Why I haven’t quit work to travel the world … yet

March 5, 2017
Heading out on a hike of the Grand Canyon.

Over the years I’ve read and followed many travel bloggers, all promising that I too can quit my day job and travel the world.

I’ve daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to spend my days and nights exploring different countries and cultures, without the pressures of daily work deadlines, badass bosses and crowded commuter buses.

It sounds so exciting, romantic, adventurous and glamorous. And it appeals to that side of me that hates doing what everyone else does.

How to live a life of travel

So I’ve read dozens of articles on how to save money and make it happen. How to scrimp and save and sacrifice all the ‘normal’ things that ‘normal’ people like to do. Things like buying clothes, drinking coffee, going out to dinner, owning a car.

In recent years, when I unexpectedly found myself single, I set myself up so that I could take off whenever I wanted for as long as I liked. It gave me a wonderful sense of freedom. And a belief that if I was ever unhappy at work I could walk away anytime.

Is that really me?

But it’s taken me a long time to realise I’m just not that kind of girl. Not the kind who drops everything and takes off. Who throws caution to the wind and doesn’t look back.

It turns out, it’s not compatible with my DNA.

Don’t get me wrong. I moved to the US to go college, I’ve opportunistically invited myself on other people’s holidays to experience new adventures and I travel as much as I can, maximising holiday time and taking leave without pay to get away.

I realise it’s all about choices but I love having my own home, walls adorned with artwork often picked up from the places I’ve visited. I love fashion. And I love catching up with friends and family and the sense of community it affords.

I like the challenge of a full-time job, coaching a team, creating and building products and services. I like a certain amount of structure in my life. And I crave being by the ocean.

Most of all though, I love having roots and a sense of place. It makes me feel secure and grounded. Like I belong.

Which is the essence of the Airbnb experience – feeling like you belong somewhere. Having a base that’s part of a community. And not a hotel room.

The new trend for full-time travellers: a sense of belonging

Lately I’ve noticed that some of the most successful travel bloggers in the world have had a similar kind of epiphany.

They’ve been on the road for years, had some of the most incredible experiences all around the world and have turned travel blogging into very successful businesses. It’s no mean feat.

They’ve been charting new territory, creating a career out of doing something they love.

Now they’re a little worn out from the never-ending travel. They’re craving constancy and connection. They want to feel like they belong somewhere.

Perhaps the dream of being a travel nomad has a limited lifespan. We are after all wired for connection. And while you meet incredible people on your travels and have very intense short-term experiences together, the relationships you create tend to be fleeting.

You might stay in contact over the years – the internet and social media have made it much easier these days – but it’s like having an old-fashioned pen pal, just faster and with more pictures.

A former boss of mine, who has travelled the world extensively for long periods at a time, recommends travelling in three-month stints. Anything longer and all the temples and treasures you visit start to look the same and you lose your appreciation for what you’re experiencing.

Our first footsteps on the Antarctic Peninsula.

My career has enabled some amazing travel adventures, like visiting remote Antarctica.

It’s never too late

Unlike the travel bloggers who are mostly very young and have quit their jobs to become digital nomads, I’ve had a career spanning more than 20 years in media and the digital sector, working on start-ups and established brands. I’ve created a community of real people (not just ones online) and I belong. Plus I’ve had some of the most incredible adventures to far flung places, like Antarctica.

Right now, I’m in between ‘big’ jobs. The lure of the open road beckons but the timing’s not quite right.

So while I may not be ready to quit my career to travel the world just yet, I’m a big believer that it’s never too late for anything.

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