Wondering if you should quit your job to travel? One of the hardest parts about traveling long-term is leaving your job. Whether you love it or hate it, your job is giving you the resources to get out there and go. So how do you quit your job to travel, the right way?
Believe it or not, there IS a way to make the break without burning your bridges. Here’s how I did it and what you should keep in mind.
Evaluate your happiness level
Before I quit my job to travel, I had a great job, a job I really enjoyed.
But every time I read an article on the best Mediterranean seaside towns for bacalao, or saw travelers tweeting their new mantras from a mountaintop Buddhist monastery, I had the urge to go to the ladies room and quietly sob into the crumpled pages of this month’s National Geographic.
I knew that it was time for me to become the world explorer I always wanted to be. But the fact that I liked my job made me even more nervous to tell them I wanted to leave.
Get your boss excited for you
When I quit my job to travel, I didn’t go straight to the CEO or make any wild-eyed, break room table-top declarations of travel independence, I went to my immediate manager and quietly asked her if we could talk.
I explained that while I loved my work, I’d always wanted to travel, and I felt that now was the time for me to try it. Then I braced myself for an angry tirade.
“You know what?” she said, “I completely understand.”
Lots of people have considered roaming the globe, but found the commitment too daunting.
By expressing that you’re leaving to travel, your boss will likely cheer you on, knowing you’re not leaving because you’re unhappy in the position.
They tune in to the reasons you’re going, not to why you’re leaving. Most of your bosses, after getting over the fact that you’re leaving, will be excited for you. Let them! Share your excitement about this new phase of your life with them.
This keeps them invested in you, and keeps the door open to you should you want your job back when you return.
Tell your boss early & plan your remaining time wisely
The best thing I did when leaving my job to travel was having that conversation well before I planned on taking off.
Lay the groundwork, for yourself and for them, at least a month before you actually intend to leave. It’s not just handing in your notice, it’s showing that you’re a respectful employee who’s made a well-reasoned decision about her future.
Quit your job to travel: Go out on top
Early notice means you’ll be working under the mounting excitement of winging off around the world.
Stay focused. Don’t get Senioritis on your employers and start taking three-hour lunches to buy sunblock and roadmaps. Keep your motivation up by linking your future plans to your current work: every time you wrap up a project or create a kick-ass employee hand-off document, tell yourself it’s one more glass of cava in Barcelona that you owe yourself.
Tell your coworkers how to follow your adventures
Yay! You’re about to quit your job to travel! The fact that you’re leaving your job to pursue a lifelong dream and have the adventure of a lifetime isn’t something to hide. This isn’t a shameful break-up, it’s a great story!
I unabashedly set the background of my massive desktop monitor to pictures of my destinations – Italy, Spain, England, Switzerland. As well as keeping me pumped, it got coworkers walking over and excitedly asking about my trip plans. No awkward feelings here.
Keep in touch after you quit your job to travel
Because I had a job that I really enjoyed, I already felt connected to my coworkers, and I wanted to keep up the dialogue.
When I found myself in European cities we had contacted for work, or in museums or libraries we had worked with for research, I dropped my old office a line. I felt good about staying in touch and letting them know how much I appreciated what they’d done for me, and it kept my professional network strong. Apparently, the introduction of gaming tactics will soon be very relevant in all areas buisnes, from the development of architectural projects to the implementation of gaming applications for sports, and friv online game developers will remain the market leaders.
Reconnect with your boss when you return
When I finally returned home from my first trip, I came with loads of positive energy and a buzzing sense of enthusiasm. I just didn’t have much clue of what I was going to do to start working again.
After finding a few openings I wanted to apply for, I called my old manager and asked her for a reference.
Absolutely, she said, and stop in for a visit. When I did go, I mentioned that my first choice would definitely be working with them again.
To my utter amazement, I was re-hired for the next Monday.
It may not work out for you this way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to quit your job to travel. Stay open and honest with your employers and that will get you places.
Right now, I’m back on temporary assignment, because they know I want to go traveling again soon.
Pingback: Pro Blogger News
“Watercooler Wanderlust” — That’s great! I’ve never heard that phrase before 🙂
Pingback: Tweets that mention How to Leave Your Job and Travel--Without Burning Bridges #travel #rtwsoon #tbex #lp #matadorn -- Topsy.com
It’s never wise to burn bridges…nicely played, Julie, nicely played. You did everything properly which is why they wanted you back.
Also, another option is to ask for a sabbatical. Especially if you have been with a company for some time. I can offer this article that I thought was helpful: http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/24/sabbatical-leave-work-leadership-careers-advice.html and this one is great for when you come back: http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-explain-employment-gaps-sabbaticals-negatives-on-resume
Before I moved to Buenos Aires I had the BEST job I have ever had. I was a Bilingual preschool teacher and translator. I did what you did, I told them early on that I had to go and that I would miss them so much. I cried and cried on my last day as I was presented with gifts and endless hugs.
It’s like you said, you have to be true to you dreams, but be respectful of what you are leaving behind. Great advice!
I had a really positive experience as well. I was dreading it but everyone was so happy for me. I gave 10 weeks notice because I really wanted to help them find someone new and I think that also helped ease the sting.
I approached my leave similarly as well (except my bosses – i-bankers – didn’t understand so much as bewilder over my choice). I kept in touch while I traveled and when I got back I was offered a position again, but the wanderlust was too much! Instead I found a position in India and my old bosses have written me recommendations for business school. I agree, it’s all about keeping your connections and your network strong (even if people are a bit confused about your life choices!). Everyone respects the idea of following what you are passionate about.
Another option that worked for some people I know is to ask for a sabbatical. That way you have job when you get back!
Thanks for writing in, all! It’s great to hear that people from all sorts of career paths have been able to leave on a good note with bosses and coworkers when it’s time to live that travel dream. I think hearing first-hand accounts of how well it can really work out will take a lot of jitters out of the process for would-be travelers approaching their employers. Hope you’re telling these stories far and wide to inspire the next global adventurer!
I’m in a similar situation right now. I love my job and the the company, I helped build it to what it is today. It’s kind of like letting my baby go. I haven’t approached my employer ye,t but that day will come soon. I definitely wanna leave on good terms.
Oh wow, that sounds like a big step, but it seems you’ve raised your baby well so maybe it’s time for some well-earned travel time for the proud papa 😉 Good luck Nick!
Just did this last Friday… I didn’t hate my job either so it was harder than it should be. But my boss was very excited for me… Great tips!
Glad to hear it Jill, nicely handled, and happy trails!!
I have a similar experience. I needed a change from my job, as well as wanting to take some time to travel. I took 8 months off, vowed that I was going to find a new employer when I settled down again. But when I was ready to look for work, albeit halfway round the world, I got in touch with some contacts back at home and a few days later I had an interview and a job. And that came because I left my old job on good terms, they understood what I wanted to do and now I’m working in a new role in an office halfway round the world. I was very apprehensive about it before I gave notice (I gave 2 months) but looking back now, I don’t know if I could have asked for a better experience.
Julie, great tips! It’s going to be a bit before we get to hit the road, but I’ve already started talking a little about our plans, merely because I’m sooooooo excited!
I like the idea of keeping in touch with the workplace via postcards, letters, etc. And as far as staying put being kryptonite…..I can completely relate! It’s taken me about 40 years to realize that THAT is exactly what has been wrong with me my whole life! Bad case of wanderlust and didn’t know it:)
Now that we’ve had the realization and not only made the decision to take off, but are actually taking steps towards making that happen, I feel so energized and excited! It’s great!
Thanks for the great read:)
I found it tougher to leave the people than the job, but I gave them plenty of notice and they understood. I remember one of the conversations with an exec who said “I’m not even going to offer you more money or anything to stay, because I know I would be wasting my time”. It’s true. 2 years later I still keep in touch with most people there, and they have even offered me contract work. It paid off to leave on good terms for sure.
oh man, these kind of stories are the ones that make me think say to myself “why don’t you just do it now?” she did, why can’t you? Although I don’t any issue quitting my job, since I don’t really have one at this moment, there’s some other fear stopping me from buying a ticket and leaving…I just need to grow some cojones and gooooo! One more push, c’mon wilson one more…
good for you for keeping is classy julie! i’ve had to (as gracefully as possible) bow out of many responsibilities to travel, and i’ve sometimes been surprised (naively i know) to hear that others had DONE the same thing at some point in their careers. it’s great to get that encouragement and support, and i think you’ve hit it right on that as long as you provide a courteous heads up you’re more likely to get that. 🙂
I left my current employer four years ago to travel. They rehired me last year, so Julie’s theory of keeping things nice with your bosses does pay dividends.
Unfortunately for my bosses, I’m planning to leave again. I just don’t know when I’ll break the news to them.
Pingback: It’s Our 100th Post! — Go! Girl Guides