Travel Blogging, Travel Inspiration
Comments 171

The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel.

Quit job

This is the 1st post of my Travel Secrets series.

If you don’t know me personally, you’ve probably wondered how I afford my travels, where I find the time, the company or the inspiration to travel, and whether my parents are okay with it (it is safe to assume that most Indian parents won’t be). I have hereby decided to come clean with my secrets in a new series that I’m not very creatively calling ‘Travel Secrets’, and I hope to inspire you to follow your dream to travel the world.

Lately, a lot of people have told me that I’m lucky to be doing the things I love to do. I beg to differ sometimes, because it’s not all luck. Just until a year ago, I was stuck in the rut like everyone else, living in Singapore, bound by a desk job, aiming for the next promotion, struggling with tasks that I knew didn’t matter in the bigger picture, celebrating my monthly paycheck, cribbing about pointless meetings, finding solace in being complemented at work, always awaiting the next weekend, and often trying to convince myself that some people were just luckier than me. In retrospect, I didn’t hate my job or my boss or my team on most days, and maybe if I had stuck around for a few years, I would’ve done pretty well for myself.

Having enough disposable income, it didn’t take me long to catch the travel bug. I would save most of what I earned, and take off for a few days every long weekend. I seldom spent a day of my annual leave sitting at home or roaming the malls or partying. Neelima, a fellow travel blogger, summarizes pretty well in this post just how many days in a year we can travel without quitting our jobs. That also meant I spent most weekdays planning my trips, and wishing I could pick up my bags and travel at whim instead of relying on someone else’s mercy to grant me permission. Don’t we all?

Halong Bay, Vietnam, southeast Asia, travel blogger

At Halong Bay in Vietnam.

Working in the tourism industry exposed me to the largely western concepts of long term travel, travel writing, round the word travel, living out of a backpack et al. I learnt, quite enviously, that travel companies pumped in a lot of money to award loyalists & influencers. Contests offering fully paid trips as prizes were real. Press trip invitations to travel bloggers & writers were real. People not very different from me, really did travel the world for a living.

As a digital marketing and social media professional, I took to my social networks (mainly Twitter & Linkedin) to find people living my travel dream. I followed the likes of Wild JunketNomadic Matt and Wandering Earl, all world nomads albiet from the west. I found no reason why an Indian girl like myself couldn’t do it. I fine-tuned my then dormant blog, started thinking of a sabbatical from work to see if I could adapt to a nomadic life, and began shortlisting places I could travel to on a tight budget; I had most of Southeast Asia under my belt by then. If Paulo Coelho hadn’t already written when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it, I could’ve been famous for saying it, because that’s what happened. I took part in my first big Facebook contest run by Air Asia, and won myself 2 return tickets to France. Europe thus became the first month of my sabbatical.

Saxony Germany, Saxon Switzerland, travel blogger, untouched germany

Atop the Elbe mountains in Saxony Germany.

I spent the next month volunteer-travelling in the high Himalayas of Spiti, in what was also my first solo trip. I realized that solo travel or budget (value for money) travel are not imaginary concepts, and that I could do it as much as the Wild Junkets & Nomadic Matts of the west. When I went back to office after spending two months on the road, my Facebook status read, ‘Feeling sorry for myself.’ Who wouldn’t, being desk-bound after seeing the fairytale alpine countryside of Europe, and the sheer magnificence of Spiti?

I suffered some sleepless nights after I resigned from work, thinking about where I was going to find the money to travel, or well, live. (Not to forget all my parents’ warnings about life in India, not having a job, not having money to pay off my student loan, etc, which is a topic for another post). I experimented with a couple of full time positions in the responsible travel sector, before realizing that all I really wanted was to be my own boss, money or no money. Your financial instincts must frown on my thinking.

Quit my job and travel, alone, lost, thinking, solo girl

It’s okay to feel a little lost sometimes. Photo by Leland Francisco.

I initially dipped every now & then into my savings from my corporate job, but gradually stabilized my income from freelance travel writing, social media assignments, and of late, my own startup, India Untravelled. I travel on whim, sometimes for a short escape, sometimes on work, sometimes indefinitely. I continue to take part in travel contests, and recently sent my first pitch to a tourism board (fingers crossed!). I’m also slowly and steadily paying off my debt for my college education. Most of all, I love my life and what I do, despite the occasional nightmare of what happens if one day I tire of writing & living a nomadic life. Ironically, someone recently came to my blog after Googling “Travel writer stops traveling.” I hope we shall never find out!


Do you dream about quitting your job to travel the world (or follow another dream)? What’s stopping you?


For more travel stories, tips & inspiration, join The Shooting Star on Facebook & Twitter.


Featured image from Flickr by Kristaps B.


  1. Dishit D says

    Inspiring…..I only have recently chanced upon your blogs and tweets and was wondering how you were managing this and this blog really gave me the necessary insights and inspiration!

  2. Good write-up …I find the key to long term travel is, well, first off, the mentality. You have to let go of the physical things in your life, they just weigh you down …the second, yes, money. I actually quit my job to travel …did so for three years, came back home and got another, better job …at that point I said ha, “look at that”, the world didn’t end.

    For me, well, I have no bills. My advice to anyone wanting to travel as a lifestyle is to drop the western thinking and the “american dream” of owning a house …and paying a mortgage for thirty years. Pay off everything, plan on bringing a carry-on, just go…

    • Well said. Reminds me of George Clooney’s speech in his movie Up in the Air, where he talks about how our baggage only weighs us down, and how we ought to travel with an empty backpack. It’s the only way to do it! Kudos for quitting your job for 3 years to travel. Off to read your blog now 🙂

  3. तय रास्तोँ पे क्या चलना/या चलना सागर के किनारोँ पे /वक्त गुज़रा तितलियाँ पकड़े हुए…(what to travel on calf path/or just walk along the sea beach/it’s been ages sinced I stoped following butterflies)
    may your blog inspire a million procrastinator to act and pack their bags to unwind to a far off destination who just dream for such(including me too;))!Nice truthful blog!

    • Always been intrigued by hindi poetry, and you’ve put it wonderfully! Hoping to inspire millions too =)

  4. Reha says

    Hi Shivya, I ‘ve recently started to follow your blog and am certainly proud of you ! I understand it takes a lot of courage to cut out of the stereotype standard well- paid job and step out into the world you’ve dreamt! Good luck and God bless.

    • Hey Reha! The name rang a bell and your email address confirmed it 🙂 So good to see you here, thanks for dropping by & for that encouraging note. Hope you’re doing great wherever in the world you are!

  5. Rajat Agrawal says

    Thank you for writing this post..settles many of my queries 😛

  6. hey Shivya – remember me Sylvia? We were at the comm215 class together, and that time this blog was just a “start-up”, so to say.. Glad to see how you’ve found what you like to do and even better, a way to fund it. I might be one of those few weird people that actually do like doing corporate job/desk job. Only last month I finally travelled out of my own pocket to New Zealand – loved every minute of it. Definitely caught the travel bug this time, and I’m thinking to start writing my travel experiences (I used to blog about it, but not giving it a lot of thought), so that I remember everything of it.

    Cheers to you and travelling!

    • Good to hear from you Sylvia! Yes, I remember comm215 and Prof Tom Estad! I think that class is what got me interested in writing, took me a while to find what it was that I wanted to write about. It’s great that you like doing your corporate job (sometimes I wish I could like it too, I have other friends who do); at the end of the day, the only important thing is to be happy doing what you do =) Good luck with the travel bug (it’s addictive) and the new blog too. Send me a link when it’s up, I’d love to read it.

  7. manchitra says

    It’s always a pleasure to read your blogs since I started reading it. You inspire me…though you are very young..But age is not a factor for that. Way to go…Shivya..God bless and let all good things come your way.
    I also got pleasantly surprised to see my earrings getting scrolled on the C.villa advt. of your page.
    How does it appear on your blog??Any way I am happy…

    And I remember very well when I visited your blog first, you were only a student In Singapore..
    It is 12.10 am and I just opened fb and couldn’t prevent myself coming here. 🙂

    • Thanks Chitra, always grateful for your loyalty to The Shooting Star (and apologies for keeping you up so late, haha). I’m part of the WordAds program, which is a WordPress advertising program, and the ads are automatically served. Hope I can drive some quality leads to your earrings 🙂 Is it possible to order some online btw?

      • manchitra says

        Shivya…you can message me on FB your requirement.. Would be happy to hear from you.

  8. Hi Shivya,

    I had often wondered how you manage to live the life that you do and this post answers a lot for me. So, thanks for sharing.
    Like I mentioned to you, I plan to move back to India later this year and I am hoping to be my own boss too. I’d love to meet you and get better insights into what it is that I should be doing to follow this path.

    Looking forward to more in this series.


    • Thanks for dropping by, Priyanka! I’m glad you’re moving back & looking to do something different. I’m in Delhi when I’m not travelling, so drop me a line once you get here & we’ll surely catch up 🙂

  9. Good on you for following your dream and making it a reality. Happy travels, and don’t forget to come to see me in Italy one day.

    • I can’t wait to visit Italy again, though this year is not looking very likely. Soon, I hope =)

  10. Such a cool story, Shivya – thanks for sharing it! I couldn’t agree more – I think there’s a lot of power in saying, hey, why can’t that be me? I get many similar questions to you – people saying, I wish I could do what you’re doing. In reality, though, it’s all about the choices you make and the risks you take. It’s great to hear it’s worked out so well for you, and I’m excited to see where the road takes you next!

    • Thanks Candace! And you said it, it really is about the choices you make, and the priorities you set for yourself. The road is taking me to Turkey next, my excitement knows no bounds!

  11. Not exactly for travelling but I would love to quit my job for some serious writing. Right now, I am aiming to reduce my office travel time to achieve a part of it. One step at a time. 🙂
    I completely get the “loan” part. I have taken a loan so I am relying on getting a higher package as time passes, so that I could travel more. 🙁
    I have set myself a target of going to at least three places in a year and have met it till now. Hopefully, I will meet the target every year.

    • And that’s a great dream to chase too, Amit! It’s always good to have a target in mind, and kudos to you for meeting it every year. Keep making it bigger & bigger, especially to the time you devote to writing =)

      • Sorry for jumping in, but I couldn’t resist!

        @Shivya: Great post! I’m glad to read about your aspiration and courage (not to mention things working out!).

        @Amit: I too always wanted to write, but a daily job was killing me. As I see it, writers need a laid back, empty life if they are to write well. Life as a freelancer absolutely rocks: you waste far less time, gradually make more money, and are able to live life truly 80/20 style. I hope you’re able to pay off the loan soon and soar freely! 🙂

        • Thanks for dropping by & for your kind words, Ankush =) Can’t agree more that freelancing is the way to go, not just for the freedom of writing but of living on your own terms as well.

  12. I have a dream. :-). Go and chase it Shivya. Write for Ghum somtimes if you feel like. There is a large travel community sitting there. Take Care and Best Wishes. – Nandan

  13. Neha Mathur says

    Hi Shivya,

    Your story was really inspiring. I am so happy that you are loving what you are doing. I also believe that “When your passion and profession are the same, even Exhaustion is about satisfaction”. Great work.

    • Thanks Neha, and you’re right, I think I’m working double as hard now than I ever did in my corporate life, and I’m only happy to do it. The thing with being your own boss is you can always do it better, and do more!

  14. Absolutely loved this post. Im one of those who live in the dilema of whether to quit the corporate job or not. But Im sure I’ll never gather enough courage to quit s steady job and a steady income, even for the sake of travelling. And thats the way it is…

    • Make a plan & chase it, Prashanth. As Mark Twain would say, 20 years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. Go for it.

  15. samareshbiswal says

    nicely u have written about your journey .Happy traveling 🙂

  16. I love the honesty of the post! It’s so inspiring and comforting to see someone go after doing something they like (and that too so successfully!). All the best 🙂

    • Thanks Chandni. I tried to make it no frills, no preaching, keeping it real, just facts and how it worked for me.

  17. dnambiar11 says

    I like your story, I really do. So happy for you.

    For me, this is my playing-stay-at-home-mom time. And because I moved to a new country a little more that a couple of years ago, I’m just exploring my backyard now.

    I’ve read a few of your posts. Now that I know your story, I’m going to be coming here a lot more often and travelling with you, vicariously. 🙂

    Have fun, Shivya, lots of it.

    • Thanks 🙂 I look forward to your virtual company too! There is nothing quite as exciting as exploring your own backyard at your own pace.

  18. You have done what most of us yearn for but few have the heart to do. Hats off to you! The image ‘Halong Bay in Vietnam’ is a classic. The photo by Leland Francisco is hauntingly beautiful. Carry on, Shivya!

  19. Balu says

    Hey Nice work shivya! Do live your dream life. I really feel happy that, I could witness my travel characteristics in another person for the first time. I am a silent traveller. I mean, I am not a blogger and m not good in writing my stories but i had also done so much of travel. I had covered most the possible places in our India and quite few places in nepal. Explored Australia this year. This post reminds me my ladakh bike trip. I resigned my job and took up the ladakh bike trip in 2010. And for this year m going to quit my company(infosys) for my dream trip of this year – 17countries road trip (K2C)

    • Oh wow, that’s great Balu. 17 countries road trip? Which ones do you cover? Would’ve loved to read about your travels in India, Nepal & Australia. Maybe some day you’ll want to pen them down =)

  20. Charu Shrotri. says

    Hi there,
    I read your article above and have recently sold all my Industries and have been traveling. Will surely write a mail to you. It is the best decision you have ever made…

    • Thanks Charu, look forward to hearing from you =) And look luck for the beginning of your own travels!

  21. Vaish says

    Interesting and inspiring to read your travel flashback Shivya..Kudos to your new travel company…I can understand how difficult and challenging it is to follow the dream, and travel the untravelled. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Vaish, hope you’ll travel with India Untravelled sometime when you’re back from Europe =)

  22. Dear Shivya! Being a solo traveler myself, I find your posts like spinach for the popeye! 🙂 I have always wondered there are so many places to see in this world and to not travel is very much unsettling. Hence i try to travel alone as much as possible. But I highly appreciate you leaving your job and having that nerve to travel. It makes a hell lot of difference. My nerve is not a nerve it’s like a small vein, I want to grow it into a muscle! 🙂 Your blog post just helped it strengthen! 🙂

    • I’m flattered being your spinach, haha =) I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that I won’t be able to see everything in the world there is to see. Good luck with the muscle, life is too short to let the vein remain!

  23. Sunil says

    nice read…inspiring…lucky are those who are able to live a life of their choice 🙂

  24. I remember asking you about this on another post about maybe a year ago, Good going and all the best. On a different note, I just got shackled to the corporate desk you liberated yourself from 🙂 Also, what are you reading these days?

    • Ah, finally got around to answering it. Seems like you’re happy being shackled for now, so good luck with that and do it only till you remain happy (I know the feeling of a bulky paycheck at the end of the month). Reading William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives, you?

  25. Awesome. I too quit my job, but to listen to music and write about it. Music for me, is like what travel is for you 🙂 But how do you manage your freelance assignments and your blogs/sites? I find that the freelance assignments take a lot of efforts and time. That’s my biggest hurdle! But I do hope to make enough from my blogs one day, so that I can quit freelancing and represent the best of Indian music one day.

    • That is really awesome, Es! I’m always struggling to find more time to balance all of it, but I’m not ready to give up on either the freelancing or the blogging, so the struggle shall continue till I reach a boiling point. I’ll be looking out when you represent the best of Indian music someday, and with your passion, I’m sure the day will come soon.

      • Thanks for your encouraging words. I am already working on my musical blog, but it’s progressing at a snail’s pace! I get to work on it for only one hour per day, as I am working on multiple freelance assignments right now. But that one hour per day is much better than 0 hours per month which I got while working on a full-time job. Anyway, wishing you all the best on your travel venture and many more interesting things you want to do in future…

  26. Loved it! So, my mind is also on these lines for some months now. Single female traveler in India..really want to just kick away my office chair and push off to see new places, meet new people and new experiences. So bored with corporate life. Am very positive after reading your post! So much to learn from you. Shall definitely meet you on some of the roads someday! Amen! 🙂

    • Thanks Naina, and glad that my story is keeping you hopeful. Hope I’ll see on the roads soon!

  27. Reading this blog really made me proud being a woman.. I always wanted to be traveller n photographer..but being Indian girl…i was always finding it difficult…Later i thought there would be reading your post i feel more focused..thank you so much…Also i would like to connect Incase you would travel.planning on to many places this Year…let’s connect

    • I’m so glad it did! I think we just have to drop everything we’ve been taught and fed over the years and find the courage to follow our dreams. We are stronger than we think 🙂 Happy to connect. I’m on twitter @shivya =)

  28. You are an inspiration Shivya! 🙂

    I’ll get in touch with you to get more info on how I could emulate the great example you have set!

    • Thanks Teky, I had read Vinoth’s story a while back & it’s inspiring! I think every person has the ability to live his dream, he only needs to know how to get there & try hard enough =)

  29. Pingback: Dealing With Travel-Wary Indian Parents. | The Shooting Star

  30. Hi, I’m a new reader. This is absolutely fascinating!! I am so happy for you that you made your dream happen! I’m now off to read all your old posts now!!

    • Welcome to The Shooting Star & thanks for your kind words =) Look forward to your virtual company on my travels!

  31. Came here via The Dreamer’s blog, and I am glad I did.

    I am a married Indian woman, one of those who is comfortable in and is scared of life without her corporate job. I love travel, and there is an undeniable part of me that would love to quit my desk job and see the world. Your post gives me inspiration. I have no clue how to do it though, and whether I really am up for it. Will be following you, and introspecting, in order to find out. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this post.

    • Thanks for your kind words =) I started with baby steps, saving all I could in my corporate job and travel as far as I could over weekends / annual leaves. Give it a shot, good luck & hope to see you here again!

  32. Pingback: How I Afford My Travels, and How You Can Too. | The Shooting Star

  33. Chetan K Jain says

    Wonderful post Shivya. I can relate in a way to this… Worked 4 yrs in the US, cleared all loans, saved everything I could so that I could return to India for good and in the final month it came to the decision of seeing US or saving that money. I spent over $3000 and did a 16 day solo cross country drive across US .. to and fro. I loved and lived every moment of it. Even to this day I maintain if I had died alone in Death Valley in that trip, it was a life well lived. Such were the sights and experiences I had in those 16 days 🙂 Thanks you are an inspiration !