Is Travelling The World Full-Time a Realistic Goal or a Fantasy?

“I quit my job and now I’m traveling the world until money runs out.”

I had this conversation at least a dozen times on my last trip to Colombia. It’s shockingly common to meet someone at a hostel who has quit their job to travel the world.

Is this the new dream? Is travelling the world a realistic goal or is it just a fantasy for most of us?

quit your job to travel

I enjoy travelling alone and meeting new people. It really forces me to step out of my comfort zone every single time. From trying to learn the language to going on random adventures with new friends. I’m a strong believer in travelling and picking up skills as you go (and taking some vodka shots).

What terrifies me is that most folks who quit their job to travel the world don’t have a plan for making money.

I wanted to do some research on this topic and to write out my thoughts on travelling the world. I’ve been travelling since I was 18. I usually go on multiple trips per year. I did the resort thing for the longest time. In 2011, I tried backpacking solo and have been doing that ever since. I often find myself going away for a few weeks. I still haven’t gone on a year-long journey. The topic really fascinates me though.

Before I get into this, I wanted to remind you about my article on how you can travel before it’s too late.

The six ways are:

  1. Go on a big trip before you settle down.
  2. Find a job with vacation time.
  3. Go somewhere to learn a skill.
  4. Find a job overseas.
  5. Go on a shoestring budget.
  6. Find a way to make money off your phone.

What do the experts have to say about traveling the world?

Skydiving in Australia

I originally got the idea from Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek.

“The alternative to binge travel- the mini retirement – entails relocating to one place for one to six months before going home or moving to another locale. It is the anti-vacation in the most positive sense. Though it can be relaxing, the mini-retirement is not an escape from your life but a reexamination of it – the creation of a blank slate.”

Sean Ogle wrote an article on what nobody tells you about running a business on the road:

“Travelling and working around the world for a prolonged period of time is only going to work if you work hard to maintain the lifestyle that you’re living.

Sightseeing, accommodation, tours, food, drink and other expenses quickly add up and take their toll on ones bank balance. You’ve got to do your very best to ensure that the majority of months will see your income far outweigh your expenditures.

Making the decision to go out on the town when you have work that needs to be attended to will only have one outcome – your journey will come to a sudden halt at some point or other.”

Mark Manson wrote about how to quit your job:

“When I wanted to leave the bank, a number of friends and family members suggested that I continue to build my business on the side until I had a steady income. In hindsight, I think if I would have done that, I would not have made it. Giving up would have been too easy. I wouldn’t have had the time or energy necessary to do it. That ever-present fear motivating me would have been gone.”

Chris Guillebeau wrote an article on why you should quit your job:

“We choose what we value, either consciously or unconsciously.

Many people, young and old, have no problem happily spending their money and even going into debt for luxuries each week. I’ve chosen to focus my own spending priorities on meaningful experiences.”

Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads wrote the following:

“I feel very fortunate to have crafted a life where I can pursue the dreams that invigorate me, and part of what makes that pursuit so fulfilling is sharing the resulting stories, photos and thoughts with the readers on my blog.”

Jodi Ettenberg also wrote this on why she quit:

“I left because travelling around the world was something I dreamed of doing for years, and with the passage of time the trip had morphed from a want into a need.”

Nomadic Matt reflected with the following:

“I’ve never met someone who regretted their decision to travel. Everyone is appreciative of what travel has taught them, even those who came home early after realizing what they learned was that they didn’t like travel.”

Paula Pant of Afford Anything mentioned the following in a recent interview:

“You’ve set your priorities, you know what your decision is. But to say, ‘I can’t afford it,’ is so dis-empowering and I really wanted to share a much more empowering message around money, that you have these choices and that every dollar you spend is a trade-off.”

James Altucher tends to write about quitting your job:

“Depression is highest in fully employed, first world countries. The two highest countries for depression? France and the United States.

We simply were not made to work 60 hours a week. Archaeologists figure that our paleo ancestors ‘worked’ maybe 12 hours a week.”

This article on Thrillist provides a different perspective:

“Oh, so you’re going to go travel? Just like that? You’re just going to go travel, like, whatevs, no worries, I’m traveling? Cool story, bro. How are you going to afford it? And yes, while there are countless blog posts from professional travel bloggers with tips on how to live on the road for $500 a year or whatever… you really need to think about what it entails. How much of your savings are you willing to spend? How much time are you willing to work along the way?”

There are some extreme viewpoints on this topic. The problem is that most of us aren’t extreme. The 24-year old trying to save up enough money to attend more concerts this summer or the young professional looking to buy a rental property isn’t typically ready to quit work and start travelling. Let’s dig a little deeper…

What are my thoughts on quitting to travel the world?

How you can travel

It’s an awesome idea in theory. It’s really fun to read articles about people who quit their jobs to start rock climbing in Australia.

Why would you not want to see the whole world? Who wouldn’t want to just quit their job?

My problem is that I’m super practical. I don’t want you to be broke and miserable. I would never tell someone to quit their job and follow their passions blindly.

I firmly believe that everyone in their 20s should travel at some point.

It should be mandatory to explore the world. You don’t have to go for a long time, but you should at least see a few places on this planet. It’s interesting how rare travel is in North America compared to other parts of the world. I’m pretty sure that every Australian travels around the world in their 20s (it seems that way).

You should also never be stuck in a miserable situation.

There’s absolutely no excuse for being stuck in crappy position these days. We’re living in the best time period in history. You can do anything that you want. Everything has already been done. Whenever I travel somewhere new I read a travel guide on the place and ask questions in forums. There’s nothing to stress about. Every solution is available to you.

The harsh truth on quitting your job to travel.

how you can travel

I don’t want to paint the idea of quitting your job to travel the world as the best thing possible for you because I’m assuming that you live in the real world. I fall more on the “realistic dreamer” side in the sense that I believe in following your dreams, but with a plan. I don’t want you to be flat broke while your friends get ahead.

There are two things that you need to accomplish before your global expedition:

  1. You need to save up some money before you can quit. Have you started saving up yet? Are you making more money on the side? Hope is never a game plan. Get your finances in order. You never know when sudden expenses will creep up on you.
  2. You also want to find out why you hate your job so much. Is it possible that you just haven’t found the best job yet? Are you good at your job?

What can you do right now to quit your job?

I wrote a huge piece on quitting your job. I don’t want to become too repetitive.

The following is my best advice on quitting your job:

  1. Stop complaining.
  2. Make a game plan so that you can leave to completely improve your situation.

Those are the two best tips if you want to quit your job in the near future.

Is traveling the world a realistic goal or a fantasy?

having fun in your 20s

Quitting your job to travel the world can be both a realistic goal and a fantasy.

It all boils down to how you approach it and how much planning you put into it. I know that it’s exciting to read about the girl who slapped her boss across the face and then went around the world. It’s not so exciting to save up, cut back on useless expenses, and to make more money on the side.

Theo started his own tutoring company. Now he has a flexible schedule and money coming in.

Jacquelyn paid off $48k worth of debt. When you’re debt-free, you have more options in life. You can start to think about saving up for that dream trip.

What’s the solution if you want to quit your job and travel the world?

Studenomics Vagabond Method (SV Method for short).

Accept extreme living so that you can take care of your finances and then test the waters with your travels before you jump all in.

If you actually want to quit your job to travel the world the smart way, it’s going to take a decent amount of effort. I’m not here to sell you a dream. I don’t want you to be broke and pissed off at the world because you listened to some dude online telling you that you have to quit your job.

Here’s the exact formula:

  1. Make travel a priority by cutting everything else out.
  2. Start to save up.
  3. Pay off your debt.
  4. Get rid of your stuff to save up more money.
  5. Simplify your financial life.
  6. Make more money by starting a side business or getting into freelancing.
  7. Keep on saving.
  8. Say NO to anything that’s not related to your goal.
  9. Start planning.
  10. Set a date.
  11. Keep on saving.

You have to earn this stuff. The world doesn’t owe you anything.

I met a guy who ran away on his debt. I don’t know what his plan was but I imagine that things didn’t work out when he returned home (he did eventually return home).

You can’t have it all. You can’t party every weekend as you save up to go around the world. You have to build up your savings and your passive income. You need to take care of your finances so that you don’t return worse off.

I would personally test the waters first.

How do you test the waters?

  • Travel alone. Have you ever ventured off solo? Give it a go. You may never want to travel in a group again.
  • Plan a mini adventure. You don’t have to take off for six months. You can start off with a week or even a weekend.
  • Travel to a dream destination. You don’t have to quit your job and sell your stuff to enjoy your first adventure. Use your vacation time and see if you really could imagine doing this for an extended period of time.

How can you travel and still make money?

traveling the world

I personally couldn’t live off savings. I’ve met countless folks who saved up and are now surviving off their savings. I always want to be making more money as I go.

My ultimate goal in life would be to make it in pro wrestling. That job is all about traveling the world while you entertain the masses. That’s more of a fantasy at this moment still. There are many ways that you can travel now before it’s too late. There are also many ways that you can make money as you travel.

The most common methods are:

  1. Apply for work. I visited a friend in Bermuda recently. He has been working there for a few years now all because he applied for jobs online.
  2. Teach English. One of my first guest posts on here was a tale of a reader who taught English abroad. This is likely the easiest way to get started. These jobs will often pay for your accommodations.
  3. Start an online business. This is my favorite option as this blog is an example of an online business. I’ve even written a detailed guide on starting a blog.

Travelling the world isn’t a complete fantasy. You can get there. You can even get there the smart way if you plan for it.

I’ll never forget Hugh from Krakow, Poland in 2011. He left New Zealand to go around the world with very little money. He would work odd jobs (painting, front desk at a hostel, etc.) just to get by. He traveled with a sleeping bag because when he was low on money he would setup shop in a park. I could never do that. All the power to Hugh.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” — Vincent van Gogh

11 thoughts on “Is Travelling The World Full-Time a Realistic Goal or a Fantasy?”

  1. Primal Prosperity

    This quote you have listed, by James Altucher, is EXACTLY why I named my blog “Primal Prosperity”! 🙂

    “Depression is highest in fully employed, first world countries. The two highest countries for depression? France and the United States.

    We simply were not made to work 60 hours a week. Archaeologists figure that our paleo ancestors ‘worked’ maybe 12 hours a week.”

    1. Primal Prosperity

      Travel alone. Have you ever ventured off solo? Give it a go. You may never want to travel in a group again.

      I took a solo trip a few years ago when I turned 40. As a woman, I chose the safest place, which is Australia. I LOVED it though. I recommend everyone, especially women travel solo.

      My husband and I are planning our trek for 2018. We plan to do several months. Who knows, it might turn into years. We are not planning an itinerary. I really dislike touristy things, so we’re going to try couch surfing and homestays and try to exchange tutoring services for room and board. We have rental income and a lot of savings, but many places we are going are cheaper than the U.S. if you go for a longer period, so I don’t think we will go through it all.

      You should check out Rita Golden Gelman. She wrote Tales from a Female Nomad. She is a big proponent of the gap year and is trying to encourage it more in the U.S. When I went to Australia, I met very few Americans, because they can’t take off enough time to justify the long flight and you need at least 3 weeks to see enough.

      1. I really agree with the concept of the gap year. It’s a shame that this isn’t more popular in North America. I’ve seen friends go straight from college to workforce to marriage with no time to see the world or to do any exploring.

  2. I’m completely with your point of quiting job to travel. If you are really fascinated in travelling, you need to quit a job that doesn’t give you satisfaction. And choose to travel around world and make it professional by choosing the profession which fulfills your travelling desire and makes you money too.

  3. There are so many examples of bloggers travelling the world and living off their blogging income – don’t you think it’s becoming a saturated market? There are plenty of other ways to earn money as you go without running a blog. Examples could include bookkeeping, copy writing, tutoring, teaching etc

  4. I met a bunch of people who quit their job to travel when I took my sabbatical in 2003. They’d work and save up, then quit to travel until the money runs out. Back to work and save up again. These people were from the UK. That sounded like a great way to travel, but it didn’t seem sustainable. Eventually, you’ll build relationships and acquire more responsibilities. You don’t want to be penniless forever. It’s a good way to travel when you’re young, though.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. I’m impressed by these people. I could never do this. I can be care-free for a few nights, but I can’t live life that! I always think about the future. The smarter move seems to be to do a working holiday. My brother is working as a barber in Sydney right now.

  5. It’s so refreshing to see young people like this actually thinking about, and planning for, their future. You are truly an inspiration to the younger generation. I wish I could get more younger people to have this mindset. Mindset drives everything in your universe. You manifest what you dream about.

  6. “I firmly believe that everyone in their 20s should travel at some point.”

    I couldn’t agree more Martin. Travelling in my 20s was hands down the best thing I did to get myself out of a rut and it paved the way for me to get to where I am now.

    Travelling the world gave me a totally new perspective on people, money and work. I met so many inspiring individuals who were doing things I couldn’t believe and taking risks that seemed unimaginable to me. They made me reevaluate what might possible in my own life.

    As to whether it’s a sustainable life? I met people who had been travelling for years… it suited them, and as far as they were concerned that was how they intended to spend their life. I’ve no doubt it’s sustainable, but not if you want to live the life of a consumer.

    It’s a choice I guess.

    1. Travel is the best thing for you. I’m so glad that I traveled the world all by myself. Nobody to bring me down. Just adventures on the open road.

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