It didn’t happen overnight. That’s for sure.
It’s not like I woke up one morning and just called it quits. Well, actually, it was kind of like that. I woke up one dreary morning, and as I was forcing myself to get up, I caught something painted on the ceiling — my future. Of course it wasn’t real. Of course I imagined it. But as I lay in my bed looking at the big white canvass above me, I began to realize that this was not the life I wanted to paint. I just could no longer beat my alarm clock and wait for it to ring just because I dreaded to wrap myself in another business attire and do the whole 8-5 routine.
It’s not that I hated my job. I loved it. It’s just that I didn’t want it to be the only thing I did. I loved traveling a little bit more. And since I couldn’t do both at the same time, I had to choose. That morning I chose to quit my job.
But not so fast. If I was going to do it, I would have to do it right.
I never planned to be a travel blogger. If my college self would see me now, he’d be like, “What the hell are you doing with your life? There’s an effin’ career ladder in front of you, effin’ climb it!”
My whole love affair with plane tickets and seat sales started in 2007. My grandfather passed away, and I had to fly to Puerto Princesa to attend his funeral. In the middle of mourning, I could not help but be blown away by the sheer natural beauty of the place. On my flight back to Manila, I promised myself that I would return, and this time enjoy it. A couple of years later, I was able to do just that.
I began going on weekend getaways more frequently. Work hard on weekdays, travel harder on weekends. I was happy to be trapped in that clockwork. The more places I set foot on for work, the more I was inspired to work harder, save bigger, and eventually go farther. But as my destinations became brighter, my corporate job appeared and felt bleaker. And it led to that morning in 2010 when I just found myself staring at the ceiling.
Some people — braver people — would just file their resignation right away. But I wasn’t one of ’em brave people. There was so much at stake, so it needed some careful planning. It took a long time, but the wait was worth it when I was finally ready.
Here’s the process that I went through to quit my job, presented through the questions I asked myself and what I did to address them.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. Is traveling really what you want?
Passion has become a buzz word since I hit mid-twenties. I always hear it in interviews, speeches, and even random conversations with friends. Is this your passion? What are you passionate about? Funny enough, they were the first questions I asked myself. I needed to be sure if it was really the life that I would want to lead. Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life?
For the rest of my life? Not sure about that. But travel was what I enjoyed immensely. It was definitely what I wanted then, and it is still what I want now. I knew that it was something I could do for a long, long time. It didn’t matter to me if it was something I could commit to for a lifetime. What mattered to me was this: I wasn’t happy then, and I needed something to change.
My point is — If you’re not happy, do something about it. If you need something to change, change something. Don’t wait for things to happen for you, make them. Even if it takes time. Even if entails big changes. Don’t fear change. Change is life. You’ll never “live” life if you keep avoiding it.
2. If you quit your job, how will you support yourself?
Of course, you need to work, one way or another. You can’t just buy a plane ticket and beg for money when you’re there. (You could do that actually, but come on.) If your target destinations are those requiring visas, then you’re screwed if you’re unemployed. Thing is, there are so many opportunities out there. SO MANY. You just have to look.
What are your skills? Can you write? Can you take good pictures? Can you do graphics? Can you develop websites? Are you up for virtual assistant-kind of jobs? There are thousands of jobs online, and if you’re patient you can make it a steady source of income.
Why online? Because it is location-independent. You can work from anywhere, and you can start even before you quit your job. Try to do it in the evening or on the weekends, and see if you’re fine with that kind of set up. After all, that’s how it usually turns out on the road most of the time. You travel during the day and work at night, preferably with a bottle of beer in one hand. Haha.
There are other opportunities on the road. I have met a lot of travelers who teach English when they travel. Some work at farms in exchange of food and lodging. SoloFlightEd worked as a waiter at a resort in Malaysia for a couple of months to get by. What’s that old saying? Aaah, if there’s a will, there’s a way.
3. Are you willing to sacrifice?
Was I sure that this would turn out all shining, shimmering, splendid for me? Hell, no. If anything, I was quite sure I would have to give up a lot of things. Think about it. Trading a full-time career with travel is going to leave you with tectonic adjustments. Can you picture yourself surviving a lower-paying or inconsistent job?
You might be asking: if I give up my job, how am I going to afford travel? The answer, sacrifice. Many people think traveling is expensive. Well, it is expensive. Relatively. But it is NOT as expensive as others say it is.
The biggest financial boulder is always the plane tickets. But even that is not that big of a problem anymore. SEAT SALES ARE REAL. Trust me. Almost all the tickets I use I get from seat sales. You just have to know how to do it. Here’s how —> How to Book CHEAP Fares.
Once you make it past the airports, it’s a lot easier. Hostels over hotels. Street food stalls over restaurants. Buses over planes. Backpacking over prearranged tours. You’ll be surprised how inexpensive it is to travel.
Still, it demands that you give up a part of your lifestyle. For example:
If you’re the type who needs to have a cup of Starbucks coffee each morning, you’ll see how much more you’re gonna save if you ditch the habit. And you will pick up many lessons like this along the way.
But money isn’t the only problem. Relationships will be affected. Are you prepared to spend a lot less time with your loved ones? Are THEY prepared, too? Are you supporting your family? Are you in a committed relationship? Make sure they understand.
4. Do you have a Plan B?
Let’s say, it doesn’t work out for you. What are you gonna do?
This is why you shouldn’t burn bridges. Close them, but not burn. In the off chance that travel isn’t for you, at least it is easy to reconnect with the life you abandoned, hopefully this time with a different perspective.
In my case, I made sure that before I quit, I was confident that it would be easy for me to find work even if I go freelance. I did my best to excel in my full-time job, enough to be noticed by potential clients. I made sure I had a powerful body of work, an impressive portfolio.
I hated working full time then, but I did not hate my job. I loved marketing. I loved what I was doing. Travel is my greatest romance, but marketing is my first love. I kept in touch with my marketing roots even on the road. And they are both very rewarding.
5. No question: Just do it!
If you think you’re ready, then what are you waiting for? If you’re in your mid-20s like me, what’s stopping you? You’re young, not many responsibilities, not much to lose. There is no better time.
Quit it, and book a ticket to somewhere awesome!
Again, this is how I did it. I do not intend that you follow this, but only to offer a peek at the process I had gone through. Other travelers did it differently. Many of them just jumped into it blindly. That’s great, you know, if you think it’s for you. It’s just that the semi-obsessive-compulsive in me just had to plan the whole thing. And that’s okay too.
At the end of the day, all travelers want the same thing — to fly. I wanted my spirit to soar but not by climbing an imaginary career ladder; I want a real mountain, a real summit, a real adventure around the world. Far beyond the pigeonhole that was my office. With a much wider view than from the top of that fuckin’ imaginary ladder.
Maybe one day I’ll be back. I sometimes miss my corporate life terribly, to be honest. Maybe. One day.
But for now, I think I’m staying outside, where I could wake up and see not a blank ceiling but wild clouds chasing the blues away. It’s always a great sight.