At 22, although I have a great job as a radio announcer, I recently quit my job to backpack around the world. I haven’t left yet, I hope my experience so far will shed light on the pros and cons of the big choice.
This decision ate away at me throughout the whole year. Would I be better off investing my money? Will I ruin my career? Will I get too homesick? What if I get robbed by a ladyboy in Thailand? (Spot the paranoid guy in the room…)
When I was at my most torn, a good friend said, “When you look back at your life, you’re not going to wish you spent more time in the office.”
Aiight Mr Mark Twain. That’s a pretty dam good point.
I knew way deep in my gut, most likely my pancreas that I had to do it. Before I settle down, I’ve sworn to myself to have had an extended trip by myself to make the most of being young and single. Not to be a massive whore, but so I can drop off the map, and experience real freedom.
First of all you need cash money. I naturally have been good at saving, and have done so for the last three years. (My mum’s maiden name is Fineberg… but I doubt that has anything to do with it.)
What helped me the most was seeing budgeting as an attitude more than anything else. A genuine desire to save as much as I could, while keeping myself sane. Without this any rules or tips you come across won’t last.
Also not having a significant other helps, so this year I’ve had a distinct focus not to settle down any time soon. Kills the dating life a bit when you drop an “Oh BTW I’m travelling soon” bomb but I’ll have the rest of my life for that right?
Then comes crunch time. When and how to quit. This easily stressed me out the most. This year I had a new co-host on my radio show, so I wanted to stay until we at least had some ratings behind us. We got our ratings at the end of September. So I decided to break the news then.
My boss, to my delight was totally cool with it. A year of stressing was misguided. The brass tax of the chat sounded like: “Hey sad to see you go. You’ve done a great job, but I’ll never stop someone at your age, you’ll have an amazing time.” This was very cool to hear.
My workmates including my co-host, whose life would completely be altered by my decision were also really understanding. Turns out going on an OE when you’re in your early 20’s is a thing people do. It’s not that weird.
Overall everything wasn’t nearly as dramatic as I had built it up to be. In the end I was encouraged by family, friends and work to take the chance. Although I’m yet to experience the actual trip, I’d encourage you to take the chance if you can work towards it. No one gets out of this alive, might as well enjoy it.
I’m now at the business end of my wait. I fly out in less than a month. A life of family, friends, saving, working and comfort will be traded for skype, randoms, spending, exploring and adventure. I couldn’t be more excited for the unknown. It’s going to be a shock, and I’ll probably get sick or robbed or have terrible days but I’m sure when I’m 40, and knee-deep in kid’s nappies I’ll be so glad I took the plunge and opted away from routine.