Three Keys to Quitting My Job and Traveling for a Year(ish)

You Did What? Are you crazy? Do you know what you’re doing? Is this really a smart idea? Have you consulted other’s opinions on this? Those are just a few of the questions I got, along with a lot of raised eyebrows and judgey, yet jealous, eyes, when I share that I quit my job with no real plan…except: “go to India to become a yoga teacher” and “find myself”(I feel like an Eat Pray Love story character when I say this out loud, but it has so much more meaning than that!). And you know what, I love these responses, I can’t help but just smile.

Three key reasons I’m comfortable with this “I have no income and traveling around the world” thing:

  1. Financially prepared
  2. Professionally accomplished
  3. Personally free

***I firmly do not believe you NEED these things to do what I’m doing, or even a version of it. Not at all. If you’re unhappy, make a change plzzzzzzzzz for the love of god or whatever you believe in! I love the stories from people who know they need a change and do something about it. Take a risk, a spontaneous one way ticket, figure it out along the way – you will make it, you will be happier. I’m always going to be the one saying “hell yes do it!” even when it sounds crazy, that’s living, in my mind. My point in summarizing these three points is that for me, these things have been what made this decision and the adventure achievable without worries***

The 3 For Me:

1. Financially prepared

What I mean by this is that I have financially set myself up to take time off without income and not be set back, I’m NOT ruining or even touching my real savings, not going anywhere near zero. I setup a separate savings account specifically for nomad life, although I wouldn’t say I knew exactly that I was going to do this, but I had been thinking about it since I moved to Dubai. For two years I put $1,000 per month into that nomad savings account (and this didn’t take away from any other savings and retirement money I also put aside each month). So I had $24,000 USD saved up, then topped it up with another $10,000 when I left Dubai (google UAE End of Service, it rocks, I was able to put a good amount into my IRA too). So $34,000 USD is my budget to spend. Are you thinking: but omg, you could buy a car, nice down payment on a house, retirement, family, kids…. Blah blah blah. Well, I have a notable retirement fund for my age, I bought a beautiful Land Rover while I lived in Madison and haven’t needed a car since, the sound of owning a house makes me suffocate, and when I’m ready for that I’ll save for it and be fine. Kids, family? Yes, someday, not today! Plus: tell me you haven’t ever thought how amazing it would be to be free and see the world? Right, sounds amazing, so many people tell me they wish they could’ve or would’ve, so I’m going to.

*Honest disclaimer: I’m just going to say in straight here: I had a great job with a great salary. It wasn’t hard for me to save. I don’t spend a whole lot of money on personal expenses except for traveling. And when it comes to travel I just spend, pretty frivolously TBH. I traveled to 32 countries in my two years in Dubai, going whenever and wherever I really wanted. I worked damn hard (see point 2) for the money I made, but I first-hand know it’s not just that easy for everyone to save as much as I did so quickly (I used to be a teacher…)

The google sheet I am using to track every single expense! Thanks to a fellow #girlslovetravel-er I borrowed the template from!

BUDGETING: BECAUSE I AM POOR! With all the above said, I am traveling around and living my life fully, with no paycheck coming in, so, I am really poor. And I love it. I have to budget. Now I could take the approach of just travel and spend until the savings runs out, then go back to consulting and rake the money back in. But that makes my heart sink and want to cry. So I’m trying to the careful budget route. I’ve copied a Google Spreadsheet from a fellow #girlslovetravel member who traveled for 7 months spending hardly any money. Her budgeting skills already blow mine away, but her spreadsheet is useful. I plan on creating my own spreadsheet, because I really like formulas and pivot tables, but I wanted to make sure I started tracking from day 1. It’s been a big help, mainly for accountability. Everything I spend I have to write down, so it makes me cautious and think about if I really need it, or how bad I really want it. There are some things I just want and that’s a big point of doing all this, so I get it! But in doing so, it just makes me mindful that I might not be able to spend as much on my lodging, or that I’ll have to readjust in another area. It also breaks down my spending per country, which is really interesting to see and reflect on.

Summary Table Average Daily Annual Total
Daily expenses  $         60.00  $21,600.00
International transport  $         22.22  $   8,000.00
Insurance  $           8.67  $   3,120.00
TOTAL  $         90.89  $32,720.00

Overall travel budget (assuming 1-year): $34,000

    • If you take 34,000 / 360 you get ~ $94 per day
  • My average daily budget: $60 USD
    • This includes lodging, local transportation, food, wine (I used to spend $60 on a bottle of wine without thinking twice about it. Perspective!!! But also, I may just do that and only consume that one day, lol) entertainment, personal items, etc.
    • Not included in the daily budget: international fights, visas, insurance,
  • Budget for international flights/trains/transport + visas: $8,000
  • Annual insurance costs: $3,120 (based on COBRA coverage of $260/month)
    • I’m struggling with this one: I’ve opted for COBRA coverage for my first 4 months of travel, because my insurance through Epic is absolutely incredible. Traveling the world and being in these random countries I feel save being well covered. But it’s too expensive. I’ve read about a number of travelers insurances, but am so skeptical. For now, for me, I’m choosing the comfort of my coverage over cost. Will re-evaluate after the first 4 months and doing more research.

2. Professionally accomplished

UAE National Day with my project team – I have the best memories with this group who became like family to me throughout the past 2 years ♥♥♥

I left my job in a very natural, happy place. My project in Dubai ended in January, and am so proud of what I accomplished. The project was big, emotional, tough. For two years I worked my ass off, crazy hours, weekends, lots of tough conversations and contentious struggles. Overcoming it and seeing the project come live and successful was a huge milestone and something I cherish. I took over Jeff’s position. This is hard to say, even today. But that made the whole experience harder in many ways and more important and meaningful in others. I grew professionally and personally, built strong relationships with my counterparts (my customer and consultants are the ones taking me through my first stop in Kerala!). I say this is a key reason to my comfort in this journey: I have some major accomplishments in my professional life under my belt. I’m not worried about regrets of leaving my job or having anything unfinished, the opposite in fact. It was an end, an innate one. There were times throughout the project I didn’t think I could make it another day, I had a real convo with my boss about 6 months in where I almost quit. SO glad I didn’t at that point, I would’ve looked back had regrets, and regrets are no bueno. I would’ve been sad I wasn’t there in the end, I wouldn’t have this success to carry with me. I wouldn’t have grown in the way I did by sticking through it. Leaving my job in a happy place with nothing but good vibes makes it carefree for me.

Also, a big comfort, with my job, my role is like, or really just is, a consultant, so I have the luxury of job security when I need or want to work again, in an industry I know and am experienced. It would be easy to pick right back up where I left off.  If I want or need to, which I don’t and don’t. I have some other ideas in mind, one in which I travel for a long, long time…

3. Personally free

Another honest truth here: I have zero responsibilities, none, zilch. No ties. Complete freedom. I do not have any debt, no mortgage, no dependents, no relationship to worry about. And yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Not much more I can say about this 🙂

This is my ENTIRE life, on my back! I got rid of everything from all my furniture to all my clothes, except what’s here (minus a few keepsakes I sent home)

4 thoughts on “Three Keys to Quitting My Job and Traveling for a Year(ish)

  1. Alyson, I cannot even express how humbling your message is for me (as I’m sure it is for many others). I so admire your courage and adventurous spirit in your journey to heal and let it all go! Not many can honestly say they have fully lived. You are a prime example of what “living” looks like….and yes, I am one of those “jealous” folks!! I am so thankful you are doing what YOU want and need to do to find your inner self. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your most personal thoughts. I wait daily for your blog posts. Stay safe..have fun…drink wine….all of it! Love you!

    P.S. COBRA for $260/mth??? Amazing…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have known you your whole life. You can into the world with adventure in your heart. God has given you a mind to know how to go for your dream. We all have different dreams, some fail, some win, but God has given you your dream. God wants us all to be happy in our situations. Unfortunately so many don’t follow that dream and just trudge a long just to make others happy. So, go for it. God will give you the knowledge to which places to go and which places to stay away. He is with you every step of the way. Larry and I enjoy it your messages and look forward to the next one. We love you and hope you find happiness all along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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