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Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel around the World

Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel around the World

It happens to me every time I travel overseas. I talk with people who hear about where I’m going, and they always say the same thing: “That sounds amazing! I wish I could do that.”

My reply is always the same: “What’s keeping you from it?”

I’m not being judgmental; I’m just trying to figure out what people’s motivations and priorities are. There really could be a good reason why someone doesn’t travel much, but the responses I hear back is usually variations of these answers:

  • “I don’t have money to travel.”

Fair enough if it’s true, but for many people who say this, it would be better to say, “I’ve chosen to spend money on a lot of other things, so now I don’t have money to travel.” America is a country of great wealth, and many of us living here throw things away every week that would be prized possessions to lots of other people. If that sounds a little soapbox to you, read this New York Times article.

We choose what we value, either consciously or unconsciously.

Many people, young and old, have no problem happily spending their money and even going into debt for luxuries each week. I’ve chosen to focus my own spending priorities on meaningful experiences.

One time someone told me that she couldn’t give to a charity event because she did not believe in going into debt, and that her husband believed that a pledge to give money was effectively a debt. I must have surprised the person making the comment, because I agreed and said that I also believe in living a completely debt-free lifestyle.

She nodded and said, “Yeah, we don’t have any debt either right now. Well, just the two cars… and the student loan… and the credit card… and of course, the mortgage doesn’t count.”

I was too shocked to say much of anything in response to that statement.

  • “The rest of the world is dangerous.”

Most people don’t come out and say it that way, but that’s what they mean. “If I leave home, something terrible will go wrong.” Aside from the fact that bad things can happen in your own country just as easily as anywhere else, there are very few places in the world that are outright hostile to visitors.

The more you travel, the more you realize you are at least as safe in many places around the world as you are at home. Sure, you probably shouldn’t plan a trip to Baghdad or Mogadishu right now, but the list of inhospitable places is really short. The list of amazing places is incredibly long, so get started. Intelligent people usually recognize this fear to be somewhat irrational, so as long as you don’t let it keep you home, it’s not worth fighting.

  • “I like staying at home.”

This is another way of saying, “I’m afraid of change and different experiences.” Before you write it off, understand that most of us feel this way at one time or another. It’s just something that needs to be overcome. A small group of people will be brave enough to do it, and the rest will stay home, never venturing out beyond their own culture of comfort. It’s their loss; don’t let it be yours.

  • I’ll do this kind of stuff when I retire (or at some other distant point in the future).

I see nothing wrong with the general concept of delayed gratification. I have an IRA, I look both ways when I cross the street, and it’s reasonable to give up something now in expectation of greater future benefit.

What is dangerous, however, is when delayed gratification becomes an excuse for not living the life you want.

How many people do you know that actually do the things they say they are going to when they reach arbitrary ages of leaving the jobs they have given their lives to? Far more common is the downsizing of dreams along the way.

If you want to play golf all day and take your medication at regular intervals, the 40-year career track plan should work well for you. If you have other ideas or ambitions, though, don’t kill yourself as a slave for the future. Instead, go and figure out where you want to travel and do something about it.

4 Important Questions to Ask Yourself:

1) Am I satisfied with my work? Does it meet my needs and fulfill my desires?

Your work should not exist merely to provide income for the rest of your life. Ask yourself, what am I working for? Am I working to make a living or to make a life? If your work supports your goals, that’s great. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time to make a change.

2) Think back to the times you have left your home country. What did you learn on those trips? Do you think you have more to learn?

For me, the more I have traveled, the more I learn, and the more I realize how big the world really is. When I was younger and had spent a fair amount of time abroad, I used to say that I had traveled “all over the world.” More than 60 countries later, I laugh at that idea. There are still many, many countries I have yet to visit, and even after I achieve my goal of visiting every country in the world, there will still be many places within those countries that I still won’t have experienced.

3) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? (Don’t think about reasons why you can’t go there.)

Brainstorm through the six inhabited continents – Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North and South America – and think about cities or countries on each of them that you’ve always wondered about. Chances are there’s somewhere, and probably several places, that you’ve always wanted to see.

Finally, while I believe that international travel is not nearly as expensive as the lifestyle many people wear themselves out to maintain, it’s true that it does cost money to travel around the world.

Therefore, you should also understand the answer to this question:

4) What are your financial priorities?

If you don’t know the answer offhand, it’s easy to get it.Just look back at your bank statements, financial software, or credit card statements for the last six months. Whether you like it or not, where you’ve been spending a lot of money is where your priorities are. If you’d like to value experiences more than “stuff,” you may need to make some changes.

***

In future essays, I’ll discuss exactly how you should go about pursuing the goal of world travel – or anything else you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t known how to get started. I’ll also cover the following topics in detail:

  • How to earn money without a job
  • How to achieve great things for yourself while also making a difference in the lives of others
  • How to align your values with your life, reducing stress and ensuring that you are doing the right things the right way
  • How to change the world by rising above the norm of mediocrity

For now, the rest of the story is up to you. Think about the questions and make a plan. What’s that one place – or ten places – you’ve always wanted to go to?

Write it down and stick it to your monitor so you’ll continually be reminded of it.

If you don’t take your own dreams seriously, who will?

###

Image: Tiffani

128 Comments

  • Bert L. says:

    Chris, thanks for this amazing post! You’ve really hit a nerve with me. You see, I’ve recently been thinking about quitting my job (timeframe: next 5 years) and traveling around the world for a year. And then who knows what after that? Even though I love the healthcare company I work for, my passion is travel (among other things) and experiencing new things! I’d come across another blog of a couple who took a year off to travel the world and that also was very inspiring. I linked to your site from Grow Rich Slowly, and I can already see that I identify with a lot of what you’ve written. I’m adding you to my “must read blogs”. Thanks for more inspiration….
    Bert in Portland, OR

  • Chris says:

    Hi Bert,

    Thanks so much for your comment and kind words! I appreciate that. Come and visit in Seattle sometime.

    CG

  • guinness416 says:

    Agree with Bert, this is a wonderful post … I’m here via GRS also; looking forward to any posts you can make from Bangladesh, I’m visiting there myself in December.

  • Sloan says:

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I spent three years after college traveling on and off, and have been in a “real job” for the last year. The wanderlust definitely tugs at me on an almost daily basis, but I feel that I’m learning things here, too. I’m finding out that you can travel in your own town with an open mind by searching out ways to learn about and experience new things. Still, I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road when the time is right.

    Safe travels!

  • Chris says:

    Hey guys, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Unfortunately, Bangladesh did not work out on this trip. Hopefully I’ll make it back there later in the year!

  • Miriam says:

    You have put into words perfectly so many things that I have experienced.

    I have not traveled nearly as much as you, but I have chosen to live outside the US two and a half of the past three years in a total of four countries. Your line about valuing experiences over stuff is dead on. So many people get so attached to their things that they cannot even imagine the ability to live without them. Getting rid of those things (the car with the payment, the house with the mortgage, the furniture that you have to store somewhere, etc) opens up so many possibilities in life. As they say, you don’t own your stuff, your stuff owns you. Trite but true.

    Also, whenever I describe the life I’ve chosen for myself – one not nearly as comfortable as most of my friends in the US but certainly more fun and exciting – the response I get most frequently is that it sounds like a lot of fun, but they’re looking forward to traveling when they retire. These people are often in their mid twenties! How can anyone delay dreams for fifty years? This one always amazes me.

    Also, as far as financial goals, I agree that you can accomplish what you set your mind to. I am currently living in what many call the third world. I live safely yet simply here, saving enough money to travel around when I can, sometimes for months at a time. I also manage to fully fund my retirement accounts at the levels I did when I was living in the States. I truly have the best of all worlds.

    I enjoyed your first article here about entrepreneurship. You mention here that one of the subjects of this blog will be on earning money without working. As someone considering quitting her day job and becoming an entrepreneur in countries other than my home country, I am excitedly awaiting future articles on this topic.

  • Kat says:

    I love this blog, it is a constant reminder of what I want to be (and hopefully who I am). I have followed the nonconformist path since college (why limit your self to one school when you can go to three?) I am graduating this spring (debt free) and am going to work in Vietnam. I have never owned a car, and never intend to (we did not have one when I was growing up either), I love travel, I hate junk. Thanks for the site, I look forward to hearing more.

  • Jon Limjap says:

    Glad to know that you’ve already visited the Philippines (where I am). I haven’t traveled anywhere outside the Philippines other than the US, but lately my wife and I have been getting on more trips inside the Philippines (it becomes a big deal since the country is a vast archipelago) and airfares have gone down.

    In terms of priorities it is our quest to know more about our own country first, and when we do succeed in that we’ll find ways to venture out to the world, hopefully tugging our children along. :)

  • Rachel says:

    Thanks for this post! My husband and I have done exactly this twice already – quit our jobs, get rid of our Stuff, and throw ourselves into a new place. We spent 6 months in Colombia last year, and the things we discovered and learned were far more valuable than any money we could have made working a job instead.

    We’re itching for our next adventure – it’s so liberating!

  • Darren in the UK says:

    I agree totally with what the author has written.

    There is only ONE thing that keeps me from going travelling: my children.

    One day maybe they’ll be old enough to come with me, but right now they’re not even teenagers yet.

    I can’t wait to see more of this world. 5-10 years’ time.

  • nick deuhaus says:

    I lived my dream to travel completely around the world taking nearly 1 year to do so. ALL BY MYSELF. Best way to meet people of other cultures!

    This was 30 years after dreaming that it would be most worthwhile.

    My understanding of the basics of humanity expanded tremendously.

    Moreover, it was wonderful to leave the driving to somebody else for that time. I can appreciate the scenery far better.

    Meeting diverse people is the best part of the experience … so too is seeing sights.

    I got addresses from people who graduated from my university and were resident in the nations I visited. Those people took me to sites not on the usual “tour” agenda.

    Spent the proceeds from the sale of the house in the divorce doing this AND I GOT MORE EDUCATION just as I expected

  • Garret says:

    Hello,

    Great article it provides a lot of the answers for that question “what are you doing that for?” Which I get a lot as I have been traveling and living in other countries for the past four years. Something you may want to include, is the possibility to teach english, for native english speakers. This is a great way to earn income in many countries around the world. I think many people would be quite surprised at the amount of money that they can make teaching in other countries, especially compared to the lowered cost of living, it can actually be an equity gaining experience.

  • Guillaume says:

    Hello !
    I just found your site, and you really made me want to travel again, or to just quit my job and do what I really want …
    If travel around Geneva (Switzerland) or Kigali (Rwanda) stop by to have a beer !

    Guillaume

  • Daniel Lloyd says:

    Great writing! I tell my friends the same thing everytime we talk.. I have now moved from Norway to Isla Mujeres, Mexico and must say I prefer seeing the world than owning some fancy jewelry or a bigscreen tv..

    Keep up the good work!
    -D-

  • Francis Vladimir says:

    I agree with you completely. I’m only 18 and have been working at a telemarketing job for two years. I’ve been promised a supervisor position three times and have been lied to. I know I have responsibilities but sometimes you just can’t let money take over your life. I’ve taken tons of time off of work to travel around the world. It’s awesome and really makes you feel better about your life.

  • Jesse says:

    Chris,

    I have mixed feelings about your post here. On the one hand, I’d love to travel 9 months of the year and see things I’d never even known existed.

    On the other hand, I know that the opportunity for growth in my career is really right now, when I’m young and I can put in the time to grow my projects into something that I can be passionate about and that can sustain me.

    If I just abandon that and travel for a few years, that’s a few years of career growth and opportunity that doesn’t come back. That’s a few years of savings which instead become a few years of spending. That’s a few years of IRA or 401k contributions that don’t get made. That’s a few more years until I can buy a house.

    I’m 27 right now and can probably manage to put aside $40k for my 401k in the next 3-4 years, that’s likely going to be a lot of money by the time I retire. There’s a lot of lost future value if I instead contriubte $40k over the next 10 years because I’m traveling and that’s all I can afford. What good is traveling now if I spend my old years poor?

    How do you factor these things into your decision-making process? Is this advice you’re giving here really appropriate for single, middle-class wage earners trying to make it in today’s economy? I’d like to hear more about how you navigate these decisions.

    Thanks,

    Jesse.

  • Daniel Lloyd says:

    Jesse: You have several good points, but true, if you want to play it safe, that is the way to go!
    I am just saying that if you dare to be a little adventurous and open your eyes to what the world has to offer by traveling and exploring, I can almost guarantee that if you use your head and your skills a little, it is possible to get ideas for bigger things than just saving up for a house.

    Different countries have different advantages and disadvantages..

    Living in the USA (if that is where you are from) with all the problems with the economy right now, it would almost be for the best to try something else, if not, just for a while to get an idea of what it`s like outside the “safezone.”

    There will always be other jobs, and earning money while traveling is not that hard, it`s daring to try thats the hardest part… I have tried several times to explain to friends and family that breaking away from the normal pattern can absolutely change your life!

    Try it! Maybe it works out! Or of you are too caught up in your habits, you probably will not! :D

  • Shane says:

    Amazing, It’s great to see that someone else out there feels the same way about travel.

  • Kelly says:

    On the flip side of this, I think it’s important to remember that many people lead fulfilling and happy lives NOT traveling the world. It’s a choice, like anything, and to say that their choice not to travel is wrong is, well, wrong. Regardless of the reasons behind them, everyone’s choice is theirs to make and who are any of us to tell someone they should do anything?

  • Chris says:

    Hi everyone, thanks for the great comments. It’s good to have some healthy debate over these issues.

    @Kelly– I don’t think everyone should quit their job and travel the world; this post is more about the many, many people who say they would like to travel but feel unable to do so. If you, or anyone else, finds fulfillment in other areas, that’s great.

    @Jesse– That scenario is a little more challenging, I agree. I don’t claim to be able to provide personal insight when I don’t know your full situation, but a couple of comments come to mind.

    First, I have the impression, correct or otherwise, that a lot of people plan to work and save for a long time and then, much later in life, go out and do what they want to do. I’m not sure why (perhaps inertia has a lot to do with it), but somewhere along the way, many of these people forget about their dreams and end up living the same life they were afraid of.

    I generally recommend avoiding that no matter what age you are.

    But on the other hand, if you are a truly dedicated person in a job that you enjoy and find fulfillment from, then by all means, do what you love to do. That would mean that you are an exception from the norm of people who don’t love what they do all day and would rather do something else. It’s great to be the exception, but I am mostly thinking about the other people who want out but don’t know how.

    Does that make sense?

  • Jimmy says:

    Interesting read.

    I’ve travelled a bit before, and have just finished a six-month working spell so I can go back to travelling, this time for 9-12 months, perhaps more.

    Like you, I often hear people express their envy and I feel like telling them, and sometimes do, that they could do the exact same thing if they just wanted to. But people are comfort and security addicts, and they always have another excuse ready to convince themselves they couldn’t possibly quit their job to do something as silly as travelling, or some other pursuit. Life is serious business, you know.

    The strongest objection is children. I have friends with children, and they are understandably hard pressed to quit their jobs to travel. I tell them about when I met a Swedish couple in Malaysia travelling with three kids, the youngest an infant, the oldest no more than five. Of course this family loved to travel and they had done so since it was only two of them, so anything you put your mind to is possible.

  • Chris says:

    @ Jimmy –

    That is a good point (about children), and it reminds me of this family that traveled around the world for a year with four children:

    http://www.sixintheworld.com

  • Another Chris says:

    I am very young. I am in my teens and have recently been thinking about what I want for my future. my dream in life is to travel like the rest of my family. I have been wondering should i give up this dream to go to university to get an OK job that keeps me stuck in the same country for most of my life and now the answer is definitely no. I still have worries as to what problems I shall encounter while travelling but now i know that i can overcome them. Thanks Chris.

  • Lene says:

    Re: bringing kids along for the ride. Do it. Absolutely. You will get to know a part of the local demographic that regular travelers almost never do – the families.

    We brought our then tree year old to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in a four month adventure this winter. Sure, you do not cover as much ground or drink as heavily, but we were invited to family dinners, weddings and homestays that more than made up for that. And our daughter now has real world experience in poverty, giving and gratitude, not to mention being a backpacker like the best of them.

    Wondering what to bring for the kids? Nothing. Our family had two carryon backpacks, and a tiny, toddler sized one for the kid.

  • Ian says:

    Hey Chris,
    Reading your blog has been enlightening and inspiring. I’m curious about your four years in Africa. You wrote that you and your wife went together. How did that work out? I’m recently married and my wife and I both have a similar passion for people and cultures. Are there any organizations you’d recommend that are well-suited for a married couple?
    By the way, we are also done with college and debt-free, so I was glad to find that as one of your core “basics”.

    Thanks for reading,
    Ian
    Seal Beach, CA

  • David says:

    I applaud your motivating stories, and encouragement to break the mold society has created for us. My wife and chose to skip children, pay off the house, save up, and go Airstreaming. (we’re in our late 30′s) This goal takes time though, money is required for food, a place to stay, medical, etc… we won’t do this without savings and planning to back us up.

    Your “back-story” doesn’t mention how someone as young as you were, when you started out, was not only travelling abroad, but “working with heads of state”, and self employed by age 20. Motivation alone doesn’t allow for that kind of accelerated advancement in life. I’m also wondering if you’ll post some practical advice for readers, like how you paid for your jaunts, where your money came from, (i may have missed it, but i didn’t see any employment, just volunteering.) Sure, odd jobs here and there buy lunch and a bed for a few years, but what happens when you’re 50 or older… and the train ride is over, memories don’t pay the rent, doctors, or grocery bill.

  • SoulRiser says:

    Did you ever visit South Africa? I live here. :)

    I finally got my passport (6 months after applying for it), so now I can finally get out of here for a while. But no, we don’t have elephants and lions in our back yards. Just thought I’d clear that up. :P

  • freespirit says:

    This post is brilliant!
    I’m so glad there is someone out there thinking like me. I get the “I wish I could do that” all the time and all I can do is laugh and wonder why not?

    Also, in addition to meeting residents of the foreign countries I’ve stayed in, I have met some of my best friends while traveling, and generally find that others who travel tend to be more interesting than those who don’t.
    Not to be judgemental or anything…Screw it. I totally judge people who complain about refusing to leave their comfort zone.

  • Cnee says:

    I have always wanted to travel around the world. Currently, I am not very happy with my job and felt that it has become stagnant. I am not learning anything new. I have been doing the same thing for the past 3 years. I’ve thought about quitting my job and traveling the world to learn more about myself and what I want to do with my life. However, with the bad economy, it sounds like a bad idea. Also, my mom believes that it is a bad idea because she thinks that I work for a great company and i should just stick to it and wait for a promotion (whenever that will happen). What should I do? Should I just quit and take some time off to travel or should I wait? Currently, I am not married with no kids. I still live with my mom and I am in my 20s. I feel like it’s a good time to travel. But I was also told that it is a good time to build my career. I don’t know what to do..

  • SoulRiser says:

    Cnee, the best decisions are made when you decide what to do and ignore what everyone else tells you to do. It’s entirely up to you. I’ll leave you with a quote though… “You may regret what you do, but you’ll regret what you DON’T do a lot more”.

  • freespirit says:

    I agree cnee, you definitely need to make the decision on your own, but don’t base it on what anyone else thinks you “should” do, just do what makes you happy. It is your life, after all.

    I haven’t traveled nearly as much as Chris here, but for a couple of years have been taking a semester or two off of school to travel, then going back for one or two, living at home and working to save money. Honestly I could not be happier with the way my life is going. I’ve learned more in my time abroad than I will ever learn in a classroom and had some really amazing experiences.

    I’m still not finished with my bachelor’s degree and I’m 23, but I’m having the time of my life and feel like I have the rest of my life to stay in one place and work. As far as the economical part of it, I have always fully supported my own habit and am not in any debt whatsoever, aside from a very small amount of student loans, so everything I’m able to save is mine. Also, the best thing to do is get a work visa somewhere and work there for awhile, then travel around the surrounding areas while you’re there. Maybe your current career is a skill that can be transferred abroad? You don’t have to give up your future to see the world.

    P.S My mom always tries to talk me out of leaving, but it never works! :)

  • Suz says:

    Hi Chris!

    Mark from “My Tropical Escape” opened my eyes to your blog. It’s fantastic, though you’re clearly already aware of that :). In any case, I’m lucky in that I’ve never been a girl that has been into material things which has left me with a larger surplus of cash than it would have. However, while I LOVE traveling, I tend to take trips in shorter time-frames.

    I allow myself to get too bogged down by logistical things which has definitely hindered the growth in a part of my traveling spirit. Damn Type A personality has me thinking about organization and routine too frequently. I think I’ve taken the first step in that I quit my job a few months ago and have been doing some consulting & content writing on the side, but it has definitely injured my normal income levels.. going to have to dig through your site for more advice on how to pony up!

    Best,
    Suz (a.k.a. Lil’ Boozie)
    “3 Troopin’ Travelers”

  • Karen says:

    I love all the discussion here, it’s so awesome! For all of the people who are worried about quitting your jobs to go travelling, I’m with you there. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the vacation time that you have to travel internationally. I’ve worked full time ever since I graduated from college (14 years), and I’ve travelled to 40 countries. You can do it if you want to, you just have to give up some material goods. Also, we own a house, and house upkeep costs a lot of money. For example, if you need a new deck or a new roof, it’s super expensive. We tend to put our money towards vacation though, and as a result, we have an unfinished backyard. But it’s worth it to us.

  • Bill says:

    Chris,
    My wife introduced me to your website and manifesto. Gotta say, it feels good to live life on the edge. I lucked out and got a job that allows me to travel the world working in new countries and cities for extended periods. It’s eye-opening when you actually live and work with people in a new culture…as opposed to just visiting as a tourist for a few days. Of course I still like the adventure of globe-hopping (We’ve got a goal of joining the Traveler’s Century Club by the time we’re 30, currently 25).

    As for the logistics of traveling the world, it is difficult and requires devotion and planning. My wife had to quit her “normal” job and was in limbo for a little while until she started her own business and began doing contract work through oDesk.com. Also being DINKs makes it easier. And having awesome neighbors who’ll watch the house and pick up the mail (a must have when leaving home for 3-6 months at a time).

    Maybe I’ll see you on the road… We’re in Guangzhou, China now (been here since Nov 23). Heading to Hong Kong tomorrow. Then flying back home to NY next week. Staying for a few days and heading to Brazil until May sometime. After that, we’re going to take a European backpacking/railriding adventure (going to hit 30 countries in 40 days)

  • stephb says:

    Hi all – I googled, “quit job and travel”, and this was the first link that popped up.

    I’m 24 and having a bit of a quarter life crisis. I graduated from university, and work full time at a big company in my city. I’m not crazy about my job, but it pays enormously well.

    I’ve talked about quitting my job, and my parents keep saying, you can’t just quit when you get a little bit bored. Also, how will you know that you’ll come back from your travels and find a job that pays as well as this? I do know that I have it really good right now, and I’m scared of throwing it all away to travel – any insight/wisdom to provide me with? Anyone ‘throw it away’, and come back to an even better opportunity?

  • Michelle De Jesús says:

    It has always been my dream to travel extensively. I am a teacher and have two full months off every summer. This year I am going to finally take advantage of this perk and will be traveling to Southeast Asia. I’m also interested in taking a full year off to travel around the world. I’d really appreciate some advice on how to go about planning for something like this. Selling my car, taking a leave at work, planning where I’ll go, etc. It all seems daunting – but I am determined. Just need a little sound advice…

  • Martin says:

    Hi, great article chris. I am in my mid thirties and have recently become single. I have always wanted to travel but have put it off for a lot of the reasons you mention. my main fears are “im too old” and the money side. Have you expanded on this post with some advice on how best to go about it.

  • Jay says:

    Excellent read. Need more writings like this to motivate people to get out there and see the world. I’ve travelled somewhat and only dread when i have to go back home for sometime. Thats usually that worst part.

  • Lifecruiser says:

    Excellent article! Loved it, so true. And it’s applicable to a lot of other situations in life too. It’s only we ourselves that can make it happen, it’s all about the attitude and choices we make ourselves! Sure, we may have some limitations sometimes, but then we have to plan within our own “doable frame” then.

  • Liam says:

    I, like stephb, literally typed in quitting your job and traveling. I’m 24 living in Dallas. I was very fortunate to grow up overseas in Holland for 8 years because of the military. Supposedly I’ve seen everything in Europe west of Russia. Too young to remember.

    I am working full time, however feel like I’m floating along. My spirits are low and I just need to do something. I’m tired of seeing the same miserable people going to and from work, and the sad thing is I’am one of them. Luckily I know my job doesn’t define who I am as a person. I watched ‘Into the Wild’ over the summer and almost set my car on fire.

  • Does it ever feel like you’re in a race to finish your world tour? I make a similar argument to travel within the constraints of our busy lives. What if instead of travelling for 5 years non-stop you could take one or two months every year, for the rest of your life.

  • Hannah says:

    Amazing post and really inspiring… I stumbled upon this article because I was looking for answers… Thanks for this.

  • michelle says:

    Thanks! That was very inspiring. I am 25, and I just quit grad school after three totally depressing years. I’d love to travel around the world right now, when I have no obligations (no job either), but I am very debt-averse. I don’t want to use up the very little money I have and then not find a job when I get back. I wonder if I could work for a few years and then do this, but then I still wonder, how will I find a job after that? But then I realize that if I worry too much about that, then I’m not willing to take a chance at something totally worthwhile for my life. I echo the sentiments of some others, though. There are contributions I’d like to make to society through my (right now nonexistent) career, and I’m not sure I can just give those up to travel in between. My plan, if I go ahead with the travel, is to have enough people in my network that I can find work later.

  • Bill says:

    For all those that want to travel but are worried about working and money, it is possible to do both. Many companies are in need of people willing to travel the majority of the year. My wife and I are doing it.

  • john says:

    Great read – there must be thousands of people who would like to travel around the world. I took a year out 9 years ago and met my wife. The trip changed my life for sure and quiet a few of the people I met still keep in contact.

    I travelled alone and would say its the best way to go. You’re more open to interact with your surroundings.

  • TJ says:

    Chris,
    Great article! I’ve recently decided to spend 5 months next year travelling around the world. You’re so right about the fact that in most cases we could afford to do such a thing if we make that a priority rather than blowing cash on things that yield no return or substantial impact. I made my decision 2 weeks ago and already “found” $2000 to save toward my trip.

    Jesse, you mentioned the loss of opportunity to progress in your career and your loss of 401k savings as a result of travelling. I say think about this; the time spent abroad would only help your professional development by giving you exposure to a whole new world. At most it will throw you a year or 2 off track. Whereas, if you were to wait until you retire to travel the world you may have more physical constraints to your mobility. And as far as the $40k +interest, I think the dividends of the experience will prove to be far more valuable and enriching.

  • Elvis says:

    Thanks for the nice article which inspire someones dreams, ambition and other life pursuit. I started traveling before i know i like to travel, it was in the primary school i can’t stay at school for two months without travel, remember is not our culture or not such kind of freedom in Africa I can say as you may know Africa is a continent of many other community their life is only about traveling we called them NOMADS. As i grew with my uncommon behavior of resisting to be board, to day i make my career through travel, Eastern and southern Africa Traveler Guide also i plan to write about something in travel or . Now I’m working on my project of visibility study i planed to cycle from Tanzania (Arusha) to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa).

    I got you words from Helen the girl who planned to cycle from UK to South Africa, she will start soon this June.

    I’m looking froward to hear more from you.

  • wild cow says:

    I’m recently divorced and would love to do more traveling. Before my wife and I split, we traveled for 7 months and it was wonderful. But I also have two older parents who in the past year have moved to where I live.

    How do you balance the desire to travel (which is a singular desire) with the desire and obligation (and I don’t mean obligation or duty in a bad way) to be there for your parents in their elder years?

    I’d love to disappear for six months, but what if one of them passes away when I’m gone? Neither is ill, but my dad just turned 80.

    Chris — do you have older parents? Do you miss them when you travel? Do they wish they saw more of you and were home more frequently? How do you balance spending time with your family when you are far away for long periods of time?

  • viking Dave says:

    Chris, I stubbled on your website and thrilled to see so many looking to change from the meat grinder slave to your job mentality to enjoy life and see the world.
    At 47 I quit my SVP fortune 500 corporate job in July 2008 to allow my wife and I to invest into rentals and laundry business (absentee owners) so that we could replace our income and travel.

    From Mexico, India, to Japan to Africa in the last several months, there is just so much to do and see.

    I would recommend to anyone, if you can invest your savings to generate cash flow or have the savings, dump the job and enjoy life. I did, even in this state of economic crisis and have no regrets. What is the worst to happen to me, I go back to work someday , take the shot, you will be glad you did.

  • Nina says:

    A funny story relating to “bad things can happen in your own country”… before I travelled to Cambodia a few years back my mother was quite worried about it and we went out for lunch, where I spent a long time telling her exactly that – that bad things can happen anywhere. And what do you know, her bag gets stolen from the back of the chair in the cafe! Like the universe was trying to help prove the point :)

    Great article! If more people followed what they loved the world could be such a different place.

  • Mireia says:

    ohhh man!! it’s me again!! why I wasn’t reading this while I was travelling the usa last year. I stopped in Seattle for 5 days and I met so many interesting people, but I missed you!

    Last year I finished school. I was doing my travels while nobody else was travelling and tried to escape from the mass and multitudes everywhere I went. My friends where asking me the same: where do you have that money saved?? I felt myselft when I was reading you telling them: I prefer cooking at home and everyone come home that going to a restaurant, I always travel by cheap, use ridesharing… these words are fulling me with more energy.

    Right now I’m travelling. I spent all the money I had saved during my study abroad in the uS and my 4 monhts travels around the south and west coast of the us and mexico and belize (just a little bit of these countries). Right now I’m working as a management consultant in a web 2.0 startup. I need to learn a little bit from work too. But always, when I can, I take a ryanair flight (check it because flying around europe can be a pleasure of cheapness) ;) and discover another part of this little-big blue planet.

    We need to learn from a lot of things in life, travel is one and i can tell u the most important one, but adaptation in a country, spending more time with people, working in a company…..that make us learning more and more.

    I believe in change, and change of people because of the small experiences in life everywhere.These experiences you are talking about. And action is the answer to everything!!!

    thanks for this blog!!! (there’s always late people like me that read your thoughts one year ago…) but feels like today!!

    Mireia
    Barcelona

  • Kelly says:

    Wow! Everything you said Chris is what I have been thinking. I don’t need to be rich or famous. I just want to see everything this world has. It has been a huge dream of mine to travel the world, but I have had similar thoughts as the ones you described (especially the one about money). You hit a nerve with me as well. I look forward to all your advice to get me on my way. Thank you.

  • Linda says:

    Or… one may simply not enjoy traveling…? There are so may other things to do and experience, does it mean you’re uncool or have some irrational fears that hold you back if you simply prefer activities other that traveling?

    Sometimes I think some people (including bloggers I respect and enjoy to read, like yourself and Tim Ferris for example) go overboard with promoting a lifestyle of traveling as if it’s THE way everyone should prefer to spend time.

    I’ve traveled quite a bit actually but I don’t feel that it has brought to my life much, and will probably not travel much in the future except for vacations to relaxing, luxurious places. Is that so wrong?

  • Katie says:

    I’m seventeen years old and when I was in second grade, my family of five- two parents, six- and ten- year-old brothers, and me- traveled around the world. It changed my life completely, and I saw a few people commenting that their children keep them home- take them with you! Seriously, I know we can get in the way of doing some things, but kids tend to add a perspective you’d never have experienced alone. A lot of people also think that my brothers and I don’t remember anything because we were so young, but the truth is that we remember a lot of stuff that our parents don’t.

    In terms of logistics, my dad worked really hard for several years working up to the trip, and then we took two months off for a “test trip” the summer before my second grade year, and left the following Thanksgiving for nine months. We brought some home-schooling work with us, but there wasn’t much (when you think about it, you don’t do or learn all that much stuff in elementary school). We went all over the place, mainly to the “developing” world, and stayed in every type of accomodation, from mud huts to remodeled palaces. I learned more from that year off than I have from any other year in school.

    Take your kids with you. It will change their lives.

  • Lauren says:

    I came across this post after googling “how to travel when you have a real job.” I am almost 24, graduated college 2 years ago and immediately started working. I didn’t have any debt from school, so I could have taken some time off to travel fairly easily(??) but have been in a serious, cohabitating relationship since I was 19 and felt it would be unfair to take off and travel while my partner slaved away at his responsible, adult job and held down the fort at our apartment with our kitty. I recently started a job that is a tremendously good fit for me and is allowing me a lot of professional development and connections in a field that I am excited about…However, working day in and day out in an office job is incredibly draining to me. I keep thinking that maybe I will just take longer than the average schmo to get used to it, but I’ve always had that nagging feeling that the typical American lifestyle working a traditional job will just never make me happy. More and more, I really crave travel and meeting fascinating people and seeing the world. I earn vacation at my job, obviously, but don’t feel it would be appropriate to take more than two weeks (even two weeks is a LOT for a peon in a new job) to explore. Obviously there is just not enough time and flexibility to explore the world in traditional job settings like this…So now what? I want to explore with my partner, but how could we possibly both leave our jobs? How could we get jobs when we came back given that so many people (especially in his industry) have been out of work for months and months? What would we do about our home and our cat? All of these pragmatic questions are ever-present and seem to keep us from doing anything drastic and even from getting into the meat of the conversations we try to have about work, travel, and what we want out of our lives. I find that we just complain and complain about the daily grind and the culture we live in that demands constant productivity and career improvement, but we never come to any conclusions about what to do. I worry that I will just feel more and more trapped and never figure out a way to live the life I really want that could actually work, pragmatically. It’s really inspiring to see that you’ve been able to do this – and thanks for sharing your logistics. Reading the comments, I can see that this question of “traveling the world” really hits on a nerve for a lot of people. Thanks for provoking the discussion.

  • Chuck Kuhn says:

    Do you have to be young, 20 to 35 to do this? Hell, I’m about 5 months away from leaving the USA and not really knowing when I will return. I’m just turn 64 with a mind of a 20 yr old (not sure if this is good or bad) body of 45 yr old. I’ve travel many many places usually 4 weeks a year. Vietnam, Asia has been my latest adventure. I need to see more, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Prague and Europe again. If anyone wants to join me, contact me. Looking at beginning of 2010. Check out my bio, and travel galleries at website above. I can’t wait….

  • J says:

    I agree that if you have the desire to quit your job and hit the road, then you should definitely do it. But I do think that money IS still a very crucial setback for some people.

    I love traveling more than anything in the world and have been fortunate enough to visit more than 40 countries on six continents. However, aside from a brief period of time when I went backpacking for four months, I have been unable to ever take a year-long trip around the world (my big dream), or to move to a foreign country for a year and learn another language, and have had to satisfy myself with a lot of shorter vacations. (I’m lucky my job allows me generous holiday time.) The main reason I don’t just jump ship and go for it is due to foolish financial decisions I made ages ago that most Americans accept as normal and more than acceptable. As a teenager I bought into the idea that education is the best investment and took out massive amounts of student loans (not uncommon for Americans) to pay for two degrees from two very prestigious universities. Little did I expect that a decade later, I would still be plowing through this debt.

    So, while I agree that some people who choose not to quit their jobs and travel do it because they prefer to be able to afford luxuries in life, sometimes the situation can be a bit more complicated. Yeah, if I could re-do it, I would have gone to the least expensive college possible to avoid debt, but I can’t undo the decisions I made when I was 19. And it’s true I could have been a machine and taken on multiple jobs to just pay off the debt sooner, but I wouldn’t have lived and experienced the (shorter) travels I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy. So, at the end of the day, I’m grateful for the traveling I’ve done, but I do understand why some people don’t just take off to explore our amazing planet.

  • wendy says:

    wow, great blog and great post. my husband and i are planning to wwoof around the west coast for a year in 2010. as it gets closer it gets scarier! the only thing holding me back is my own fear, but reading about other people who travel for extended periods of time and live to tell about it is very encouraging. we are scrimping every penny now so we will have some cash for the year. i am subscribing right now to your blog!

  • Kelly says:

    Wow i love your blog; this post is really inspiring. I had been googling ‘what to do with the rest of my life’ because, having just finished my degree and not having a clue where to go next i’ve been thinking about learning to dive and training as a diving instructor, so that i can have a high quality of life in some tropical paradise; i know it doesn’t pay much but the idea of staying here and doing some office job is just not bearable to me right now, i’d much rather get payed little to travel the world and do something i love in the great outdoors, and see everything while i’m not tied down. Plus the fact that there actually aren’t any jobs out there at the moment, or thats what it feels like!! The really stupid thing is that i’m scared of what people will think, eg my family if i voice this wish; my dad is keen for me to get a serious job, and i know he isn’t going to see this as appropriate. I just need to summon the courage, i think, to take the risk.

  • Dave says:

    @Kelly, you already know what you need and want to do. I encourage you to do so. I’ve finally realized how much I haven’t done and for some things it’s too late. I married too young, stayed in dead-end office jobs too long and now I’m in my 40s with a mortgage, two kids, a dog, a spouse (same one I married too young) who’s married to her job and a job I tolerate. Take advantage of your mobility now. In my experience, family and friends will only look at it from their own perspective, and they will bring you down. It’s best not to share plans until it’s too late for anyone to try to change your mind. I sincerely hope you follow your dream.

  • Andrew says:

    @Dave

    Dave I hear you and back up your comments to Kelly. I have had the same experiences though my children are now self sufficient. At 43 I am at the crossroads. Stay in my comfortable six figure job or quit and go back packing for 12 months or more. Unfortunately my marriage is no longer and I have decided that life is what you make it. I am not going to wait till retirement age and wake up one day and realise its all too late.

    @Kelly

    Kelly follow your dreams you only have one life, use it wisely

  • loan says:

    Nice site! Thanks for the great post

  • Carlos says:

    Chris, I’m so glad I found this website!

    When I was in college I always told myself: “the first thing I’m going to do when I graduate is to travel the world!” Unfortunately, it didn’t happen this way. I graduated college in 2004, I immediately got a job and became a prisoner of that biweekly paycheck. Ever since then, I told myself “OK Carlos, this is the year you will travel. Just save a little more… just a little more…” Well, I’m happy to say that at 27 and after 5 years of “saving a little more” I will actually begin my long-awaited dream of traveling! I’m quitting my job on June 30th. I will begin my adventures in Colombia on July 30th. I will stay in Colombia for 5 weeks, then Spain, then who knows… It is very liberating to actually do what one has always wanted to do!

    For those of you who are worried about how to finance your trip abroad, one of the best and easiest ways is to teach English. I am currently getting my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate at the local university. I will be finished on July 23rd. This inexpensive certification will make me marketable abroad. Sure, I’m probably not going to become rich teaching English abroad, but it is an easy way to earn decent money to pay for living expenses and to finance other trips.

    If you’re seriously thinking about traveling the world, then why prolong the agony here? Just do it! You’ll learn so much about yourself!

    Carlos
    Long Beach, California

  • kiv says:

    When I was at my younger yers, I grabbed any opportunities to travel, but believe it or not, I am tired from traveling now, the idea of visiting the wonders of the world or where the sun never sets does not strike an interest anymore, the only place I probably look forward to travel is some secluded beach resort and buried myself inside the face of the earth.
    But I agreed all of you out there should do a bit of traveling to see the world before any commitment or any dependencies, money is not an issue when you are young, you can work and travel, the only thing that will hold you back is laziness and fear.

  • jenny says:

    It is a wonderful post but what I really loved was the way you invited the author of the first comment to ‘come and visit in Seattle sometime.’ That actually moved me. That’s integrity.

  • Leaf says:

    Thank you for your amazing blog, this is the first post I’ve read, but I can’t wait to read all the others. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit because I’ve held this view on life since I was in elementary school, but have always found that almost everyone I know simply doesn’t view life the same. So I have felt a bit frivilous with all the years I’ve spent travelling, even though I’ve managed to also get a degree and ten years solid work experience in my field as well.

    So I find it hard to describe how truly wonderful it is to read all these comments and find so many others feel the same.

    My boyfriend and I have been living and working in a foreign country for the past two years taking weekend trips and vacation here and there, but are about to give up very well paid jobs and take the next six months off to travel before we move on to a new country and resume our careers again.

    We’ve decided not to tell too many people because we find they add their own opinions, often based on their own fears, experiences, or personal situation.

    I totally agree that it all comes down to what your priorities are, but also I would encourage everyone to follow what brings them joy.

    For some people, this is not travel, and I absolutely respect that. But I do thank you so much for this blog, as I am now even more motivated than ever to keep following my dreams and living my life exactly the way iiiiiii want it :-)

    Here’s to everybody, everywhere following their dreams, passions and desires!

  • Pinekatz says:

    “If you don’t take your own dreams seriously, who will?”

    Seriously.

  • Edmund says:

    Hi there chris.
    I am 17 and attend a great school and I have lots of friends but I cannot help but think that I am different to everybody else in the dreams that I have. New Zealand has brought me up well but I wish to travel around the world and go really far in life and go to many places around the world. I have, unlike you, got into a UK gap programme in a school in London. I am looking forward to it and really hope to meet you one day in an exotic location around the world. :)
    have a good 1 and good luck for your goal

  • Great blog…This is for the young, seeing Paris at 20 years of age is alot different than seeing it at 40. I’ve seen Paris at 20 and I’ve seen it at 40, what a difference. Now I just want to relax in Key West or the Caribbean, and live a lifestlye of less. Hobo up!

  • Jen says:

    My husband and I are planning something just like this! After almost 40 years of working for other people and chasing the “American Dream” (you know the one- home ownership, 2 cars, etc) we decided it wasn’t worth it. Why wait until you retire? It might never happen. We’re selling the house as soon as we can, cashing in our 401ks (yes I realize we’ll have to pay taxes on it, but it’s enough to sustain us even so), and hitting the road for an even greater “American Dream”. This will happen within one year. We’re educating ourselves on routes we want to travel and ways of life in these different places (when in Rome do as the Romans do type of thing), ways to travel efficiently and light. Fortunately we have an excellent vehicle, although not as good on gas as a smaller car might be, but with a firm budget and spending restraints on unnecessary ‘stuff’ we’ll have a fantastic time for the next 5 years, just about then our social security will kick in and we will just continue on…. I’d love to connect with other middle aged people who share this plan, or have and/or are actually doing this.

  • Joji says:

    Great blog. I, too love to travel and make it a point to go somewhere I’ve never been to each time I go on vacation. I’ve been to many European countries and now concentrating on local travel here in the US. I work in healthcare and have many co-workers who have never ventured out of the US even Canada! I tell them not to wait until retirement before traveling as it might be too late. They also tell me that they are tied down because of all the debts and mortgage. I say if there’s a will, there’s a way.
    After reading your blog, I’m now itching to go overseas again as soon as next year. Any suggestions?

  • Well done – this is really thoughtful writing, and a good trumpet call to action!

  • Fortunato "Atoy" Dequit says:

    Your article is very encouraging. You know, as far as year 1990 that I want to do what you have suggested. I have lots of plans before to quit my job and engage in business. This is still true today. Right now. However, it seems I have very less initiative to do that. I have many fears. What if my plans won’t work out as expected? What will happen to my three(3) college students? Where will we get the financies for their studies?

    You know I am active in our church (Catholic) community and I feel guilty if my current passion for these activities will be stopped in the event I will devote my time to business and travel abroad.

    Since my last travel to Cremona, Monza, Italy and Seoul, South Korea (on company expense) back in 1995 and 1997 respectively, I really miss those opportunities to see and talk to other nationalities. I also miss the excitement of going to church when we feel we are the underdog; going to church in Cremona with Italians (which are tall) and we are midgets.

    However, your article encourage me again to pursue my long time plans. You see this coming October 1, 2009, I will be exactly 10 years in sevice for the company I am working now. I am now qualified to apply for an early retirement (10 years in service and 50 years old). Right now I am drawing my plans to make it happen at least this year.

    Wish me luck.

  • joyce says:

    I can definitely relate to the message of this website. I started working full-time in 2007 just after I finished university. For one and a half years, I got stuck in a typical desk job where you have neverending paperwork and clients to meet. Somewhere along I realised that a lot of office work is routine and boring. Just how fun is it to photocopy and staple sheets of paper several times a day? How exciting is it to stare at your PC monitor eight hours a day, five times a week? And yet I met a lot of people who have been in the company for as long as I have lived! What a waste of energy. I do believe that I wasn’t born just to sit down in front of a computer for the rest of my working life. I have quit my job and I’m currently in the US. I came here through a local working holiday agency and while they have given me a terrible service (another story), I feel much, much better since I “escaped”. I am using this time to plot out the next few years of my career, so that I won’t fall into the same trap again. Which is how I stumbled into this website. Well, I am also wondering whether I can travel to Mexico by myself…

  • Kaitlin M says:

    Great article Chris. It’s amazing how many of those excuses you can use at the same time so you don’t have to start travelling before finally thinking stuff it, I’ll do it anyway.
    Or at least that’s what I did. Sometimes you just have to take your dreams seriously.
    Thanks again.

  • prufock says:

    I do have debt, unfortunately. I’m planning to pay it all off in 3 years at most (I hope!). After that, I hope to do some traveling. So it isn’t as strict as waiting until I’m retired (I’m only 28), but I am delaying gratification. And prioritizing debt repayment over travel.

    However, I might cheat a little and take a vacation in February/March 2010. Nowhere too far or too expensive, but I’d like to get out of my little rut.

  • Igwe says:

    Thanks a lot for this. I’m in the midst of a major transition in my life. Sick of my job and need to see the world.

  • James Pearce says:

    We packed everything in in Europe and came to live in semi-rural India where my wife got a job at a vineyard. Kids were 4 & 5, so young enough to jump school easily – and the web makes it easy to stay part of both personal and professional network.

    Great experiences and frankly very little financial sacrifice.

    (In fact, you guys fix the Western economy and we’ll be back when it’s ready)

    As you suggest, everyone says ‘I wish I could do that’ – rarely are the reasons for not doing so particularly valid. It often takes little more than a visit to Expedia and some research into visas ;-)

    And the kids? 1) They love it, 2) I can’t think of any better education for them than spending time in what will be one of two or three world superpowers when they are my age, 3) The 21st century is probably going to require them to be particularly (climatically) mobile anyway.

  • Karen says:

    I like staying home = “I’m afraid of change and different experiences.”

    The only one I disagree with.

    I’ve been to a number of countries in Europe. The Czech Rep. is on my list for the next couple of years.

    I like staying home. I’m an introvert. Not shy, an introvert. They are two different things.

    I find that I get overstimulated, which exhausts me. If I spend enough days exhausted, I get sick. Hospital sick…pneumonia sick.

    So I go, get sick, come home determined to not get roped into another long grueling trip. But being adventurous and curious, (remember introversion does not equal wallflower) I always do.

    Maybe a Buddhist monastery would fit my idea of a perfect adventure.

  • Juan Botero says:

    Hello, the post is a good inspiration, the comments are good to, but, what about the money?; I actually want to travel trough south america from Colombia, but, the money could be an obstacle?
    Thanks

  • Been there doing that. 3 Years ago, I never would have thought that it’s possible to travel the world. I would say we were doing fine with our house and vehicles. Unfortunately, we were about 12k in debt not including the house. We got our act together cleaned up our debt sold our vehicles and are now renting our house out. Last week we saw Kyoto Japan, and Beiing China. We aren’t sure when we are going back to the States, but it’s not anytime soon. Our lives are actually richer now than they were with our desk jobs in the states. Life is too short, pay off your debt, quit your job, and travel.

  • Gagan says:

    read quite a few of your travel experiences.. loved them.. and the best thing was “If you don’t take your own dreams seriously, who will?”

    awesome!

    I’m from India and studying in the US.. eager to read about your India trip..

  • Scott Rubin says:

    I agree with you, but I will tell you the reason I don’t travel around the world.

    It’s because of money, but not the money reasons you say. I do value traveling around the world more than I value what I currently spend my money on. The problem is that I don’t have much of a choice.

    I have debts that already exist, and I can not escape. While I won’t have to pay rent while traveling, many other monthly costs will not go away, like my cell phone bill. If I quit my job, it will be very difficult for me to get a new one if and when I return. Also, I own a lot of things. Many of them I can get rid of, but I will have to pay to store the rest while I am away.

    A non-money reason I don’t travel around the world is that I don’t have anybody to go with. I have plenty of close friends and relatives, but none of them will quit their jobs and travel the world with me. I need someone to travel with before I get up and go.

    The most practical way for me to travel around the world is to wait for now. I need to save money, eliminate debt, and find someone to travel with. Maybe in 5-10 years I’ll go. For now, I’ll stay put.

  • ash says:

    Great stuff Chris. I have been building some web business for a couple of years now with a view to increasing my passive income to get out of rat race (i’m a video producer which is very high pressure) and travel more. West coast USa really appeals to me, I am based in london

    I am very interested in hearing about ways to pursue the ravel with two small kids in tow. Any advice on schooling on road etc, legal requirements etc feel a little tied to the primary school if you catch my drift !

    best
    Ash

  • Em says:

    This is wonderful article! After 5 years of working as a lawyer, I have just recently resigned to travel through South America (a dream I have had for a few years). Everyone’s reaction when I tell them the news is different – most are excited for you, some envious, but a few are also quite scared. I am both excited and nervous too. But I already know the journey will be lifechanging.
    Keep writing and keep travelling – your site and your vision are fantastic.

  • Maria Brophy says:

    I love that you are spreading the word that most everyone can travel the world, if they so choose.

    I used to be one who only dreamed of it. Then a wonderful thing happened, my first husband left me and I was despondent. I finally took 4 months, alone, to travel the world to get over my grief. Since then, I’ve traveled to over 20 countries alone, married a guy who loves to travel, and we go abroad for 8-12 weeks every year.

    Last year I was looking into buying a new car – it would cost me about $12,000 a year (including insurance), so I decided to keep the old car (again) and go to New Zealand and Samoa for 6 weeks.

    The funny thing is, we do this every year! Instead of getting a new car, we take a long vacation overseas.

    I wrote a post on it, and it made a lot of people angry, but it’s true – it’s all a choice.

    Have kids? Pull ‘em out of school for awhile! Traveling the world is the best education!

  • Vince says:

    I have just stumbled on to your website a few weeks ago and I glad I did. I am planing on going over to Europe in Jan 2010. Your tips on traveling hacks are going to be quite helpful. I can’t wait! My friend and I are planning on the places that we are going to visit. We want to avoid the Touristy places and find the little traveled spots.

    Vince

  • KC says:

    In 1992, when I was 24, I quit a job I’d had for a few years for what seemed like an impulsive trip to Europe. It was somewhat of a risk at the time, but it has always been one of my fondest memories, and it changed my life.

  • Oleg Mokhov says:

    “Live life to the fullest, and focus on the positive.” -Matt Cameron

    Hey Chris,

    Life maximization helps you maximize what makes you happy and eliminate what doesn’t.

    Since money, time, and energy is limited, you analyze what’s important to you and break it down into categories. Travel, making music, snowboarding, painting, family, whatever. Then you ruthlessly eliminate and ignore the rest.

    Those that want to travel but “can’t afford it” need to eliminate what’s not that important to them and reallocate the newly-recovered resources to explore the world.

    With life maximization, your life is filled to the brim with what’s important and makes you happy, and what doesn’t is eliminated.

  • jacquelyn says:

    I live 20mins from Boston, Massachusetts. I have always wanted more out of life. I realize I am working for a living; instead of having the life of travel I want. I have been dreaming about change and travel for so long! I would love to see the aurora lights in Alaska, the Great Wall of China, Bora Bora, Japan, Iceland & more! Time for me to stop planning and start doing!

  • Bryce says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve recently been going through an introspective part of my life and I’m nearly settled on the idea of sloughing off the expectations those surrounding me (Parents, teachers, more distant friends) and truly doing what makes ME happy. I want to see as much as I can before I die and being a slave to a job that I’ll end up despising isn’t the way to do it.

  • ann says:

    Hi Chris- Thanks for the article. What you’ve said its true, we tend to value material things than the experiences itself. The truth is I quit my job because I feel I am not growing anymore and life seems boring. Right now, I don’t have a job but I don’t mind. What’s important with me right now is that my goal is clear, I want to travel the world and find inspiration to write.

  • Dilek says:

    Chris, it is just so amazing how many people who posted here really want to leave their desk jobs and travel. Your blog has really inspired me, and i’ve already told all of my friends about it. We’re high school seniors, and i think we’re of the select few who want to experience life and travel :)

    I read in one of the comments that getting a TEFL degree and teaching English abroad is a good way to earn money and travel. This is the best thing i’ve heard all day! Right now my friend and I are making plans on how to avoid the dreaded job. Chris thank you for being such an inspiration to so many people! I will let you know how my adventures go.

  • Nomer says:

    I just returned from 7 months europe trip. My dream since high school and on to college but finally at 50 years old, i did it. Lots of dream and focus on my priority of my passion of travel and have found some email friends and kept in touch all this years and when i visit they invited me to stay each place i stay at least two weeks.
    I fly to europe on standby ticket, slept at the airport if the flight full but en route to and from Europe i got business class and it was nice! Anyway, i spent everything and now need to be looking for a job and start saving again. My dream was to cycling europe and i did in north holland, a few places in Germany including Mosel river to Rhine river, Portugal, south of UK and in the USA. I traveled alone as i am single but met some nice people along the way and we form the comeraderies and gotogether and it was fun. I’ll do Asia next, anyone interested to join me. I’m from Thailand.

  • Felicia says:

    Traveling is something that I have always wanted to do. I live in the US and have traveled throughout the country but have never been outside the US. I have a couple of problems though: 1) I graduated school three years ago with a whole lot of debt 2) I just recently bought a house (which I don’t mind selling in a heartbeat- not that I don’t love my house because I do but that doesn’t hold me back). With the economy the way it is, I’m not sure if I would be able to sell the house and 3) I’m in school right now getting my MBA. My company is paying for it so I would have to commit a year with them after I graduate (which would be 2011).

    I really hope that people can give me some helpful hints, motivation, or anything. My main worry is my school debt because it is so huge. If I can sell my house then I plan on putting that profit towards the debt but I’m not sure if that will be enough. Then I worry about what I will do when I come back. Thanks for the blog I am definitely subscribing

  • adriansabah says:

    I have lived in several countries while growing up, and while I missed home terribly as a child, I looked forward to leaving home also. I thought of it as an adventure, and that made me want to get on the plane and spend the next few months away from home.

    The biggest lesson I learnt is that people everywhere are the same. They have the same dreams, aspirations and fears. It doesn’t matter if you come from England, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia. Once you realized that, making friends is easy! The world is both larger and smaller than you think.

    It is sometimes hard to answer when my friends ask me what people in England is like. I tell them that we’re basically the same, but they don’t get it. We watch the same movies, listen to the same hit songs, drink the same beer, even laugh at the same jokes. How are we different?

  • Maria Brophy says:

    To Felicia, who was asking for help with her yearning to travel, but certain things hold her back:

    See if you can take a smaller trip, first. I suggest going somewhere like Australia or New Zealand, where it’s very easy to travel alone. People are friendly, the public transportation system is excellent, and you can stay in cheap hostels (no matter how old you are) and meet people who are traveling just like you.

    Ask your company to give you 6 weeks off. Tell them you need it. (I did this with my co years ago – they gave me 4 months off). Take time off – keep your house – and then once you’ve gotten a little taste and experience of traveling alone, then you can plan the BIG trip. (Sell your house, pay down your loan, get rid of all your stuff….)

    Don’t let things and people hold you back. All your reasons for not going is what Chris is talking about when he asks “WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK” – sometimes it’s just yourself.

  • KF says:

    Go, Nomer! Your story has inspired me and should inspire all of us, that it’s never too late to make our dreams come true.

  • Rhonda says:

    I love your article. I have just booked up to go travelling around Asia for 3 months and your article has just reinforced all my reasons for doing it! My boyfriend doesnt want to go and i dont know if i’ll have a job when i return but life is too short……..go for it!

  • As someone who packed up their life a year ago to go traveling, I really enjoyed reading this piece. All very true.

    The comment I get a lot when people hear what we’ve done is: Well it’s all right for you! I couldn’t do it because….

    Given that I had a house, car, motorbike etc etc and am now traveling with husband, dog and nine year old daughter, I figure I’ve pretty much proven that logistical difficulties can be overcome!

  • John R says:

    I’m a single man and I’m planning to travel to New Zealand in February for a year. I have my working holiday visa and am just waiting on approval for a new credit card (I’m 29 now and never saw the need for one) so that I can book my flight. I have never been out of Ireland more than two weeks at a time. Once this is done I plan to tell my family. I have only told two close friends about my plans. I know that when I tell everyone else (family, workmates) they will think I am insane giving up a well paid job. I have a substantial amount of money saved even though I became a mortgage slave 4 years ago. I just think now is the right time to do this before I end up meeting someone and getting married and having kids. It does scare me about what I will do when the year is up as jobs are thin on the ground. But I always come back to this blog and others like it to reassure myself that everything will be ok and not too wuss out of this journey.

  • Mark says:

    Wow what can I say; It’s so good to find a blog where people share the same values and passions in life!! Just reading peoples comments make me feel so positive that travelling the world is the way forward! I too am in a huge dilemma though, travel or progress with my career

    I’m 22 yrs old and lucky enough to be working in good job since graduating at a blue-chip company as a project engineer. The experience money and future career prospects are extremely fantastic for someone my age but the huge problem is whether to say or go. I do enjoy my but I often wonder is it too much responsibility and stress for someone my age and can’t see myself being there forever.

    During my placement I saved enough money to have my first experience of travelling and was lucky enough to spend 2 months in South America. The experience has changed me and views on life completely, making me so determined to see more of the world.

  • Mady says:

    Just stumbled upon your great site. I agree with your way of seeing life and priorities and what truly drives the human spirit. I have been traveling since I was 12 years old and move to a different country every 2 to 21/2 years. I am now in Europe and looking to move to Germany and starting fresh again. I am a Nomad and I love it. I am changing my life and trusting my inner wisdom and intuition and letting synchronicity takes place so I can gain the most out of my travels.

    I am looking to go to the Himalyas for a year and am trusting that the financing for the trip will come.

    Travel is the best education that one can give to oneself and YES priorities are important. My priorities are to live life the fullest and learn and share with others and of course supporting sustainable ways of living and sharing my professional expertise with others while learning to further ground on the Earth plane. Looking forward to reading your future articles.

  • John says:

    Good comments here. I’m glad many are from people who have also found a balance of frequent breaks with a job that allows it. I would rather be able to work ‘on the road’ or have an income while I’m away, and this is something I have been working towards for several months, but until then I will keep to spending every possible moment and penny either researching destinations or going to them!

  • Chris, it was eery reading this article. It sounded like I wrote it. I have been traveling for many years myself, and I hear the exact same questions you have. I have to agree! It’s all a matter of priorities. It’s really that simple. It has absolutely nothing to do with money. I live in a 3rd world country and bet I make maybe a fraction of the poorest person posting on this blog. However, despite my lack of finance or money, I bet (other than Chris) I am the richest person here. You cannot put a price on the experiences and memories that one acquires through travel and adventure. And the people that you meet and the relationships that follow, are priceless! Kudos to you Chris, keep up the good work!

  • Garret says:

    A truly interesting site and this article in particular I have found very interesting (to the point where I’ve read it several times). I am currently pondering taking 6 months to a year to spend travelling to some of the countries in the world that I have on my “list” (I think we all have one of those!). The thing is, I have a fairly decent job in advertising at the moment but I’ve pretty lost interest in it. I don’t have any real commitments (no house, no car, still single) so I am not tied down by anything, except my career.

    Despite the economic situation at the moment, I can’t get the urge out of my head to just pack it all in and go and book my travel. I know most of my friends and family would call me mad for doing it but I’m really getting to the stage where I’m realising you only get one shot in life, whats the point in continually putting things off when you most likely will forget about travelling and become mired in the 9 to 5 slog?

  • Eric Normand says:

    Chris!

    I just quit my job and I’m planning on traveling the world with my girlfriend. You were an inspiration to me. I really appreciate how open you are and how much you share with the rest of the world.

    Thanks for being you
    Eric

  • Steph Ruud says:

    Love your articles/blogs, I’ve had the “traveler” mindset without actually getting to travel. I’m definitely one of those “I don’t have the money” kind of people, but I’ll be starting a new career this year and am going to keep travel and saving for it a huge priority. I want to learn & grow from the people I meet in different places.
    Thanks keep the goodness coming!

  • AJ says:

    Travel, for me, is icing on the cake, not the cake itself. So no, I wouldn’t quit my job because I love what I do. But I ALSO love to travel. And in fact, I shouldn’t quit my job because it gives me the means to travel. :)

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