The internet is awash with articles and blog posts filled with inspirational, romantic stories about quitting your 9-5 and taking off to travel the world, mostly written by eager twentysomethings. Not that there's anything wrong with being 22 and eager, but I'm 31 and largely cynical. Travelling is a privilege and no matter how many guides you read on 'how to travel the world for next to nothing!', airfare still costs money unless you happen to be a very successful travel blogger or celebrity. It also takes time and long-term travel means saying goodbye to your loved ones for long periods. What if you've got elderly or sick parents you don't want to leave? A young family? A career you love which you've spent years building and don't want to jeopardise? Quitting your job is just not an option for most people. It doesn't mean you can't travel the world, though - it might just take a bit longer.
I was only bitten by the wanderlust bug fairly recently. I chose not to go travelling after I finished college; instead diving straight into the world of work, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (while promising myself I'd go to university when I figured out what that was) and then ended up starting my own business at the age of 21. Most people I knew were either still at university or starting to build their careers at this point; a few were doing the travelling thing. My twenties became a blur of working hard and partying hard. Travelling was never an option, I didn't have the confidence to set off on my own and I felt tied to my responsibilities and my burgeoning business. It was so much not an option that I didn't even think about it, to be honest.
I sometimes feel as if I did everything backwards. Most people my age are settling down, either relationship wise or career wise, having children, even perhaps leaving their careers to set up their own businesses. Most people get the travelling itch out of their system on their gap years, satisfied they've seen a decent chunk of the world by the age of thirty. Me? I feel like I'm just starting life. I quit being my own boss three years ago. I'm lucky that I have a job but I'm still trying to figure out the elusive answer to the 'what do I want to do with my life' question. I am single, with no future plans for marriage or children. I can't even commit to watering my succulents. Surely this would be the perfect opportunity to quit my job and do the long-term travel thing?
I honestly don't think so, as tempting an option as it may sound.
I have financial ties that mean it wouldn't be possible for me just to leave the country for an extended period of time (this is a very depressing adult thing to say). I have a cat who hates everybody but me - who would want to look after her? I'm two years into a part time degree course. I gave up renting a flat alone, to live with my parents and save up for a mortgage deposit. I have some semblance of an Adult Life Plan, but it is a shaky, ever changing plan. My first solo trip ignited a serious case of wanderlust that made me re-think what I'm doing with my life, but I've settled on a compromise. The mortgage deposit can wait; I certainly won't be able to travel as much once I'm a homeowner - and I've got the rest of my life to be a slave to my utility bills.
Part time travel is my compromise
Why part time travel? I don't want to travel long-term for the aforementioned practical reasons. Call me materialistic but I also cannot bear the thought of having to give up buying things and going places for the length of time it would take to save up to fund it. I've already given up my social life (just kidding... or am I?) and the thought of being broke and jobless after a world trip in my thirties is terrifying (being self-employed during a recession taught me a big lesson about money and job security). I earn a decent wage and have a generous annual leave entitlement and saving up for trips to punctuate my working life is exciting. I like stability, but I hate the feeling of being stuck. With concrete plans to see parts of the world that are on my ever expanding bucket list (5 countries ticked off last year), I feel it's much easier to deal with the routine and monotony of daily life. With part time travel I can go off and explore and have tales to tell to my friends and family when I come home without experiencing any of the loneliness or feelings of disconnection long-term travel could bring. It may not be as 'authentic' as immersing yourself in a culture for months on end but I have decided my travel status is part time, no strings attached. For now at least.
What is your travel status? Would you ever quit your job to travel the world? Did you quit your job and later regret it?