Earlier this year, I was featured on BBC Travel’s How I Quit My Job to Travel column, sharing my journey from the cubicle to a nomadic life. As I pen this, snowflakes are dancing outside my window in New York City, I’m still hung-over from heady experiences in Guatemala and Honduras, and have a flight to catch in three days to sunny California and onwards to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.
When I quit my corporate job in mid-2011, I couldn’t fathom this is how I’d be wrapping up 2014.
So this post goes out to all of you who dream of building a life of travel. If you are sitting on the fence about quitting your job, this is a plan for you in real dollars and cents (or should I say, in meagre rupees?):
1) Know that you really want to travel.
I’ve said it before, and I say it again: Traveling long term is not the same as a luxury vacation. When you travel more days than you stay at home, you’re not only on a smaller budget, but also quickly tire of sightseeing and superficial experiences. I know many people who like to take short trips, but after a few weeks, crave nothing more than their familiar bed, daily routine and social circles. Ask yourself if you really like being out of your comfort zone for long periods. Then club your long weekends and annual leave, give yourself a realistic budget, travel for atleast a month at a stretch, and determine whether a life of travel is really for you.
If like me, you don’t enjoy backpacking, go with a flashpacking budget of INR 6,000 (100$) per night in the west, and INR 2,500-3,000 (40-50$) per night in most developing countries – for everything except flights. If backpacking is your thing, determine your range with help from Nomadic Matt‘s blog.
Read: One Year of Travelling Without a Home
2) Create travel and rainy day funds.
First things first. Before you put in your papers, save enough money to travel for a few months, and then some. Money runs out faster on the road than you can plan for, especially when there’s no inflow. Given that in India and most developing countries, we don’t have social security to fall back on, running out of money means having to crash at your family’s or friends’ couches. That might be well for a while, but when you are building a coveted life of travel, sympathy might not last long enough.
I quit my corporate job just after receiving my bonus, with over INR 4 lakhs (SG$ 8000) to glide me through till I figured things out. I used half of it to create a fixed deposit – my rainy day fund – which I’ve never yet touched, letting it gather interest for the last 3.5 years. I imagine that if one day I stop making any money, this fund will cover me for 6 months of rent and living in India, and give me enough time to find a job again. I used the rest of my savings to travel and experiment with different work that could lead to a sustainable income on the go.
Read: Saving Money for Travel: 9 Practical Tips
3) Prepare for a lonely journey ahead.
There are no roadmaps for the journey you’re about to take. Chances are, your family will never fully grasp the way the road changes you. When weeks become months, your friends will move on, building lives that you hardly relate to. You will meet amazing people on the road, but you will say goodbye, every time. And for the most part, you’ll love it. But there will be times when these fleeting interactions, and decisions that you are solely responsible for making, will overwhelm you. There will be times when you’ll wonder what if you had taken a different path and not know the answer. There will be lonely times, and you must know that.
Many international bloggers, though on a somewhat similar journey, face battles very different from mine. And I don’t relate to most Indian bloggers who chase press trips or live off their spouse’s income. So even now, after all these years, when I feel lost, I only have myself to rely on and figure a way out.
Read: 10 Life Lessons from 2 Years of Traveling
4) Evaluate ways to make money once you quit.
This is the trickiest part, and truth be told, I didn’t have it figured out before I quit. I did however, feel confident about the number of options I could try. I tried a ‘work from home’ role with a travel company. I dabbled into travel writing. I picked up freelance social media work. I found perspective, learnt to work smart, and this year, I’ve made a comfortable six-figure monthly income (in rupees) on average. I could do more, work more, earn more, for there are opportunities, but the balance between travel and money is the only thing I’m after.
How are you going to do it? Figure out if you’re a good writer, a people person, a gifted coder, a talented website designer, an excellent photographer, a social media buff… and as a first step, start building your portfolio and try to score freelance work.
Read: How to Earn Money While Traveling?
5) Have a goal, but be flexible.
It’s easy to get distracted or discouraged when uncertainty looms ahead. Having a time frame in mind always helps, and for many, having a goal in terms of your travels.
I had only four days between deciding to quit and resigning, but if I were to do it all over again, I would plan 4-6 months ahead, time it with a bonus payout (which luckily I was able to anyway), and consciously save in the months leading up to the D-day. Even now, while saving for longer, farther trips, I give myself a tentative date, and plan the trip based on how much I’ve managed to save by then.
The important thing is to use these goals or timelines as a reference point, leaving enough flexibility for new opportunities or dreams to find you.
Read: The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel
6) Break it to your family, but expect to be talked out of it.
You know your family best, but in general, our parents belong to a different generation, and their idea of what is best for us might be very different from our own. They might never be at peace knowing that your life’s goal is to travel. So if you have decided to take a stand, break the news to your family at a time when you are convinced that no one can talk you out of it.
It’s best to tread slow. Start with the little things. That you are going to quit your current job, travel for a few months, try working in a different beat, and see how it goes. Leave some things vague, like you might have a come-back plan, like you might want to ‘settle down’ at some point. You’re being an adult now, so it’s time to accept that if your money runs out or if the going gets tough, you have to figure it out yourself.
Be practical, experiment, let the road show you the way. But don’t let anyone walk over your dreams and tell you you can’t do it.
Read: Dealing With Travel-Wary Indian Parents
7) Surround yourself with people who travel, even if virtually.
The more you travel, the less you’ll relate to people who choose not to. Seek inspiration and practical insights from other travellers and nomads, and if there are none around you, get online – get active on Twitter and read travel blogs.
Even now, when I feel anxious about traveling solo or wonder why I live the way I do, I find respite in travel blogs like Candace’s The Great Affair and Earl’s Wandering Earl, and in Instagram feeds like that of NatGeo. My Twitter and Facebook timelines are almost entirely dominated by travellers, and when the going gets tough, I turn to my Facebook page for encouragement.
When you build your life on the road, you might not have a thriving social life (I’m far from it), but the online travel community is fabulous, friendly and helpful.
Read: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me
8) Do the deed and be awesome!
You’ve hit your savings goal, thought long and hard about your options, and made your decision. Say the words, ‘I quit’.
Do what it takes, get out there, keep an open mind, have your adventures, live life the way you’ve dreamt, and in the end, if it doesn’t work out – for whatever reason – promise to put on a brave face and move on.
There are a million reasons why it might not work out, but it did for me and its been pretty fuckin’ awesome.
Read: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Quit My Job to Travel
Want to build a life of travel? Read all about my journey here.
If you still have unanswered questions, ask me in the comments.
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.
Sounds very fascinating! But personally I feel you need some kind of financial backing (when you quit, you had received the bonus) which gives you some kind of mental peace that even if things go wrong, you need not look to others for help. Also, there should be some ‘skills’ in you, like writing (blogging), photography, etc. to sustain remotely. Most importantly, a very good internet connection 🙂
You are inspiring ….loved reading through the post……
I loved your post. I just come back for 1 year and a half traveling in Asia and Australia (with some savings but no jobs), amd I was surprised to see that I really didn’t need much money to live and travel. It also depends the way you travel, I never stayed in a guesthouse, I was wwoofing and sharing some families life also. For me, traveling with a very low budget is a different experience, which forces you to get closer to the people around you. I think there is nothing wrong about asking people for help, as long as you give them back more 🙂
So for all the people who don’t need much confort, and wants to discover other cultures, don’t let the question of money stop you !!
Earning a 6 digit salary through freelance jobs? I used to think earlier that you’re living off your daddy’s moolah. Now that I think of it, well, it is possible to earn that kind of money through freelance jobs and travel. Respect! 🙂
Very Inspiring post Shivya, but actually the voyager like me always dream to travel not only for pleasure but to know the places, the culture, the people & share my thoughts with those people who are not willing to go outside much, to create an energy boost for them. Yes I agreed that without money we can not move a single destination, but still hoping one day may be will travel a lot may be quit job only for this passion without food & without money..:)
Very well written! This is what many wannabe travellers want to know. Keep writing… Keep travelling…
I loved your post. I just came back for 1 year and a half traveling in Asia and Australia (with some savings but no jobs) and I was surprised to realize, I really didn’t need much money to live and travel. It also depends the way you travel. I never stayed in a guesthouse, I was wwoofing a lot and also share some family life. For me, traveling with a very low budget, is a very different experience, wich brings you closer to the people around you. I think there is nothing wrong about aksing people for help, as long as you bring them back more (and there is many ways to do so, without money) 🙂
So to all the people who don’t need much confort and privacy, and really want to dicover new cultures, don’t let the money question stops you !!
I have a question 4 myself. I’m doing a job which I’m nt liking much. I wnt 2 quit it 4 travelling. Bt, financial situation is not so good 4 dat much travelling n I always think dat wt wl I do just the nxt day after quitting my job. I dnt wnt 2 seat home a single day wasting my time. Can u help me by giving sm suggestion on dis???
First thing to do: start writing in full words
Second: You might have mistaken this post for “Ask The Astrologer Any Question” helpline.
She has already detailed the steps she took (and takes) to fulfil her travel dreams, so I’m not sure what suggestion you need?
lol you should also shop lecturing others….:P
Inspiring Shivya! Proud of you.
It’s just so fascinating to read about your story and the unconventional, offbeat path. Interesting account of how to go about it, even though I have my doubts on the long-term viability. But that shouldn’t come in the way of the one who must travel.
What is thought-provoking is enjoying one’s solitude. And dealing with the blurring difference between solitude and loneliness. That’s where you gotta ‘improvise’ and find ways and means to keep going!
Your experiences are as such a vicarious thrill. Keep at it! 👍
Great post! I just quit my job a couple of months ago and am now living the freedom I dreamed of. I agree with everything you said. I especially find it very helpful to speak with people who travel as well. It’s inspiring, it helps you a lot and will give you a lot of motivation to keep going.
Hi Shivya, thanks for sharing this. Your thoughts are indeed very refreshing and candid which is what I like and appreciate because it’s different from the typical Huttington or BuzzFeed posts which are filled with numerous “how to quit your job to travel”.
Although I don’t wish to travel full time as I prefer to travel for short period of time and then come home, I do know what you mean by not being able to relate to people who don’t share similar interest, passion and experiences in travel. As a result, I’m glad that there’s the travel bloggersphere, and other social media platforms that help me to connect with and relate to other travellers, like yourself 🙂
As always, all the best with your travels. Looking forward to read more of your experiences.
Yet another Inspiring post shivya … i do feel like quitting my corporate job and travel but then I think its my job that helps me travel more than I could, be it flying business class or staying at luxurious resort & that too all company sponsored 😉 . Not only that I can go on short term or long term assignment to any international destination and stay there for months or years like a local , then why to quit job when it can fund all your travel dreams and wish list 😉
I think its not about quitting job , its about switching job , to do something you are passionate about.In your case your awesome travel writing skills, social media consulting and India untravelled helped you chase your full time travel dreams 🙂 🙂
Keep travelling and keep inspiring as always!!!!
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Really awesome post and very well written. If in future my manager asks me why I want to quit my job, I will share your post with him 😛 . I would love to meet you in person sometime and listen to your amazing stories. Keep travelling and keep sharing 🙂
Discussing the financials in this post has helped me so much. I have this plan, I am writing exams for a few months starting november. My plan is if I get through the results, I will join a hospital and continue work for three years. Then I will have enough to travel. If I don’t get through the exams, plan B is to travel atleast parts of kerala where i have never been before. living like you is a dream. thanks for discussing it here, if you can discuss it on travels that you do in future, it would be quite helpful for me to plan certain places you have visited. or i will just mail you then for help, i guess 🙂
You don’t know what an impact you have left on my life. I don’t know how did I stumble upon your blog but since that day, I have been reading it and reading and reading it. You are living a dream life of almost every woman who wants to be nomadic at one or the other phase of life. And the best part is……your honesty. You unhesitatingly accept that its not an easy life rather than covering it up with shining wrapper and showing the readers only good things about it. Love, love, love you writing style and your courage to walk on different paths.
Would like to live a nomadic life for a month from my whole life atleast. Dreaming I am? 🙂
Thanks for sharing your journey and keep writing…..
I think this is a very cool post. It’s not really something I relate to because while I enjoy travelling, I like it in short bursts. I love seeing the world but I also love the life I’ve built, my home with my husband, my dogs, my work, even my hot tub. But I always like to hear about someone else’s life that’s maybe a bit different from mine, and I think yours is a very interesting perspective.
Reblogged this on .
very nice…i just wanna do it
gr8. but still don’t get how do u earn on the go?
Recently came across your adventures and travel, have made it a point to go through each and every bit before the inevitable 🙂
Kudos to the blogs you write!
Loved this pose; truly inspiring for those of us who are sick of the office, especially those of us who have to leave our kids in daycare
There were a few questions from people wanting to get information on how to ‘earn on the go’ and I just wanted to include a couple of articles that I have come across that provide really useful information about this
buff.ly/1DI4pgN – Top 25 companies for Work From Home jobs.
buff.ly/1EkxQVe – The best 100 companies with remote jobs
Hi Shivya, this is a first blog i have read till now. And really it was a lot inspiring than what I expected. I have recently found my interest in travelling. But my interest is in short trips and knowing people n their cultures n especially their authentic food. That is wat my dream n passion is. But I still havent been able to travel much due to same, our typical INDIAN families. But i do travel for a day to nearby places n would be writing soon.
This is such a beautiful post!
This is a lovely and inspiring post Shivya! This has been on my mind too, but the lack of steady flow of income always pulled me back. But after reading your blog, and about earning well through freelance jobs, it’s given me some hope 🙂
An amazing read here Shivya! I too, quit my job to travel, and now i’ve started up the Cinnamon Route http://www.thecinnamonroute.com to show others you can be Indian and travel.
Keep on travelling x
जोगी बनके दुनियां देखि,
गए 7 समुन्दर पार,
जब है मेरा परिवार ये सारा संसार
कईं देश देखे और कभी ना मणि हार।
You are a extra ordinary soul having a enlightening life journey.
Money, relations, financial security, emotional outbursts, Society, self esteem, ambitions, pride etc are the issues which troubles everyone before they decide to go on such a journey.
Well at the personal level I really look upto you as an divine child who is born with inquisitive mind and your actions inspired me to go out of my comfort zone and explore new horizons of life.
Its really tough to deal with our fear, anger, isolation, lust etc and that also alone.
Its very tough.
You are made of steel 🙂
I wish you all the very best for your journey and may you get everything which you need to achieve your goals.
Reaching on your final destination will be no less then a festival for your friends and family.
God bless you!
Wow! This is truly inspiring… hope to post something similar in the years ahead! Happy Journey!
A life like this is much coveted especially for the freedom it brings. But age counts .
I have recently quit my secured and well paid full time professors job and switched to visiting lecturer for pursuing my passion.I do get some money from writing books.when everybody is saying I am making mistake your life is motivating me and saying that I am on the right track.Best wishes to you and thanks for sharing
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You said everything in a beautiful way yet there is a small correction needed. To the one who travels there exists no loneliness coz the world belongs to them. Keep posting.
You can also write about “how to quit studies and start traveling?”
Really fed up with engineering.
fantastic! doing what u like, loneliness is a part of all packages
This has been one of my dreams as well. Just break the shackles and get out there, away from monotonous routine, experiencing the world and nature as they are.
Thank you for giving my dream a direction and me, inspiration!
Great post..! but honestly like most of the bloggers, doesn’t explain the exact trick used to actually fund your travel! How you actually turn your six figures by travel blogging! I am sure its a big deal because being from India turning up this figure is not easy! Most of the international bloggers used travel hacks by earning and burning extra miles and the credit card companies like chase etc and co-branded airlines there do provide plenty opportunities, but its not the same in India. ( I have done it India but still cant compete the benefits) Similarly for blogging, either you are expert Web designer, or you hire one + PR for promoting you while you are traveling and start building partners. Even then Its a long mile road. I mean no one actually explains the idea behind building up the traffic and audience which would anyone have taken quite a while If they have done it independently without professional help. I loved reading your post because it was true and honest from your heart, I could feel it. But honestly its still lacks content of the heading. No matter you are still inspirational! 🙂
u r truely an inspiration!!!!! Loved ur Blog!!!!! So honest!!!! Best of Luck for ur Future!!!!!!!
Really a nice blog…
Being a traveler, I know how it feels to sit inside a cabin and work for months just to get a weeks leave.
it’s hard and irritating. Was going through your article and trust me, you nailed it.
An awesome piece of content for anyone who is planning to shift their career and are planning to catch their dreams.
Absolutely great post! Inspiring and I’m going to use a lot of this advice when planning my long term travel plans.
Hi shivya, that was an insightful article to how to quit your job and start travelling. Your strategies were so well laid out before you quit your job and started travelling. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every point and that was like an assessing time for me too, am I really ready to travel coming out of my comfort zone or just want to be a backpack traveller. Till then keep writing and I’ll try to read your article whenever I can
I was on my terrace today looking at the sunset for like 40 mins alone.In past few years the sky above my home has never been clearer.For past 1 year i am seeing remote travel destinations around the world and i keep imagining me there one day but today when i was sitting on my terrace,i wondered how am i ever going to do that with a corporate job that i have to take.
I still haven’t figured out what am i gonna do but some of your advices are really helpful in this post and it has made me less anxious.I really feel grateful that we have a travel blogger like you to look for!
Thanks a ton 🙂