I've quit my job to travel on more occasions than one.
I've been a nurse for years and have even used my career to live and work abroad as a travel nurse. The first time I quit, I traveled for 6 months. I went back home and started a new job at a new hospital but after 2 years, I quit again to travel.
This time was different though. I loved my job but still had the nagging feeling I needed to get back out in the world. After some time in Aruba and some exploring in between, I'm back in my home country but working as a "flex nurse" to give myself more freedom to explore.
Even though I cherish my career and love traveling, I don't feel like it's something you have to choose between. You can have both! Some jobs you can even take on the road with you, like a travel nurse or travel vet, while others might require you to take some time off.
It's time we stop thinking of that time off as a negative and start to make some realizations that it's actually an amazing thing to do!
If you've ever thought about quitting your job to follow your dreams, but are hesitating to do so? Stop hesitating and I’ll tell you why!
1. Find out what's important to you
Before deciding what to do, make sure you have thought about what’s important to you, so you can make a well-thought out and fully-considered decision. What's it for you? Is it money and security? Or might it be adventure and experience? Or is it anything else you might want?
Money and security can actually go hand in hand with adventure and experience. Budget travelers rejoice, it's completely possible to travel for longer with less money. While so many people assume traveling only breaks the banks, there are plenty of ways to keep your costs low and not stress about your expenses while on the road.
When it comes to things of significance, make sure you are aware of all the things you might have to arrange before leaving. For example: Have you thought about vaccinations? Visas? Financial factors?
Before I made my decision, I was working as a nurse in a hospital for 7 years, which I had always loved doing. I started traveling in 2013 during my holidays which gave me the chance to explore another culture.
After that, I took unpaid holidays to travel again, which made the desire to travel grow even more. Even though I loved my job, I felt like I was missing out on something.
I found out that to me, security and money was less important than adventure and developing myself. I was lucky enough in not having to leave too much behind. At that time I didn’t have my own place or any children, so it was easier to leave.
2. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion hold you back
It might sound simple, but life is not about the choices other people want you to take, but about the choices YOU want to take. They might call you crazy for quitting your job and taking a step into the unknown, but in my opinion it’s only a missed chance. A missed chance of not doing something because of someone else’s opinion. You can only regret the choices you didn’t take, so why not just go for it, take a step into the unknown and see what else is out there?
If you're itching to travel but your partner is the one holding you back, read up on getting him or her just as excited as you to travel the world. On the other hand, don't be scared to go at this adventure on your own and fully embrace traveling the world solo.
Some of my colleagues called it a crazy decision quitting my job and my parents were not excited for me in the beginning. Despite these factors, I decided to not let them keep me from taking such a big leap. Luckily, my parents still knew me well enough to trust me on this decision, so they supported me in every way they could and so did my friends.
So even if people are calling your dreams “crazy” or “unrealistic” or “impractical”, don’t let them stop you from doing what you think is right.
3. Don't let fear keep you from going
Honestly, fear might just be the number one reason holding you back. It’s true that you can think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t go, but trust me, fear is only temporary. You’ll never know what happens until you go and find out for yourself. Things might turn out well, or things might not. But if you stay in what is “routine” or ordinary, you can be sure that nothing is going to change. However, when you go through change, you grow.
Are you afraid that quitting your job means you will not be able to find a new one when you get back? Stop worrying about that because you will always find a way. It might not be the exact same position you had before leaving, but I’m sure something good (or even better!) will come up! And you know what? Some employers value life experience just as much as work experience, and you might even be able to find yourself a new job while traveling abroad.
Of course I was nervous when it came to quitting my job and finding a new one when I got back. But I convinced myself that if I wouldn’t find an interesting job immediately, I would take whatever job that would cross my path and look for something else in the meantime. And guess what? The exact job I had in mind was available and I got it! Of course I cannot tell you how easy it will be to find yourself a new job, because it varies for every profession, but for nurses at this time it’s not too difficult to find yourself a new position.
4. Stop Making Excuses
You can always think of multiple reasons why you shouldn’t take the step, or about the things that could go wrong, but if you keep on making excuses, you’ll miss out on a lot of opportunities. The longer you stay, the harder it’ll be to leave.
My list of excuses kept on growing the more I was thinking about it, so making a decision wasn’t going to be easier the longer I waited. I thought about a lot of “what ifs” and about my future plan, but I found out that I didn’t need a future plan, at least not right away. Financially, I set myself a budget to build a little bit of security and booked a return ticket so that at least I could tell my friends and family when I was coming home.
5. Realize you're not the only one
These days, there are a lot of people taking a gap year or travelling around the world so know that you are not the only one exploring. I met a lot of great people along the way.
A few months ago, I decided to quit my job again to travel and work abroad. This time, I had less fear and more courage to make the decision, according to my past experiences. Last time it worked out perfectly, so I was convinced that it would work out fine this time too. Even though this time I had the best colleagues and job I ever had (which made it harder to leave), I did decide to give it up to travel again.
Recently I started working at the same ward as before, but now I’m working as a flexible nurse, which gives me even more opportunities to travel.
I was struggling with this myself a few years ago and thought of a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t go. It wasn’t until later that I realised it was mostly fear that was keeping me from going. I decided to listen to my heart, quit my job, and take a step into the unknown. I travelled solo to South East Asia for 6 months and volunteered as a nurse along the way. And you know what? I have never once regretted making this decision.