I love getting emails from people who want to quit their jobs and travel the world. They always ask me how to do it. But, sadly, there is no trick; you actually just have to quit and go for it. In the back of most people’s minds is what about money? What if I need to come home and can’t find a job? Am I wasting the degree I earned? Do you feel like you’ll be wasting your college degree? These are very valid and you should be sure that you’re ready to “leave it all behind” before you choose to run off for a couple years or even more.
Personally, the only way I feel I am “wasting” my degree is by not advancing it. I sometimes have mixed feelings about the path I chose in college, but had I stayed with a major I enjoyed, I wouldn’t be traveling the world (because of fate and all that).
Nursing was definitely not for me but because I did have scholarship help it wasn’t as tragic to quit my short-lived career. It’s still a big deal, but unlike some of my friends I’m not 80,000 dollars in debt. American University can be beyond expensive.
I almost wrote to you all it was a difficult decision, because I get so many e-mails from people struggling with the decision, but I have to be honest… for me it wasn’t difficult to leave the states and my career. I understand when people tell me they worked hard for four years, have debt to pay back, and they just feel like they can’t walk away from their chosen path… even if they hate it. I find it heartbreaking.
my coworkers at Carolina Medical Center
In my (probably naïve) opinion, we should all wake up each day enjoying where we are and what we are doing. I have friends at home that LOVE their jobs and I’m so happy for them; I wish I had found that in college. I knew years ago that travel was going to always be a big part of my life.
I wanted to be a spy… seriously. I was an international studies major at first, studying Arabic, African studies, Spanish, anything I thought would help. I was hoping that someone from the CIA would walk in the classroom asking me to go collect Intel in Saudi Arabia or something. I switched to nursing because I do have some practical bones in my body. In a way that’s why I am where I am today: I disliked nursing so much it was easy to quit my job. Now I’m writing this blog, which I have been warned will take a year to make any money, attempting to get clients for massage, and I’m trying to live off my very small savings account… but I am enjoying every minute of it.
Charlotte, NC skyline. A city a loved.. but a job I didn’t
If you really don’t enjoy your job, you want to change things up, or have always desired to travel: do it! If you’re old, travel before your joints start aching, your hearing goes, and you get all grumpy. If you’re young, travel before you get old. Maybe you’ll end up on a completely different career path after, maybe you’ll fall in love and never come home… or maybe you’ll come back and pick up right where you left off. No way is better than the other!
Is it ok that I tried to make Dixie Chick lyrics serious?
Bottom line (aka summary because I am rambling a little bit)
If you have a degree in your back pocket that cost a fortune you won’t use again…and you are unhappy… you have to move on. Stop worrying about the money or what other people will think. Life is too short. I’m already a third of the way through mine, assuming I make it to at least 70.
I have met MANY travelers that use online payment each month to pay off their school loans. I know it’s easier said that done, and I haven’t had to do it, but most Americans I meet traveling are paying their loans online, as well as many popular travel bloggers. You need to have money saved in order to start traveling, but it’s easy to save if you put your mind to it. Putting you mind to it is the key. If you find it hard to save up, maybe your first priority actually isn’t travel. You are going to have to calm your parents down when they freak out on you. If they paid for your schooling or helped you out, that can be a difficult conversation to have, trust me. My tuition and books were paid for with a scholarship at OSU, but my parents paid for all my bits and pieces like food and rent which really adds up over four years. Since I was working full time and had my parents help with expenses, I saved enough to go on three big backpacking trips abroad before grauation- I bet my parents are regretting that now! Sorry mom and dad.
It’s easy to walk into your boss’s office and say “I quit” but you have to understand what you’re doing. You are taking a risk that may end up with your broke-ass sleeping at your parent’s house in a year or two. Even I had a plan so that my degree wouldn’t “die”.
I wanted to travel right out of nursing school, but instead I did the responsible thing and worked a year to build a resume before I took off, which is what I recommend most people who e-mail me asking for advice on traveling after graduation. I got certifications on the side. After 3 months in India when I knew I wanted to live here, I went home and did a 3-month travel assignment in Seattle to save up and add more to my resume before shifting to India permanently.
I accept the fact I may not get to live this life forever. But man do I want to! Just in case, I keep my nursing license active so I have a back up plan. In the medical field, it’s hard to walk away for extended periods of time, as we lose critical skills, but with other jobs it can be easier. I don’t have the option to work as a nurse where I am now, but I would be killing it if I were into web developing, IT, hospitality, or had any kind of business degree in India.
You don’t even have to go far; maybe you want to move cities, states, or to a nearby country. Within your current job, maybe there are options to move abroad to a different branch. With travel nursing I could move every 6 weeks if I wanted to. Work visas are available in Australia and NZ for random work like secretaries and mechanics. You can even go there and get paid a ton of money to pick tomatoes!
Since I’ve quit my job as a nurse, I have become a Thai yoga masseuse and a blogger. I never in a million years saw either of those happening. I mean, I could see being a spy happening pretty vividly… but not this.
I have almost bought (as in rented because you can’t actually buy land here) two restaurants and a guesthouse with my boyfriend- still waiting on the perfect property- and have been asked to help start a taxi company, manage a restaurant, collaborate with a yoga studio, and start a daycare. I do have volunteer opportunities at local hospitals and orphanages, which I have yet to take because to be honest I’m a bit too wrapped up in other things. Point being, opportunities arise when you let them. Opportunities are everywhere! and now for my favorite quote that I’ve put up in another post:
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