It’s something we’ve all daydreamed about: quitting our jobs, subletting our apartments, packing everything that matters into a couple of bags, and hitting the open road. But not everyone gets the chance to actually do it.
The folks below did, though. And they recently went online to share what it’s like to drop everything and live the dream of traveling the world.
25. “I’d rather have failed trying”
I dropped everything and went traveling at the age of 21. I had a low-paying but enjoyable job but I was still feeling a little unfulfilled. I’d been working hard for very little money since I was 16 and had little to show for it.
I went online and paid for a New Zealand working holiday visa, it was granted and I had up to a year to save up enough money to make the trip viable. Went to NZ about 7 months later, worked my way around, partied a bit, made friends, saw things, met a girl. She followed me back to the UK and we decided to put all our energy into her skill, which is writing.
Six years later we have a successful writing/travel business and have travelled over 50 countries. I’m lucky, but I was also a little brave and worked hard. I’d rather have failed trying to do something I wanted to do than had success at something that did not fulfil me.
24. “I did it and everything in my life has been better”
I took three months off and drove from Key West to Prudhoe Bay AK on the Arctic Ocean and back one summer. I saw two friends along the way for a night but otherwise was alone for the summer, mostly camping or sleeping in my car.
It was the best summer of my life and gave me the reset I was looking for to go back to all the things I was doing in my life. It’s been six and a half years since I did it and everything in my life has been better. I’m dealing with more stressful things now and handling it much better.
If you like to drive, I highly recommend making the trip. Out west you can go for days only talking to people at gas stations. You can do 133 on the Boneville Salt Flats (and pay $750 to get towed off of them when you hit a wet spot). You can see the Milky Way next to White Sands, you can put your feet in the Arctic Ocean, stand down an arctic wolf, watch the reaction on the mechanic’s face in Seattle when you get an oil change twice in two weeks and watch as he realizes that it’s not even his sticker on your windshield the second time.
You can change two flats at once, have a kitchen crew give you a standing ovation when they hear you drove from Florida to have their salmon. You can see the things you wanted to but never had the chance and the things you never knew you wanted to because when you see something you can just go. You can camp at 12,000 feet by a lake, spend a day on top of a 14k mountain, you can play in the snow in April and in the sun at midnight.
Take three months off, get in the car and drive.
23. “Follow your dreams”
I had a good job and was just bored. The wife and I were just doing the same crap over and over in town. Movies. Dining out. Going to the lake. Bonfires. It was a good life, just boring after a while.
I decided I wanted to get out and go see Europe. We started saving money and two years later we went. It was amazing. I had 18 days off work and felt like I was living my dream. We went back home and 10 months later, I wanted to move to Europe. So here I am typing at work, from Europe, and we’ve been here three years so far. Best experience of my life.
Follow your dreams.
22. “It was too late to turn back”
Worked out really well. Hardest part was convincing my wife that it wasn’t as high risk as she thought it would be. (I had no idea of the risk involved to be honest.)
Took a year out to travel overseas, came in well under budget (thanks to my SO’s frugality) and got the offer of a new job 3 months before heading back. I’m in that job now and am already planning on doing it again.
Got early approval from my wife this time too!
The idea came into my mind about 12 months earlier. After mulling it over for about 6 months I spent the next 6 months planning it.
The first part of the plan was to do a list of positives/negatives about the idea. After going through that list with my wife it became clear that the positives far outweighed the negatives.
I then went on to make a list of all the places to visit and the costs associated with each leg of the journey, contingency plans etc. Once I had it all sorted I quit my job and all the doubt suddenly hit me really hard all at once and I started to bottle it.
It was too late to turn back though and so we went ahead and had a great time. My only regret is that I wish I’d planned it with more confidence. We could have kept on traveling a lot long and visited a lot more places than I had considered but I guess I have a better idea now for next time!
21. “Lower your expectations”
I dropped out of uni for a year to do it and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. That was about 5 years ago when I got back I finished my degree (I could think clearer make decisions easier than before I had left felt more independent) I am working in my field right now and have plans to take off for 6+ months again in 2018. I will say: to enjoy it most, go off the beaten path, lower housing expectations (hostels and camping are an experience well worth the lack of amenities) also it can be addicting to just travel.
20. “It was totally worth the savings”
I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico, quit my job, and travelled in a vaguely southerly direction for 7 months until I was in Bolivia and running out of money a bit. It was totally worth the savings I put into it and I had an amazing time, and although I was worried about going back into work when I came back I actually ended up doing something way better than I was doing when I left.
19. “That was 23 years ago and I still live in Europe”
I was young, I was bored at work and didn’t want to go back to university. I saw an ad in the paper saying come to Germany and be an au-pair. I thought it would be a year, I’d learn another language, see a bit more of Europe and have a chance to think about what to do next.
That was 23 years ago and I still live in Europe.
I worked in the sauna/swimming pool area hotel for a year, so got a work visa based on having good English to deal with international guests and previous experience working in swimming pools. It’s not hard, as long as the company is willing to fill out the paperwork to hire you and there’s a half-decent reason to hire you over a EU member. Same applied for my other jobs, and then I started working for myself as a freelancer. That required a bit more proof, but again, not extremely difficult. Germans are good about giving you a list of things you need and if you can check them all off, they are willing to give you your visa promptly.
18. Don’t let debt hold you down
Pretty good — I now live on the other side of the world with a wife and two kids, doing a job that doesn’t exist in any meaningful way in my home country.
What you may not realize is that doing exactly this, going travelling for at least six months, more often a year or more, is pretty bloody common for young adults in almost every western country in the world except for the US. Those college debts keep you guys chained to the floor.
17. “It was still worth it”
Did this in 2009 at the age of 27. Quit my job as a senior programmer at a major US bank, to visit Australia for a month.
Immediately met a girl that liked adventure, so we decided to live and travel together. We dated for 5 years and lived in 15 countries (half were Asian countries because they’re cheap and close to Australia).
The constant travel and separation from our friends and family took a toll and eventually we both wanted something different. That was almost three years ago.
Still love travel. Total number of countries I’ve visited currently stands at 26.
Even though it was on a shoestring budget most of the time, it was still worth it.
I can visualize many areas and cuisines from dozens of foreign cities. There’s also an instant bonding experience when talking with someone who’s been to the same country. You get to discuss specific cities and little details that were fun or exciting. Kind of like a secret handshake that’s established right away. Instant connection.
Now more than ever, I love meeting foreigners, no matter where they’re from, because there’s a rich amount of context and memories for me to draw on.
To properly balance the pros and cons here, I should also mention that I’m now 35 years old and have no wife or children. Not sure whether that’s good or bad, but it’s a growing concern as I approach 40.
16. “To travel the world alone as an introvert”
I had the most mind-numbing, boring job at the worst call centre. One good thing was that money piled up since I had no life due to a 3-hour/day commuting. I said “screw this!” and decided to overhaul my life, lose weight, and travel the world to cure my introversion.
It wasn’t all bad, but I can tell you that to travel the world alone as an introvert was probably the worse idea ever. Being to shy to make contact with people, staying at my hostel because night outside in strange countries are scary and so on doesn’t really expand your horizons.
Then I went to USA and got stuck in a small backwater town in Wisconsin for a few months with winter flirt before heading home.
Went back to Sweden, flopped about a bit and then went back to my old job for another few years before finding something better.
All in all, it was well worth it. But I think I would have a much better time with a friend for the trip to do things with and who would push me to do stuff.
15. “I said screw it, threw some clothes in a bag and moved to Toronto”
I graduated in 2012 at the tail end of the recession (UK) and immediately left for New Zealand. It didn’t work out — I made all the classic mistakes. Returning home, the job market was absolutely horrific and all I could get was 14 hours a week at the university I graduated from… I then got an interview at a very large media agency and then a second interview. I finally thought “this is it”, only to fall at the last hurdle, I had enough money for a plane ticket and a bit to live on.
I said screw it, threw some clothes in a bag and moved to Toronto. I immediately got a well paid government job and met my Australian girlfriend not long after getting there. I learnt French, went to Paris, went to San Francisco, Burning Man, Montreal, Paris again, Montreal again, Hawaii, New Caledonia and I now live in Sydney with the Australian girl I’ve told you about (we’ve been together over 3 years now). Tomorrow I have an interview at the department of education.
14 hours a week, single, with limited possibilities and barely enough spare cash to scratch two pennies together, to today. I’d say it went pretty spectacularly.
14. “But this place… true freedom”
Currently living in Laos with a pretty easy and carefree life. No stress at all. Bliss.
Started out with just my savings, volunteering as an English teacher. I still volunteer but now also have an evening job teaching English which is paid.
Being a native English speaker I can get a good salary here, $30-50 per hour depending on where you teach. I do 4x hours a week which at my current salary nets me $800 per month. For reference, most locals earn around $110 per month, so I can have a pretty comfortable life here.
The work is relatively easy and carefree, I don’t have much free time but to be honest, if I didn’t volunteer I’d have the entire week free aside from my 4 hours of paid teaching…
Everyone says how the US is land of the free… In terms of free speech and openly sharing your political views then sure, its pretty free… But this place… True freedom. You can do whatever you want and for the most part there are no consequences. Does have its drawbacks though, for example driving after drinking is accepted and a part of the culture, though its illegal if the police do stop you, you just give them $5.
Why Laos? I ended up meeting the Lao Ambassador in London (I’m from England) and became friends with him, met his family at the embassy and decided Laos was where I wanted to go. Its beautiful, its like Thailand but without the tourism.
The food was the biggest challenge but I am getting used to it, thankfully there is a pretty decent pizza place for when I want a break from Asian cuisine.
13. “Before we left, we were comfortable in our lives”
A little over a year ago, my wife and I decided to pack it all in a backpack, quit our jobs for a year and travel. We made it 51 weeks and 28 countries before returning to work.
Before we left we were comfortable in our lives, working 40 hours a week and not really having the time to enjoy one another. We had stuff, money, but no experience. After coming home we downsized from our previous lives and hope to continue down a path of being fairly minimalistic.
We met people doing the same ranging from a diplomat’s child with money to burn, to a couple trying to travel and spend only $2USD/day. It is entirely worth it.
12. “I’m glad I took the risk because man is it worth it”
Had a great job right out of college, I just hated it. I made a ton of money but I was so bored and literally counting the seconds until 5pm so I could leave. I was in a city that I just didn’t agree with. Made the gut decision to quit one day. I didn’t travel the world, but I took a month off of life and really just figured out what I wanted. Ended up driving across the country, starting a new career, and have spent almost 2 years to the day happier than anything. I make a lot less, work a ton more, but I’m glad I took the risk because man is it worth it.
11. “You have to be happy with yourself, there is no destination that can do that”
Oh pick me! I graduated college and got a real job for 18 months and then said screw it and went to travel the world. It was a blast. I loved it, I went all the way around the world and ended up in Australia. A company gave me a long stay visa and I would’ve been making good money but for a lot of reasons I wanted to come back.
I had a couple friends working at a small company and I got a nice raise from when I left. It’s been very easy getting back into my old life. I have a nice apartment and everything is stable again. This trip cost me $30,000 but 7-8k was getting my life back together in Denver.
The biggest takeaway I had from my trip around the world is that it’s easy to think the next place or trip will make you happy. But it won’t, you have to be happy with yourself, there is no car or bag or destination that can do that. It’s an interesting thing to realize. Lots of people travel for lots of different reasons and by default it has an element of escapism in it. But traveling won’t solve your problems, and often looking for the answer won’t help if you don’t know the question.
I still travel a lot, I was in Italy and Amsterdam in November, Mexico in January, Aspen next weekend then NYC in April. But I do it differently. I will definitely take another round the world trip, probably at 30. Only one job interviewer had any sort of issue with my trip and that guy was a jerk.
10. “It was fun but got old after a while”
I didn’t do it as abruptly as you described. I quit a job and took a course in teaching English in Barcelona. Then got a job teaching English, and did it for a few years in two countries.
It was fun but got old after a while, so I went home.
At first going home was difficult, because while everyone will say something like “wow what a great experience!” it doesn’t actually mean much for employers, and the certifications aren’t really good for much.
I ended up working two jobs, a few hours at each, until one started giving me more responsibility.
9. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made”
Currently doing this. I’ve been in Vietnam 3 months and head to Laos tomorrow.
Quit my job a few years ago in the U.K. in a crappy call centre and went travelling but had a closed mind about it. Travelled for 9 months then came home and regretted it after a week but figured I’d got the travelling out of my system and now I can focus on finding a ‘career’. This was back in 2014.
Fast forward to June 2016 and I’m looking at flights around the world from my hometown in Manchester, saw a cheap flight to Vietnam and instantly thought ‘screw it’ and booked it. I had around 6 months to sell as much of my stuff as I could and save as much as I could and then head off travelling.
This time round, I wanna travel as long as I can. I have a decent amount of funds before I need to work. I have been in Vietnam 3 months and head to Laos tomorrow as I said, then Cambodia and Thailand, then I’m planning on coming back to Vietnam to find some work and then eventually on to New Zealand to work over there too. The first time I travelled with a friend, this time I’m doing it solo and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Just set a date for when you wanna leave and start saving, I was living with my parents so I could save a lot easier as I only paid rent to my parents. So I have more disposable income, I was in a bad place just before I set off travelling and I’d come to terms with a lot of issues I’d been ignoring about myself (depression as well as long bouts of negative thoughts). I’d told my parents about this and they didn’t want me to leave as they didn’t want me to be alone if I had a bad turn again.
Speaking truthfully this has been the best thing for me to do as it’s opened my mind so much and it’s been great at helping me realize how good life is, everyone who’s been through depression has their own coping mechanisms but for me this has been the best ‘therapy’ so to speak.
8. “Completely out of left field, and totally against my usual character”
I had a crappy job working in a tax office. It was inhumane.
My American girlfriend at the time was about to finish her summer program in England. After her studies she had planned to backpack around Europe with her friend. We were both naïve (“We can Skype!”) about our prospects, but we both feared it wouldn’t work, that the distance would kill it. As a final huzzah I decided to plan a long weekend away in one of her stops. So I booked a Friday off of work and I flew out on a Thursday evening to Berlin, to spend a final weekend with her.
Me, my girl and her friend then spent an awesome three days in Berlin, drinking, drinking, and drinking. We had some German friends there also, equally charming and charismatic.
Monday came and my flight was scheduled in the afternoon. I packed up my things and proceeded to walk to the lobby of the hostel. We were all gathered there, chit-chatting. Internally I was dying. I thought to myself, “Here is this girl who likes you, who actually likes you, and you’re about to fly home to some godforsaken town to go back to some godforsaken job that you hate”.
Then, completely out of left field, and totally against my usual character, I asked myself this question: “Do you really HAVE to go back?” I pondered this for a few minutes, before I broached it with the group. They were all receptive to the idea, thrilled as a matter of fact. But it was one girl in particular, our mutual German friend, who really solidified the idea in my mind. She turned to me and, quite matter of factly (as some Germans have the glorious habit of doing) said, “Would you rather go home to your dreary job, or stay and spend time with your girl?”
Well, you can pretty well guess my decision. I ended up quitting my dreary job so that I could backpack across Europe for six weeks. Years later I married that girl and emigrated to the US to start a new life here with her. Life is good.
7. “Go for it, life’s short”
I did it and I’m in Vietnam at the moment. Quit my job, I rent out my apartment.
Don’t regret a second of it. It has its downsides of course but the perspective you get on life around the planet is worth everything.
I warmly recommended Cambodia. Interesting country, friendly people and a horrible history.
Go for it, life’s short.