“I quit a mind-numbing, soul-sucking job to travel Europe for six months a few years ago. I didn’t know what I would do with my life when I ran out of money, but I was 23 and already had two jobs that I didn’t love and knew I needed a life change, even if it meant starting at an entry-level job again afterward.
A lot of people were against the idea and called it a ‘crazy idea,’ as you say. But the crazy idea is actually staying at a job out of fear of financial instability. Life is simply too short.
In my experience, each month traveling felt longer than an entire year of the job I quit, where months passed by in the blink of an eye. I cannot stress that enough. Each day I learned and tried new things and to this day have vivid memories of nearly every day of the trip. And there’s a good reason for it. It’s proven that seeing new things and trying new experiences builds new neuronal connections in your brain, which in turn makes time feel slower. Conversely, if your brain doesn’t have to process a lot of new information, time seems to move faster.
Before leaving, I had lost a lot of my passion and creativity for many facets of life. I could barely distinguish one day, or month, from the next. That feeling of getting back lost time invigorated me and make me feel refreshed and re-energized. For the first time in years, it didn’t feel like time was going by faster each year.
In terms of financial fears – if you are thinking of quitting your job and traveling the world, you are already more interesting and open-minded than half of the population – which means you’re likely the type that will be able to do a better job afterward when you feel energized and inspired. After my trip ended, I found a temporary job to hold me over for a few months until I got a job I love in the industry that I’m still working in and continue to love. In under three years since, I’ve more than doubled my salary and gotten two promotions – and it’s because I love my job and it inspires me to do my best work.
After traveling, I relentlessly sent out my resume and scheduled interviews to find a job in one week or move home. That back-against-the-wall position gave me the motivation to do whatever it takes to find a job. The temp job I took wasn’t my top choice, but it took me out of my comfort zone and gave me sales experience, which has helped me in public speaking and account management at my current job in marketing. That’s just my experience, but the moral of the story is given the chance to succeed or go home (literally or metaphorically) you will find a way to make it happen.
I still travel to new places as often as I can and aspire to spend many more months traveling in my life because even at a job that stimulates you intellectually and challenges you, time still goes by fast. Traveling is the best way I’ve been able to make it slow down. Life is short enough as it is. A month feeling like a day is frightening.
What’s actually ‘crazy’ is succumbing to your fears and letting your life pass by in a situation where you’re unhappy.
So my advice is this: Go for it. And soak it all in. Don’t let financial stress creep into your thoughts while you travel and distract you from your experiences. In the end, it will work out and you will be a more cultured, open-minded, and attractive job candidate than before. You might even learn things about yourself and the world that help you find out what you want to do in life. I often interview people and I will tell you this: I would look at the experience of traveling the world as a better experience than some admin internship or several years at a job someone hated. And that’s not just because I did it myself. It shows the bravery and curiosity that I want in an employee.”