How To Quit Your Job for 6+ Months of Travel
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Why I’m Quitting My Job
For just over 2 years, I have been living and working in Sydney, Australia for an American company that sells building materials as a territory sales manager. It’s a pretty good job that allows me to be outside an office, interact with interesting people and work my own schedule. The pay has been pretty great and allowed me to save upwards of $30,000/year while I’ve been living in Sydney after I was laid off from my job back in Chicago. During this time, I’ve been able to live in one of the most beach-friendly cities in the world with great weather. So who could ask for anything else!?
However, over the past 6 months I’ve begun to feel a bit of an itch for more. At this point I’ve basically got my job figured out to the point where it’s not challenging me anymore. Lauren and I are also far away from home and have been missing holidays and big events with friends and family. It sucks to miss events or have to buy $1000+ plane tickets and spend 24 hours traveling home. Part of our inspiration for making the move to Sydney was our desire to travel, and over the past year we’ve been spending more time in Sydney and not enough time seeing the world. Because we feel that the time is right to move on, we’ve decided to take a 6+ month “mini-retirement” to backpack around the world on our way back to the U.S.
You can read more about my journey in this interview with Jaime from Keep Thrifty.
What is a mini-retirement you ask? In Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek, he discusses taking mini-retirements throughout one’s life instead of saving it all for the end of the life when you may not have the energy or health to travel and live the way you would like. A mini-retirement is basically an extended leave of absence (anywhere from 3 months to 2+ years) from traditional work life in order to travel, start a new project or business, or simply spend your days away from an office.
So come May 2018, we will be leaving our cushy jobs, selling our possessions and moving out of our apartment. All to spend the next 6+ months living out of a single backpack while traveling through Asia and Europe, starting in Bali and finishing in London. The older I get the more I realize that life is short, and that the greatest risk of all is not taking chances when you had the opportunity.
How Is It Possible?
I’m sure you’re now asking how this is even possible. Spending 6 months traveling the world without a job. How could I possible afford it? What will I do with all that time? What about health insurance, packing everything I need and getting a job when I get home?! There are perfectly good answers to all of these questions, most of which are explained in this great book called Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. Traveling the world can be simple and affordable, and then finding a new job is usually the easiest part of assimilating back into society when you get home. For this post, I will focus primarily on the financials behind it all, but I encourage you to dig deeper if you’re interested in long-term travel.
Since we have lived in Sydney, I have had it in the back of my mind that we would be taking an extended trip like this and have planned our finances accordingly. From speaking with friends who have traveled extensively before, I have learned that as a general rule you can live on $1,500/month in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian areas, then on about $3,000/month in countries such as Japan, Italy, Germany and the rest of Europe. You can read more on how I saved money while living in Sydney, but we have saved up about $20,000 for our 6 month mini-retirement, which took me about 8 months to save.
Side Note: Need to send money overseas or exchange currency? Transferwise is my go-to service for sending money between accounts in different currencies. It’s the cheapest and most convenient method I’ve found, with fees at less than 1% of transfer value. Highly recommend them.
While we are on the road there are many methods you can follow to keep your travel and living costs down, but here are few of the most important ones:
- Be flexible with travel dates when you are flying and be willing to purchase tickets somewhat last minute. You can save hundreds of dollars on airfare which in Southeast Asia could be up to a week’s worth of living expenses.
- Stay in hostels or AirBnb’s as opposed to hotels. We will be staying in basic accommodation, sometimes in shared dorm rooms. Though we will occasionally splurge on a nice hotel for a night 🙂
- Eat local food away from tourist locations. In Asia, it’s possible to get a meal that costs between $1-$3 from local, non-tourist establishments
- Spend more time in cheap countries and less time in expensive ones. This means take your time traveling through Vietnam and Indonesia, but limit your time in Japan and South Korea.
- Volunteer with local organizations for free room and board, such as working on an eco-village in Indonesia or an olive farm in Italy through an organization such as Work Away.
It won’t always be comfortable and easy, but world travel is easily affordable if you can be creative and make some lifestyle changes.
Exploring temples in Asia back in 2015
Our Plan For 6 Months
In May 2018, we will spend 2 weeks traveling the west coast of Australia and then we will leave for Indonesia. Our rough travel plan is as follows, but we likely won’t visit all of these locations due to time constraints:
June/July/August: Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan
October/November/December: Germany, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, England
We don’t have any plan for how long we will be in each country as we would rather leave plenty of time to explore and soak in the culture at each destination. If we want to spend 3 weeks living in a beach hut in Indonesia then that’s what will do. Some countries might be added to the list and others might be removed, but that’s all part of the adventure!
While we are on the road, Lauren and I will both be working on opportunities to generate income while we are gone, which would slow the rate at which we spend our savings. I will be updating this blog throughout our journey with nontraditional financial advice from around the world, and Lauren will be running an online drop-shipping business through Shopify.
Is a Mini-Retirement Right For You?
Many of you reading this may be asking yourselves if a mini-retirement is right for you. My best advice would be that if sounds like something that you want to pursue then it is absolutely right for you! Homes can be sold or rented, apartment leases broken, new jobs found when you return and more money can be earned, but your time can never be replaced.
If you feel that you need a break from the routine of daily life then maybe a mini-retirement is just what you need. And if world travel isn’t for you, then you can also spend a mini-retirement at home with your kids, taking a long roadtrip around the U.S. or working in your home office on launching a new business. Mini-retirements are all about breaking away from life’s routine to pursue something new and interesting. I highly recommend reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and for tips on how to properly execute your mini-retirement strategy.
Have you been itching to take an extended trip or a break from your career? And how are you going about doing it? Leave a comment or send me an email!