5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job and Travel the World

by Alexander Heyne · 100 comments

set-up-a-life

I’ve recently run into a lot of people who have quit their job to travel around the world. 

And most of the time, after talking with them, I end up feeling like they’ve made a big mistake.

You see, I haven’t met a single person who has used that time wisely to “figure out” their life. Does quitting their job solve the problem of work? of purpose? of meaning? long-term does it help? Does it make you feel like your time is worthwhile?

This may seem pretty interesting seeing as I’m on the tail-end of a 2 month travel trip, where I’m headed back to “reality” - but it upsets me that many travelers who had enough insight not to stay stuck in their life STILL ended up stuck in another life, just somewhere else.

Fantastic, you quit your job and are traveling the world.. Many of them (assuming they don’t go back home after a short period) go right back to the reality they left in the first place, just a few years later.

That’s great if you just want a few year break from the 9 to 5 lifestyle. But what about those of you who want a very different longterm lifestyle?

In the start, I envied these people. “Damn, escape your life for a bit, go off on an adventure and do something fresh and exciting.” Problem is, after covering about ¼ of the world myself and meeting hundreds of people on the way, I noticed that 90% did what they did for one of two reasons: They hated their job/life, or they just ended a long-term relationship and needed a fresh start.

Although there’s nothing wrong with that, we naively assume that these things are going to make us happier long term. The truth is they won’t.

The truth is that you’re avoiding reality and not solving any problems.  The truth is that almost every single person I’ve met traveling long-term hasn’t figured shit out about life and how to have a more meaningful and enjoyable existence once they go back to “reality.”

I’m all for saying “fuck it” and quitting your job and traveling the world – don’t get me wrong. I’ve done it before  - more than once.

The problem is that most of us don’t just want world travel or adventure – we want many other things like a job we love, the feeling that time spent has been worthwhile, and an exciting, not-at-all-mediocre life. Your problems or gripes with society aren’t magically going to disappear because you did.

Here are the biggest problems that the “quit your job and travel the world” thing doesn’t solve:

#1 Long-term thinking your life and time has been worthwhile

For a short time you’ll be thinking “Sweeeet! I’m using my time so wisely now, seeing the world, investing in experiences not stuff, and then it’ll slowly start to fade. You’ll be traveling just to be traveling and you may get listless.  What at first was a beautiful escape and immensely wise use of time has now become drudgery. You want more. Something is still missing. 

What was “missing” from your ordinary life is also going to still be missing from your travels because you’ve chosen to address symptoms and not the core discontent that bothers you.

When I first “quit my life” and started traveling, I didn’t like a lot of things. I hated my job (like everyone else), I wanted to find more purpose and meaning in life, I needed new friends, and I just didn’t want to be living a mediocre life anymore. I wanted stories to tell. I wanted adventures.

“Life is too short to be spent in a cubicle” I told myself.

… But guess what?  When I traveled did I get any closer to figuring out what kind of job I liked? Nope.

Did I figure out how to create more meaning in my life? Nope.

That’s because you need to start trying things out – it doesn’t matter where you are. Sitting in an ashram in india meditating is not going to materialize your dream job in front of you.

Finally, after the second or third time “quitting my life” the travels were no longer very happy for me. The individual days were fun and exciting, seeing new stuff, meeting new people, going on adventures, but that listlessness was finding me again.

“I still really want to live a meaningful life,” I told myself.  And that’s when I started thinking and testing.

#2 Purpose and meaning

One of the problems for me was that after traveling so much just for the sake of traveling I ended up not having a background story. Like in life, if there’s no plot to your story, events are just noise without a place.

Most of us quit our jobs in the first place coming from a purpose standpoint – our work sucked and felt meaningless. It felt like there were 532,234,123 other things I wanted to do than work just for the sake of existing and paying my rent.

But you don’t magically find purpose and meaning by traveling. You find it by doing shit. You find it by trying new things. You find it by cultivating relationships with friends and family or love with your spouse. You find it by creating some mission that is important to you and meaningful.

You find it by producing and not consuming.

If there’s one single trend I see more common than any other in long-term travelers, it’s this: their days seem to be used wisely and they have tons of stories and life experiences, but beyond all these events there is no undercurrent of meaning. They still feel just as lost as they did in their corporate jobs, just with new, fresh surroundings.

They’ve got stories to tell, but they still haven’t figured shit out about life. I’m not saying I have – but if you want purpose and meaning, start figuring out what gives your life meaning and purpose…. right now. If you want to do that on your travels, then do it there. You can do it sitting in your cubicle or sitting on a beach in Bali.

But you need to say to yourself “I want more meaning in my life, and I’m going to start sitting down, thinking, and testing, to see what things give my life meaning.”

#3 Happiness

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the hardest years of my life, it’s this: you sure as hell can’t go looking for happiness.

It’s just contrary to the nature of happiness. Like success, the more you pursue happiness, the madder you become and the futher you get. Rather, it’s a natural side effect of doing things right. Traveling will not bring you happiness long-term, nope, no way.

There are even myriad studies to show that although people’s happiness peaks before/during a trip, after the return it returns to the pre-trip levels. It’s fleeting. Days are more important than events.

Happiness does not come from single events.

Happiness does not come from leaving your ordinary life behind.

Happiness does not come from avoiding your problems.

You may lie to yourself and believe all of these things to be true, but I can tell you first hand: I’ve “ditched” reality many times, and every single time I came back to the same exact problems.

Take the trip for the sake of excitement and adventure – but don’t travel thinking that “quitting your job and traveling the world” magically makes you superior to cubicle dwellers or your back-home friends.

You’re on a temporary opiate high.

#4 Balancing adventure and reality

One of the finest arts in life is learning how to balance adventure and reality – in other words, how to incorporate adventure into your daily life. How not to come off the travel high and return back to reality. How to have your reality constantly leave you in such a state of excitement and adventure.

How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world? 

Unless you’re the rare couple who plans to globetrot nonstop for life, I assume most of us want a family and some sort of mostly-in-one-place existence.

…Which means that there is going to have to be some balancing of income (work) and adventure (to stay sane).

If your lifestyle requires you to be self employed, are you working on that while you’re traveling, or are you just saying you’ll get your shit together when the time comes?

Have you actually sat down to think about how to make your life awesome even though you’re living in one place?

It’s easy for us 20 somethings to say our life is awesome – many of us are untethered and can move across the world in search of freshness and excitement. And it’ll work.  But most of us won’t end up doing that forever. So what happens when you go back. Have you thought about that?

The art is not in creating adventure and meaning while on an adventure. That’s easy, anyone can do it. The art is creating an insanely meaningful and exciting life while living your day to day life.

#5 Finding enjoyment in daily life and finding or creating work you love

Time and time again I meet people 5, 10, 15 years older than myself that have temporarily dipped out from American society while they figure their shit out.

And it’s immediately apparently after talking with them for 5 minutes that they haven’t figured anything out.  And that’s pretty upsetting… I mean, great, you quit a job you hated. That’s definitely good. But what now? Do you guys really want to teach English or teach in an international school forever? If that’s what you truly love, fine. But if you’re doing it because the pay is good and you can travel and have a better lifestyle for a couple years, what’s next?

Wherever you are, have you actually thought about what makes life meaningful?

Have you actually thought about your “ideal” way to work and have fun?

Have you actually thought about your ideal lifestyle?

These things don’t just come as magical realizations while you’re meditating in some ashram in India.

And I hate to see so many people who start with good intentions – quit the job and find yourself – only to be lost in travel buzz drifting from place to place saying, “I’m taking it one day at a time”  while failing to really meditate on life.

They fall in with the other hostelling people and mostly end up partying and lounging around, thinking they’ll go back with some great stories and a restored sense of purpose and understanding of the world. Uhhh…right.

Clearly that’s not the case, as I meet more and more people I am repeatedly reminded that many travelers seem to have a superiority complex, but in reality they haven’t figured out much.

The truth about quitting your job to travel the world

At first I truly envied these people.

I couldn’t wait to quit my job and travel.

I couldn’t wait to regain a life of excitement, full of stories and wise use of time.

And then in 2010 I started doing it, and I started getting bored.  I got bored of just traveling just for traveling. There was always some reality I had to come back to that needed changing and fixing, regardless of the travels. It was putting a damper on my life.

Big questions for me like purpose and meaningful work never magically appeared upon my plate. And that’s when I realized these people were stuck in one phase just above (but not far above) seeing through the way most of us lead our lives.

They hadn’t figured out anything about the rat race. They had merely been avoiding it for the time being – but to truly see through it requires living it in a more evolved way.

The step they took wasn’t much better than what most of us fear the most – getting stuck working to pay the bills and just existing on our plot of land. They were also stuck in another reality.

It’s like meeting many location independent bloggers – Great, you’re the 400th person I’ve met who quit their job to travel.  And when I ask “so what’re you up to, what have you figured out about life?” I rarely get an answer from someone who has truly sat down, thought, and produced a wise response.

So here’s my advice: take those trips, travel for a year, or two years, or three, or forever. Live abroad. But know that  it will not solve a single problem in your life. 

If you can honestly tell yourself you’re doing it in the spirit of adventure and excitement, you’ll get the most out of it.

Many of us delude ourselves into thinking quitting and traveling is a panacea, when in reality it’s just another pill for the symptoms. It won’t solve the problems of finding meaning, being happy, feeling your time has been worthwhile, balancing adventure and reality, or finding work you love.

In this era where quitting and traveling is the cool thing to do – ask yourself, are you doing it just to escape or will it actually bring you closer to where you want to be?

And then the most important question of all:

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin

Update: The point in me writing this post is to illustrate that travel is not a panacea. I meet many many lost people on my travels and a very high percentage of them use travel as an opiate.  They avoid asking themselves the hard questions in life, and would rather get fucked up 4 nights a week than confront the reality of what it would take to improve their life.

Travel won’t help you fix deep personality flaws, or learn how to find work you love, although it may help put some pieces together. It isn’t a magic bullet that will solve all your problems. 20 somethings, in particular, are experts at running away.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t travel. I’m not saying to stop taking vacation. I’m not saying to avoid long-term trips.Do all of those things. Travel as much as possible in your life, and if you can, create a lifestyle where you can travel whenever you want.  But if you have big questions in life, god questions, questions about reality, happiness, purpose, meaning, finding work you love, being a better spouse — you can only answer them right now, wherever you are.

Image: Ben Beiske

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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Shayna August 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Great, insightful post, Alex. I liked this line:

“These things don’t just come as magical realizations while you’re meditating in some ashram in India.”

…and would continue the thought with two things:

1) The realizations often come when you’re out there TRYING stuff, experimenting with various activities, until you hit one (or more) that really makes you come alive. You can experiment with various jobs and types of work by doing volunteer work, internships, job shadowing, talking to people who actually live that way, etc.

I’m a scientist at heart, so the way I test my theories/ideas is by putting them in practice. If they don’t work (“oh… the day-to-day of this job isn’t nearly as fulfilling as I’d imagined it to be”) then I revise my ideas and try a different “experiment.” It’s sad to hear about so many travelers stuck in the party scene or in a holding pattern; like you said, it doesn’t solve the root problems.

2) One’s definition of “ideal” lifestyle and fulfilling work may change over the years – and that’s okay. You’re not giving up or selling out if what used to be “ideal” for you eventually loses its luster and you move on to something else, even if that something else appears somehow less adventurous in a conventional sense.

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afheyne August 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

Hey Shayna,

#1 I totally agree. I’m guilty of not realizing this until recently – for a lot of years I thought intellectually about stuff and about finding enjoyment or jobs I loved, but the foolproof and fail proof way to do it is, like you said, just TRY stuff.

I too am a scientist at heart (Bio major), so I have to really test things out a ton before I am comfortable talking about them.

#2 Yeah I hear you. For example when you’re single traveling the world maybe you’re definition of exciting is the full-moon party in thailand, but once you’re traveling with your spouse you may crave a quieter sort of pleasure. I agree it can at first be misleading because we may be thinking “Oh god i’m getting old and boring..” when in reality those priorities have just changed.

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Shanna Mann August 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

OMG, I want EVERYONE in the lifestyle design sphere to read this. Seriously, seriously read it.

Because no one is saying, “Don’t be silly, stay home in your stable job.” We’re just saying, “Don’t be a child. Manage your fucking expectations.”

I don’t say shit about shit when people tell me they need to “prove they’re BAMFs” because having taken that particular trip to hell and back, there’s no way to teach what you learn, crossing your limits and (hopefully) not killing yourself in the process. It’s still dangerous and probably a little unnecessary, but it’s their choice to make.

However, if they think becoming BAMFs is going to make all their problems evaporate, I have to laugh. And that’s pretty much what I do when ever someone tells me they’re taking a year off to “find themselves”. Where’s Waldo?

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afheyne August 9, 2012 at 10:57 am

Hahah thanks Shanna –

Yeaaa people always tend to be a bit polarized. Younger 20 somethings like me tend to get off when they say “Yeahhh fuck reality I’m outta here!” There’s still that youthful rebelliousness, nothing wrong with it, but it just doesn’t solve much. Most people get that immediately superiority complex too, as if they’ve magically figured it all out by traveling. Meanwhile they’re still teaching English in Asia and are no closer to enjoying their life than they were before. They merely jumped their problems for now.

Yeah, having done the year off to find myself, I will be pretty wary myself when people mention they want to – we’ll need a good life talk first.

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rob July 3, 2013 at 5:55 am

what the hell does BAMF mean? over use of acronyms is my pet peeve.

Mike August 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

#5 really resonates with me. It sounds so easy but I think it is really difficult for almost all of us.

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afheyne August 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Yeah Mike it DOES sound easy. Believe me I said the same thing. 2 years later I still haven’t achieved it, so it’s definitely not easy. It’s deceptively difficult, there are so many small things that can go wrong and there are so many potential factors working against you. But worthwhile? Absolutely.

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Benny August 12, 2012 at 12:08 am

Damn Alex, you spoke exactly how I felt. I wish I read this back when I was in Taipei. I left to get away and hoping to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When i came back from living overseas for two years, I came back to the same reality. I thought being away would give me all the answers in my life. It didn’t. I had fun there, but in my free time I wasn’t actively trying to start anything. I would come home, watch TV, and get on the computer. I was just hoping the answer would appear like magic. I kept thinking I didn’t want to go back to the restaurant. No way did I want to. Yet when I came back, I had to go back cause I had a mortgage.

If I knew then what I did now, I would have read a ton of books, tried any kind of business, and been more productive with my free time. I thought going away would do all that for me.

Great post!!

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afheyne August 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Haha Benny I hear that. I definitely did the EXACT same when I went to Beijing. “I don’t want to go back to how it was before.. no friggin way..” Yep, the exact same as me.

Hey man at least you’ve figured it out now — your conclusion is the same as mine– read a ton, try to start a business, and use free time wisely. Those are all really hard to do for most people too! So even if you have it figured out it’s such a small piece.. some days it can be overwhelming. But like you I can’t see myself doing anything else, and I have some big lifestyle changes that need to occur.

Hey well 35 is better than never. I am 100% sure that in 5 years you’re going to be living a lifestyle that is the envy of just about everyone. And most people live to 80 and never will see the same lifestyle you have.. so that’s quite a blessing you’ve got on ya !

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Cia October 24, 2012 at 4:03 am

So what’s the answer? I mean, there has to be more to life than this. I hate my job. I mean, I constantly feel bored and listless, I take a long lunch break just to escape, I think endlessly about my 20s slipping away. Isn’t it better to travel, have adventure in your life, meet people and yeah, you come back to the same reality (if you come back), but at least you have some great times to reflect on?

And ok, you might not find the ‘answer’ to all your problems, but don’t you gain perspective on some things?

Alls I can tell is, if I keep working this way and watching my days go by, I might as well be dead.

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Alexander Heyne October 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Hey Cia –

This was just food for thought. I don’t think there is really any “right” answer – I personally HAVE Quit my job to travel the world. Did it solve my problems? No. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. I mean think about how most people spend their time – years elapse and they don’t have much more “living” to show for it. Obviously this changes when a person is older – when you have a family and kids, it’s more important to be in one place and you can’t escape quite as easily.

Despite my 5 reasons not to quit and travel the world, sometimes moving abroad or going on a long-term adventure really can be the kickstart most of us need to get inspired and motivated to make some changes again.

Yep! I agree 100% – it IS bettter to travel (even if you come back to the same reality) and have more adventures and more experiences, revelations, about life.

You will absolutely gain perspective too!

My point is just that a lot of people in this “lifestyle” niche seem to be quitting their jobs to travel. It makes a good story. and it makes people jealous. But it doesn’t solve anything.

I say go for it, I always recommend people to drop it all and go, but at the same time carry the understanding of what will and won’t change.

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Paulina Popovskaia December 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best in “Self-Reliance”: The person who travels “with the hope of finding [something] greater than he knows . . . travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things.”

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Alexander Heyne December 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Paulina – Awesome quote, Emerson is one of my favorite writers and philosophers ever. I will have to steal this quote.

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Mark Cameron February 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Thankyou for taking the time to write this article. I have lately been thinking along exactly the same lines as you describe; i.e “I need to get out of here, leave this mundane reality and irksome existence etc….”, and I guess I have had a misguided notion for a while that if I can only escape this reality, if I can only be ‘somewhere else’ (wherever that is!) then I’ll find some sort of deeper meaning, and all my problems will miraculously be solved. Obviously I am intelligent enough to realise the naivety in this , but I think your article was what I needed to reafirm this, and it has really made me question what I actually want going forward. I guess what I’m trying to say is Thankyou!

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Alexander Heyne February 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Hi Mark!

Look — it’s worth it just for the sake of traveling and life experience. But I made the mistake that it would solve my problems — it can’t. There’s no way haha, because we’re running away.

Yeah the irony is that we all realize how naive it is, but still it pulls at us. It’s an emotional pull that can be hard to fight. Bottom line? Do it — but don’t expect it to solve the bulk of your problems. I made the mistake, so I can tell you first hand. But there are hundreds of reasons to quit your job and travel — happiness, meaning, loving your job, etc. are not some of them. All just my experience, for whatever it’s worth!

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Rather B Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 6:14 am

Wow what a great article and I appreciate the spirit in which it was written to prod us into better judgement and sounder thinking than rather just to burst the self infatuated bubble of the “I am a traveller not a tourist crowd” (which of course is quite an agreeable task). I have been traveling for six months after selling up shop, quitting my job and deciding with my fiancée to see the world and escape the grind. And the first 5 months was great traveling, learning about places, meeting people, experiencing cultures and eating great food. However the things I worried about, what should I do with my life? Should I get get qualified in this or that area? Should I go back to uni? Should I try this or that company? All the anxiety has come flooding back despite eating scorpions, climbing mountains and talking Mandarin has done F$&k all to stop my anxiety about work and my career. I still feel like I have underachieved, like I could have studied harder or, and worse still, that I was doing quite well in my last company and might have been line for a promotion but maybe i left for an escapist fantasy. I thought that traveling getting gigs in pubs and English “teaching” jobs with little responsibility and using that to propel us to our next destination would make us happy but it really has not. I did a Skype interview I just thought what am I doing, I never wanted to teach little children English is it really worth it for the experience of paying bills in a foreign country.

The buzz of travel does not last forever. It becomes a bit same old same old find a hostel, do laundry see the sights, eat the local thing and take lots of pictures. My supervisor at Uni before I left said that should not go traveling long term as, and I paraphrasing, when you travel in some else’s country you are just a voyeur and you can’t be a voyeur forever you need to build your own life and make a contribution…I think there is some truth in that. I do not regret coming as I would always wondered what it would be like to travel otherwise and I have had a great time but maybe it is time to cut my losses and go home (but feel like a failure to my friends and family).

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Alexander Heyne February 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Hey there –

Yep, quitting your job and traveling is a short-term fix. It’s fine — but like you said, those things we avoid in the first place come back to haunt us anyway.

Exactly “You can’t be a voyeur forever.” You DO need to start figuring out how to contribute (in my experience it’s one of the main ways to live a meaningful life). Traveling indefinitely doesn’t stay fun forever… like my last trip I spent 3 months traveling and found myself pretty restless. I wanted instead to have a daily ritual doing stuff I loved. I wanted to live in a cool spot and have a close group of friends, do work that was important, and then do trips sporadically throughout the year.

What do you mean “cut your losses?” You haven’t lost anything though. You’ve gained immensely. And you learned that long-term travel (at least for you) is not the way to a meaningful life. It’s fun to do at least once.

The real question then is this: What was the long-term trip missing? In other words, what about it wasn’t giving you the life satisfaction you want?

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kelly March 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I have been travelling, on and off, for 9 years now. I have to disagree with this article – I first travelled to cure a broken heart (obviously the cliche!) but in my first year, I did learn how to be happy again.

I’ve learned how to experience life, what to value (people, not stuff), and how any stage of my life is just temporary. I travel for a time, then stay stable for a time, then travel again. It makes me blissfully happy.

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Alexander Heyne March 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

Hey kelly -

Thanks for stopping by. What I meant re: happiness is that traveling won’t teach you how to be happy in one place. It’s easy to be happy traveling – seeing a new place all the time, meeting new people, having a new adventure, it’s fresh.

It’s much, much harder to be happy living in one place though – which for many people, results in either over-drinking or over-working to help compensate for that subtle boredom.

Any thoughts on this?

Best,
Alex

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Kelly March 12, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I reject the idea that you need to stay in one place. Why do we think we need to? Why do people think travel is temporary/transitory, instead of a way of life?

If you are stuck in a place for a time (years, even) then there’s so much you can do to alleviate boredom. New activities, new classes, new friends. Get an ‘easy’ job if you have bills to pay and spend your free time doing what you love.

(I’m not one for big houses or material possessions – it’s amazing how little money you truly need.)

Anyway, this is how I live my life. Even if I do have children soon, and assume they need to stay in school for, hmmm, 4-5 years at a time (before changing/moving), 5 years is not so long in the grand scheme of life.

That’s what I have learned from travel. :) That the expectation to settle down and be stable, well, we don’t actually have to DO that.

Lynne April 25, 2013 at 1:36 am

I agree with Kelly. This article makes it sound like you should second-guess yourself if you’re feeling like traveling. There is so much pressure on young adults to grow up and be responsible. I agree that traveling doesn’t solve all your problems, but let’s let people try things once and awhile, make mistakes. You gain confidence from making mistakes. Sometimes a trip is just what you need to inspire yourself to make other changes. Or not. Everyone is different and figure what you need.

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Alexander Heyne April 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Hi Lynne,

My point was not to not travel. This article was written for the myriad folks who think that quitting their job to travel the world will solve all their problems.

Go travel, and do it as much as possible. But don’t think it will solve all of life’s problems you know?

I travel several months of the year. I love traveling and think it’s one of the best investments for your money. But there’s this trend recently of people glorifying quitting your job to travel (i’ve done it, twice). But what next? If you hated your job, how is traveling going to help you get one you love? If you were in a bad relationship, how is traveling going to help you improve it (if you decide to stay in it)?

I think it’s human psychology to want to run away, instead of confront and fix things.

Does that help at all?

– Alex

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Gary May 6, 2013 at 9:42 am

This is a very interesting article and one that I think is very relevant for 20 somethings. I’m 43 years old and am one of the few in my peer group who’s been able to make ongoing periodic travel a part of my lifestyle rather than simply something I did in my 20′s. I’m happy for people who travel in their 20′s but I’m REALLY impressed by those who do it in their 30′s and 40′s and beyond.

And really, it’s not about travel exclusively, it’s about creating a business or career whereby you have the -freedom- to control your schedule. If you have THAT, then you can use it as you see fit; travel, raise kids, etc.

I’m self employed and highly suggest the freelance/ self-employed route for those who want to create a freedom-rich lifestyle.

Also re the issue of having kids, I know it’s what most people do but I just want to submit that it’s in no way something you -must- do. Not having small kids in the house, and being able to enjoy other people’s kids, is quite satisfying for me.

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Alexander Heyne May 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Hey Gary,

Totally with you – It’s easy to travel un-tethered in your 20s. The people who can maintain that (esp. with kids) are impressive. I think most often it’s the self employed.

+1 to the career/business where you have taht freedom and flexibility. And it’s more than just travel, like you said it gives you the freedom in raising your kids, traveling, taking back your time, and ultimately taking back your life.

I’m also working on the self employment route for that same reason.

Re: kids, I’m 26 so that’s in the back of my mind, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Although I like your idea of being able to enjoy other people’s kids, I don’t like thinking about the lack of family (& family gatherings) in the future. Haven’t hacked that part of my life yet haha.

Thanks for stopping by !

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Albert May 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I have to say, as someone who sits in a cubicle all day and sometimes dreams about traveling the world, I’m sick of people talking down about the idea. I’ve lived in 1 city for 90% of my life and have only traveled outside of the USA twice. Traveling might not solve problems, but it is a rare opportunity… not many people have the balls to do it. If life seems meaningless now, then why the hell not travel? It’s time well spent. What do you really have to lose? We’re all going to kick the bucket some day. Will you be more or less disappointed that you didn’t slave away in some office? And what exactly is wrong with teaching English overseas? IMO teaching contributes 10x more to the world than counting money for the man. Probably a better investment than grad school and for half the money!

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Alexander Heyne May 8, 2013 at 12:04 am

Hey Albert,

My point here was not to tell you to NOT travel. I travel 3 months a year. I suspect that will never change and I will do that for the rest of my life. It’s one of the best investments for my money, in my opinion.

My point is that, if your life is in shambles, travel is great – although it won’t solve your own personal issues.

Nothing wrong with teaching English at all. This post was mostly written for the people that have been abroad teaching English but still aren’t getting the life they want.

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goodyourjourney June 17, 2014 at 9:52 pm

What is life? You are way too hung up on finding this ultimate answer, have you tried walking to the mountain top and asking the old guy with the long beard yet? Just live dude…let it come “wherever”!!
It sounds like you just finished an online PHIL 101 class and are trying to solve the riddle of life that no one EVER finds the answer to…trust me!!

Jaime May 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Alex,

I just read this (while at work, go figure) and I can’t thank you enough for having the balls (excuse my language!) to finally be the person to admit this. I can’t deny I’ve got the quit-my-job-and-bounce-all-over-the-globe itch myself from time to time, but when I weigh the perception of reality with this fantasy idea, it all makes sense. A HANDFUL of friends of mine glorify this lifestyle as they hop from place to place with that “superiority complex” (you nailed it, by the way) teaching English to students and give me the pity-speech of my 9-5 “rut.” Yes, my job completely sucks at times but its not THAT bad. I enjoy what I do and how it affects helping other people. I have not found complete serenity (but come on, who has?) but I enjoy the stability and balance that I’ve created. I travel when I can (twice a year, money permitting- maybe sometimes more) and maintain full-time work because I need the money. I’ve never understood (but definitely also envied) those who could just up-and-go like that. If I miss a day of work with no pay I cringe. It’s a very cool concept to me, don’t get me wrong, but your whole article really opened my eyes to appreciating the things that I do have in my life. My relationship, family and balance are the most important. I just can’t thank you enough for this awesome read and I’d love to read your future posts. Thanks!

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goodyourjourney June 17, 2014 at 9:59 pm

It is because the gov’t has you right where they want you, you feel you NEED money. You have to work to pay debt and work to pay debt and cringe if you miss a day of work to pay DEBT!! Keep on slaving away in the USA. Have you ever noticed in your travels (that is if you aren’t completely sloshed on .90 cent beers in your daily travels) that most people who have less are always happier with bigger smiles than you will ever have driving to and from your “money” job!!
You are all convinced that travel isn’t finding you the great question of life, but it sure seems like ya’ll are content to return to your “MONEY JOBS”. Huh?

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Porschia June 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi!

So I am a traveling, nae, I am a person who moved to Paris thinking I was going to stay for 5 months, stayed on a few times because of relationships (yes at first I was all about the experiences crap) but after about 8 months I became incredibly wrestles and my life felt meaningless here too. I thought I just wanted to go back but put myself to the ultimate test and instead of choosing to take off again (as I had done from every job since I left uni, so 2 in one year) I stayed and forced myself to make the situation work here until my work contract of 1 year was over. Now 1 year later I have finally figured out not only what I want to do but also the importance of just sticking to a routine and continuing to do things even through the rough times. For me it was about pursuing a passion on the side. Building something for the future and finding the balance between living in the moment and planning for the future.

I definitely agree with this article that you are not going to Eat, Pray, Love your way into happiness. However I think with hard work, dedication and NOT QUITTING traveling can bring happiness. So I definitely think there are benefits to traveling but you have stay in one place long enough to learn the lessons. I have never been more discipline as I am today. I am so happy I stayed. I figure if I can do it here 50, 000 miles and a very big pond away from everyone I love, I am definitely going to be able to do it back home.

P

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Alexander Heyne June 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Hey Porschia,

Awesome story – and I totally agree with you. There are LOTS of 20 somethings (myself included) that just bounce around and move when life isn’t going according to plan.

Like you did – I think sometimes we just need to commit. Tell ourself “I’ll do whatever it takes to make it work… start making friends, find work, hang out with people, get hobbies.” Sometimes it just takes commitment you know?”

That “not quitting” part is huge.

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Eoin June 26, 2013 at 7:16 am

Good article Alexander, it sums up some suspicions I’ve been having about my own situation.
I’ve been traveling with my wife for 3 and a half months and I have all the anxieties I had before leaving work and my home country despite having fun and doing a broad range of activities and mixing up the pace a bit. We were intending to be abroad for 9 months to a year but I’m discovering that maybe this is not the lifestyle for me at this time, it really does feel like running away from something rather than seeking something out. I feel like there’s an element of thinking “I loved the 3 weeks we spent on holiday, so how great would it be to have that times 10?” Sometimes less is more. But I do envy people that can do this long term. I think Susan Cain’s book about the difficulty of dealing with the ‘extrovert ideal’ is relevant to this, it’s hard not to feel like a failure or boring somehow if you just want to be at home and comfortable and allow yourself to be happy in those circumstances.

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Alexander Heyne June 28, 2013 at 10:37 am

Eoin,

You’re absolutely right, and you learned it from experience like I did. The “3 weeks is great, why not 10 weeks?” theory is seductive. But now you and I both know it isn’t true. It sucks for 3 months. It’s that yin-yang, vacation is only fun and enjoyable because there is a timeline and a deadline. You know three weeks you’ll be back at work. That makes you enjoy it. When I traveled long term I ended up feeling pretty listless, like I wasn’t going towards anything.. and was instead going away. I didn’t like that feeling.

So what’s next for you?

- Alexander

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soniya June 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

I have to agree and disagree with this article. Some people who travel to escape problems and issues in their lives..won’t solve the problem..you still have to come back and face the same shit. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I have been traveling on and off for the past 11 years…and I love, love it and have learned so much during my travels. I actually stayed in an ashram in india and it changed my life..yes, you can sit and meditate and know what you want in your life..you just have to find the right ashram, teacher or meditations to do it. It’s all a state of mind, what you think, feel, want..it happens…at least from my own experience. I met a few people at this ashram who gave up their jobs as lawyers, doctors etc…in the USA/CANADA to live that lifestyle and they love it..They go to villages of India to help and enlighten people..it was awesome. No matter where I traveled to, paris, London, India, Dubai..etc..it was all magical, every experience…I loved it all, staying in crappy hotels, delayed flights, long waits at airports, dusty, dirty places, lots of walking to get around in very very hot weather etc, love it all and would do it again…and never ever did I get sick. I say, if this is your dream to travel..Then follow your dreams, follow your heart, it will lead you to the right people, and the right places.

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Alexander Heyne June 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

Hey Soniya,

Haha what a cool story and life you’ve had! I agree if your dream is to travel, then do it. But for most people they’re merely looking for a fix to their problems (That travel may or may not provide).

What are you up to now?

- Alex

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soniya June 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm

@Alex

Right now We are not doing any travel. One person works, not enough funds..I wish I can win the lottery :) then I would pack my bags, pull my kids out of school and home school like I always want to and travel the world..

soniya June 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

Traveling with kids???

I have seen it in India of all places..Americans with their kids in ashrams, and they love it..I traveled with my kids too, it is harder to travel alone with kids..but with 2 parents and 2 kids..it’s doable..My cousin has been traveling with her 4 kids all her life, they are adults now, some married and they speak different languages, were educated at different places and they loved it. I don’t see any emotional side effects of it, unless that is what you teach your child. Children would love it. You don’t have to stay one place with your child, homeschool them..i have a friend, she and her husband travel with their kids..she teaches english in different countries, homeschool her kids..they travelled to paris, norway, and now in Africa..the kids get involved in different activities and learning experiences from different places..these kids are so much different from the ones in current public school..I think it’s awesome..we are conditioned by society to feel this way, to think a certain way like ‘ you have to keep your kids in school, it will effect them emotionally’..think outside the box and free yourselves. Don’t be scared.

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Alexander Heyne June 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

I don’t necessarily think that it’s the “not being traditionally schooled” that emotionally messes up kids. It’s the moving around so much. This is only my experience – but I’ve lived abroad many times and I’ve frequently met children of parents in the foreign service, families who have moved around every three years or so. And the kids seem different… more lost than usual, uncomfortable, not knowing quite where home is or what they really want anymore.

I personally think it would be fantastic to travel with kids – and what a great way to get some life experience eh?

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Shannon & Jill July 11, 2013 at 6:27 pm

We approve of and embrace the general thesis of this article, but we must make mention of some glaring inconsistencies in the details.

As on-again/off-again vagabonds since 2006, world travel and eye-opening life experiences constitute the bulk of our “regular life”. Quitting a job to travel the world certainly isn’t a route to happiness or life meaning, but at the root, happiness and life meaning is a deeply personal quest.

You raise some interesting points in this article, but you don’t seem to take into account how personal the decision is, as well as the reasons behind it. Some of your commentary borders on snide when referencing “sitting in an ashram in India meditating” or “location-independent bloggers” who are just trapped in their former lifestyle in a new place. All of these examples and more are just stepping stones in the path of each person’s journey to discovering what their life is really about and why.

We also find it important to note that 20-somethings are not the only age bracket adept at running away from their problems. Anyone at any stage of life can do this, and it’s no more prevalent in 20-somethings. People have many ways of escaping problems or avoiding hard truths. Some people accomplish this by STAYING in the same place, squandering their life and breath in the same-old-same-old.

You claim to notice a growing trend of people glorifying the “quit my job and travel, YEAH” decision, but I maintain that you’re going to see what you want to see out there. And you seem to have made your mind up. This article seems to be judging people in the MIDST of their discovery process, condemning them for doing exactly what it is you suggest they do — try new things.

You have a valid, respectable thesis, but the article could use some trimming (it’s a bit redundant, part of my location-independent employment coming out) and a fine coat of respect for others.

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Alexander Heyne July 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Hi Shannon & Jill,

“Quitting a job to travel the world certainly isn’t a route to happiness or life meaning, but at the root, happiness and life meaning is a deeply personal quest. ” – Agree!

“Some of your commentary borders on snide when referencing “sitting in an ashram in India meditating” or “location-independent bloggers” who are just trapped in their former lifestyle in a new place. All of these examples and more are just stepping stones in the path of each person’s journey to discovering what their life is really about and why. ” – Also agree.

And yes I was deliberately being snide, because many of these people are unfortunately still passing on their holier than thou “wake up and figure life out” speech. In reality, few of them (in my observation and opinion) have really figured out anything about life, and it’s easy for them (us?) to say that when sitting in some cafe in a beautiful part of the world with no bills to really pay.

“We also find it important to note that 20-somethings are not the only age bracket adept at running away from their problems. Anyone at any stage of life can do this, and it’s no more prevalent in 20-somethings.” Very much agree with you there. In fact, many of the things I write about are human problems more than 20 something problems, but I figured 20 somethings needed the most help, and I’m most familiar with the way 20 somethings think and act.

” This article seems to be judging people in the MIDST of their discovery process, condemning them for doing exactly what it is you suggest they do — try new things. ”

That’s a good point I didn’t think of.

I still suggest to people that they quit their jobs and travel if they’re feeling stuck and are pissing their time away on earth. The point of the article was to simply say that this wasn’t the endgame – it’s not a panacea. Also, I wanted to write something contrary to the many travel bloggers saying “rah rah quit your job! you fools, you’re wasting your time! We’ve got this figured out good! ”

You bring up some great points though, thanks for sharing !

Cheers
Alex

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AD July 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

I hope anybody who’s planning to spend 10K bucks on a couple months trip read this beforehand. Because I just did, and this post couldn’t be more right. I only wish I read it beforehand. But you know what it’s okay lessons learned some mistakes are just painful. But time heals all wounds and it’s my birthday I just saw a shooting star. I’m moving on! Here’s to a great adventure Sonte!

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Alexander Heyne July 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

Hey AD,

You can never waste your money traveling. I disagree that you wasted anything. Life is experience.. there’s no way around that. But I assume you’re referring to the fact that it didn’t give you the answer you were looking for? In that regard, I agree, travel won’t simply conjure up the answers to life.

Can you tell me more about your journey and why you took it?

- Alex

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KO August 20, 2013 at 11:39 am

I was both depressed and excited to read this article.

Excited because I couldn’t believe you were putting into words some of the exact feelings I’ve had during my current 6 months of traveling. I feel like such an ungrateful negative person for not being happy all the time to be able to travel the world. What right do I have to be unhappy when I am so fortunate? But I feel exactly the way you describe in your post. Meaningless, bored, and anxious about going home to the same life. And that’s the part that leaves me depressed. I spent so much time and money on this trip, and it’s very hard to admit to myself that in some aspects, it was a mistake. Very hard.

For people who have never traveled before–by all means, go have an adventure. But for those looking to do the long-term thing…I would recommend having a firm plan in place about how you will spend your time and have a purpose to your days.

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Alexander Heyne August 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Hey KO,

It was super hard for me to admit it to myself too. I was sure it was going to solve my ” spiritual restlessness” … but it didn’t.

The good thing is that you’ve realized it. Now you can take steps to take your life to the next level and figure out why that wasn’t giving you everything that you needed to be fulfilled.

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Dips September 17, 2013 at 7:07 am

Wow, this article has come to me at the perfect time. I am a grad student. And like most grad students, I hate Ph.D. I was thinking about quitting everything and to just go on exploring this beautiful, vast earth. I just googled “I want to quit my job and travel” and there was your article amongst others. I opened all the articles that stated how to go on about quitting your job and traveling the world. Then I thought may be I should read yours too, just in case I decided to chicken out from the grand plan again! (JK).
I totally loved it! Thank you so much.
It feels so good to leave everything and start afresh, but what’s next after that. I was on a vacation just a week before, enjoyed so much there but when I came back home, I felt bad. The post-holiday blues. So I know the temporary travel-high you’re talking about. Now I am clear about what I want. I just need a little break, I don’t need to run away from anything in order to be happy. Meanwhile, time’ll take care of the rest. Thank you again.

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Kevin September 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

Interesting article, thanks for writing it. Your points on finding a solution to problems at work etc, are good.

I agree that one should see the end of their travels before embarking on it; this helps frame the journey and give meaningful purpose.

I wonder what your opinion is on how you travel.
For example, I doubt that meeting fellow travellers is always helpful, after all we didn’t travel to exotic countries only to meet fellow countrymen in hostels, a common discussion thread I’m sure.

Many of us travel to learn about the world through our own eyes, not through the anecdotes of others, the screens on television, or the reviews in travel books. This can be gratifying, enlightening, and I would suggest – sustainable. There comes a point that most of us will go home to our lives someplace. I believe that for those who travelled “successfully” in this sense, will indeed be the better for it.

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Alexander Heyne September 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

For me, the slower I travel the better, and I travel a lot because I consider it one of the best 5 investments money can buy.

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Alifiya sabir September 29, 2013 at 7:27 am

Wow ! Thats something different i read from the usual. And i really needed this. I have to figure it out in my cubicle :)

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chris engleton November 14, 2013 at 9:29 am

Good Article! Different from the usual, “How to Escape the cubicle” articles. Provides the pros and cons of quitting your job and travelling. Also good comments from other readers. I applied to the Peace Corps and qill be quiting my 9-5 job once accepted so this gave me some insight. I wanted to however live abroad and not return to the USA, maybe that is what some people should consider if they are always travelling. Hmmmm…..

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Kiz January 19, 2014 at 7:01 pm

This is good. You can only run away for so long. At the end of it all we still have to earn money, and enjoy life. But you have to know what you enjoy first, and you can figure that out without travelling to the other side of the world. If anything you might be more confused after. I know many travellers that come back home depressed after not being able to sustain that temporary happiness while travelling.

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Alexander Heyne January 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Kiz,

Spot on – very common with travelers.

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Catherine February 3, 2014 at 5:42 am

Oh my goodness amazing article. I’m a travel nurse and hate my job as a nurse. I keep traveling and working these temp jobs in warm sunny places still miserable! Thanks for your insights! :)

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Alexander Heyne February 3, 2014 at 9:33 am

Hi Catherine,

Do you hate your job as a nurse, or just because you’re a traveling nurse?

- Alex

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Diane February 3, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Thank you for this article. It is great, albeit long, I never got tired reading it from start to end. I want to travel to see what life really means to me. You made me realize that even though I travel, my reality is where I am right now and sooner or later I will always go back to the same reality. And the only way to make the best out of this f* life is to appreciate the things I have right now, build meaningful relationships with people around me, and just to strive to be happy. Thumbs up! I am subscribing! Diane. :)

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Alexander Heyne February 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Cheers Diane! Glad it made you think.

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Beth February 4, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Wow very interesting article. I’ve never heard anyone bring up this prospective about traveling. I’m currently living abroad teaching English for the third year. I’m in my 20′s and recently met a fellow teacher in her 40′s who has traveled solo for years. She didn’t have her own family..no kids…husband…no major career…..no legacy…her life was only about her…..just pictures to show. While i don’t judge her because that’s her choice..it really made me look at myself to evaluate whether or not teaching English abroad for year after year is really bringing me closer to my overall goal and values in life.

As I’m getting closer to 30..I’ve realized that i want to leave a legacy. I don’t want to reach 40 and 50..look back and see that I’ve lived my life only for myself and i only have pictures to show for it. We only get one life. I’m so thankful that I’ve had this wonderful privileged opportunity to travel to many countries and live abroad. I really am. I would love to make traveling APART of my life…but i don’t want traveling TO BE my life. This is the difference.

Every time i return home i have nothing to show for my time abroad besides pictures. It is time for me to prepare for something much greater in my life. I have many talents and gifts..these could really be turned into a great business idea or organization (non-profit). I’ve learned a lot during my travels..now it’s time to get off my ass and turn this knowledge and my gifts into something meaningful for not only my life but also for generations to come.

I have about 4 months left in this country and i think I’m going to take the advice of Benny who wrote a comment. He said that if he could redo everything, he would have been more productive with his free time. I’m definitely guilty of that, but it’s never too late to start a new habit.

Okay I’m done. Thanks for listening to my “think out loud” / “venting session” lol

Thank you so much for this article! See, you’re living a meaning life that adds value to others. : )

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Alexander Heyne February 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm

“While i don’t judge her because that’s her choice..it really made me look at myself to evaluate whether or not teaching English abroad for year after year is really bringing me closer to my overall goal and values in life. ”

Very very important observation Beth.

” I would love to make traveling APART of my life…but i don’t want traveling TO BE my life. This is the difference. ”

This is exactly the same conclusion I came to in life, too.

If I could offer one suggestion it would be this: Don’t think you have to “SHOW” anything for your life. If you’re doing what you enjoy in life, and it doesn’t produce physical, observable fruit, who cares?

Just live the life you want, the life you find meaningful, the life you know you were born to live.

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Mariana Rego February 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Great post! It’s been 9 months since I quit my job to travel and I’m coming to the same conclusions and I’m sharing them on my blog as well. Thanks for sharing these insights!

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Laura February 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm

I find this interesting, because I took 6 months to travel, thinking I would “find myself.” Mostly, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and I thought long-term traveling would help me find it.
Well, I didn’t find it. But it really did benefit me in another way.

I grew up very shy, and I hated it. Deep down I am a social person, but I never had the confidence to be social. Traveling for 6 months on my own completely changed that. I gained so much confidence in myself, and now I am no longer shy. That shyness plagued me for 22 years of my life.

And not only am I more confident, the stories I have are interesting. People are genuinely interested in me, especially guys;)

AND I have beautiful artwork all over my apartment that I collected from all the places I went.

So maybe I am still lost, but I gained more than I would have if I stayed in the US.

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Alexander Heyne February 13, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Laura,

Totally with you there. Definitely travel as much as possible just for the sake of life enjoyment, but don’t do it to ‘find yourself’ – most of us don’t end up finding ourselves :)

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Kia February 15, 2014 at 5:15 am

My husband is 45 And wants to quit his job and look for something abroad.
I also think he’s scaping from reality
and wont find peace of mind abroad.
I wish he would have quit his job and travel the world when he was younger.
I did quit my job and emigrate to another country. When we had the chance he didnt want to do the same.
I think he’s frustrated he didn’t do nothing when he had the opportunity.
I dont want to travel or emigrate anymore as a scape to reality. I Just found a place were i feel secure and happy And he’s still trying to find himself.
Travel quit your jobs when you are young it doesnt matter for what for reasons. Maybe you wont find yourself, or the dream job, or the dream partner but later in life you wont be regreting not doing all that.
You’ll be thinking what if… and then in the midst of your middle life crisis you’ll want to scape and ruin the lifes of people you once love.

anthony March 20, 2014 at 12:25 am

Thank you for writing this. My ex has been running away from her problems her whole life, and just recently left me to teach abroad. I knew she had too many problems when I first starting dating her, but pursued her anyway because of how wonderful she could have been. I’ve also been guilty of looking for happiness while traveling and never finding it. But these days I’m staying sober, doing all the things I love, and working at a job I enjoy in the most boring part of world (wisconsin). Happiness comes from within. If you need help, seek it.

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Alexander Heyne March 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

Amen Anthony ! Sorry to hear about your ex -sometimes that’s how life goes, and there’s nothing we can do to keep someone unhappy with him or herself.

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goodyourjourney June 17, 2014 at 9:48 pm

as is the law of averages not all we meet will be compatible with our own psyche. we can keep quiet and bear it or if possible remove ourselves from that which does not fit with us.

bob April 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Man, what the fuck do you know about life? You’re just a fuckn kid. Write a blog and start selling ‘how to’ manuals when you’ve actually lived a little. The problem with the internet is anyone can impersonate an expert, and almost anyone will believe them, so now all my time is spent sifting through the bullshit instead of getting any actual good information.

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Alexander Heyne April 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Hi Bob,

Haha, yup! I’m 26. Just sharing thoughts – no one is forcing you to listen to me. If you agree with it, sweet! If not, no big deal.

P.S. I’ve lived more and done more than most people 3x my age. Thanks for the heart-warming words!

- Alex

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Jake April 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I actually agree with Bob, some have lived their life with or without experience. LOL … just do it!

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Bungman April 9, 2014 at 1:34 am

Hey so ya you have some good point. But the reason I quit my job was because they would not give me a full year off. I did go out to see the world and meet people of all kinds. I did it at this age 25 because I am okay with not knowing where I am going to sleep that night, I am okay with sleeping in a dirty hostel and I am okay with constantly being out of my comfort zone. When else are you supposed to do it? Extended travel, backpacking, not tourist. I did it because I wanted to fuck girls from all over the world. I am so happy I QUIT MY JOB to do what I did. Too bad you met some tools while you traveled, but to say not to quit when you really want to is nuts. Why not? Ya got one life. Don’t waste it doing shit you don’t enjoy. I am self sufficient and don’t have any hand outs. Don’t fight it, ride. Bro

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Bungman April 9, 2014 at 1:37 am

your probably one of those kids in the dorms just trolling facebook back home trying to convince yourself your cooler than all those kids that made you feel less cool.

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Bungman April 9, 2014 at 1:39 am

At least you one guy who isn’t hungry. Hungry for life. Hungry for women. Hungry for adventure. Hungry for progress. Leaves more for the rest of us.

Alexander Heyne April 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm

You bring up some interesting points.

FYI I did quit my job (multiple times) to travel the world. I’ve seen been to 50 or 60 countries. I wrote this to give people ideas on what it will and will not solve. FYI i don’t think “fucking girls from all over the world” will solve deep personality issues or insecurities in life. Or make you enjoy your job better.

Go for it!

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Nikhil April 15, 2014 at 9:14 am

Your article is quite judgemental and making a lot of assumptions, people who travel and return to “the same lifestyle” as you put it, feel that way as travel hasn’t given them any altered state of mind or perspective, things are always changing and you never return to the same situation.

What travel can give you is the ability to be happy in any situation you are in and not to attach yourself to your thoughts, some people get this from meditation, a new culture or just a change of scenery. 90% of people have to return to the “real world” (some can build careers elsewhere, even English teachers in UAE/Taiwan get paid more than the West), but you have to live I the present and if you travel with negative thoughts about the future that is the real big error.

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Eileen Nicholes April 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm

This absolutely resonated with me. In about five weeks, I will be moving to the other side of the world for a job on a resort. Once I realized I didn’t want to be a nurse, I felt lost and confused. I struggled to find something meaningful. I knew that the job that I was currently working was one that I was not happy with anymore. That job had been one that I had taken as a stepping stone to being a nurse. I felt like since I already had my BS Degree in Psychobiology, I should be doing something more than simply working at a preschool. So, I started pounding the pavement hard trying to find a job where I felt that I could grow in my strengths. I found one across the world working at a resort as a clubmate. This is the job that I will be leaving for in five weeks. I will be teaching tennis, wind-surfing, working with children, and leading entertaining activities. I will be working with children who speak Japanese, Korean, and Russian. I’m hoping to gain some more skills in speaking these languages. I know that this job won’t solve everything, but I’m hoping it will help me acquire some more skills that will enable me to be either a great Youth Minister or even a great Camp Director.

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Rachel May 21, 2014 at 12:52 am

Hey Alex!

After the initial paragraphs, my first reaction was anger at the initial judgement and pessimistic outlook.
BUT… you hooked me in and I kept reading.
And I totally agree with you. We all have our own personalities and views, so even if it’s a bit offensive to some, I like the honesty. In today’s world, we tend to look for happiness in outer forms- the right job, the right house, the right partner, the right travel experience. We forget that true happiness comes from the inside.

Though traveling does provide the opportunity to see the world a different way and to meet people that have changed their lives to suit their own needs. It isn’t a problem solver, it’s a step in the right direction, in my opinion. We are essentially in change of our own happiness and nothing will change us for the better unless we are ready to do some internal digging.
Great quote and good on your for realizing, seeing and having the courage to write about the other side of traveling and living abroad.

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Alexander Heyne May 21, 2014 at 10:22 am

Hey Rachel -

Thanks for stopping by.

Truth is, the tone wasn’t pessimistic at all :-). I’ve traveled more than anyone I’ve personally ever met – this article was merely written to help people understand the other side of coin. You could say it was tongue in cheek with a shitload of honesty.

“We all have our own personalities and views, so even if it’s a bit offensive to some, I like the honesty. In today’s world, we tend to look for happiness in outer forms- the right job, the right house, the right partner, the right travel experience. We forget that true happiness comes from the inside. ”

You bring up some great points. I think the big thing a lot of people need to know is that, yeah, it isn’t a problem solver. Maybe it’ll give you that momentum burst, maybe it’ll give you some motivation – but you still need to change whatever is making you unhappy.

And IMHO, many people say this article is offensive – but 99% of the time, the people taking offense are the ones who quit their jobs or quit their “lives” or relationships to travel the world :-). All with a grain of salt…

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goodyourjourney June 17, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I understand your viewpoint being a younger possibly hungry person for answers in life…relationships, family, career, friends, community involvement, money? But not all people want stability, longevity, and think that you have to find “A reason for this life”. I have been around the world and have always come home to the good ole USA and found myself ultimately always bored with the redundancy of materialistic consumerism, boring relationships and everyone asking “what do you do for a living”? Only so they can categorize you and pretty much know in an instant by your job title what your income is and thus what kind of house you live in and what car you drive and consequentially how much “DEBT” you carry! Whilst traveling I almost NEVER get asked that question and more importantly most people don’t have an answer to your repetitively inquisitive answer of “what is their intent or meaning in life”? It sounds as though you are the lost sole looking for that exact answer from other people. To NOT have an answer to your question might be their greatest answer! People travel to leave the petty philosophical “what is the meaning of life and where do you want to be in X years” B.S. behind!! What I mean is that a mind that is just existing and being observant of life’s little treasures no matter where or what is the most opened by wonder and not closed by belief. A belief that there has to be some deep profound meaning to ones life. Travel is a tool to relinquish ones self of the clutter of thinking about thinking of what I should be doing in life. LIFE HAPPENS and it may or may not happen while exploring the numerous hostels and drug/alcohol induced beach rav parties in Thailand, or teaching English in a village in Ecuador, or rambling for the sake of rambling, but it WILL open more possibilities than “facing reality with a job, spouse and debt” as you mature and have a boring oneness in your neighborhood with your 2.3 children and your 40+ hour work week to stay afloat! Hey truly enjoy that! And then tell me that you won’t be sitting on your couch, with the kids screaming, wishing you were being a nomad with an open road and more importantly an open and still wondering mind on your horizon. Quitting your job to travel is just one tiny aspect of why some folks hit the open road. Travel is about opening your mind to “whatever comes” whereas when you are in your returned monotonous rut, your mind will be shut!

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TV June 24, 2014 at 12:44 am

Gotta agree with the above poter… Don’t mean to spoil the surprise for you OP but your bosses are every bit as self-centered as you suspect. The 9 to 5 crap is a soul-sucking death sentence and that feeling of contentment you have… well, that’s just you giving up and trying to justify it. Waking up every day to a job you hate and people that could give a damn about anything but themselves is a recipe for misery… hence why you’re always miserable when you come home? So why come home? Why torture yourself? Me… I love the adventuring life. Its the stuff that makes life worth living AND you only live once. A cubicle is a glorified prison cell and I don’t know of anyone who got ahead hiding behind an office desk… Look around… Everyone who society deems successful is a risk taker. Settle down? Where’s the fun in that? You gotta try new things until you find the thing you like… Then stick with it, dedicate your entire existence to it and let your passion transform your surroundings. Life without passion is death. Society exists to drain the passion from the weak for the benefit of the strong. You are using your youth and your talent to make some guy who has a lot more passion than you do apparently very rich. He doesn’t even know who you are, nor does he care. He’s out taking risks and traveling the world. That is the truth you seek. Those who follow will never lead and those who lead would never choose to follow. Stop looking to others who are weak for encouragement and ask yourself just what are you dissatisfied about that prompted this post in the first place… Now do something about it.

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Alexander Heyne June 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

TV,

“Society exists to drain the passion from the weak for the benefit of the strong. You are using your youth and your talent to make some guy who has a lot more passion than you do apparently very rich”

So why don’t you start your own business?

Alexandra June 26, 2014 at 6:17 am

Great job writing this. It’s definetely a side we all world travellers (or reality escapers) need to know about and be conscious of.
Thank you.

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Alexander Heyne June 26, 2014 at 10:31 am

No problem Alexandra !

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chris June 27, 2014 at 5:17 am

When I was 23 after graduating from an art degree and reading Joseph Campbells the heros journey I decided to make a leap by myself into the unknown. I went to South Korea and taught English for 2 years, it was a great experience, hard, rewarding and fun! Met some amazing people and networked with folks all over the world, some of them are still great friends of mine today 11 years later. When working in Korea I saved to travel, so went to SE Asia- Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and finally India. I myself got listless so I started volunteering, using my experience of English teaching to teach disadvantaged children. In India I worked on a project for habitat for humanity building houses after the Tsunami and teaching the villagers English. I also made a documentary about the project which when I returned to London I screened as a fund raiser. Then I was back home, 26, a wealth of experience, but no real job. Ended up as a driver delivering oxygen to patients. I missed the excitement of being abroad and I missed teaching, my friends had returned to South Korea, so at 27 I went back. At this point I was frantically trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life, as in what MA degree to take. My experiences filmmaking, volunteering and teaching helped me isolate my core values of facilitating development and creativity. I had also developed an interest in eastern spirituality and also Psychology as i was working on my own issues left over from childhood. Then I found it – Art psychotherapy! perfect! Thats what I’ll do in the UK, that would be meaningful aligned with my passions and values. So to do Art Psychotherapy I had to get more NGO experience so went back to cambodia and spent 3 months setting up a project to teach street children media art skills with technology I got donated : http://www.youngcambodianfilmmakers.com . Then at 29 I fell in love and moved to Malaysia for an excellent opportunity as a teacher mentor developing rural malaysian teachers. I thought id study an MA in Education distance because it would increase my professionalism in teaching and teacher training. Loved the job in malaysia, long holidays, high pay and you got to facilitate lots of positive and lasting change. During the long holidays I would travel Bali, india, thailand take workshops, in yoga, meditation, went to a week long psychotherapy workshop. Anyway, back in the UK family was getting older, my nephew had been born and 3 years doing the same job started to get a little tedious. I started to find ESL boring. So this year i started a coaching course as it syncs with people developing in lots of spheres and builds off my experience and MA in education. I am also ready to start an Art Psychotherapy Masters degree in 2 months time back in the UK, I will be 34 when I start it and it will be a whole new adventure all of its own that all of my experiences and education will feed. It is a great feeling as I fully believe in this path, and I would never have been able to have developed myself to get to this point if not for my journey. Life is a journey of self actualization and putting oneself in different contexts is important to develop a greater self awareness. It depends if one travels smart, travel to know yourself, thats how it can benefit. If its just a great big holiday then its not really that effective. I’ve met plenty of travelling people living on beaches claiming that they’re experiencing life. They re just experiencing a beach. Also there is absolutely nothing wrong with having teaching English as a career or teaching in an international school as a career provided you enjoy it. If you don’t know what you love then figure it out by altering what frames you. An apple doesn’t belong in a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. Unless YOU think its delicious.

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Alexander Heyne March 12, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Hey Kelly -

I don’t think you need to stay in one place, and I don’t think I ever said that haha. I even wrote this article while on a long-term trip (3+ months).

Sure travel can become a way of life, but not for everyone. Let’s face it, the majority of people still want a family, friends in one place, an apartment to come back to and relax.

I spend 3+ months a year of traveling, so yeah I’d consider it a way of life in addition to having a “normal” life. I’m totally with you there, and I think people should travel as much as possible.

And the big one is children – like you said, you’re (most likely) going to need to stay in one place for them. Again that depends on people – some still move around, but it’s not without emotional side effects on the kids.

Agree it’s not necessarily either/or, but it does leave a lot to think about !

Best,
Alex

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Alexander Heyne February 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

Hi Kia,

Sorry to hear that :( it’s not always easy to solve something like this, particularly if people didn’t get the chance to do certain things while young.

Have you asked him what he’s looking for?

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Alexander Heyne June 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Haha, I think you are very right :-). Agree!

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