The Truth Behind Those Stories of “I Quit My Job to Travel the World”

We’ve all read a million and one articles about ‘I Quit My Job to Travel the World’ and while we all finish the last paragraph with a big sigh and wonder how we can do that RIGHT NOW, let’s not forget what a huge decision this is.
Disclaimer: It is not a smart decision to wake up one day, hand in your notice, jump on a plane and end up on the other side of the world. And those articles you have read that say ‘This man woke up one day in Brazil after quitting his job 14 hours before’, may be stretching the truth just a tad.

Over here at Workaway we are avid travellers, worldwide wanderers, spontaneous backpackers and open road addicts, however, we believe there is a right time for us all to start our journey, wherever that journey may take you. So we talk to one of our bloggers Sarah Richard about when really is the RIGHT time to quit your job and travel the world.
career quit job travel the world dream
Let’s go straight in with the million dollar question:

When Is It The RIGHT Time To Quit Your Job And Travel The World?

Honestly, there is never a right time.
You won’t just wake up one morning and suddenly be ‘in the right time’ life takes us along many roads, things are always coming up, going wrong, happening too soon. The only way to find ‘the right time’ is to believe in yourself and what it is you want to do. However there are a few guidelines that most people can use to determine whether it is the right time for them:
When you start to no longer enjoy your job or have a real passion for what you are doing. Once the passion dies, things start to slip and your motivation isn’t where it should be. Obviously, this happens to all of us at some point in our career, so give it another one or two months and see if you can regain the love for your job. If not, now might be the right time to take a career break.
When you see no progression in your job. Have you been in the same position for years? Is there a promotion available? Or is there no way up? Re-evaluate your time in your current position, talk to your boss. Ask for some honest feedback, and the chances of progression. If there really is no progression available, this may also be the right time for you to go out and see the world, and take a think about what it is you want to do next.

What about money? How much do you need to fund your travels?

budget travel funds workawayAgain, this is completely different for everyone.
When I quit my job in 2014 to travel around South America for a year, I knew I would be doing a lot of Workaway projects, Couchsurfing and Hostel jumping. Therefore, I felt comfortable with around £500 for every month I was away. A few more considerations to take in are:

Set a realistic budget. Don’t kid yourself that you can live on $2 a day. You can’t. But you also don’t need unlimited funds. Start with working out a daily budget you feel comfortable on. Research the average cost of things in the country you are going to and then calculate a total amount. Then add ¼ extra.

Remember to keep enough for a return ticket. A lot of people buy one-way tickets now, but forget they also need that much in the bank to return when the time comes. So remember to add that on to the total amount you need.

NEVER LEAVE WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. This is probably my biggest piece of advice. I would have been thousands of dollars down after trips to hospitalsl in Guatemala and Peru if I wasn’t insured. It is absolutely imperative you get an insurance policy.

What about the other people in your life? Family, friends, relationships?

Remember this: There will always be one person that says you are making the best decision of your life and one that says it is the worst. There will be one person encouraging you and another discouraging. People will tell you of the dangers, how you won’t have a job to come back to, how you will have no money, how some countries are dangerous. But do you know what the biggest danger of all is? Not doing anything. We only regret the chances we didn’t take. Yes, it is a risk, I am not going to sugar coat that. It could potentially go wrong, (as could every situation in life) but it also could potentially change your life forever. You will never know unless you go for it. Your friends and family will just have to accept that. Let them give you advice, listen, respond positively, however never forget this is YOUR decision, your dream.

Coming from someone that quit her job and successfully afforded to travel to over 40 countries and are still travelling, what are your secrets?

pack light backpackingDon’t over pack.
You don’t need that travel iron or those smart pants. You really don’t. You will be so much happier carrying less around than having a pair of shoes you only will wear once.

Go with an open mind.
You will have bad days, you will question whether it was the right decision ( along with the thousands of other travellers that have done it before and are doing it now) so be ready for that, and know that it is a normal feeling.

Realise that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
Everything happens for a reason. Embrace the journey- even when it’s over.

Stop waiting around.
Taken in all that advice? Now go. Stop waiting for something to push you. Push yourself. You are going to have the time of your life. Travelling on a budget, with little than a backpack on your back, waking up every month in a new country is the single most fulfilling feeling I have felt so far!

"We only regret the chances we didn’t take." Sarah from Coffee With A Slice Of Life

“We only regret the chances we didn’t take.” 

120 replies
  1. Laura Ann
    Laura Ann says:

    This is all so true, I quite my job and went to Alaska for 3 months and it was the best decision i ever made. Now that i am back at work… I will again someday do the same, but 1st need to decide where and when 🙂

  2. Frederica Cerqueira
    Frederica Cerqueira says:

    So true! I decided to leave my job more than a year before I actually left so that it would allow me enough time to plan, save money and have the opportunity to change my mind! I am now entering my second month travelling and literally on my way to the second country and really excited about it! 🙂 Did my first workaway already and it was such a great experience! A good opportunity to save lots of money AND get to know the local culture in ways I could never have done any other way! 😀

  3. Kika Meňovská
    Kika Meňovská says:

    thanks for this very encouraging post! I am thinking about volunteering and what always pops up in my mind is the question “what about my work and my clients”.. but after reading posts like this I feel more confident to do what I relly want to 🙂

  4. Shannon Plowright
    Shannon Plowright says:

    I quit my job and traveled central America for a year last year, did about 6 work away jobs, and loved it. So i went home, worked hard and saved over 6 months, and now I’m in Argentina going on my next adventure. Yew!!

  5. Pam Haas Garner
    Pam Haas Garner says:

    Even with a slight promotion over a year ago I’m so stagnant I feel dead. I’m applying for teaching jobs and works ways. I can’t wait for the next few months to be up so I can go!

  6. Alain Dubois
    Alain Dubois says:

    Quit our job 2 years ago to live in a cave house, from start till now we had workawayers . We couldn’t travel the world , so we invited it at our place trough all the volunteers.

  7. Tim Makins
    Tim Makins says:

    Lets not forget: quitting your job does not need to be a total end to your income stream. You will be volunteering for 5 hours per day, not 24, so can use the time that remains to do some online work, or plan a new business, or even work for cash at a local bar etc.

  8. queteimporta
    queteimporta says:

    500 libras por mes para viajar por sudamérica? Eso no es ser mochilero, eso es ser un rico viajando como mochilero, así cualquiera…

    • Laura Ann
      Laura Ann says:

      if you do not have a job you can apply for a forbearance or other hardship which pauses the payments of your loans but it will still incur interest. What i did i planned for 6 months before i left and saved what money i could then put it all in an account and had all my bills on auto pay so i didn’t have to worry about it or worry if i needed internet access or not. This was the best way for me, and i only traveled for about 3 months so if you plan on traveling longer it would not be as easy..but is always an option! best of luck 😀

  9. John Paul Hayes
    John Paul Hayes says:

    The only thing I don’t completely agree with is travelers insurance. While depending on your home country and where you are going can play a big factor, its not totally necessary. My girlfriend and I were in a bad car accident and she had to go to the hospital by ambulance in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Between that, XRays, pain meds, bandages and three doctors checking her out came to $234 USD. This is with no insurance. Travel insurance would have cost almost twice as much and wouldn’t have helped even with a $250 deductible. Luckily she didn’t have a concussion or worse injuries. Our couchsurfing host was driving and we were in the back seat.

  10. Heather
    Heather says:

    While I did quit my job to travel the world – I did so after two years of saving, two months of very serious consideration if leaving my job would really help me grow, and after putting together a plan (albeit a loose one) for insurance, budget, and continuing to earn income.

    I definitely agree that, one year later, I’m working harder than I ever have to continue to be able to travel, but I don’t regret a thing. When I talk about travel with friends and family back home I try to be as realistic and honest as possible – bad days happen, I typically work seven days a week instead of just five, and I miss home almost every day. Still, this was definitely the right decision for me right now.

    Thank you for articulating many of my thoughts on this headline-grabbing trend that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of long-term travel.

  11. Martina
    Martina says:

    I fully agree with what you wrote – especially when it comes to the “right time”. In my case it was the moment when I realized that I had nothing to lose when leaving all behind and even though my family was absolutely against my decision (to quit my job, university studies and start travelling), I felt in my heart and deep in my soul that it was the only right path. And you know what? I never looked back. I do not regret my decision as I have found myself and my strength while travelling and realized that there was so much I did not know about the world. I had to face all my fears, but it was worth it.

    Thank you for a great article. It reminded me of the beginning of my journey. ^_^

    • Saurabh
      Saurabh says:

      “when I realized that I had nothing to lose when leaving all behind and even though my family was absolutely against my decision (to quit my job, university studies and start travelling), I felt in my heart and deep in my soul that it was the only right path. And you know what? I never looked back.”
      Thanks Martina, for writing a brief about the difficulties you faced leading up to your decision to quit and travel, it really helps to hear about such experiences of conviction, dilemma and focus..

    • Ivana Illu
      Ivana Illu says:

      Scottie…Sooo Happy to read this! 😀 I get shivers while I read* My Free Spirit rebels..even though this moment of ´stability´was pretty needed..Awesome Plan my Brother…You will Fly High! 😛 …& one magic day……we´ll just cross Path again…..I Know it! :* Blessings*

  12. Michal
    Michal says:

    Ok, article is good. BUT. Yes, you can live on $2 a day. Just because your standards dont fit in that budget, it doesnt mean everyones wont too. I know a few guys, that im aware of, who are doing it, like this, right now. Even one of them does it for free in 100% just by helping people out or asking (except indigent people) for food etc. And even more, all of them are in great shape! Well… except the last one. He’s a skinny little bastard. But he lives, he menage and as you see – he does it.

    P.S. I’ve been backpacking in China and Southeast Asia lately for 3 months and in cheap restaurants you can get a huge meal for $1,5. Whole trip cost me 450 bucks (I dont take flights ;] ). So for me your “£500 for every month” is just from space.

    But still, a nice article 🙂

  13. Laura Ann
    Laura Ann says:

    We did workaway and wwoofing. Wwoofing has many more options in Alaska than workaway but both good opportunities.I would suggest going to a couple different places, as Alaska is so big and vast and every place is a different experience and has their own characteristics. If you are going to stay somewhere remote make sure you have a backup plan if you need to leave. Message me if u want more specific details best of luck it’s a beautiful place

  14. Marek
    Marek says:

    My girlfriend and me are going to do the same. Quit our jobs and go. We still have a couple of months until we do that and we also have a milion question which we struggle to find an answer to. Such as why is it that money is so important in this world? Why is it that we sacrifice our limited time here on Earth, our talents just to be able to pay rent, bills and everything. We both don’t enjoy our work at all but it is probably the best option we have. Quite well paid. Beacuse we also realize that it would be too crazy to leave without savings. Would it?Last summer we did workaway for one month because we needed to get out of the routine. It was amazing experience but since then I have been struggling even more to carry on working and saving until we finally have enough to go. The reason why I have been struggling is because workaway puts money on to completely different level for me. If it makes sense. The only thing that we spent money for was traveling. We didn’t need money neither for food nor accommodation. The very basic need. Food and the roof over our heads. Now we have to stick with our plan and close our eyes and bust our bums off until the day is here. Can’t wait. But is it alright to do what we are doing? Imagine that you don’t have to work and you could enjoy what you love. When we have time off we are very creative, Music, art, painting and much more. We could spend our time growing as a person, learning languages, passing our talents on, improving our talents and so on.. I am not completely against working. If it’s ballanced. Reasponable amount of work and the same amount of free time. At the moment it is upside down and inside out but we believe that it’s worth it. However hard it is at the moment. Sorry for such a long reply. I just thought it is kind of related to the topic. I believe that we all find the answers. All the best 🙂

    • Tati
      Tati says:

      Your comment is so true, Marek. We work to earn money to then spend money. But, if you think about it, we need the people who does that, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to stay at somebody else’s home or even to go from a place to other. And you are a lucky guy for your girlfriend thinking the same way as you and for her to have similar life goals as yours. I’m not so lucky, and I know nothing is gonna change my boyfriend’s mind. So, it’s like being in a relationship that you that has no future, but none of you two has the guts to end it now. I’m predicting the moment I will live the Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song Free Bird: “For I must be travelling on, now / ‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see / But if I stayed here with you, girl / Things just couldn’t be the same / ‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now / And this bird you cannot change 🙁

  15. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    I am very grateful for what I have in my life. I am currently planning to do 6-9 months in America and Canada. At the moment I am working up to 60 hours a week to be able to save for my trip, with 4 months of savings already and another 4 months of saving to go. My point to my reply is that I have a very encouraging family. My mother has always wanted me to do the things that I want to do because she couldn’t. The other positive thing about this is that I’m on a casual contract with my work. It means I can go away for a while and I will still have a place at work when I get back. I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but I work in a place where I can work in several departments. I’ve also earned respect at work to where they will ask me specifically to do something for them because they trust me. My work place is also like my family. It is one of the best places I have ever worked because there is trust between the employees and the managers. I’m very grateful for what I have and that I can travel my dreams and still come back to my family and work.

  16. Jov
    Jov says:

    The only way to find ‘the right time’ is to believe in God and what He wants you to do. You will always feel discontented and empty, like you want to travel the whole world and quit your job like you feel you need to. In the end, even if you already have traveled the whole world, you will still realize that there is still a missing piece. Trust God and put Him in your heart. That’s when you realize you do not need to travel the world to feel happiness.


  17. Sha
    Sha says:

    I don’t think any of us actually “decide” to travel …. It’s more so that over a period of time we become a person who Needs to travel because it is who we really are

  18. Mike
    Mike says:

    So many replies to this post. I guess everyone’s got their story…
    I saved a bit of money and then went on the trip which I postponed for three years. My tip is: When you feel like going, pack your bags and go, don’t wait for the next train…
    But have a backup plan ready, just like travel insurance. It might be extra expense, but always worth having.
    And enjoy all experiences, good and the ones not so great. It’s going to make your journey more interesting.
    Good luck to all.
    Keep you heads up.

  19. Jag Lau
    Jag Lau says:

    Like someone once said to me, when are you actually ready to do something? Never. You are never ready, and you will never be ready. So stop thinking and do it.

    • Jill Jones
      Jill Jones says:

      Hi. I quit my job in my early 40s when my son turned 18. I had been working for years to get ready for that time. I downsized our home so I would be mortgage free and took other steps so my UK outgoings were minimal and my son would be independent. I spent 6 months in the UK, unwinding from a stressful career and getting fitter. Then I spent 6 months in Hawaii and Florida worktrading mostly and took one month off within that. I returned to the UK for 9 months, earned up again, spent time with my son, friends here etc, then headed out to America again for another 6 months worktrading – moved more .into house sitting and pet sitting in exchange for places to stay this time. Just arrived back in the UK to pick up paid work again for 6-12 months and then will be off again, unless get a better opportunity in the meantime. I did plan a lot before I jumped but even then, I had to take a deep breath to give up a big career and income. But I regret nothing! I have had 2.5 years now of the most interesting and adventurous times. Highs and lows as never before but felt really alive! I wont go back to the 9-5 type life now for more than a temporary stint to keep the finances comfortable. This can be done at any age with great success. You have to br brave without a doubt and willing to get out of your comfort zones beyond what you might initially think possible, but it is possible and the rewards are plenty.

  20. Tracy Askew
    Tracy Askew says:

    I’ve done workaway off and on for over 7 years. I quit, travel and do workaways here and there for a year or 2. The good thing is you can always go home and work again…then like me I just do it all over again. Like someone said in this post. “when are you actually ready…”

  21. Shannon Plowright
    Shannon Plowright says:

    I quit after uni in 2014. I left to travel with the idea of travelling from the US to chile in a year. I workawayed in a whole load of places and never got as far as i thought i would. I budgeted for the year with AUS $10, 000. It got me by ok but i had to skip some of the touristy things. My budget was fine for central america but I wouldn’t go to europe with this. Research is the key.

  22. Kirsty Rimmer
    Kirsty Rimmer says:

    I’m a mental health nurse in Scotland stuck in a bit of a rut. Was going to take a year out, travel and return next year but going to hand notice in and travel. This kind of idea seems perfect. Maybe move into some bar work (need a break from nursing) in Oz for a while and travel back through America. Has anyone had similar experience?

    • Wendy
      Wendy says:

      Hey – it is absolutely NOT TOO LATE – Graciela I am 54 and around 25% of the workawayers i’m guessing are around my age and older – people who have retired or taken a career break. The first time is always going to be a bit scary, but feel the fear and do it anyway. Good luck x

  23. vimax
    vimax says:

    The only thing I don’t completely agree with is travelers insurance. While depending on your home country and where you are going can play a big factor, its not totally necessary. My girlfriend and I were in a bad car accident and she had to go to the hospital by ambulance in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Between that, XRays, pain meds, bandages and three doctors checking her out came to $234 USD. This is with no insurance. Travel insurance would have cost almost twice as much and wouldn’t have helped even with a $250 deductible. Luckily she didn’t have a concussion or worse injuries. Our couchsurfing host was driving and we were in the back seat.

  24. Sam
    Sam says:

    OK this is too long but you don’t have to read the whole thing.

    What a wonderful sight. Thank you for offering a way for people to volunteer without paying those obnoxious prices. I never understood how those volunteer programs could cost so much?? Or why people would pay them??

    So back to my story, blah blah, we (wife and I) had planned to travel for a few years, so at the time I had a decent job and she had a decent job and we decided to travel the world for a year. And then I suggested we do it on a bike, and she wasn’t so keen but then I suggested a Tandem and she liked that a bit more or at least she agreed to that.

    So we decided to do that. Now this is back in the 90s pre Internet and cell phones. We decided to save $30K for this, that took us about 6 months because we lived as frugally as possible and reached our goal. We did 6 months in Europe and 1 year in Africa, Europe was ok, Africa was great, except for the 2 times I almost got put in jail but I didn’t, a little misunderstanding. We preferred sleeping in out Tent cause it was always clean along with our sleeping bags and sheets and we could get truly off the beaten track. It was great, I loved it, now my wife after awhile considered it was more effort than working. Well we seeming had a difference of opinion.

    Each night in Africa we would ride until evening or we felt like stopping, look for the nicest house and knock on their door asking if we could pitch our tent. It wasn’t really about their place it was about their security, they always had an askari or security guy at their gate. This allowed me to sleep with both eyes closed.

    But I also figured how to climb, well walk up to Kilaminjaro for a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands all the tour guides wanted. Now that was interesting. I found the local Outward bound folks. This took me more than a day but I had much more time than money and it was like a scavanger hunt except I had no idea where to look, I just had the thought it could be done. And eventually after a few days I found that avenue.

    We had insurance but it wasn’t really necessary except when she broke her ankle in Uganda. So it had nothing to do with the medical bills because they were a few dollars, and the cast a few dollars but it was the crutches that really set us back those were $2 cause we paid double to include the pads . No but really the situation was we had to stay in a decent facility where she could use the bathroom and this is where the Insurance came in handy, but it took me at least a few days to get the insurance company to pay. So they covered our hotel room for 6 weeks at about $150 a day at the Sheraton in Kampala. If you have visited Kampala it was near the muscular Jesus, he was obviously African.

    OMG we were living in Luxury, free breakfast Buffet, it was like we hit the lottery. OK so get insurance but the only place we could find long term travel insurance was in the UK because nobody in the US offered it in those days. So yeah Insurance is a prudent thing to have.

    A tourist doesn’t know where he’s been, A traveller doesn’t know where he’s going.
    It’s as much about the trip as it is the destination.

    Enjoy the travel even when it is less than pleasant, like when I got bit by a spider and was layed up in bed for 3 days, then I crawled out to the local herbalist and got some proper medicine. Then I got over my diarrhea. It’s hard cycling with diarrhea.

    Now I’m closer to 60 and I don’t hesitate to travel still. Look you are not too old if you can walk around on your own 2 feet, or cycle on them like I still do sometimes. But I still like sleeping on the ground, well I do have a pad. And I’m happy to crash wherever essentially.

    Do it now or you will have to wait for your next lifetime.



  25. Ocean Scuba Dive
    Ocean Scuba Dive says:

    This is my ultimate dream! I am currently working full time to save up a little bit of money to take the plunge later in the year. It is inspirational posts like this that just make me want to pack up my bags! I can’t wait to start my workaway adventures whilst working on my scuba dive blog 😀

  26. Catherine Fulton
    Catherine Fulton says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, especially the part about definitely having bad days. I too quit my job and went travelling, but it had been on my mind for months, and I have known since I left university that travel is my inspiration, so it wasn’t like I woke up one day and went hey this is a cool idea! Which means I still have those days where I question my decision or wonder if I will regret it in 5 years time. It was really cool to see you share the same feelings as most travellers just post the good stuff!


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