I’m Going Traveling, Damn It! (When to Ignore the Advice of Others)

A little over ten years ago, I quit a great job to go to live and travel abroad. Quite a few people told me I was crazy, and a few tried to persuade me not to do it. Given that a decade has since passed and my life is going pretty well, I think I’m qualified to say that those people who told me not to go were dead wrong!

So in case you’re contemplating the same thing, here’s why you should feel justified to ignore the advice of those who try to tell you that you shouldn’t go travelling now.

You’ve Got a Good Job

Yes, I had a great job. That was part of the problem — I’d had the luck of right place, right time to work my way up to a dream job much faster than I’d imagined. There didn’t seem to be much of a “what’s next”, other than doing the same or similar job for the next twenty or so years. But that wasn’t enough for me and guess what — ten years later, with a whole lot of amazing experiences under my belt that make me do any job better, I’ve got another good job! Better, in fact!

Having a good job doesn’t mean you are satisfied with what’s going on in your life, although it certainly helps. But if you’ve been able to get a good job once, then chances are high that you’ll be able to get a good job again.

And flipped around, just having a good job doesn’t mean that it will continue to be a job you love or even that the job will continue to exist. Especially in the current changing economy you can’t really guarantee what’s going to happen.

187 - My head's in heaven.
Daydreaming © Meg Wills

It’s a Bad Career Move

Some suggested that leaving my good job and doing “odd jobs” would look extremely bad on my resume. “What about your career?” they asked. Well, there are lots of answers to this concern.

First of all, there are actually employers who welcome some international experience on your resume even if it’s not in your original field (and do you really want to work for companies who are anti-travel?).

Second, your experiences overseas may well change your career path. They certainly changed mine, in a way I couldn’t have done if I’d stayed home. I got into the world of travel blogging, which led me to open up my own blogging and social media business once I returned home and had a family. If I’d stayed here and never traveled there’s no way I would have found this path, and I love it.

Departure
Waiting to Depart © Billy Rowlinson

You’ll Lose Your Savings

Some people told me I’d be crazy to spend my savings on traveling and on top of that, be away from home and therefore not contributing to my pension fund and all that stuff. True. But not the end of the world.

As it turns out, I managed to save a lot of money while I worked in Japan (despite traveling very regularly while I was there) and sent it home as savings. When I worked in Slovakia and Germany, I made sure to live within my means. This of course involved a lot of budget traveling — but hey, it’s more fun that way!

Of course, I’m not recommending you go traveling and bill all of it to your credit card when you’ve got no immediate way to repay it. You have to be sensible about things. If you don’t have enough savings to use then look into combining travel with working abroad. For me, working in other countries still felt like traveling because I had so many new experiences every day.

You Won’t Like Japan

Several people told me that living abroad and travelling wasn’t such a bad idea, but they were sure I wouldn’t like Japan. This wasn’t because they’d been there or anything. I guess they’d heard of someone who’d had a bad experience. And I don’t think it would have mattered if I’d been moving to England or Brazil or wherever, they would have said the same thing. Guess what — I adored it!

In retrospect, if these people said the same thing to me today, I’d quickly tell them that I can enjoy virtually any place in the world, And if I decide I don’t like it, I can just move on to somewhere else.

It took me a while to learn that once you hit the road, the next move is up to you and you can basically do whatever you want. Don’t let these nay-sayers make you nervous about not enjoying where you’re headed. It’s up to you to decide to enjoy it.

Dusk on Lake Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Dusk on Lake Palace, Rajasthan, India © Manoj Vasanth

You Can’t Speak the Language

I admit that before I moved abroad not being able to speak the local language certainly worried me a bit. And I also made as good an attempt as possible to learn the local languages while I lived there, because I think that’s the respectful thing to do (plus it’s a lot of fun).

But I soon learnt that there are ways to communicate without speaking another language fluently, and plenty of people to help out when you need it. Language barriers should never stop you from traveling.

The Bottom Line

There are always reasons not to do something and going off traveling is no exception. But I’m extremely glad that I ignored everyone who suggested I stay home because without my six years of living abroad, I’d have an entirely different life and I really think it would be a poorer one. If you get the chance, ignore the advice-givers and the nay-sayers, and just go traveling!

12 Responses

  1. kalpesh

    Good on ya Amanda! Life is short, and the world is big. Awesome to see someone going out and following their dreams / passions. There will always be naysayers – there was a time when people said the world is flat and refused to believe earth revolved around the Sun, but here we are. Keep motivating others to explore the world around them!

    -kalpesh

    Reply
  2. Darcey

    There are always reasons not to do something – and it’s good to see that you kicked those ideas down, and pursued your goals. I’d love to be back in uni and doing things, but living in India is an experience I just couldn’t pass up!

    Reply
  3. RagingBanshee

    My fiance actually linked me to this post because he’s very gung-ho about us traveling, and one thing you said stuck out to me: before returning home and having a family.

    How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking, and how have you handled that? I want a family (ideally in the near future, or five years), but I’ve come from a family that DID travel from a parent in the government, and know how it can be both rewarding and taxing (and that was just in the same, albeit large, country).

    How did you handle “family” and “travel” successfully?

    Reply
  4. Nick - Goats On The Road

    Great post Amanda. I feel the same way about every point you made and I agree with Talon’s comment above. My girlfriend and I sold our house and car, quit good jobs and packed up nearly 4 years ago now and I haven’t regretted a minute of my life since. I may have made a lot of money had we stayed back at home and by now been in a better position, but for what? I don’t think my final thoughts on my deathbead will be about my contibution to my company as CEO. Now, after travelling, the final thoughts will be of amazing experiences i’ve had, rather than the entire world that I missed out on. I think everyone should think this way and live every minute like it means something.
    Thanks for the post.
    Keep your backpacks packed and safe travels.
    Nick.

    Reply
  5. Nick - Goats On The Road

    Great post! I feel the same way about every point you made and I fully agree with Talan’s comment above. My girlfriend and I quit good jobs, sold our house and car and decided to just travel. It was a bold move but I haven’t regretted a moment of my life since. Perhaps if we had stayed in Canada, we would have made a lot of money by now and reached a higher position at our jobs. But I believe that if you just work your life away, then you will one day regret it. Now I know, after travelling for nearly 4 years so far, that my life will be regret free. Except maybe for the odd bucket list item that I still didn’t complete. But as all travellers know, when you backpack around the world, the bucket list just grows bigger!

    Thanks for this post.

    Keep your backpacks packed and safe travels!

    Nick.

    Reply
  6. Amanda Kendle

    Thanks everyone, glad to have lots of agreement!

    @ RagingBanshee … when I set off to “see the world” I was 25 – I came home again at 30, after having met and married a German guy. We were ready to have kids right then but of course these things never work out as planned and it took us a few years (had my little boy at 34. or 35?).

    Reply
  7. Joy

    I could not agree more! I had the same issues brought up when I was deciding to move to China. Ultimately I realized it was my decision and I didn’t care what other people thought. I don’t regret it at all. My career used to be the most important thing to me and I’m so glad it’s not anymore. There’s so much more out there and most of all there’s so much of yourself to discover while living abroad.

    Reply
  8. Shalu Sharma

    Leaving a job and start travelling is never going to appreciated by those who are near and dear to you. But you have to know what you are doing and ultimately its your own decision and no one else’s.

    Reply
  9. Deb

    in 1984, i was 25 & worked in a restaurant, had only a HS diploma, no future plans and wanted to get far away from a lousy boyfriend, so I decided to buy a van and see the USA. The customers, mostly older than age 50 were split — half said I was crazy to do it, crazy to go — EEK — ALONE, and should settle down, but half said, “do it now while you’re healthy, young and not tied down.” So I bopped around for half a year, then came back and “settled down.” It was one of my better decisions, as I saw so many places and met so many people and despite good intentions, I never was able to return to most of those people and places. And now at 53, my health is shot, so if I’d waited till retirement age to travel, I’d likely be dead. EEK indeed!

    Reply

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