While my story is similar to other travelers who quit their jobs to experience new landscapes, everyone has their own unique experience to share. Here is mine.
After growing up, going to school, and working my first job in Pennsylvania (USA), I decided it was time for a change. I moved to the capital, Washington, D.C. in hopes of experiencing more culture and to accelerate my career, seeking the elusive American dream. I was curious if it was true that money and moving up the ranks in corporate America would lead to “success,” a word for which I still have no good definition. While I gained invaluable experiences, I decided it wasn’t for me. Too stressful, often stifling creatively, and lacking in adventure. So I did what anyone in this situation would do, I moved to California. I packed up my convertible and drove cross country to the San Francisco Bay Area. While much more relaxed, exploding with innovation, and natural beauty abound, I still didn’t feel fulfilled there. Life was good, but I was bored and still felt something was missing.
One introspective day I decided that it was time to move again, but this time would be different. I hit my 10 year working anniversary as a software engineer and had no mortgage, no wife, no kids. I always thought it would be cool to make a loop around the world, and now was the perfect time to do it. Possibly even the last opportunity I would have to take some extended time to do whatever I wanted. My time would be entirely my own.
While I admire those who can do things on a whim, I am more of a planner. That’s not to say I don’t do things spontaneously or change my plans, but for me, I know what initial level of comfort and certainty I need in order to go out and experience that which is uncomfortable and uncertain. I knew I didn’t want to travel like a backpacker on a shoestring nor a cushy tourist, so I settled on something in the middle. I wanted to see if it was possible to travel on a budget of around $50-$100/day without having to sleep in dorms and eat only street food. It seemed like fancy hotels and organized tours or hostels and pasta were the only options for traveling, but that’s absolutely not true.
Where my story is a little bit different is that I didn’t just quit my job to travel for a year and relax or go sightseeing. I decided to use this time to do things I’ve wanted to do over the years but was never able to put enough energy into. I would split my time between domestic road trips around the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and New England, improving my health through streamlining my diet, exercise, and body mechanics, experimenting in minimalism including not having a permanent residence for 2 years, gaining knowledge through the wisdom of books and courses online, and international travel through Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. A true journey of the mind, body, and spirit that hopefully would lead to the exciting, sustainable lifestyle I was after. The jury is still out on that. And while some might see this as overambitious and dare I say “work,” I find all of these things fundamental to being happy and fulfilled. I also find them fun. Or I find a way to make them fun.
To be able to have complete freedom of your time and location is amazing. Being able to see the world and truly appreciate what you have is transformational. My time off has been such an inspiration that I wanted to share my story and discoveries to hopefully encourage you to get out there and do the same if you haven’t already. To conquer your fears and misconceptions of the world and see it as it actually is, not according to TV, Internet, or those who have not experienced it for themselves. After over a decade traveling abroad, I have finally found a travel style that is affordable, off the beaten path, adventure mixed with relaxation, and comfortable enough for me. The experiments in lifestyle have been incredible. Perhaps some of you will find this blog useful for your own adventures.
So mine is a not a story of being miserable, but a story of wanting more. To foster my childlike curiosity and excitement to explore. To get closer towards my own enlightenment and create a new lifestyle that would take me to the next level in my life.