A post on how to keep your job and travel the world might sound like another click-bait article, but don’t worry, this isn’t an unrelatable piece that screams for you to turn into a digital nomad and cast aside all responsibilities.
If I had a pound for every story I see on social media these days about a carefree twenty-something year old, setting off on their round-the-world travels, assuring me that I too can be free and happy, (a true traveller!) if I reject the trappings of my hellish life at home… well, then I’d probably be able to afford to do whatever I want. But what if you are at a point in life where you don’t want to quit your life at home? What if you want to keep your job and travel the world?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but admiration for those who know what they want and are heading off on the adventure of a lifetime… but do I believe that’s the only way to travel? No. And do I actually want to throw in my lot at home to hit the road indefinitely? I can’t say that I do at this time in my life.
I think this realisation dawned a couple of years back when my boyfriend and I seriously discussed living abroad for a year. I’ve travelled a lot but never lived abroad where I’ve actually worked and set up a new life. My boyfriend’s a teacher and as a writer, there’s always the possibility of working remotely, so it was certainly possible and when he agreed that he would be game if it meant that much to me, I was quite surprised. Hey, this could actually happen! I started looking up destinations and wondering where I could see myself setting up a new life.
Until I realised that I actually didn’t want to.
I realised that although that urge to explore new places and see more of the world is still strong, the idea of leaving home and building a new one left me feeling a little hollow inside. I realised I sort of want it all. I want both adventure and a certain degree of security. I want to experience new things whilst having a home to call my own. I want to meet new people and make new friends but also nurture and cherish my old ones – a group I consider to be more like family than friends. In short, I want to keep my job and travel the world.
Since I moved back down south and settled in Bristol nearly ten years ago (yikes!), I have built up a community of friends I love, I’ve found a job I enjoy, and I’ve even just bought my very first house (argh, the dreaded responsibility of a mortgage! My twenty-something old self would have cringed!).
Yes, there are still more goals to reach and things to experience (I’m not dead yet), but when once coming back from a lengthy trip was the ultimate comedown, now coming home is actually not so bad.
I read quite a few blog posts on the subject such as Adventurous Kate’s honest post about the year that full-time travel whilst working full-time abroad left her ‘stressed out, irritable and anti-social’. And I realised that combining full-time travel with full-time work might take away the enjoyment I had of the destinations I visit. I realised that perhaps I was pushing to go because it felt like something I should do as someone who loves travel rather than something I actually wanted to do at this point in my life.
Of course, life is a series of phases and perhaps next year I’ll be dragging my backpack out the door, yelling, “Bon voyage suckers!” as I jack everything in and head off around the world. And going away for a few weeks is still my idea of bliss.
But for now, I’m focusing more on finding that happy balance between loving my freedom and travels as well as loving my life at home.
How to keep your job and travel the world
1 Be smart with your holidays
So, you have a job you enjoy but feel it won’t mesh with travel? This isn’t the case! Use your holidays wisely – tag your days off onto public holidays to lengthen your stay without using up too much leave. And if you need more, request unpaid leave or buying back days of holiday. Many employers can be more flexible than you think.
2 Make the most of those weekends
You don’t necessarily need to be jet-setting to fulfil your love of travel. Shake up your weekend routine and make the effort to go somewhere new close to home. Whether that’s hopping in the car for a weekend away in the Lake District, catching the train to London, or just going to that new cocktail place in your hometown that you’ve heard about but never tried because you always end up going to the same familiar places.
3 Free your time by cutting the crap
Time is short and you don’t need to be doing anything that doesn’t give you some sense of fulfilment. So, if that job sucks, think about what you enjoy and start taking steps to find the work that works for you. Same with people – get rid of anyone that makes you feel like crap or that drains you and gives nothing in return. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4 Stop thinking ‘I’ll be happy when’
I can be seriously guilty of this one as need constant reminding to live in the present and not the future. But this is such an important element that can stand in the way of happiness at home. Of course you should strive for your goals, but don’t forget that the present is all there is right now. It’s one of the reasons I love yoga – it’s a moving meditation that pushes you to be present. Something that I most definitely need!
5 Make travel a financial priority
If you want it, you can make it happen. However, you might have to decide on a few little sacrifices to make it work. Try cutting down those dinners out and about when you have a trip you are yearning for. Or cut down on the impromptu shopping trips. Open up a savings account dedicated solely to travel. Or think about taking on some extra work. You can have it all, it just takes a bit more thinking about when you have other financial responsibilities.
6. Consider a sabbatical
Obviously, the dream is a job where you can continue to work abroad for a short period of time such as ….. but a sabbatical is something that more employers are open to these days. Holding your job for a few months.
Does this story sound familiar to anyone else? Do you have any more tips to add to my list?
All photographs by Sophie Saint