I Quit My Job to Travel the World Full-time and It's a Lot Easier Than You Think
This story originally appeared on ThisIsInsider.com.
You've surely read "I quit my job to travel the world" stories before. This time, I'm not here to tell you how amazing Thailand and India are, though I highly recommend them.
Instead, I'll let you in on a fast-spreading secret: long-term travel is one of life's best loopholes (aside from marrying a billionaire, perhaps). Not only is it fulfilling and exciting, but you can be a totally responsible adult and do it, too.
First, the cliché: in March 2016, I quit my job and left New York to travel for a year with my husband (who is not a billionaire, incidentally). We went to Southeast Asia, Japan, Colombia, and Paris. When we hit the one-year mark, we decided there was so much more we wanted to see.
Fast forward another year: we're in Marrakech and heading to Egypt next. We've been back to the States to see friends and family, but we have no plans to stop traveling.
Here's what I've learned along the way.
Saving money to travel is a lot easier than it sounds.
To start, we documented every penny we spent in a spreadsheet, which is a humbling way to realize how much money you spend on salad.
Instead of going out for dinner, we spent Friday nights cooking and watching Netflix. We explored new neighborhoods on weekends, took advantage of free events, and ate dollar slices. We quit the gym and ran outside instead, and always packed lunch. Soon enough, our goal was in sight.
Of course, student loans and other debt make saving harder, but not impossible. Instead of waiting to travel until your loans are paid off, which could take years, budget enough to cover your monthly payments while you're on the road.
You can extend your travel by working remotely.
In Southeast Asia, we started meeting people who work remotely to fund their travels. We decided to dedicate a few hours each day to working. While it took some time to gain momentum, we realized it was totally feasible.
For anyone who works with a digital product - web development, graphic design, freelance writing - it's relatively easy to work remotely. If your career doesn't obviously lend itself to remote work, you can use your newfound freedom to learn a skill that does.
If you're being paid in US dollars and living in a country with a favorable exchange rate, your cash can go a lot farther than it would back home.
The trend of working remotely is just beginning.
According to the 2017 freelancing in America survey assembled by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, 36% of US workers freelanced in some capacity this year. That number is projected to hit 50% by 2027.
Aside from freelancing, more top companies like Amazon, Dell, and Intuit are now hiring remote employees for part-time and full-time positions. To support the growing community, more services like co-working and co-living spaces are popping up.
Longterm travel is different from a vacation.
We travel slowly, often staying in a destination for a month or more. We find our favorite restaurants, make a few friends, and come to understand the culture more deeply.
Most Americans don't have nearly enough vacation days, so there's pressure for each detail to be perfect. It can be stressful! With time on your side, there's a lot more wiggle room. You don't need to pick the perfect destination. There's time to see them all.
Your time can be all yours.
This lifestyle isn't just about seeing the world. No matter where I am, I love that I can make my own schedule. I can wake up at 4:30am to write so I can go to a museum after lunch, if I want.
As Tim Ferriss explains in "The 4-Hour Work Week," controlling your time gives you the freedom to explore all your interests. Whether you want to try surfing, learn Japanese, or write your novel, you can spend your free time however you wish.
You don't need as much stuff as you think you do.
I travel with one bag that I can squeeze on as a carry-on, so I don't have space for much. I wear versatile items and do laundry all the time. Sure, I wish I had cuter clothes, but I'm glad that I don't have to lug them around.
The longer I'm away from my belongings, the more cumbersome they seem. Whenever I'm back home, I go through what I have in storage and get rid of more.
It's fun to have a travel buddy, but solo travel can be even more rewarding.
My first big trip was a solo backpacking trip through Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget. While it's fun to share your travels with someone else, I actually met far more people when I was alone and have stayed friends with many of them.
Don't think you can't travel because you're on your own. Co-living and co-working spaces are perfect for solo travelers, as they offer events that make meeting others easy. What's more, the feeling of conquering a new city entirely on your own is hard to top.
Do it while you can.
If this lifestyle appeals to you in any way, now is the time to do it. There will always be a reason not to take the leap, but you'll likely have more obligations as time goes on rather than fewer.
Yes, it could be a disaster, but at worst, you'll come home with some experience under your belt. And at best? You'll have to write that story for yourself.