As former workaholics it had taken decades for us to find ourselves in a fairly unique position. We were financially quite well-off, we both enjoyed successful and rewarding careers with the free added bonus of exhaustion and stress. We weren’t millionaires, but as quite a frugal couple, we’d never squandered our hard earned cash on opulent apparel, but we did splash out on vacations and new cars now and again.
We’d paid off the mortgage on our main home, purchased a vacation property overseas, we dined out most evenings of the week, and had all the latest gadgets and gizmos. We had everything that the world associates with a happy, successful couple. There was one big problem; it really didn’t satisfy us.
We wanted to travel the world, and we were in our late 30s and early 40s, so the clock was ticking. We were far too young to afford to retire for life, but could we turn our back on everything we’d worked so hard to accumulate and give it a go for a while?
Planning to take a Career Break Took Too Long
We spent over three years researching and looking into the possibility of how to make this a reality. Logically (that’s the logic of our past consumer world) said it just didn’t make sense for us to walk away from our high income jobs. The economy was in freefall, and getting back into the market after the trip would be near impossible. Then a whole series of further doubts and reasons not to make the jump came.
What about family and friends? Could we leave them for so long would we miss them too much?
What if we couldn’t live out of a backpack for months on end?
Would we miss our home comforts?
What if we get ill?
What if we get robbed?
These are just a small sample of the endless questions and doubts we wrestled with while holding firmly on to our dream of traveling long term. In the end we found answers to all of these questions on sites like this and from other travel bloggers who had already made the leap and were sharing their experiences.
Travel Risks Vs Rewards
So we took the risk, quit our jobs in 2011, and started de-cluttering of our lives.
Clearing the house and our lives of possessions was liberating and at times a little sad. After 20 years together, some of the things we had to say farewell triggered fond memories. But in a way we now know we were just making lots of room for the countless new memories that would replace them on our trip.
We sold the cars and other things that we no longer needed, sorted all our files and paperwork, and made them available on-line so that we could access everything on the road. We rented our home out and finally wrote a will (just in case). We then said an emotional goodbye to family, friends, and work colleagues. There was no turning back now, and we were excited (and also a little apprehensive) as we departed, in December 2011, to catch a flight to Australia.
We’ve been traveling ever since, and the trip has been the most amazing and fulfilling experience we have had together. Experiencing so much each week, it’s difficult to express everything we’ve learned about us as a couple and individually, as we are still learning and changing.
Freedom to Travel Long-Term
Currently we’re living off our savings and rental income from our home, and plan to do so for a good while yet as we travel on a low-cost ‘flashpacking’ budget. We will begin to think about working to fund our travels in the future, though not just yet.
We no longer measure success in terms of monetary wealth. We appreciate that there are few certainties in life (other than birth and death), so we are doing the best we can to fill the space between these with new experiences. We have no regrets about what we have done. There are things and comforts from home we miss occasionally, but those emotions are fleeting as another experience smacks us in the face and reminds us how truly lucky we are.
Regrets About Leaving Our Home Behind?
We wish we’d started this journey sooner and not spent so many years trying to analyze the consequences. We initially intended to spend just a couple of years traveling around the world; however, our long-term plan is now to live a location independent life, picking up work when and where we can find it. Do we know how we are going to do that? Not yet, but we have plenty of ideas, and we will look at them in more detail soon.
There is so much more we want to explore that we no longer want to return to the lives we once had, and also realize that you don’t need to win the lottery to do this. We’ve met many people of all ages and backgrounds who have very little in either savings or income, yet they still manage to fulfill their desire to travel by working temporarily in all manner of jobs around the world, and then using this cash to pay for their next adventure.
We have learned as the trip has progressed that things often work out better if you don’t rush them. The future comes every day, so if you miss today’s opportunity, another will be along tomorrow.
To find out more about people who left their jobs to travel, check out the following articles:
- When the Light Bulb Went On
- Who Takes a Career Break to Travel?
- How a Career Break Can Change Your Life
In 2011 Craig and John sold off most of their belongings, quit their jobs, and set off around the world. They bought a one way ticket to Australia and have been heading west across the globe ever since. Their blog features destination travel advice and tips for the older long term traveler. They travel in what they call the flashpacking style, avoiding shared dorms and bathrooms at all costs. Their posts are accompanied with some great travel photography featuring the architecture, cultural treats, and people they meet on their travels. They blog about their journey at flashpackatforty, or you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter