9 Reasons Not to Quit Your Job and Travel the World (Debunked)

I recently read an article over at ThoughtCatalog on 9 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Travel the World. Many of the responses in the comments seemed angry and claimed the whole idea (quit and travel) wasn’t realistic. I don’t claim that world travel is right for everyone and while the ThoughtCatalog piece has its shortcomings (a few of the reasons are shallow although one could definitely argue sarcasm), I’m living proof that picking up and taking off is possible and I wrote my own response to those needing to justify their lack of travel. Some of the reasons (excuses?) are ones that I struggled with myself while some of the others I’ve heard along the way.

1. Cause Jobs Don’t Grow on Trees
They’re hard to come by in this economy. It took months of a few resume submissions a week to land this 9 to 5. It’s not really you’re first choice of location or the ideal company or the exact position you wanted, okay, its not even in the field you were hoping for, but its a job nonetheless and you get paid real money. Plus, there’s the free booze at the Christmas party and the In-N-Out truck is the highlight of the company’s “Summer Fun” program.

Is it really that hard to find a job? Did you really slave tirelessly for weeks to land your not so dream job? Maybe you did. I can’t say otherwise, but in the end, you did find work. Why would the outcome be any different when you return from a stint abroad. At least now you’ll have something more interesting to say than video games when you’re interviewer asks about that employment gap. Your answer: I’ve been up to awesome.

2. A Promotion is Coming
You’re not positive, but you could be getting a raise soon. You’ve been working diligently for months and your boss keeps telling you what a great job you’re doing. What if it’s 10%? That’s would be seriously epic. An increase like that over your meager entry-level salary will let you eat out a few extra times a week, at least.

There’s always a promotion on the way. A pay raise around the corner. And as soon as you get it, you realize that your lifestyle hasn’t drastically changed. It’s not as if you’re suddenly a loaded high roller. More money won’t fix it all. Before you know it, you’re back in line waiting for the next pay increase. It’s a cycle. Why can’t that wait? The corporate world will be patiently waiting when you return.

3. You don’t have a travel companion right now
I would totally travel the world, but none of my friends can go right now, but that’s not because they don’t want to. They either need to finish school, save money, or build up vacation time. Just give them some time and they’ll come around. I can wait.

Maybe your friends really are serious about going and nothing will stop them from achieving that goal, but are you willing to bet on it. You might end up waiting months or years and who knows what will happen in that time. Plus, traveling solo can be an amazing and exhilarating experience. If one of those things that sounds way more crazy than it actually turns out to be. And I’ll guarantee you this, you won’t be alone for long with all the fellow travelers you meet along the way. A dorm room at a hostel is like the first week of school all over again. No one knows anyone, but everyone wants to meet someone.

4. You have bills to pay
Umm, my apartment isn’t free and what about my car payment? I’m only one year into my 5 year loan. Oh and let’s not forget my phone bill. That thing is killing me. What with unlimited text and data package. My roommates and I voted and we’re cutting HBO in favor of Netflix so at least there’s that. How can I afford all this and travel at the same time?

Sublet the apartment, sell the car and cancel the rest. You don’t need any of it while you aren’t at home. It’s simple enough, but many people don’t realize this. You’re total expenses while abroad aren’t nearly as big when you have no expenses back home dragging you down.

5. You’ll Miss Out
You wait all year long for ______, your favorite ______ of the year, and missing it would be a travesty. Summer, snow season, Coachella, Halloween, the annual family trip, you fill in the blank. You’ll miss all these good times.

Being gone for months out of the year, you’re sure to miss some good times with friends. There’ll surely be music festivals, camping trips, weekends in Vegas and random tales of absurdity that you could not attend. It’s inevitable. But that’s not the right way to look at it. You’re only looking at a few of the highlights, which constitutes a small portion of time spent at home. On the other hand, while traveling you’re collecting new and enriching experiences on a daily basis. Tales of absurdity are also likely on the agenda. Ever heard of the Full Moon Party or Tubing in Laos?

6. You’re savings is… what savings?
Seriously, how do these traveler’s afford to just hop, skip and jump around the world. They claim to have saved up some cash beforehand, but there must be something else they’re not telling us cause saving isn’t possible. Where do they find money to save between the phone, cable, gym, eating out, bars and clubs, cigarettes, movies, concerts and clothing.

Like it or not, a major part of preparing to travel is saving up the money beforehand. It’s probably the number one reason given for why people aren’t traveling the world. They claim they can’t afford it, but then again, they haven’t been saving for it either. Saving money might be a slow process but its all about discipline. Mainly, realizing the difference between a want and a necessity. No one said this was easy. Start saving now. Here’s how.

7. You have every ethnic food right down the street
When you’re looking to add a little ethnic flair to your diet, P.F. Chang’s is right around the corner. You can get fried rice and chicken chow mein delivered to your door. It’s the same thing but it meets FDA standards. Why on earth would you travel half way around the world to get something you can get here?

Quite simply, home can’t give you the same experience. Yes, living in Los Angeles, just about every ethnic food option is available, but it’s completely different. You don’t get to wander between every imaginable food stall before making a decision, work your way threw the language barrier by pointing at things that look tasty, try everything on the menu for under $10 or most importantly, escape your comfort zone. Los Angeles can offer you Chicken Masala but it can’t offer you the rest.

8. You’ll lose your sweet apartment
It took weeks of searching to find this place. It’s close to the office, but not too far from a Whole Foods. You’re friends all live a short trip away, and the taxi from your favorite bar doesn’t break your wallet. The balcony has a decent view and oh yea, the price is right. You won’t ever in a million years find another place like this one. Life in this town without it, you don’t want to think that far.

Yea, I know its a sweet pad in the ultimate location, but you can’t be afraid to lose it cause then you’ll never know what else is out there. Similar to a job, it might not be easy, but you will find another one and look what you’re getting in return. Perhaps months spent in traveler filled dorms, village homestays, jungle huts and beach front bungalows.

9. You have your whole life to travel
The time just isn’t right. You’re only in your early twenties so you have plenty of time. You’re doing well in advancing your career and you’ll be making more money soon. Then it’ll be easy and you can travel the right way, in style. The stars will align eventually.

Will the time to travel ever be perfect? Perhaps, but perhaps not. And if not, then you might find yourself waiting a long time. Maybe all the way up until it’s not even an option anymore. Don’t let that happen. Set a goal, set a date and work toward it. Even if it’s tentative, it’ll get you moving in the right direction. The stars align when you put them in line.

Agree with me or want to call B.S.? Let me know in the comments below

28 thoughts on “9 Reasons Not to Quit Your Job and Travel the World (Debunked)

  1. Your blog is a real inspiration for my goal setting and planning for my trip. Fortunately, I don’t have any of the above problems (: I’ve got a ‘nothing to lose’ situation. Perks of living in an excellent economy. After two months of saving, i’ve got half of my goal. Just writing to say thanks for your blog, and the wise words. Who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other out there. Any tips or advice you could throw my way would be greatly appreciated!

    • Just to follow through with the plan! Sounds like you have it all figured out and the anticipation must be building. The start of an adventure is always the most exciting and I’m jealous of you for that haha. Thanks for the kind words and good luck on your trip!

  2. Well I’m bias since I am traveling the world and I am missing my favorite time of year back home and the birthdays of my family and friends but it was the right choice for me. It is hard work doing this though and definitely not for everyone, I consider myself lucky that I am passionate about it and so the sacrifices like eating authentic food rather than replicated ethnic food are worth it. 🙂 Nice post though!

    • I completely agree. It’s not for everyone and definitely not easy, especially the longer you’re away. But if you want to travel, then you shouldn’t let anything stop you. Thanks for the input Heather!

  3. The only reason I can think of for not travelling (assuming you live in a privileged country and have a disposable income) is having something more important to stay where you are for.

    I can totally understand if you have an amazing job you love, children, a partner who can’t or doesn’t want to go travelling or something else – that might keep you rooted in one place.

    But I can’t stand to hear people say “you’re so lucky to go travelling. I wish I could too”.

    There’s nothing stopping them apart from their own priorities.

    • Spot on Will. That’s exactly who this post in directed at. If nothing has you tied to one place and you’re dying to travel so much, then re-prioritize and do it. There’s no luck involved. And then you can toss the envy out the window.

  4. Brilliant article! I get this all the time: “Man, I wish I could do that! How do you manage it?”

    The answer I always give is simply: “Make it your priority. Make it THE priority.” I’m married, have a good job, financial obligations, etc. We decided we wanted this life, so we decided not to have kids, not to get a mortgage, not to get buried in debt. We decided to make several (but by no means crippling) sacrifices along the way.

    Every 2 years or so I quit my job, and we bum around for a while. I try to keep my work skills up to date while out and about – try to improve my budget travel skills while on the road…. I don’t have a degree but I weave my travel into my resume and I don’t seem to have any trouble finding work. If you spin it right, being willing to jet off to a developing country on a moment’s notice can lend strongly to that “go-getter” marketing aura that job seekers try so hard to create for themselves! Besides, managers and HR people are always hoping to interview someone “interesting” for a change.

    Speaking of which – I am starting to think that traveling with TOO much savings is a liability. I’m a sucker for “choose the easiest and most comfortable option no matter the cost” when I’m tired and in a strange place. I feel like I’d be a better budget traveler if I limited my expenditures a bit better. Any suggestions on how to swing this? My two months in South America ended up costing me far more than I thought they should have. >.>

    • I agree that too much money can sometimes take away from the experience but the easiest option so tempting sometimes. For example, saving money by couchsurfing helped me meet locales and eating the cheap street food always felt much more authentic than a more upscale restaurant. As far as how to do this when you’re not actually on a tight budget, I suppose it just comes down to self control. Probably not what you wanted to hear haha.

      Thanks for the feedback Wolife!

  5. Great blog Phil – thank you. Found you while researching Myanmar which I’ve visited before but only this time with a friend.
    Just thought I might ‘share’ that I have been traveling for three years now and my ‘home’ is my 23kg backpack. Gave up my apartment, gave away all my furniture. Use only Visa debit cards (not living on credit). All very liberating – especially at 61 years.
    An alternative to saving for the journey is to get into an internet business (selling things, developing, marketing – whatever), which you can pretty much run while you travel and send all the resulting funds to your bank and withdraw using ATM’s. This works almost everywhere now (except Cuba, Myanmar, and probably North Korea). It costs me way less to travel and live almost permanently in foreign countries than to rent at inflated prices and pay for expensive exotic food in Sydney (or NYC, or Paris, or London).
    Further point is you will make friends who are on shorter trips and they *do* have apartments in the expensive cities, so you can go visit. And in reverse, your friends with 9-5 jobs can pretty easily be tempted to come visit you if you pick a place that you know will push their buttons…
    Thanks again for the blog; way better than mine which is mostly now pics but does have some past visits in there…

    • Thanks Simon. I’ve meet a bunch of people from all over, living in those “pricey” cities and can’t wait to pay them a visit. Free accommodation and a free tour guide can’t be beat!

      Also, your situation sounds pretty awesome. Good luck in the future!

  6. Phil I never read blogs and I was just lazily researching how to get a visa in Bangkok for Myanmar and I love your 9 reasons not to travel. I wish you could get through to more Americans so they can see the world. I luckily enough have lived and worked in 6 different countries and managed to visit 89-Myanmar will be 90- not including all the places I have been back to ….. I choose teaching for the vacation as well as loving kids and Australia offers many many opportunities ….12 weeks extra one off-yes on top of my normal paid vacation-paid vacation every 10 years in a job …and in the state of Western Australia where I work I get paid only 80% of my pay for 4 years …..They save up the other 80% and give me the 5th year off on 80% pay….I have done this twice and I work with about 30 people who say I should, I must etc -sound familiar?-etc but so far in 10 years only two have also taken it on….& I have to only work two more years and its another year off on 80% pay….and leave in a city that is going through a boom time at the moment so I rent out my spare room on a nightly basis which also adds to my vacation fund and like Simon I can not bear to stay in 5 star places ….as you would never get to meet anyone …,and most backpackers have no sense of age as in join us at the Disco….,and at 53 my answer is always would you go dancing with your father or your Grandfather ….Never give up travelling I say and I am so glad I did not wait till retirement to do the big trip …heck I might never get there or be able ….

    • Phil,

      I totally agree with these ideas of yours. Most of them for me sound so obvious (like the food thing, so absurd to think the experience is the same) that the person that wrote the article before seems to be from a totally different world. hehe

      What gets to me though, and make me question if i should or not do it, is that diferently from many people though, that just grab their stuff and left, my restlessness is in the fact that i actually love my job, that i grew absurdly in the past year, was given so many opportunities in it I can´t even say. I am crazy about travelling (so crazy my job is in mexico and not in brazil where i am from, and before was in germany and in france). But I love what I do, and am afraid that wont be able to come back to it.

      How you handle this? is almost choosing from 2 things you love. I am maybe exhagerating in the ¨choosing¨part, as it is not that i will loose my work abilities, but is not as i can come back to where i am now, after 5 months away. This is what makes me a little apprehensive (or loads).

      • That’s a tough one Laura. I can’t say my decision was quite so tough. Yea, I had a good job with a decent salary, but I was ready to make a change and to move on. Either to another job or to travel. Luckily I chose the later.

        If you love your job, than it might not be best to leave it. Jobs of some sort are necessary at some point. They pay the bills. And having one you love make you way ahead of the curve. Perhaps try to work out a way to take time to travel for periods without caning the job altogether.

    • Eugene, that’s sounds like an awesome setup you have going. Every 5th year off!? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing and I’m sure it’s nearly impossible to find in the mighty US. More and more I realize that I do enjoy working. It makes one feel accomplished and gives me a reason to then reward myself. Travel is my preferred reward and it looks like yours as well. The trick is to find a way to do both, which you have. Just great. Do ever stop joining the hostel kids out to the disco.

  7. Hi Phil,
    I’ve been traveling and working worldwide for 6 years and I love it. I had my own photography business in Palo Alto California for 25 years and was ready to leap into the unknown and try it. My son inspired me as he started traveling solo at age 17.

    Be amazed by your children: be very amazed!

    After 3 years of 6 to 10 month trips I sold all my possessions and set sail for the unknown. I felt liberated! I am now teaching photography, publishing Vagabond Magazine, an app in the iTunes store for iPads, and loving my life. I also teach yoga and meditation and it is super rewarding to have a more spiritual goal for myself rather than making a lot of money. I do this on a low budget
    and speaking of expenditures I make it a game to see how I can get what I need without paying a lot for it – yes my home is in my backpack and so is my heart.

    You don’t need a lot of money to travel. But courage takes practice. I’m glad I took the leap.

    • Sounds awesome Mary. You really don’t need a ton of money to have amazing experiences. And the fact that you’re able to fully support your wandering is great

  8. WOW OH WOW! I have stumbled across your site today, and it has made my day a million times better! I am flying off to south east asia in March with my boyfriend; both quitting our jobs and putting the careers on hold. Having just got off the phone to my (soon to be ex) boss, who was none to pleased to hear of my departure, your site has made me realise why we decided to go in the first place!

    Thankyou so much for all your inspiration and incredibly useful information!
    Getting excited now, it feels like the dream is finally happening 🙂

    All the best, Steph

  9. Okay, so I am one of the hippies that traveled the Kathmandu trail in the mid 70’s. What I’d tell any of you is that the fun of traveling is one of the best things that life has to offer. Yes, you can see the pyramids on line, but that is not what traveling is all about. It is the people you meet that make it so great. Iceland for me will always be about Ruth.Sailing on the Nile with my friend John was cool. Singapore was/is all about Helen (Been married to her for 30+). Your fellow travelers will be a special bunch; they will be those that had the courage, the brains, and the drive to get up and go. Careers, apartments and all the rest can wait. Yes, there can be downers (amoebic dysentery in Africa) but hey, after awhile they just become a part of the adventure. Travel on, my friends.


    • Couldn’t have put it better myself. You take the good with the bad but it’s mostly just awesome. Thanks for sharing Mike

  10. Some of the points in this post are very valid. Someone’s ability to do this will depend very much on their personal situation.

    The only problem I have is with your suggestion that just because you will have money later in your career, you will be more apt to travel. I believe this is a huge misconception. It’s easiest to travel when you are young or retired. Once you have spouses, houses, car loans, alimony, and kids… Traveling around the world is not so easy.

    Not to sound overly negative, but everyone assumes that they will gracefully float to 100, which just isn’t true. You’re going to die. Your health might start to suck at 40. You might as well get what you want out of life while you can. You can always get more money. You can’t get more time.

    • Isn’t that the exact point I make in #9? I’m imploring people not to wait because of everything you mention. Travel when you’re young cause if you wait until you’re “rich,” you might never travel at all. I agree, you might run out of time.

  11. Just came accross your site on a google search…nice post!! We are in the midst of trying to do just that…quit work and go travel parts of the world via sailboat. Our house is for sale, once that happens we will quit work, stow, sell, or give away all of our belongings to move aboard the boat full-time and begin our travels.

    • Wow, sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to do the sailboat thing but the right time/opportunity hasn’t come up yet. Good luck on your adventure. Watch out for whales!

    • I actually had basic health insurance back home so I didn’t end up getting travel insurance. Most people go with something like World Nomads though

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