Holy Shit, am I Crazy?
When I broke the news to my parents that I intended to quit my job to travel the world with my boyfriend, they told me I was crazy and making a HUGE mistake. They were horrified that I would even consider trading in my London career and the chance to buy my own home in a few years to travel in my thirties.
I’m not blaming them for their reaction because I get it. Parents worry. It’s their natural instinct to wrap you up in cotton wool and keep you safe; no matter if you’re 14, 32 or 40 years old.
Nevertheless, their initial doubts only served to dredge up my own anxiety and put my head in a spin. I knew the decision I was making was the right one, but I felt awful.
It’s true that making any kind of life changing decision is going to be high on the zero to scary scale. You’re going against the grain, which feels unnatural at first.
To get out of this rut, I did what I normally do, and gave myself a good talking to. I began to focus on the bigger picture and the reasons why I wanted to travel.
Why did I want to travel?
I was getting so caught up in the London rat race day-in-day-out that I felt worn down. I was waking up at 5.30am every morning to a routine of gym, 45 minute commute on the tube, work, blog writing in my lunch hour, commute home, dinner, Netflix/chill/blog work and doing that on repeat.
I was the hamster in my own little spinning wheel.
Then I got thinking, what’s the purpose of this?
When I took a step back to assess my future, I realised that without consciously being aware of it I was setting myself up to save, save, save so I could one day achieve every Londoners dream – to buy a 1 bed apartment in an “up and coming” area of London and call it my own. It may be a shoebox. And I may have to sprint home from the station at night to avoid get mugged, but it’ll be home. Then, I guess, if someone would have me, I’d get married and have a family someday.
Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, and there will come a time when I’ll come back to London and get my nesting mojo on. But for now, I’m in absolutely no rush. Maybe I’ve been in London too long, but why are we always in such a god damn rush? As female, surely the days where we aspire to settle down and have kids by the age of 27 are long gone, no? Chill! Those eggs will be fine for another ten years.
If you’re experiencing feelings of self-doubt, remind yourself why you want to go travelling, and what would happen if you didn’t. What is the alternative and would you be happy settling for that?
Have I Just Flushed my Career Down the Toilet?
Is my career over?
When I eventually come home, will I be doomed to work for the minimum wage?
Although I’ve not actually come home yet so I can’t wholeheartedly answer these questions, I do firmly believe that when one door closes another opens. It’s all about shifting your mentality and seeing change as a positive. You never know what kind of work you’re going to get whilst travelling, or who you’ll meet along the way.
Have you considered the possibility that when you return home, you might not even want to go back into the career you left? You may have found an entirely new niche that you love!
It’s also a good idea not to assume the worst. When I handed my notice in at work, my boss was super supportive (not to mention jealous!) and immediately told me to stay in touch and reach out to her when I come home. Now I know there’s no guarantee of coming back and slipping nicely into my old job, but it’s good to know that people have your back and if someone can help, they will.
Similarly, if your intention is to travel for less than a year, it’s 100% worth having an open conversation with your employer about the possibility of leaving your job open for your return.
Nowadays, with awareness of mental health growing, many global and London based companies have adopted measures to prioritise their employee’s happiness and work/life balance. A happy worker is a productive worker, which in turn means a more profitable business. It’s in their interest to keep you interested in your job.
As a result, some superstar companies who really have their eye on the ball, realise that it’s seriously a good thing to allow their employees to take time out, reset, and then come back refreshed and bubbling with enthusiasm for their job again.
For these reasons, it’s important not to burn bridges and keep an open mind when you’re travelling. Opportunities can and will arise all the time.
How am I Going to Live Without a Guaranteed Salary?
I have to admit, I was nervous about taking the leap from the stability of permanent employment to travel in my thirties as a digital nomad.
The hardest part of becoming a digital nomad is getting started. This is why preparation is golden.
The preparation stage is so vital, I’ve written an entire post on it.
I’ve discovered that there are 4 key factors to successfully becoming a digital nomad:
Whilst in London, my career was in brand management and business development. Most of the freelance work I do isn’t related to managing a brand. Having said that, a lot of my skills are transferable. Know what your skills are and keep an open mind. Be flexible.
Know Your Strengths
If you don’t know what your strengths are, ask your employer, ask your friends, you can even find tests online that identify what you’re good at. Once you know these, promote the hell out of them. Don’t be timid and definitely don’t undervalue yourself. Until you start believing you’re awesome, no one else is going to.
Say Yes To The Small Jobs
Apart from the obvious factor that it’s better to earn something than nothing when you’re starting out. You might think that taking on small projects that are paying $20 or $50 are a waste of your time, but they’re not. It’s all about building relationships. Almost every small job I’ve taken on has turned into a lasting relationship with those clients and thus turned into bigger projects, earning better money.
When your client is based on the other side of the world and has only met you once via Skype, trust is going to take time. But once you’ve earned it and built a great rapport (and provided your work is good) there’s no reason why they won’t keep coming back to you again and again.
Set Up a Payoneer Account
Being savvy with your money is so important as a digital nomad because there are many different obstacles you’ll face in terms of fees. There’s freelance platforms that take a cut of your cash plus their withdrawal fees, exchange rate fees and bank fees. These may seem so small they’re not worth worrying about but when you’re taking lots of little jobs to begin with, these fees make a massive difference.
The best advice I got from a fellow digital nomad was to set up a Payoneer account because they don’t charge a withdrawal fee and they also have a better exchange rate than Paypal and your local UK bank. To find out more on this, click here.
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What Happens if I Fail?
I viewed failure as not being able to make it as a digital nomad and having to return to the UK within 6 months.
But when you really think about it, is that so awful?
I quit my job to travel with the mentality that “So what if I fail and I last just 3 or 6 months?”
6 months is a long time and the fact that you’ve put yourself out there to see the world is incredible. It’s a huge personal achievement and something that you should be 100% proud of. Don’t view it as a failure, think of the places you’ve seen.
Home will ALWAYS be waiting for you.
The worst that’s going to happen is you’ll come home and you may have to crash at a friend’s place or your family home for a couple of months until you find your feet again. But that’s not the end of the world, right?
I’m too Old to Backpack
Age really isn’t important when you travel, I’ve met couples in their 40s and 50s and groups in their early twenties. As long as you’re curious about the world and open to meeting people in all walks of life then there’s no reason why you should question yourself.
Whilst living in Merida in Mexico, Adam and I became friends with our neighbours who were a fantastic older couple from South Africa. Over the course of an awesome evening drinking beers and salsa dancing at La Negrita, they told us how they were travelling the world whilst writing a book! Talk about living life to the max!
Similarly, in Tulum we got chatting to another couple in their 50s who after experiencing a death in the family decided life was too short, sold their home and have been travelling for the last 2 years. They described how they utilised Workaway to go on some incredible cruises around the Caribbean for free in return for working on the ship. Other times they’d volunteer at hostels in return for free accommodation.
It just goes to show, if you truly have the aspiration and desire to travel, there’s a way!
I Won’t Have Anything in Common With Anyone
The way to meet people who you feel you have a connection with, is by doing an activity you enjoy where you’ll meet like minded people and benefit from a shared interest.
This could be yoga, kite-surfing, scuba diving, going on an organised tour, or even a bar crawl.
Is it Safe Out There? Do I Have the Courage to do This?
In the run up to leaving London, my mum sent me newspaper clippings of nasty incidents or violent attacks in countries I was heading to. No joke.
My mum is totally right (of course! LOL). It’s not always safe but sometimes that doesn’t mean you should write off a place altogether. If you’re going to a country that you know is a bit volatile, plan your route, research where other backpackers have been and don’t take those overnight buses even though they are cheaper.
The key is to think ahead, don’t be foolish. This is especially so if you’re travelling solo.
Also, consider your appearance and what you intend to pack for your travels – if you have jewellery dripping off your arms, a designer bag on your shoulder (or even a fake designer bag), your phone in your hand, nice sunglasses on your head and your bag doesn’t have a zip, then you’re an easy target. Don’t be foolish! Leave that stuff at home!
I always carry my mini keychain personal alarm around with me for peace of mind. It’s so loud, I’m sure it’ll scare the living daylights out of any attacker!
It’s perfectly valid to have fears of the unknown, especially when you’ve also quit your job to travel, but if you act smart then you’ll be absolutely fine.
Reading to take the plunge? Here’s some useful tips on how to quit your job without burning bridges.
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