How to Quit Your Job to Travel the World

Are you wondering how to quit your job to travel the world? Craving a life of adventure but feel tied down by your 9 to 5? Dreaming of azure skies, exotic locales, and new cultures, but can’t imagine how to afford it all?

This may be the article you’ve been waiting for.

How to Quit Your Job to Travel the World - backpacker on a mountaintop

Quitting your job to travel the world might seem like a far-fetched dream, but with the right plan and a dash of courage, it’s more within reach than you think. Yes, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed, but what if you could do that while satisfying your wanderlust?

Intrigued? Read on, as I spill the beans on how to make this audacious dream a reality.

Let me share a little bit about my own journey.

It all began at a crossroads for me, when I was fresh out of a grueling Master’s program, transitioning into the world of technical writing in the tech industry, and just after I met Charles.

As much as earning money was a wonderful change from life as a starving grad student, the corporate life was just as soulless, and life-sucking as I’d heard. And while I didn’t exactly hate my job as a technical writer, writing standard operating procedures and software wikis didn’t exactly feel like fulfilling a life’s dream.

To be honest, I was less than six months into my new career and I was sick of it already.

One day after a particularly frustrating day, and a crowded evening commute home on Calgary’s Light Rail Transit, Charles and I got talking.

Van and termite mound in Australia
Our trusty van dwarfed by an Australian termite mound

We’d dated less than four months at this point, but we hatched a plan to travel the world together during that conversation. I wanted to visit Southeast Asia, and he wanted to see Australia, so we decided to combine our trips and travel to the southern hemisphere for a year.

It would make a more romantic story to say that we quit our jobs on the spot, bought round the world tickets, and took off the next morning, but the reality is that it took us about eight months more to get on that plane.

Money was a huge part of that. No-one was going to pay our way. We saved money for flights, accommodation, and living expenses, and I also had to set enough money aside to pay off my student loans for the year I planned to be gone.

There was also a lot to consider – I had an eight year old kitty, Cosmo, who couldn’t go with us, and we each had apartment leases, plus so, so much more.

Snorkeling in the tropical water

20 years later, we have a lot more dialed in. Today, we make our living fully online, but it was a long process, with a good amount of risk, to get here.

Back then, on our first trip together, we had to figure everything out from scratch. All we knew was that we wanted to quit our jobs and travel the world, so we got to work figuring out how to make that happen.

This is our story, including the hard-earned, insanely helpful, lessons we learned about making traveling the world together a reality.

How to Quit Your Job to Travel the World

Determined to ditch your workplace chains for a nomadic lifestyle?

You might be wondering how to keep the cash flowing while on the go. Worry not, we’ve got your back with practical tips, a tried-and-true roadmap designed to keep your travel dreams afloat while also taking care of those essential needs.

Let’s delve into some of the best strategies for sustaining your travels, showing you not just how to survive, but thrive as you explore the world.

Violet New Zealand Field and Mountains
New Zealand – one of our last stops that first year

Why do you want to travel?

Honestly, quitting your job for an uncertain future isn’t for everyone.

Is your motivation to travel enough to get you through the challenge of planning a trip, announcing your plans to friends and family, quitting your job, and actually getting on that plane to parts unknown?

Asking yourself why you want to travel is a great start. There are probably hundreds of reasons to travel including:

  • experiencing new cultures and people
  • learning more about yourself, and the world around you
  • a desire for excitement and adventure
  • yearning to break free from a boring or unfulfilling life
  • a desire to volunteer and make the world a better place

Honestly, my desire to travel was probably a combination of most of those.

Not quite ready to take off for a year? It is possible to travel with a full-time job by taking strategic advantage of paid time off, statutory holidays, vacation days, work transfers, sabbaticals, and the like.

Micki and Charles in Sydney Australia
Visiting beautiful Sydney, Australia

Where do you want to go, and for how long?

Luckily, Charles and I had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to go (Southeast Asia and Australia), and how long (a year).

That said, you may just have a general feeling that you want to travel, and no real idea where to. Don’t worry, that’s fine!

This is the fun part! If you’ve traveled before, think a little bit about what you enjoyed, and didn’t enjoy, on your previous vacations.

Spend some time reading travel blogs, browsing social media (pay attention if you’re more attracted to the beach shots or the city shots) and reading the travel section of websites to see what destinations strike your fancy.

Micki and Charles on Motorbike in Thailand
Cruising around Thailand on a motorcycle – probably an accident waiting to happen

Even feel free to take a trip to your local library and peruse through the travel section to see what catches your eye.

If money’s an issue, I’d suggest doing some research into the most affordable destinations (both in terms of how to find the cheapest flights and where your hard earned money will last the longest.

Countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Turkey, India, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, and Ecuador are great places to start.

While we traveled independently (it helped there were two of us, so we could lean on each other), I think I would have taken my first big trip abroad with a tour group if I was a solo traveler. There are so many wonderful tours out there!

How much will this all cost?

Once you figure out where you want to go, and how long, budget is most people’s next concern.

There’s a lot to budget for, including flights, accommodation, food and drink, travel insurance, entertainment and activities, medical and personal needs, and paying off existing debts.

Want to do a financial deep dive? Read our post on how to figure out how much money you need to travel here.

Get your finances in order

Once you have a budget for your trip, the next step is to figure out how, exactly, you’re going to pay for it all.

Every situation is different, but there are two main steps for most people:

  1. Save money to travel the world, and/or
  2. Earn money as you travel.

Saving money to travel the world

In its simplest form, most advice about saving money to travel boils down to two tips: cut back on expenses (like those infamous lattes), and make extra money.

You need to take action to save money, and it’s not usually easy.

It’s hard to balance your desire to travel against the pain of financial changes, and decide if the juice is worth the squeeze, as the old saying goes.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”

Saving money may mean moving back in with parents or relatives, getting roommates, finding renters for that extra bedroom or taking on a side hustle, or two. For me, the biggest boost to my savings was getting a new, higher paying job for the six months before we traveled.

Read our article on how to save money to travel the world.

How to earn money as you travel

While I worked hard to save money, I also needed to figure out a source of income on the road to make my budget work. Because of my technical writing and academic background, I got a gig editing articles as I travelled.

Charles chose to take out a Working Holiday visa for Australia. He worked dismantling a greenhouse to earn money, which gave him extra cash, plus some disturbing stories about wolf spiders to share.

Laptop under a thatched umbrella at Victoria House Belize

There are plenty of options to earn money as you travel. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • get a Working Holiday Visa (available in countries like Canada and Australia, and generally to younger applicants, age 18 to 30, with some exceptions).
  • teach English overseas
  • convert your existing job to a remote position
  • sign up with a site for people to buy college essays
  • learn a skill like giving haircuts or massages for other travelers
  • check out online gig jobs on sites like Virtual Vocations or Upwork

It’s tricky, but if you’re lucky you may even be able to volunteer abroad for cheap or free.

Want to learn more? Check out these articles:

Set your departure date

Once you get your destination and savings sorted, you should have a good idea of when you can leave on your big trip.

Now’s the time to set your destination date, mark it on your calendar, and figure out final details like (finally!!!) quitting your job, buying your ticket, and final preparations.

Is business class worth it?

Decide when you’ll quit

After all that, you should be ready to decide when to quit your job. Finally!

There’s a lot to consider here. To start, find out if there are legal requirements for how much notice to give before you quit your job. Two weeks notice is pretty standard in Canada and the USA, but your situation may be different.

Do you want to use your employer as a reference? Maybe consider giving more than two weeks notice to keep on their good side.

If you just want to take a sabbatical, and go back to your existing job when you’re done traveling, it’s probably worth investing some extra time in making your exit as seamless as possible.

If that’s something you want to do, definitely look into it ahead of time. Lots of companies have undocumented extended absence rules. While you won’t be getting paid while you travel, it could mean heading home is easier for you knowing there’s a steady paycheque waiting for you if you need the money or even just a temporary break in travel.

Prepare for your trip

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of things to be done now that you’ve figured out your budget, when you’ll quit, and where and when you’re traveling to.

Here are a few of the major things you’ll need to do to prepare:

Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

After all that, it’s time to dive in and make it happen.

As Hunter S. Thompson said, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

The last things I did before we took off on our first major trip were, in this order:

  • buy our airline tickets
  • book our first week’s accommodation, and
  • quit my job.

It would make a better story if my boss was upset I quit, but he was pretty undisturbed by the whole thing. I think he mumbled “good for you” at one point, but that was pretty much the extent of his reaction.

On the last day of work, I handed in my ID, said a round of goodbyes, and walked out the door.

As I walked to my car, I realized something.

No-one at my job really, truly cared about my plans. I got along well with all of them, but we weren’t good friends out of the office. My trip might make the office gossip for a week or two, but after that they’d forget all about me.

And that alone was enough reason that I’ve never regretted quitting my job to travel the world.

Getting Married in New Zealand Kapitea Railroad Tracks
We got married in New Zealand!