent information gap.

Sep 26, 2010
It's what I call Reverse Culture Shock
by: Leyla

I can absolutely sympathize!

After a year in rural Africa, I went to Rome for a 'break' and remember standing frozen at a red light not quite knowing what to do - so much traffic, so many people, so much noise. I eventually snuck into a group of people and crossed with them, but that sense of bewilderment has stayed with me.

The same thing happened with information. It took me three weeks to find out Princess Diana had died... I too missed the fevered dotcom and web growth. I did take a laptop with me on my travels and there was rudimentary email in those days - remember Compuserve? But very little web, so no news delivered to my Inbox or RSS feed, and certainly no way to do research or find out more about things.

In a sense, though, I was a blessing. For three years my only concern beyond my own travels were the well-being of friends and family back home. The rest of the world sort of faded away into gentle oblivion. I don't know if I could cope with that again today but it certainly felt serene way back then.

That said, there are things you can do to prepare for reverse culture shock...

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