wooden sign that reads Explore the World
Ask any seasoned traveler and they’ll tell you traveling has changed them.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / gustavofrazao

Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel the World

Take a Leap

You don’t need to be told that travel is amazing; you know that already. What you might not know is that quitting your job, packing your whole life into a single bag and setting off to travel the world is the most positive and exciting move you will ever make.

Swapping the safety of your comfort zone for the uncertainty of a life on the road might also be the single scariest thing you ever do. But contrary to popular opinion, taking a break from your working life to travel isn’t an irresponsible waste of time.

Ask any seasoned traveler and they’ll tell you traveling has changed them; and it will change you too. You may not fall in love, convert to Buddhism or even manage to master another language, but whatever adventure you take, one thing is for sure — it will be life changing.

When traveling for an extended period of time, you will inevitably discover a lot about yourself, the world you live in and all the people you share it with. You will learn invaluable lessons, rethink everything you thought you knew for certain, and change and grow as a person.

Traveling itself won’t make you a better person; but it will give you the tools to become one.

An Education in Tolerance

Traveling is an education in tolerance. The more you travel the more you will realize that traveling is less about finding yourself and more about finding others; breaking down cultural barriers, letting go of preconceived ideas and changing the way you think about the world.

What better way to get to know cultures wildly different from your own than to throw yourself in headfirst? As you cross continents and cultural divides, you’ll start to understand that people around the world are essentially the same.

We all have the same needs, wants and desires. Aside from the superficial differences, a person living in Europe is really no different to someone who lives in North America, and someone who lives in North America is really no different to someone who lives in Africa.

Your expectations for how people will behave, dress and live their lives will reveal biases you never knew you had. You will quickly learn to keep a completely open mind when you arrive somewhere for the first time.

Without trying to, probably without even realizing it, you will grow into a more independent, compassionate and free-thinking individual.

Changing Your Approach

You’ll go from searching for the top tourist attractions in an area to relying on a backpacking guide that will help you have an authentic experience.

By traveling for longer, your focus will shift away from cramming as many activities into a two-week vacation as possible. You’ll turn your attention instead to getting to know and understand the country you are traveling in.

You will look a little closer and start to see for yourself how different countries and cultures relate to each other.

One of the most valuable lessons travel will teach you is that there are always two sides to any story. What you were taught in school and what you see in the media is just one representation of a multi-faceted and complex history.

You’ll learn other things as well. You’ll get better at talking to strangers, because you’ll have to.

You’ll learn small things like patience, endurance and the glory of a clean bathroom. Don’t be fooled by the filtered, glamorous and quite often staged travel snaps you see on Instagram.

Remember that this is a highlight reel; photos of squat toilets, buses shared with poultry and 18-bed dorm rooms rarely make the cut.

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It’s Tough, But It’s Worth It

The truth is, traveling can be tough. You’ll get lost, scammed and stared at. You’ll stick out wherever you go.

You will probably encounter bed bugs, outrageously loud snorers and thieving taxi drivers. You will get homesick, you’ll miss having a bedroom all to yourself and a washing machine at your disposal.

More than once you will find yourself wondering why you traded in your comfortable life for a world where having clean clothes is a luxury, you have to wear the same three shirts for five months straight and your toiletries are condensed to one bar of soap and some toothpaste.

But all of these experiences will teach you something. You’ll learn that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible.

You will learn to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself and you will understand the importance of making every day count.

And one day you will have the distinct pleasure of looking back on your life with the satisfaction of knowing you have no regrets.

Instead of remembering mornings dreading the sound of your alarm, hours crammed onto a commuter train, long days spent in an office watching the minute hand crawl towards the hour and evenings dreading doing it all again the next day, you will be able to think fondly of the time that you went paragliding in Brazil, swam with dolphins in New Zealand, hiked a volcano in Chile or ate yourself into a food coma in Thailand.

You don’t need to be brave to travel. All you need is enough courage to hand in your resignation, sell everything you own and step out the door.

The hardest part will be choosing where to go. As the wonderfully wise Dr. Seuss put it, “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose!”

So quit your job, step out into the unknown, create memories you will cherish forever, make friends you will never forget, challenge yourself, be inspired, inspire. Because the fact of the matter is is, we only get one shot at this crazy little thing called life.

So make the most of it.

Be bold. Travel.

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