2015: The Year I Quit My Job & Sold Everything To Travel The World
If you read the bios of other travel bloggers out there, you’ll find most have one thing in common; they are people that gave up everything for a nomadic life on the road. I am fairly new to this club, and in fact I plan to arrive in Australia towards the middle of 2016 to work and live, so maybe I’m not 100% committed just yet. If 2015 has taught me anything though, it’s to go with your gut and live life how you want to live it, no matter how scary that prospect may be.
This year is not the first that involved travelling long-term for me. In 2012, I toured Central America, Australasia and some of Asia for eight months. The difference is, in 2012 I was a fairly recent university graduate working as a Bar Manager for the sole purpose of saving money, so I could go out and experience my first backpacking adventure. I was in my early 20s, with no mortgage, car, or responsibilities whatsoever. The plan was to take a gap year, which many do, then return to England and find a job in marketing; my dream career.
I did exactly that. I toured incredible countries and witnessed the enlightening freedom of a backpacker lifestyle day in, day out. Then I returned home (with no money and to my parents house), wangled myself a boyfriend, and secured a job in a fast-growing, reputable B2B marketing agency. I worked my butt off for two and a half years, making my way to Marketing Manager of the agency. I loved my job. Absolutely loved it. So the day I handed in my notice, in June 2015, was one of the most bittersweet, terrifying days of my life.
The problem was, that whilst I was away I fell in love with Australia and had made it my ambition to emigrate there one day. The second, was that once you’ve had that taste of the travel lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to rid yourself of wanderlust. There is still so much in the world to see, and despite the fact that I’m now in my late 20s and repeatedly told by my sister that I’m, “getting on a bit” and, “hadn’t I better have children soon” (thanks Molly!), I feel that now is the time to be out there, backpacking my way from country to country, while I’m fit, able and energetic.
So, 2015 was the year that I nervously left my job and protectively handed my role over to somebody new, the year that I said very emotional farewells to family and friends who I won’t see for a very long time, the year I committed to travelling the world and starting a new life with a boy, and the year that pushed me to start my own travel blog so I can continue writing and doing what I love, by marketing myself instead of an agency – well, part-time at least!
I crammed in the overtime and picked up extra jobs here and there. I sold all my clothes, my bed, my share of my mum’s car, in fact pretty much everything that could be sold, was. Everything I now own fits in a sixty-five litre backpack and just one small box in my parent’s attic. I don’t really have any possessions, and in my parent’s words I am a ‘modern day hippie’.
Truthfully though, when it comes down to it, 2015 has been one of the biggest and best of my life so far. I’ve rappelled down canyons, walked blind in a cave, straddled the equator, swum with sea-turtles, cruised Bolivia’s salt flats, learnt the history of a dozen countries, touched a Cobra, posed in front of the Taj Mahal, shook hands with hundreds of nationalities, been awe-struck by beautiful temples – the list goes on! Being a full-time backpacker doesn’t come without it’s downsides, of course. I missed my goddaughter’s first birthday and my lifelong best friend’s engagement, which I’m mad as hell about, but no matter which lifestyle you choose there will always be negatives, and there will always be sacrifices you’ll have to make.
One of the things I hear a lot when talking with travellers who are on vacation, or have a short-term sabbatical from work is, “I wish I was brave enough to give up my job and travel the world”. And that’s why I’m writing this end of year blog. It’s not to gloat in any way, or try to make out that the travel lifestyle is right for everybody. The reason I’m writing this post is because I really don’t feel brave at all. I feel inspired, ambitious and incredibly lucky, but I wouldn’t say brave. I also believe that anybody with the urge to explore the globe can do so, as long as they’re willing to make sacrifices along the way. It’s really just about going out there and doing it.
Ignore those who’ll tell you long-term backpacking is only for gap year students, one-off sabbaticals, or those without children. If a nomadic lifestyle is something you’ve always craved or wanted to experience, there’s no right time to do it. Make the changes you need to make, save those pennies, figure out ways to make it work, and just go. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 2016 is waiting to be lived.
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