The question "should you quit your job" is one every woman contemplating long-term travel considers.
It's a scary decision. Will I find a new job when I return? Am I too young to be taking a career break? Am I to old to get back into the workforce? Can I afford to do this? Am I crazy? What will everyone think? Will my family suffer?
These are normal questions and should cross your mind as you think things through.
After all, why should you quit your job? You may like it a lot, it's your financial lifeline and your pension is tied up in it, you might not find another one as good...
But if the pull of travel is stronger, all these reasons will fly out the window.
I know they did for me. I had a well-paid and secure job with a good future when I decided it wasn't for me. My friends tried to dissuade me, telling me I'd never find something as solid, that I'd veer off my career track (what little track I had), and that it simply wasn't safe for a woman on her own.
I did quit, thinking that a few months on the road would wean me of the travel bug. Well, it didn't. My trip ended up lasting more than three years.
When I returned home, I found a new job, better than the one I had left. I realize not everyone is as fortunate, but it can happen - to me, to you, to many people. Had I not followed by heart, I never would have known.
First of all, not everyone can do this, and I want to get that out of the way. Some people have family ties they cannot stretch - a partner who won't or can't travel, elderly or ailing relatives, children they don't want to take out of school, or simply insufficient funds. Yes, you can save money to travel but that is a mostly 'developed country' construct because in poorer countries, you may wish to travel but your responsibilities may simply not allow you to.
Assuming you can leave, it will ultimately be your decision - and don't let anyone else make it for you.
I've spoken to many people about this over the years and here are just a few of the feelings that have come out while going through the decision-making process:
And hundreds of feelings more. Thinking is a major part of the process of leaving, of letting go. You have to feel comfortable with your decision. You may not find all the answers before you go, but you'll be better off for having asked the questions.
My own decision was anything but an overnight one.
On the contrary, it took me a year to get things in order, make a flurry of color-coded lists, talk to people who had done this before, and so many more things I had to plow through before actually getting on the road. I didn't leave empty-handed, either - I had some savings, and I had work as a freelance writer, so I wasn't just casting myself into the universe to see what would stick.
It's perfectly normal to feel all sorts of fear and anxiety when deciding whether to quit your job to travel.
If you want to fly off into the sunset, that's fine. But if you're a little more cautious, there are plenty of things you can do make sure you don't cut yourself off completely from the world as you know it.
While this lifestyle may seem highly glamorous - it's not - you should be absolutely clear of the pitfalls before you go.
I can only speak for myself but much as I loved my full-time travel, there were low moments, and plenty of inconveniences and disadvantages.
In the end, the reasons why women travel are as numerous as they are personal. Should you quit your job to travel? Only you can make that decision. Just know that thousands of women have made that decision before you, and many of them have come back grateful they were given the opportunity to step out into the world for a while.
Have you ever quit your job to travel? What was that like for you? Please reply in the comments below.
- (Updated 10 May 2015)