It is the stereotypical Millennial dream. You call out your boss for trapping you in a cubicle, end up quitting your job, pack your bags, buy a plane ticket, and travel the world.
Somewhere along the way, you have impressively saved up enough money to do so. You have cleared out your bedroom, paid off outstanding debts, and found someone to watch your dog (free of charge) for the next year.
You have sold your car, stopped the lease on your apartment, and called the cable company. You have researched travel insurance, gotten travel tips from Nomadic Matt, and have (roughly) figured out where you will sleep.
In reality, getting the courage to quit your job and travel the world is really hard.
I know from experience.
When I started writing this piece, I was sitting on a bright yellow lounge chair in a rustic farmhouse in Southern Ireland. I just rode a bicycle with a whicker-basket through wheat fields along the farm’s property. Shortly after, I was be in San Sebastian on the West Coast of Spain, enjoying sunshine, tapas, and the art scene.
It is hard to believe that only 3 months ago I was counting ceiling tiles in my office, impatiently waiting until the workday was over.
Fortunately, I managed to follow my wanderlust dreams and travel the world.
I want to show you how you can too.
1- Make sure you have money in the bank
I am not sure how people get away with saying you can travel without having any money. You need at least something, so make sure you are financially prepared. Quitting your job will lose meaning if you end up unemployed and behind on travel cash in the end.
2- Research and plan the basics of your trip
Where do you want to go? Different countries? Different continents?
Make a list of all the places that you truly want to visit. Don’t include stops just because everyone else says you should go there. Pick only the places that truly interest you.
When planning the order of your route, keep travel time, distance, and cost of transportation in mind. While it may be tempting to cover all of Western Europe in a month, it can be rewarding to travel slower and experience destinations more. I cannot imagine anything worse than ending a trip and saying you spent most of your time on trains and in airports.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to travel everywhere you want to go right away.
3- Decide if you will traveling alone, with friends, or a combination of both
4- Calculate the approximate cost of travel
The point of this is to travel in a sustainable way. If you only have $3,000 at the start, don’t plan a trip that will cost over $5,000. It is one thing to get stuck in Barcelona and bartend for a ticket home, it is another thing to get stuck in Northern India.
Depending on your travel style, one year traveling should cost you between $18,000 and $35,000. However, I have seen people do it for even less and for a lot more.
5- Accept that you may get homesick
Long-term travel is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of problem solving and planning, while usually leaving you totally out of your comfort zone. If you are prone to homesickness, be careful. You will find yourself in many places without the comfort of home you are used to.
If you do not think that the beauty of travel is worth the work that goes into it… then you really need to question if this decision is right for you.
6- Buy the first plane ticket before quitting
Based off of my own experience, this is one of the best (or worst) pieces of advice I can give anyone. Before quitting your job, buy plane ticket #1. First of all, booking early usually means you get a good deal. Purchasing a one-way plane ticket before I quit allowed me two options: Either I actually quit my job or chickened out and just went on vacation.
For example, I booked a flight to Iceland.
7- When quitting your job, do it in a positive way
This can be hard to do when your job is more of a career than simple way of earning money. When people give their time to help you build your career, it can hurt them to see those efforts fall short. I had a mentor like this in my previous job, which made it heartbreaking to leave. Just know that if you are terribly unhappy, leaving is the right choice for everyone involved. Quitting your job does not have to be a bad thing. If possible, try not to blindside anyone.
No matter what type of job you are working, make sure you are quitting in a respectable way. Say thank you for the opportunity and offer two weeks notice.
8- Make sure your passport is up to date
Make sure there is time to spare, many countries won’t let you in their border if your passport expires within six months of entry.
9- Slowly tell people of your plans
Make sure to tell people you are traveling decisively, so naysayers will have a hard time shutting you down. Ask for opinions on where to go, instead of whether or not you should.
10- Sell your things or find storage for them
Easier said than done, my friends. Start this early. I hear Public Storage is great.
11- After you’ve quit, purchase the “big” plane tickets, visas, traveler’s insurance
Make sure to buy the larger plane tickets (ex. US to Europe, Europe to Asia…) before you leave. After quitting your job, this is probably the first thing you should do. This will save you some stress on the road, while allowing you flexibility in between huge stops. Many countries will stop you at the border if you do not have ongoing plans, so this ensures you have proof of further travel.
Depending on both your country of residence and country you are visiting, you may need a visa. It is best to do this as far in advance as possible.
On a separate note: it is tempting to not buy travelers insurance. Do it anyways. It is very affordable (check out World Nomads) and is worth it if something bad does happen and you need to get home.
12- Plan where you want to sleep
Hostel? Hotel? Airbnb? Camping? Couch Surfing?
This is largely dependent on your personality. Look at the pros and cons of each form of sleep and see what suites you best.
PS I am pretty high maintenance but love hostels. They have definitely improved over the years, so make sure to keep an eye out for them.
13- Consider luggage and travel accessories
The battle of the suitcase vs. backpack is seemingly never-ending. My rule of thumb is that if you plan on sleeping in hostels or running through train stations, take a backpack. If you plan on hotels and taxi drivers, take a suitcase.
I would also recommend looking into locks for your bag, travel sized toiletries, and a day bag.
14- Cancel and/or change your services
Figure out what to do with your cable, amenities, utilities, and cell phone bill (and all other bills for that matter).
15- Call your doctor
Make sure to get vaccinations and/or malaria pills for certain countries. Do this in advance if you are going somewhere that requires a ton of vaccines. Also get your medicine (birth control, etc) prescribed in bulk for the amount of time you will be gone.
16- Pack your bag and take out half of it
It is much less fun to travel with a heavy bag.
17- Figure out how you want to document your trip
Will you start a blog like the rest of us? Or will you join YouTube, SnapChat, or Instagram trends?
Whatever social media you decide to use (or not to use), figure out what type of electronics you will need to bring along and consider the space and weight they take up. Also recognize that you will not want to spend your entire trip just documenting it, so plan accordingly.
I personally take a small MacBook Air, DSLR camera, iPhone, GoPro, and accessories to go with each. Considering I use only a carry on backpack, it takes up a lot of space. Take this into consideration!
18- Say goodbye to your loved ones
Give them extra big hugs!