The 3 Important Lessons I Learned When I almost Quit My Job To Travel [And Then Decided Not To]

December 21, 2017

Sharing my life lessons when I once decided to quit my job to travel but eventually decided not to.

Long before the whole “quit-your-job-to-travel” concept became a thing, I have already outlined a great plan to escape the cube farm which I felt was sucking the life out of me. I don't claim to be the first with regard to that idea but my point is that it was a decision not because I was influenced by a trend but by a strong desire to see the world.

Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills

The 3 Important Lessons I Learned When I almost Quit My Job To Travel [And Then Decided Not To]

    On deciding to quit my job to travel

    It’s a common theme that you will read in almost every other travel blog nowadays – an office worker gets tired or bored with the routine and decides to break out, begins saving enough money, hands a 30-day notice to the boss, then goes out on a soul searching journey around the world. Sounds all too convenient and exhilarating, doesn’t it?

    “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

    ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

    No, I was not motivated by any travel blog that time though. My inspiration came from stories of fellow bankers who were successful in getting out of the banking industry and finding fulfillment in jobs that are deemed atypical and not as glamorous as banking. 

    Well, to put it straight, banking is not really such a thrilling or glittering job as some outsiders see it but I would not dwell on that topic. I also harbored this marvelous thought of going against what society dictates to be successful, which is to slave away at the office to earn a living.

    However, I was not able to do it and I’ll tell you why I am perfectly fine with it. Allow me please to narrate my story first.

    How the desire to travel all began

    One summer afternoon, I chanced upon the blog of a former colleague purely by providence, while I was doing research. In one post, she detailed how she got fed up with the office politics and bureaucracy, mustered the willpower to save up funds, successfully escaped the cube farm, put herself to design school, and never looked back.

    White sand beach in Bohol
    White sand beach in Bohol

    The thought of stepping away from the constant office pressure, the rat race, was extraordinarily tempting and that became my inspiration. If they can, then I can too. This singular thought made it easier for me to cruise through the days at the office.

    Soon enough, I began to save up; I kept all my bonuses intact because that was the only way for me to survive should I become unemployed. 

    I also listed several non-bank companies and organizations that I plan to submit employment applications to a school because employees here get a two-month vacation every summer, two foundations because I wanted to do something purposeful, a publishing house, and a volunteering job.

    My dream was to travel around the Philippines in between the weeks (or even months) of quitting my current job and finding new employment. 

    At that time, I haven't been to Boracay yet so I was curious to see its powdery white sands; I wanted to tour Iloilo and be amazed by its centuries-old churches and I desired to walk along the streets of Laguna and Batangas that are flanked by Spanish-era houses.

    I felt like a lunatic smiling in my solitude; the whole madness seemed splendid and I did feel grand. At last, I will be out of the whole machinery whose sole purpose was to make capitalists rich at the expense of my own blood and sweat.

    Yet the world does not seem to conspire to help me realize my dream, or so I thought

    During the first instance when I was all set to quit my job, my father requested if I can loan him some funds that will be used for our house renovation. Of course, that was a priority project so I had to stall my plan and save up again. On the second occasion, my father borrowed money to be used for the farm. Nonetheless, I was back on track with my budget target soon after.

    A third and pivotal event opened my eyes to the reality that life outside the corporate world was not meant for me. In 2012, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I had to help out my parents so I funneled all my travel funds for the medication and treatment of my mother. 

    It was an urgent situation that needed attention and I was extremely thankful that I have not yet quit my job because I was able to further augment our budget through an employee loan. I could not bear the thought of having nothing and not being able to support my family. My mother survived the ordeal, and I emerged a new person after that.

    Three important lessons I learned through that experience

    To some, I may have appeared defeated but I completely felt like a victor after that adventure, as I like to put it. Through that experience, I realized that I needed to have a stable job with regular pay and employee benefits so that I can have money whenever I need it.

    As I look back, here are my takeaways from that phase of my life:

    1. I realized that travel is not the panacea for all our woes

    Before doing anything drastic, think about it many times if traveling the world is the life that you really want. Never go out into the world expecting that traveling will erase all your troubles and worries, and bring you instant enlightenment. 

    Boats in Panglao, Bohol
    Panglao Island in Bohol

    Remember that life, in general, and the paths that we choose are designed to be filled with challenges. That’s just how it is and it’s up to us to find ways to survive.

    Same with traveling: it’s not just about having fun and going on countless adventures. Traversing unfamiliar roads entails a lot of hard work. Think about walking away from the comfortable life that you are accustomed to, leaving your loved ones behind, and figuring out how to survive in a culture that is alien to you.

    If that is what your heart truly desires, then go for it but don’t do anything half-baked. Plan things well so that you will be able to survive: where will you get funds, do you plan to get employment, what if you decide to settle down, how do you plan to get accommodation? If you do get to snag online assignments, think of how possible delays in payment will set you back.

    The list actually goes on but these are just some of the more pressing matters that you might want to think about.

    2. Maybe I just needed a break

    Ask yourself if you really want to travel long-term or if you simply need to take a break. I go back to that time when I felt too overwhelmed with work; this was when I wanted to quit. 

    When I was not able to successfully resign from my job, I decided to travel to ease my burden. Those were not even regular travels but intermittent outings with some friends during weekends. Nonetheless, those few precious instances were enough to re-energize me.

    On the other hand, I also love the comfort of having a home and the security of having a home base. I wanted to regularly see my family, my friends, experience the dynamism of the office, go to malls, and watch movies – things like that. 

    I realized that I just needed a break from the monotony of the office but I also found out that I did not like the uncertainty or tedium of being on the road for an extended period of time. In short, I wanted to put balance in my life.

    Eventually, I was able to find that equilibrium and, with careful planning, I was able to use my long weekends and vacation leaves well so that I can still travel and work at the same time, which meant I had a steady income stream for the things that I want to do. 

    That includes going on trips, buying things that I can afford, and supporting my family.

    3. I just needed a change in the office environment

    Most of the time, when we feel all stressed and burned out, our initial reaction is to get away from it all. That is understandable because instinct dictates that in times of crisis, we should exert all possible means to survive. 

    Largo do Senado in Macau
    Largo do Senado in Macau

    Unfortunately, not all of us can afford the luxury of casually turning our backs from our office jobs. What you can do is to patiently find a new job in a new industry or a less radical approach of transferring to another unit within your current company.

    When I was not able to bring my great plan to fruition, I went for my Plan B which was to request for transfer to another department. 

    The move still did a lot of wonders for me; I had renewed vigor at the office and, best of all, I was able to travel regularly because of more efficient work distribution. Indeed, the slightest tweaks in our lives can bring a lot of positivity to our outlook.

    Plus, if you are trying to escape the life of having to work, think again, because there is no such thing as traveling and not working. Remember that you will still have to work; you will just have to take on a different form of employment. Consider it as taking a freelancing job in the tourism or creative industry.


    You can travel without having to quit your office job. In the end, it’s all up to you. But don’t let others dictate to you what is right or what being happy should be. While it’s easy to get persuaded to do something that looks “all fun and easy,” it is best to keep in mind that nothing is ever easy in the world out there.

    Tips on how to travel without quitting job

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    1. Wonderful thoughts on the matter, and I agree with them. :)

      The soul-crushing daily grind of work gets the best of people, and one doesn't deserve to be in such a "prison," as I may call it, for 40 years. Thus, one should break out of the mold from time to time - and travel is one way to do so.

      1. Thank you, Monch. I just wanted to present a different perspective on the subject of traveling. We would all like to free ourselves from the daily grind but, alas, that is not the case for all. And no, it's not wrong to take a 9-6 job. We can live our lives to the fullest in any way that we so choose to. As long as we are not violating anything, there is really no right or wrong way on how to live life. In the end, it's about finding fulfillment in the things that we do.

    2. Great article! You are so very correct that travel is not always the answer to our problems, challenges, or boredom in life.

    3. Excellent post. I returned from New Zealand in July of this year, after coming to the realization of point #1. Though I intended to travel for longer, the Universe lead me down a different path. The time alone did provide great insight into where my life needed to go and even showed me that I was traveling for the wrong reasons. After 5 months of journaling and blogging, my Quiet voice reminded me that art needed to be the center of attention. After the decision was made to end the trip, 6 months before the visa expired, life opened up and sent me down a new road. It does seem “in-vogue” to quit your job and wander, but many don’t understand what that means. For the most part, it’s difficult to expect that one would be able to maintain all possessions and social/financial standing, while simultaneously traveling for a long duration. At least that’s what I discovered. Many of my friends envied my decision, though followed up quickly with excuses in line with “but I have kids” or “I couldn’t keep my stuff.” My response was; “ you made a choice to have those things and I did not.” The main take away should be that one should seek out their own compass and learn to follow the path for them;not one designed and widely accepted by someone else.

      1. Wow, you have a wonderful story as well. Yes, all of us have our own compasses; we just have to find it. I just think it’s wrong to simply say “quit your job in order for you to feel alive.” People have to understand that it’s not wrong to keep a 9-6 cubicle job. What is wrong is to let yourself be at the brink of burn out or to let your job rule your life. You can live life without having to quit your job if you are fine with it. To each his own. In the end, it all boils down to being happy and satisfied with the way you live your life or how you choose to spend your lifetime.

    4. Ivan, what a heartfelt story you've jut penned! Your honesty reached me and, though there were hints of sadness, I felt that your life choices so far have given you profound joy - solemn and not noisy. As a travel writer myself, I tell people that travel is an enriching experience, but I also educate them about the sacrifices that have to be made when considering long-term travel. You're right - travel is not a panacea, not a cure-all. My About Me page mentions that, too. One of the major issues travel bloggers face today is how they can responsibly convey their message to their readers. Because of all the glamour that is automatically attached to it, it consequently convinces people to believe utopia could possibly exist. But does it?

      I think it all boils down to living a life of purpose. I'm a very autonomous, creative, and imaginative individual. Working in the office doesn't suit me, at all. I quit my job because, after 4 years of working, I couldn't find one that could maximize my potentials and my gifts. I realized I had to lead myself. If you find purpose in music, go for it. If it's teaching children where your heart grows, grow with it. If the life of a banker gives you a life of significance, chase it. Do it because it reflects who you are as a genuinely loving individual. :) Fantastic post, Ivan! So happy for you and your mom.

      P. S. You are not (and don't seem like) a failure to us.

      1. Thank you, Rye, for your kind words. Yup, in the end, it’s about finding purpose in whatever we do. By the way, this post is not really to challenge other bloggers who are encouraging other people to travel; I do want other people to go out and explore the Philippines. With this article, I just want to present another school of thought, another story or approach when it comes to traveling. Honestly, I felt really bad when things did not go according to my plans, and I’m sure there are other people out there who are like me. But I got over it with the realization that we are all created uniquely; our paths are charted differently so we can’t be like everybody else. However, we can make whatever we have work to our advantage. Also, I’m sure you would also agree that there is really no such thing as quitting your job to travel. If you do decide to embark on long-term travel, you will still have to find a job that will give you the income as well as flexibility to be on the road on an extended basis. About the hints of sadness, yeah, there is. I realized that I still would like to find employment outside banking. That’s another story though.

    5. Hi, This is a very thought provoking article - well presented. I think if a person is travelling long term, you may meet lots of different people but the contacts are relatively fleeting. For many people, it is the longer term relationships which are sustaining. I am not surprised you chose to support your parents when they needed help.

      1. Thank you for taking time to read this post. I'm glad you liked it. Yes, in the end, our choices are dictated by the things that we value more.

    6. Ivan, agreed. Sometimes, it takes that big risk and shake up to "reset" your awareness of what you have, what's important to you, and what you need day-to-day. I've realized both in my own life and in other's, that an imbalance (e.g. no intimate or social life) causes people to put more focus on their work to fill the void. Good on you for sorting yourself before taking a big risk that may not have been necessary in the first place.

    7. I’m with you Ivan! We used to live near a beach. We moved, but now we can afford to visit! That and many other beaches! It’s all about perspective. We don’t travel all over the world, but we’ve had many awesome trips. We save and plan, then enjoy what we can. I try and appreciate all life offers, no matter where I am. Even at work

      1. Yes, that is correct. I am sure you are collecting many happy memories even if you are juggling other responsibilities in life. We do not need to see everything or be everywhere, we just have to do the things that make us happy. We do not have to be like somebody else to be called successful. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    8. I remember that time, I think it was around 2014 to 2015 when there was a sudden surge of travel bloggers. That's when I started dreaming about leaving my corporate job to travel the world. I was quite envious of those who have made it because I hated going to the office, then I hated my job, and then started hating my colleagues too. In the end, I realized it is not my job that is the problem but my attitude towards it. Though I still dream about having a freelance job and traveling the world, I have already found a job that I don't hate, with colleagues that I actually love.

      Reading your story, I must say that I admire your will. You were even able to save up for your dream even when several times you had to use to help your family. I agree with a lot of your realizations especially number 3, which is ultimately what worked for me. For now, I am contented with traveling whenever it is possible.

      1. Thank you, Marjorie! I am glad that you were also able to pursue your dreams of traveling. Sometimes I still think about what it's like if i were able to get a freelancing job and travel all I want. But they are just brief flashes of imaginations because now, I have a wife and son to think about. We'll just travel as a family whenever there is an opportunity.

    9. Such an Inspiring Story Dad, Truly You're Honesty Gives Encouragement to Everyone like Me, For Sharing Your Awesome Experience was Really Nice, this Blog Was Absolutely Worth to Read and Share, Seeing Your Sincerity and Humble Person.. Thanks for sharing this Dad. This is really Amazing and I Like to read from start to End .