Hi Aileen! I am one of your followers and I’m reaching out because I want to ask for your advice on how to travel the world. You have been living this dream of mine and your journey has been inspiring! I want to do the same soon and quit my job, but I have no money nor the confidence and know-how on how to start. I just really want to gain the freedom to travel the world, get paid at the same time, and just be… HAPPY. I know you posted a lot of travel tips, but I still wanted to reach out and say a personal message because you inspired me in so many ways!
– Kim from the Philippines
Ever since I posted an article about the best travel jobs, my inbox exploded with messages from readers all over the world who shared their stories and griefs (just like this letter from Kim — thank YOU for taking the time!).
I’ve read through all of these emails and somehow… almost every sender’s sentiments have reminded me of my past 20-year old self who was overwhelmed with the desire to leave the corporate rat race to do more of what she loves; and yet, she felt ‘stuck’ to the standard 9-to-5 grind because she has no other choice for making a living.
That’s why please trust me when I say that I know how overwhelming it can be to aim and plan for such a HUGE life-changing decision; even more so when you are raised with a strict upbringing and/or come from a poor financial background (like me).
Nevertheless, I hope it gives you comfort to know that I am a living example of how a life of travel IS possible, no matter the unfavorable circumstances of one’s life. It will just be tough at first (oh yes sir, it will) but it is NEVER impossible, and I am here to help guide you to do the same.
So on to the golden question… HOW exactly was I able to quit my job and travel the world?
The short answer? With the help of the internet.
The long answer? Read on to know…
– – –
RELATED READ: What to Know FIRST Before You Take the Leap
RELATED READ: How to Become a Digital Nomad
Table of Contents
- 1 My Backstory
- 2 Step 1: Ask Yourself Some Hard Questions
- 3 Step 2: Reinforce Your Desire to Travel the World (& Make it a Constant)
- 4 Step 3: Start Planning Your Travel Lifestyle
- 5 Step 4: Put Your Plans into Action
- 6 Step 5: Time to Quit Your Job and Travel the World!
Before I go on, I think it’s actually imperative that I first share with you my background story in order to help you understand where I’m coming from (and that hopefully, it would further help inspire you to take the leap soon!).
After this section, I will start discussing the 5 important steps that will lead you to ‘FREEDOM’, so hang in there!
( — Click the ‘+‘ sign below to see the hidden section.)
My backstory from 2007 to 2011 (CLICK to expand this section)
NOTE: You can also see a summary of my life’s timeline.
Society has long instilled in us the idea that there is a distinct natural order to things when it comes to life and career progression: you first have to study for years, and then you have to get a 9 to 5 job. If you happen to be indecisive about your career path, someone will decide your future for you.
And well, that’s exactly what happened to me back in 2007.
2007: I was 15*, and like most people my age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do — what I did know was that I enjoyed doing a LOT of things: journalism, music, computer, art, business, finance, science, etc. You could say that I was a ‘jill of all trades and a master of none‘ kind of gal. Nothing seemed to fit me and I wasn’t even brave enough yet to choose for myself.
This is why the inevitable happened: my mom made the choice for me (this is also what usually happens when you come from a traditional Asian family).
In no time, I was enrolled in a prestigious school in Manila, Philippines under a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy — a similar path that my older brother was put in. It was definitely a course that I had no interest in but I was all, “Meh, okay. I love numbers anyway, so it will be fine! And it’s a good school too. Yep, it’s gonna be fiiiineeeeee.”
NOTE: By the way, for those asking, it’s not common for Filipino students to start college at the age of 15. It’s commonly around 16-18; I was just a special case. And no, my family is not ‘filthy rich’ for having given me the chance to study at DLSU. There are middle or lower-class people like me who have managed to study there; and in my case, it’s all thanks to my mom’s hard work that she was able to pay for my university enrollment.
As I went through my freshman year, I came upon a sudden realization that I got an intense, blood-curdling hatred for anything related to numbers. I may have won math contests in the past but it was a different matter to study formulas to no end. I was also frustrated, thinking that I would do the same act of balancing sheets over and over again as a profession… So like a kick in the gut, I thought:
“No, I’m not gonna do this to myself.”
Thankfully, I was starting to gain more independence as well as awareness of the things that I want for myself. So after a lengthy discussion with my mom, she finally let me shift courses.
Whenever I retell this story to friends, I often joke about how I had to cry to her just so I can change courses — and well, that was true! Haha. I was young and my parents still had a great deal of hold on me. (And yes, you guys are my friends now.)
I actually wanted to enroll in a computer-related course but since I was in the College of Business, shifting to the College of Science was too expensive. I didn’t want to further burden my parents, that’s why I settled for the next best thing: business. I figured that I needed this skill later on in life, especially if I want to follow my dreams of being my own boss.
After a rigorous application, I managed to get into a new specialized business program of my university in 2009 called ACM (Applied Corporate Management) and it additionally involved a year’s-worth of internships. Regarding the latter, I got accepted into different multinational corporations such as Siemens, Nestlé, and Unilever as I ‘dipped’ myself into the fields of communication, marketing, and human resource management.
2011: I was 19 and I finally graduated from university. Much like what I said about the natural order of things, I was at the point of my life where I had to find a 9 to 5 job a.k.a. the good ol’ corporate/office job. Plagued with the fear of unemployment, I jumped in on the first company that sought to employ me: Deutsche Bank.
As an investment bank, the job position offered to me involved hardcore finance and trading knowledge. So yes, I know what you’re thinking… I shouldn’t have jumped in, right? Because I did mention that I hate anything related to numbers, right?
However, this happened just less than 3 months after my graduation; so at that time, I thought that I was already one of the “lucky ones”. A big company wanted me for their graduate trainee program; whereas most of my friends haven’t managed to get job offers or even interviews yet. Not to mention that I did a rash decision of living separately from my parents*, so I was in dire need of some money.
*Once again, this isn’t the ‘norm’ for Filipinos. Most children don’t leave their parents’ house up until they marry (some even stay with their parents when they are already married). But for me, due to family issues as well as personal reasons (i.e. my intense desire to be independent), I had to make the decision to move out.
So in my mind, when Deutsche Bank offered me the job, all I could think of was, “Why not say YES?“
And so I did — even if a part of me felt like I was making the wrong choice.
I just convinced myself that apart from needing the money, I also needed to reinforce my knowledge about finance and that I will use it as a ‘leverage’ for my future career — “it really wouldn’t hurt to do this temporarily.” Besides, I wanted to prove that even if I shifted out of Accountancy and have come to hate numbers, I can still take on this kind of field and be strong in it.
I told myself: 1 year and then I will resign and apply for a job that I actually love.
2012: A year has passed, and yet… I was still in Deutsche Bank (DB) working on trading books. How was I doing?
Burned out. Miserable. Stressed. Confused.
I was the best performer on the team despite being a fresh graduate. There was even talk of recommending me for an overseas transfer. The icing to the cake? I became an Employee of the Month.
And yet… I was only earning about $300 a month.
It was definitely not enough so I literally had no savings; but of course, I had to make do. At some point, they offered me a promotion for the next year with only an $80 increase and I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry. I also felt a bit of spite because there was a new hire I was training (and who even took my accomplishments to his credit) that was paid triple than I did. He may have had prior experience than me for 5 months, but it still felt unfair.
Don’t get me wrong though, working at DB had its fun parts but it was mentally and physically draining. My morale was also low. I started thinking…
“Is this all there is to it?
What good is in this ‘interesting work’ if I am this unhappy?
If I am counting every hour until I could get home?
If I am counting the days until it’s the weekend?
If I am always waiting for vacation, holidays, or long weekends?
If I am wasting almost 5 hours of my day in traffic?
If I am plagued by overtimes and unnecessary meetings?“
It was my daily grind: I woke up uninspired and I was on a countdown of my life.
I was also gaining weight. I wasn’t healthy (when I get stressed, I don’t get thin — I get fat).
And then there are those conversations. Whenever people asked me how my work was, I keep a straight face and tell them exactly how I feel: that it was an interesting and challenging environment, but I wasn’t happy. Once I finish, they always say that they feel the same way with their jobs, but then they quickly add the comment that I was going to be fine: I will be getting a raise soon and I was one of the best, so it will all be “worth it” in the end.
For some reason, we seem to be on an unending cycle where we convince one another that it will all get better. But in the back of my mind, I know that it won’t. It was a rat race — an endless, self-defeating, and pointless pursuit.
Of course, I know that this office work/profession seemed to work for others (it was their passion) but for me… it just didn’t work at all.
So after a while, I started voicing out my ideas for resignation (I wanted to try doing online marketing) or going on a long break (because I always wanted to travel). But again, people, much like the rest of society — made me hesitate. They said:
- I should cling on to what I have, I am already ‘secured’.
…was I? I can get fired anytime. All of us are technically ‘disposable’ employees.
- Times are getting hard. I probably wouldn’t find a good opportunity anywhere else.
…do I really lack the skills to try something else?
- Traveling is expensive and can always be done when a long holiday comes.
…the waiting game again? Those ‘long holidays’ rarely come and it even saddens me that traveling is painted in that light.
Even if I had these number of retorts in my head, I couldn’t say a thing because I was being fed with fear. I was told to settle and wait.
So I couldn’t do it… I was far too conditioned to hesitate. BUT I told myself that in the meantime, I should at least make ways to make my life a bit bearable until I can find an exit.
That’s why in order to cope up with the stress, I decided to start blogging* again as a hobby — and guess what? It was a good choice! It was so fun to do and it was the one thing that kept me sane, happy, and inspired despite my 9-to-5 job.
I set up two platforms: this website (which was branded as a lifestyle blog then and hosted on Blogspot) and then a food website (called FoodieFromTheMetro.com, and which was more popular than my lifestyle site). I slowly gained a bit of a ‘name’ for myself online in the Philippines through these websites, so I often had invitations from establishments and resorts to visit and review them for free.
But then again, blogging required traveling and taking absences at work… which was almost impossible for me to get! As such, surely my resolve to quit my job was strengthened as I realized more and more how much better it could be if I can control my own time and if I didn’t have to ask someone to get some time off.
Do you realize how ridiculous that was? That you actually have to ask someone just to have a break!
I was no longer thinking of quitting and finding another job in a field that I like; I was thinking more of quitting the corporate scene altogether because I know that having an office job will never help me achieve the freedom that I wanted.
The only looming question though was: HOW?
How can I quit my job and travel the world and actually LIVE?
As if life heard my plea, I started meeting people outside of my corporate circle through blogging events. I even started to meet folks from abroad and they were backpackers, entrepreneurs, or nomads who were able to travel the world as they do the things that they LOVE. In fact, it was the first time that I heard of the term: digital nomad.
Naturally, these people inspired me because their lifestyle and profession were the exact things that I would have loved to do! We continued to exchange stories and I started to get envious of their lifestyle and experiences in a very positive way.
When it was time to talk about me, other than the other interesting stories of my life, I told them how I felt about my 9 to 5 job. I answered them truthfully, much like how I answered everyone else, and what happened next… was amazing!
ALL of them advised me to quit if I really wanted to, and they even gave me ideas on what I can do afterward as based on my interests, skills, and passions.
It was REFRESHING!
Finally, I met people who did NOT feed me fear and who did not make me hesitate, instead: they encouraged me to embrace fear, to be different, to be released from the old concept of financial security, and to take the leap!
This was also the period when I met one of my closest friends today. He was already a digital nomad himself when we met and it was actually thanks to him that the nomadic chapter of my life was finally ushered into motion. The moment that triggered this change was a bit of a funny occurrence… but all the same, unique.
You see, one day, we had an earnest conversation and he asked me how I truly felt about how my life and my job. For the first time in months, I couldn’t keep a straight face.
…To be more accurate, I bawled my eyes and heart out like a child.
It seemed like every emotion that I was keeping inside of me finally leaked through and it hit me that:
“This is it! It’s enough. It’s time to STOP.”
You see, I’m not an emotional person. I know that if I cry because of a negative topic, it means that it HAS already reached a level of extreme seriousness! (Remember how I had to cry to my mom just so I can shift courses?) That’s why for this time around, I figured that it had reached this point because I was already too frustrated, and meeting people like him who have full control of their life while following their passions made me see how I can do the same — and yet, I was too scared to do it!
In some way, I was angry at myself for being like that.
Now, of course, as I said above, the idea of resigning and applying for a marketing position in another company had crossed my mind because a marketing job will probably keep me inspired (as per my previous training with other companies, etc.). HOWEVER, the thought that I will be kept inside an office again, working for someone else, and serving a 9 to 5 job (possibly with even more hours) suffocated me.
It just felt like another trap.
I’ve already experienced enough of the 9-to-5 grind and having been exposed to the existence of how I could start a life of travel had already made the corporate life pale so much in comparison — especially because I was fired up with the idea of finally working for myself.
In the end, I told my self that:
- I don’t want to hate myself or my life anymore. I want to love and enjoy life.
- I don’t want to live in constant fear and waste away my early 20s. I want to have the courage to live boldly and to live each day to the fullest.
- I don’t want society or anybody else to dictate what I have to do. I want to follow my own desires.
- I don’t want to settle. I want to get what I deserve and what I want.
- I don’t want to work for someone else or slave myself for a corporation just ‘to get by’. I want to work for myself and not be led by money.
I voiced out these thoughts to my mom and much like any big life choices that I have made before, this one was a huge struggle for her. Probably the worst too because working online was a novel concept at that time, and I’m sure she thought that I was flushing my future down the toilet… as well as wasting the years of effort that she did to put me into school. After all, she did all she could so that I could get the formal education that I needed.
I totally understood this and I felt guilty. Oh boy, I sure did… but I knew that this shouldn’t deter me (nor should it deter you too). It may seem selfish but I know that it’s never a child’s fault. Parents, at the very core, know that it’s their responsibility and that they only want the best for their kids — and my decision to change my profession and lifestyle is what I wanted best. It’s what would make me happy; and what makes me happy, will make my parents happy. Even more so when I succeed and pay it forward. Besides, in the first place, my education will never be wasted, it was just changing form.
Also, in our culture, decisions like these almost always have to go through one’s parents because you somehow need their ‘blessing‘. Most Filipinos do it for approval; but for me, I do it as a sign of respect. Besides, if she objected to my plans, I think she also knows that I was at the part of my adulthood where I would have done it nonetheless; so, I guess a part of her was just thankful that I told her. And I am just so glad that my mom found it in herself to let me go and not be angry about it — and for that, I will be forever thankful for her.
…After a few months of preparation, it was finally April 2013.
I have been taking the steps to gain the lifestyle that I wanted, I had my resignation in, and finally: I was FREE!
These were all the things that I found interest in doing but never had the time to do so because of my 9-to-5 job. But obviously, with more free time as an online freelancer, I got to polish these skills further.
It’s also important to note that I wasn’t so adept in these areas at first because they were not taught to me in my college courses nor in the past corporate jobs that I had.
So how did I learn them all? All by myself, online!
As always, Google is your friend. There is a crazy amount of FREE online resources that you can take advantage of.
After a while, with my set of skills, I snagged a permanent contract with an online Swedish company that paid more than triple of what I earned before. But after a year with them — learning all their processes and seeing how profitable it was (an Amazon FBA venture) — I decided that it was something that I would love to do as a business!
I pitched the idea to a digital nomad friend that I had who was open to investing in ‘angel businesses’ and thankfully, he was interested. I proceeded to end my contract and dedicated my time to learning more about Amazon (while traveling around Asia and Europe).
Fast forward to July, we had a successful product launch for our own brand: Adalid Gear* — and the rest, as they say, was history.
(*UPDATE: As of 2020, I have sold off this business and explored other online businesses to date.)
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It’s important to note that even before this online business venture started, working online as a freelancer had already given me the freedom to travel the world and earn a living at the same time. But of course, having this business made my financial situation even more comfortable and secure. My journey made me clearly see that life has truly become such a blissful experience once I started doing what I always wanted to do ♥
I guess my past and the current situation is, somehow, a perfect embodiment of this quote:
“Do what you love to do. Forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living doing things you don’t like doing… Which is STUPID! Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
Just do what you love to do and you’ll see… the money will come. If you really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually become a master of it.”
– Alan Watts
So again… how can YOU make a similar lifestyle possible?
“Do I have to be rich?” NOPE.
Because I was NOT rich nor did I come from a rich family. They have never given me money for these travels either, and I have never asked money from them ever since I started working. (BUT, guess what…? I am VERY rich in love, support, and skills! -wink-)
But yes, you really DON’T have to be rich. You just have to take these steps…
• • •
5 Steps: How to Travel the World
Step 1: Ask Yourself Some Hard Questions
This step is crucial because even if I encourage everyone to quit their job and travel the world as I have, it is still and always important to be inquisitive and perceptive about this for as much as possible. How can you do that? By asking yourself these tough questions that are grouped in three (3) phases.
– – –
∙∙∙ Phase 1
- “What exactly am I unhappy about with my office job?“
- “What would it take for me to be happy here? Or is my happiness elsewhere?“
- “Have I taken every action possible to try and make my job be better for me?“
- “If nothing is working out no matter what I try, what problems am I expecting to solve if I quit my job and travel the world?“
- “Is it really my dream to travel the world?“
- “What do I ultimately want as a career or lifestyle?“
YOU definitely have to ask yourself these questions and actually answer them. After all, you have to make sure that quitting your job is something that YOU want, and to travel the world is what YOU’RE passionate about — or else, you’ll just end up hating your life again (which is a cycle you MUST avoid).
You also have to ensure that you are not using this as an ‘escape’ or a ‘fad’ you just want to jump on when in fact, what you might actually just need is a different kind of job, field, boss, or company.
- Do some self-reflection. If you are troubled about some internal or external issues in your life, remember that you’ll be carrying those with you when you set out into the world… and if you don’t handle those issues NOW or at least address them, it could create a snowball effect that could affect you while you’re on the road. So as early as now, try to understand yourself as a person so you could see if you can handle the lifestyle change you’ll be doing.
- Make some mental notes. Remember that though a traveling nomad’s life is exciting and fulfilling, it will still involve a great deal of hard work and responsibility — it could even be the same level of effort or even more than the current work you’re putting into your office job. The only upside is that you’ll finally be working on something that’s for yourself, and not for others or some big ol’ corporation.
- Hard work because you’ll really have to start on something from the ground up.
- Responsibility because you have no one else to rely on but yourself and all decisions will be made by you alone
- Be sure. It will also take commitment, consistency, and motivation on your part in order to quit your job and travel the world. So as I’ve said, it’s important to ensure that this is your own desire and purpose to grow and experience. You should never do this for someone else or for appearances because that will just make all of this meaningless.
Think about all of these things very well, and if your answer remains to be…
“Yes, I don’t want to work a 9-to-5 job anymore because I want to have the freedom to work in my own hours and in a setting that’s beyond the confines of an office cubicle. Travel is also my passion, so if I could combine these two, the happier I will become and the closer I can be to my dreams. I want to make this happen.”
…then that’s great! Next up:
– – –
∙∙∙ Phase 2
- Am I prepared to sacrifice things to achieve what I truly want?
- Do I really know what I’m getting myself into?
- Do I know anything about the life of non-stop travelers or working nomads?
For the latter questions, somehow, you have already tried to answer them because of the simple fact that you’re now reading my blog — so yay, good job!
But other than my blog, try to read other blogs of traveling nomads so that you can see the different kinds of lifestyles that they lead depending on the jobs that they do. I say this because there are just SO many different types of working nomads out there. Obviously, I am asking you to do this so that:
~ You can see your possible options
~ You can lower down any expectations that might be overly-romanticized
~ You can find out what your daily routine or life might be if you follow the same path
If you ask me, I categorize remote workers or nomads into these groups:
- Corporate Nomads – Those who are allowed by their companies to work from home. Before the whole 2020 pandemic, I have also heard of people who get to work for half a year or have a 6-month leave, go back to the office — and repeat.
- Traditional Nomads – They have the good ol’ conventional traveling careers that enable them to travel the world (e.g. tour guides, a cruise ship crew staff, flight attendants, pilots, etc.) The downside to this, however, is that it still requires a lot of hours (sometimes fixed).
- Offline Nomads – They start a life of travel by jumping from one country to the next depending on the local opportunities available. These can be jobs or activities on the road (big or small like volunteering, etc.) in order to earn just enough every day. This usually works best for budget travelers and is often the first starting point for those who want to travel the world.
- Digital Nomads – They depend on technology or the internet to make a living (e.g. freelancing, blogging, online shops, etc.). These kinds of nomads typically earn a good amount of earnings for doing in-demand online jobs, so you’ll usually find them glued to their laptops, if not traveling.
RELATED READ: The Ultimate Guide on How to Become a Digital Nomad
- Phase Nomads – Those who just graduated from university and are intending to travel the world for only 1-3 years — just to take advantage of what they can do with their youth (sometimes called a gap year). Afterward, they go back to their home country to get an office job.
- Rich Nomads – These are the ones who have a lot of money saved up from the start and they use it to launch their traveling journey (the money may be from an inheritance, from a high-paying career, from selling every possession they had, etc.). They may or may not work anymore while traveling, but most of the time, they don’t.
- Chill Nomads – They may be a different kind of nomad before but currently, they are earning more than the average (and mostly passive income too) due to a successful business start-up or reputation. They don’t work as much and they often travel from one place to another at a slower pace in order to take in a country’s culture and lifestyle for a longer or indefinite period of time.
RELATED READ: 5 Job Types That Allow You to Earn as You Travel
Of course, depending on your skills or circumstance, you can be any of the above at the start of your journey! And as you go on, you can turn into a nomad that is a mix of, let’s say, a digital and chill nomad (like me).
All in all, it’s best that you open your eyes to these possible realities so you can see what can happen OR what may apply to you. It can also help manage your expectations and squish any unrealistic views.
To illustrate this further, let’s say you currently have a high-paying corporate job. Surely a new nomadic lifestyle wouldn’t replace your current salary right away especially if you choose to do volunteering that is often paid lower than most travel jobs (if that were possible, then everyone will be doing this in a heartbeat!)
So yes: to maintain and start a life of travel is NOT always as glamorous as you think. It’s not like everyone instantly goes to 5-star hotels once they become a traveling nomad — or even if they do (because they’re rich in the first place) the adventures, experiences, and stories are the real golden treasures that NO money or 5-star whatever will ever compare.
That being said, if your heart is truly set on this journey, let’s now proceed to the last phase.
– – –
∙∙∙ Phase 3
- What’s holding me back from taking this leap?
- What excuses have I built up in my head?
- What is actually the truth behind these doubts?
I need you to list down ALL the excuses you’re thinking of that are possibly holding you back from being totally immersed in your goal. Why? Because chances are, those excuses are invalid and are only holding you back.
Possibly, some of the things that you’ve been thinking of are:
“I can’t afford this change, I don’t have any money or savings”
Actually, you can. If this is really your dream and it’s something you absolutely desire, you can always find a way. (Take it from me who was almost living through cup noodles for every meal just to make ends meet). Of course, words are shallow but I’ll actually discuss how you can manage your finances later on in this post. So please, don’t let yourself use this excuse — even more so if you managed to get the latest iPhone for yourself in the past months (see how you actually have the money?)
Alternatively, there’s a touchy topic regarding privilege. We obviously don’t have the exact same life circumstances and your situation could be far worse than mine back when I was still starting.
A sample concern is: “What if I’m supporting my siblings or parents?”.
I can understand how difficult of a situation this can be since it’s a common occurrence, for instance, in Asian countries like the Philippines (in fact, to this day, I am still supporting my parents). But still and the same, there’s a viable option for you: finding a better job where you can compete and gain a salary that’s not within 3rd world standards — which is what I’ve done and achieved.
So I know that YOU can do something similar given that I’ve managed to do so with maddening perseverance and hard work. But of course, I acknowledge the reality that this post will likely NOT cater to those who are poverty-stricken; nevertheless, I am obviously catering this to people like YOU who at least have the chance to access the internet which is a vast area where you can gain a LOT of opportunities to uplift your life’s situation. After all, access to the internet alone should already show you the reality that with such ‘privilege’, you CAN already turn your life around if you dearly will it so. Take it from me, as well as from the number of successful nomads worldwide!
“I’m afraid to travel alone.“
Actually, when you travel, you are NEVER alone. You’re bound to meet people along the way. You’ll be making friends on the road who can turn out to be your best friends for life. So take this as a challenge for yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself before you actually had the chance to try it out; besides, you’ll be surprised how strong and independent you can actually be! Plus, it’s not so scary to travel alone abroad as long as you stay street smart and know where to go. (For a start, you can try going on a small solo trip for a couple of days to some nearby city, just to get a feel of this, and I’m pretty sure, you’ll be fine.) Besides, the world isn’t such a scary place at all like what the media portrays it to be.
RELATED READ: Solo Travel Tips
“I’m taken right now. I can’t leave my bf/gf.“
Then take this leap together! If you do, the two of you can save together and it will make things easier and more achievable. However… I understand that some partners wouldn’t have the same dream. Why not try to make them read blogs like this and maybe they’ll find out that it’s what they want in life too? But if it’s not, I guess it’s time to make some sacrifices. And if you’re still young, I strongly advise that you don’t give up your dreams just for someone else’s benefit or request.
“I’m too old… It’s too late. I also have kids.”
Nope. It’s never too late. I may seem arrogant for saying this because I don’t have kids yet unlike you; however, I’ve seen a LOT of successful married and older nomads that made it a point to work remotely and travel the world. They were in their 50s, 70s, or more, and their kids are traveling with them too! Most of them have tried traveling around in a van, or just simply jumping from one country to the next while home-schooling their kids. To put it simply: they found ways! Sometimes, we are just making up these excuses in our heads when in fact, everything is almost possible if we just take the initiative to try and see.
“I don’t think it’s the right time.”
Newsflash: there’s NEVER a right time. You just DO it and make time for it. It’s as simple as that. We are never ready for anything anyway — may it be love, studies, or moving to a new place. It just happens if YOU let it happen.
For more sample excuses, read: Top 15 Common Travel Excuses That Should NOT Hold You Back!
I hope that these have addressed some, if not all, of your doubts. This last phase just basically boils down to these 2 ideas of how you should never let yourself be boxed into any of your preconceived notions, and how you should never undermine your ability to take on new things in your life. YOU are a lot more capable than you think!
Feel free to take some time in internalizing all of these questions because by following through all these 3 phases, you will be achieving a better sense of direction and clarity for properly aligning yourself to the dream life you’ve envisioned.
Once you’re all done with this, you’re now ready to take on the 2nd step!
• • •
Step 2: Reinforce Your Desire to Travel the World (& Make it a Constant)
- NOTE: This step along with #3 and #4 can all be done at the same time!
As you might have noticed by now, INSPIRATION played a huge role in ushering me to this new chapter of my life! If I may add, DESPERATION played a crucial part too.
So tell me… when you first thought of pursuing the decision to quit your job and travel the world, what were the emotions that you felt?
Please identify those, and once you do, I am strongly encouraging you to keep those emotions burning — and it doesn’t even matter if there was a negative emotion in the mix because fear, for example, could be a strong and helpful ally. Now, why do I say this?
You see, I strongly believe that even if you are someone who works hard and works smart, such qualities are not enough for pursuing your dreams if you do not have a strong emotional drive. You absolutely NEED to desire something badly so that it actually urges you to do it and to persevere.
When I previously mentioned fear, most people would think of it as a bad thing. But, you can rather use it as the opposite: a driving force to make you fear, for instance, that if you don’t go after your dreams, you’ll end up being a miserable old person who is full of regrets.
Nurturing these emotional ‘drivers’ is also helpful as you pave your path because you’re sure to encounter a lot of other situations and emotions that may try to deter you. But surely, I also acknowledge the fact that it can be hard to stay motivated — so what can you do to keep that ‘fire‘ burning?
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∙∙∙ Join Communities & Network with Like-Minded People
There are a lot of FREE and paid communities out there that can give you in-depth advice and support on how to quit your job, travel the world, and work remotely.
Of course, I am already here to act as your guide, BUT I am not knowledgeable about EVERYTHING so you still need other people’s collective or specialized advice. For example, let’s say later on you figured out that you want to teach English overseas; certainly, you shouldn’t be asking me about this since I haven’t tried that out yet. So how can you find relevant groups?
Google, my friend -wink-.
But I did say that I am your helpful guide, so here are some great nomad communities to start with. Some of these websites are also a great way to connect with nomads that might already be in the city you’re in; so take the time to talk or even meet up with them!
- Reddit for Digital Nomads
- FB Group for Digital Nomads
- Ultimate Travel Group (a forum I created for travelers to connect!)
Alternatively, if you can spare some extra money, I highly suggest hiring a dedicated mentor or coach who can help guide you. Besides, an expert or experienced person’s counsel wouldn’t hurt and it’s definitely going to be one of the best “investments” that you can do for yourself!
If such is not possible, you can try connecting with another person who is on the same path as you are and he or she can serve as your ‘transition buddy’. Basically, the both of you can enter a mutually beneficial relationship where you will do weekly catch-ups or monthly meetings, and by sharing each of your progress on a regular basis, it will help motivate the both of you to stay on track of your goals.
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∙∙∙ Draw Knowledge & Inspiration from Books or Movies
Other than inspirational people, inspirational books also helped me during my transition. One of my favorites is Tim Ferris’ book: The 4-Hour Work Week which has been on The New York Times Best Seller list for 4 consecutive years and has sold over 1.3 million copies. (He is also a digital nomad himself).
Why do I love this book? Though it has superfluous parts that have to be taken with a grain of salt, it still gives you a lot of resources and ideas on how you can maximize your life for remote work in the long run. Tim also has a way with words to really inspire you to get out ‘there‘, so I say take it and read it nonetheless!
Basically, you have to keep this in mind: ALWAYS jump on every opportunity and resource that will feed your mind with excitement so that you can fall head over heels in love — over and over again — with the idea of freedom, doing a job that you enjoy, and working for yourself or your dreams.
RELATED READ: The Best Travel Movies That Will Inspire Wanderlust
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∙∙∙ Keep it Under Wraps
This totally depends on you but if you ask me, it’s best if you keep your plans of quitting your job to travel the world as a secret to those who are close to you — if you choose the opposite, then make sure that you are surrounded by people who are supportive and understanding since it would help greatly in motivating you to cosistently push for your plans.
This kind of decision is crucial for handling internal and external pressure; some people work well under it, whereas some don’t and you need to know where you stand. After all, you’ll be dealing with a LOT of stuff from now on (not just limited to stress and naysayers) and you need a sound mind or environment for as much as possible!
So in order to keep your mind in the game, you must carefully pick who you interact with.
Take the time to survey the people who are close to you, especially your family. If you think you’ll be met with negativity when you expose your upcoming plans, it would then be a great decision to keep everything a secret. Besides, it sometimes works best if you only announce your plans at the time that your travel fund or back-up plans are already taken care of so that you can have a stronger case to present for making your loved ones understand your goals.
RELATED READ: How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Travel
Right from the start, however, be aware that NOT everyone would understand what you’re planning to go through. Most of them will think you’re crazy, while some might be secretly waiting and wishing for you to fail.
…But ultimately, you should NOT care about what others think. This is a VERY important life skill that you should try to develop by now.
Just think about it: instead of wasting your time minding other people’s thoughts, you should just focus that energy on quitting your office job to travel the world!
Much like what said in point #1, you must remember this at all times: you are doing this for yourself and NOT for others. This is also YOUR life, not theirs so they have NO say in how you decide to live it.
– – –
Step 3: Start Planning Your Travel Lifestyle
“But… what if I just really want to quit my job NOW? Can I just plan later?”
Of course, that’s TOTALLY fine!
Besides, the most important thing of in all of this is for you to actually GO and do something about your dreams — and quitting your job is the first crucial step to that. (So, cheers!)
…However, if you’re like me, I did NOT have the luxury to do such a rash choice. I needed to be a bit more conservative with my decisions and to do things one at a time. Why?
- I was earning a really small income and I was broke. Thankfully, I had no debts, but I still had responsibilities that I had to keep on addressing such as bills to pay and parents/siblings to support.
- I needed more time to learn some new skills for the kind of remote work that I wanted (graphic and web design). I also needed more ‘experience’ to develop a good portfolio.
- I also lived in a third world country. With the ‘power’ of my passport, I can’t just buy one-way tickets with no prior plans or costly visas to take care of first.
Remember how we talked about excuses back in step #1? These were my top 3 excuses.
My solution in addressing these excuses? To be patient, to hustle and to bide my time.
So basically, I still stayed in my office job for a while and I had a clear plan: to start working on the side so that I can start, run and grow the online work that I wanted to do. My goal? To earn more than triple of my office salary (which was basically my target location-independent income).
From then on, I started to sacrifice hours of my free time as well as weekends in order to offer temporary free services (just so I can build a portfolio and gain positive client testimonials). When I had enough, I started pitching for jobs until I eventually gained a stable online employer that paid more than what I was earning at the office. After some months, I reached my income goal so I passed my resignation. At that point, I was working from home so I started to have more time for myself which also meant more freedom to develop my skills and to find more work — this gave me the chance to finally start saving for my travel fund too. In no time after that, I started to travel around Asia and eventually to Europe.
So overall, you can quit now and plan afterwards, OR quit later and plan now.
BUT before you venture out and travel the world to do remote work, it’s still and always important to make a rough plan so that you don’t go jump in clueless and bare. With that said…
- First things first: I need you to calculate a rough amount of money that you need to save up AND/OR earn per month in order to launch and live through your future nomadic lifestyle — so that means saving up some money now, and/or finding a remote work or passive income that will help you survive on the road once you let go of your current job.
How to calculate your target savings/future income? By doing research for every factor below…
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DO NOT PLAN OUT A YEAR OF TRAVEL. DO NOT DO IT!!!!!!! If you take anything from this guide, please promise me you will not plan out every day, week, or even month of your trip. You will be mad at yourself if you do. The BEST way to travel is to have a rough idea of where you want to go and see but remain flexible. The best parts of your trip will be because you were flexible with your plan. Trust me: I planned out my entire 3-month trip to South America. I felt rushed the entire time. I got invited to really cool shit and I had to say no because I had a flight or a place to be.
6 months to a year (or longer). For budgeting purposes, I would budget for a year. You can always come home sooner. (Budget advice in step 5) Most Europeans and Australians backpack for a year. You’ll find some Americans or Canadians only backpacking for 3 months or less, but the “norm” is 6 months to a year. If you’re quitting your job and selling everything, make it worth it. It may seem like a long time, but you can easily get caught in a city you love for 3 months.
– – –
- Think of the places that you want to go to
List them all. Go wild. But do choose your destinations carefully!
- Research for the basic details
The cost of living, the weather, the internet speed, the flight time difference, the average flight cost, time zone difference, etc. These are all important! For instance, you can figure out how much money you will be needing and what things you need to bring for the road as you start a life of travel. A good resource website for this is Nomad List. They have come up with a veeery good list of the best cities to work in, along with the details that I mentioned. Otherwise, you can also try Lonely Planet to see the practical information for each city or country. (For the cost of living, it’s a good practice to add more than what’s stated because chances are, some cities can be surprisingly more expensive).
- Research the Visa requirements, border fees/requirements, travel insurance, and vaccinations
Very important, of course. Take note of the fees or costs for each. For Visas, there are some that you can get on the road, while some, you need to get from your home country. For insurance (which is a must!) check out World Nomads since they have the best coverage and rates! For vaccinations, to know whether you need any for certain cities, check by this website. Other than these, it’s important to also know whether some cities require their visitors to have an outbound ticket upon arrival; a lot of countries usually require this when you’re at the immigration (so they can have the assurance that you’ll be leaving the country by the end of your stay).
RELATED READ: How to Travel Worldwide on a Third World Passport
- Rank them according to TOTAL cost
…with the cheapest country at #1! (Do be reminded that if you’re from Asia, as much as you might want to go to New York, it’s impossible for you to head there directly if you don’t have a lot of money saved up yet… especially because the cost of living there can be crazy expensive for a starter nomad like you. Going to countries that have a lower cost of living to start a life of travel will give you more free time, more extra money, and more value for your money — that eventually, you will manage to land into the city of your dreams.) Now once you have ranked them, pick the top 5 or 10 countries (depends on you) and spread them out in a span of months:
- Some nomads make plans for 3-6 months or even a year and this is totally up to you as you determine how long you want to stay in each country.
- Some nomads simply pick one country and base their travel fund on that alone; they have the idea that they will just work on the next cities along the way. This is a nice spontaneous plan if you want to do the same. (★ For me, I somehow started like this. I don’t like to confine myself into too many intricate plans; I just let things happen as they happen.)
- Meanwhile, some nomads don’t plan or save up at all! This is the highest level of spontaneity! But I don’t recommend this if you don’t have that much knowledge of traveling. This often happens for those who live in a big continent wherein they can just hop on the car to cross borders, get to the next city, etc. (Otherwise, for those who plan to go to another country that is like seas away, of course, you will need to save money to purchase your flight tickets; don’t ever believe those bloggers who claim that they didn’t save up at all because they did have to get some money first for that airfare — unless they won it or it was given to them.)
- Find out the airfare costs when you jump from one city to the next. Mix and match every city as possible; sometimes, a certain route can be cheaper than another. Though if possible, take trains/buses/cars as they are more affordable than flying. (Some people hitchhike but I don’t recommend this much). At some times, you also have to check the dates since you might get better deals on other months, etc. (The date for the start of your life of travel actually depends on your capacity to come up with the total fund for your trip, it might also depend on when your company is able to completely let you go — ★ for example, I had to stay in my company for 2 months after I handed over my resignation).
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∙∙∙ Accommodation Options
- Figure out where you want to stay
If you check by my article here, I have stated some ways of getting free accommodation if you don’t want to shell out extra money for a stay in a hotel or hostel. Couchsurfing, house or pet sitting, and the like are just some of the ways that you can have a free place to sleep in for a longer period of time. Otherwise, you can try and ask a friend or relative — that’s living in a city that you want to go to — if they can possibly take you in for a while. But if you really want to try looking for great cheap deals on hotels or hostels, try Agoda or HostelWorld. For more information…
– – –
∙∙∙ Personal Finances
- Banks, method of payment, withdrawals, etc.
Find out if credit cards are widely accepted (if it is, ensure you have a credit card), or if a debit card is enough or if it’s better to have cash (in far-flung areas, this is often the most important things to have since NOT a lot of places have ATM machines etc.). Be informed of the bank fees for overseas withdrawals and transactions too (it’s always best to have an online bank account). Meanwhile, with regard to your work, figure out how your clients can pay you; if PayPal is needed, go set it up, connect it to your bank account or card, and so on. Personally though, I prefer using TransferWise because it has lower conversion and transfer fees compared to PayPal.
- Mind the exchange rates
Do the math for this in advance.
- Allot an emergency fund and/or a safety fund
Apart from the costs for traveling, it’s important to set aside an amount for possible emergencies (example: you suddenly need to fly back home, etc.)
– – –
∙∙∙ Necessary Gear
- Figure out the things you’ll be needing when you start a life of travel
It’s always best to have a good backpack especially if you’re going to be on the road a lot; if you don’t have this, put it in as a cost of the travel fund that you’ll be saving up for. Other than that, go and figure out the other essentials that you’ll be needing not only for ‘living’ but for working too (nope, most likely you won’t need more heels, okay?). If you’re going to be a digital nomad like me, it’s always good to ensure that you have a backup hard drive and some anti-theft software.
– – –
∙∙∙ Your Options for Remote Work
- Identify your skills. Will you get jobs on the road or work online?
DON’T underestimate what you know or can do. After reading my articles here and here, decide on the skills that you can do and the job/work that you will be doing to sustain and start a life of travel. (Note: Tim Ferris discussed in his book, the 4-Hour Work Week, a plan on how you can try and negotiate a remote work arrangement with your company. It’s worth a shot if you want to keep your job that you love.) On the other hand, if you don’t want to work while on the road, your travel fund should take this into account.
RELATED READ: 40 Websites to Make Money Online
- Once you identify your skills, lay out a plan on how you can do it
- Start looking for websites that you can offer your services to (if you want to be a digital nomad). Start looking for schools (if you want to teach English). etc. etc. etc. Investigate the job market in order to know how easy or how hard it can be for you to get work.
– – –
Step 4: Put Your Plans into Action
By now, you should have a rough estimate of the amount of money that you’ll be needing in order to support and start your life of travel. To come up with this money, take advantage of your current reliable source of income: your job.
- Discipline & a change in values
Keep away a certain percentage of your salary and put it in your travel fund. Every ‘deposit’ that you make is a step closer to your dream lifestyle — and all it takes, what it just really takes, is a sense of control on your part.
- Change spending habits
One way you can go about this is to track your spending; where is most of your salary going to? Is it from eating in expensive restaurants during lunch break? Is it because of your shopping sprees whenever you feel stressed out from work? Go ahead, list everything and once you’re finished, identify all of the unneeded ones and cut them out. It may seem hard to believe at first, but you can really keep a lot of cash if you really separate your wants from your needs and then cutting out the unnecessary costs in your ‘wants’. It really takes some sacrifice for this, but imagine: after it’s all done with, you’ll have more freedom than before and you can say goodbye to your unhealthy lifestyle.
RELATED READ: How to Save Money for Travel
Other than those, here are some other options for quickly saving up:
- Slowly sell/rent your possessions
When you’re going to start your nomadic lifestyle, you won’t need that TV in your apartment. Really. Well actually, some people have done the extreme, like selling their house and apartment to keep a traveling lifestyle for the rest of their life. It definitely sounds like a plan… but if you’re not ready to do that kind of thing when you want to start a life of travel, or if you still want to have a place to come back to, then at least get rid of the stuff that you won’t be needing or might only stay unused for months or years. Actually, you can also opt to rent your place if you happen to own an apartment/house; or even your car. (TIP: If you ever need a place to store your other valuables that you can’t part with, don’t pay for a storage place. Try asking your parents or friends if they can keep your stuff for the meantime).
- Start ‘working’
You’re going to kill two birds with one stone on this one. I’m not talking about your office job because you’re already doing that… what I am rather talking about is the possible work that you will be doing once you start to travel the world. So in case you want to be a digital nomad: start developing your profile/reputation online, start proactively looking for jobs wherever you can, and start doing work whenever you have a free time. With this, not only will you save faster for your travel fund, but you will also be fueling your future of ‘working remotely’. (★ Like I mentioned above, this is actually what I have done; right from the moment that I decided to become a digital nomad, I worked online whenever I had some time off from my job at the investment bank).
Now other than saving up, start working on the other plans that you’ve made in #3. My travel tips:
Start scouting for couchsurfers, home stays, etc. that can take you in on the dates that you desire. Better be prepared beforehand!
If there are flight tickets that you need to purchase, go and sign up for websites or travel newsletters that can prompt you when there are promo fares.
Remember my points in #2. While you are putting all of these plans into action to start a life of travel, it might take some months. Given time, it’s likely that you might lose your focus and drive in doing this. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN. Ensure consistency, stay determined, and get rid of self-doubts. Keep yourself inspired, daydream about your bright future, and always remember your goals. Remind yourself what you are working for: freedom.
– – –
Step 5: Time to Quit Your Job and Travel the World!
THIS IS IT! It’s time. Your travel fund is ready, your plans are checked. What’s left to do…?
QUITTING. YOUR. OFFICE. JOB.
START. TRAVELLING. AND. WORKING. REMOTELY.
(…or not work, that’s up to you, haha)
You’ve finally reached this stage so go and celebrate by hitting the road or flying away! Do yourself a huge favor: enjoy, travel to your heart’s content, and have the best time of your life! You’ve earned it.
You really did!
And while you are traveling, remember these:
- Be flexible
I know that I did make you plan for the cities that you’re going to when you start a life of travel; however, it’s possible that you would need to change your initial plans as you go along. So don’t go crazy trying to fix yourself into your schedule. Relax. Chances are, you will be loving a certain city/country too much that you might decide to stay there longer than you wish, and that’s perfectly alright!
- Don’t be scared, just be careful
Stay safe and be ‘street smart’. Always be aware and careful. There’s no need to fear; foreign countries and people are not so scary as you think. (Also, do embrace the idea of going alone every once in a while, even if you are traveling with someone).
- Take advantage of countries that don’ t need Visas
Because Visa procedures and applications can be such a pain, so if you can avoid it, then by all means take advantage of such a chance. Example, if you’re from the Philippines, try going to South America. They have countries there that are visa-free for Filipinos like Brazil and Colombia to name a few!
- Try to learn the language
Not only to impress the locals, but it’s a good way to interact with them and eventually befriend them. It also helps you navigate your way through foreign territories better — add the fact that it develops your brain power. But I guess, ultimately: it will completely transform your travel experience!
RELATED READ: How to Learn a New Language for FREE or on a Budget
- Make friends, network/socialize, try a LOT of things, and eat a LOT!
Indulge the joy and luxuries of traveling! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger when you start a life of travel. Go ahead and socialize with the locals or fellow travelers. Soak in all the culture and be open to new experiences. And when you do meet all these people, remember to be understanding. A lot of the people that you will meet will have different views or habits, so it’s important to refrain from making quick judgments — but actually, you will learn this yourself, because I believe that travel makes you look past the black-and-white side of things. It’s a natural effect: the more people you meet, the more understanding you become of others’ quirks and flaws.
- Save up and try to look for other ways to gain a more stable income for yourself and to secure your future – THINK LONG TERM!
Amidst all the fun, try to always keep this in mind so you can live a sustainable life of travel (forever!). Following your dreams is fine and dandy, but I advise that you keep your head together and think of your future still. For my case, I managed to find a way to make an online business of my own and you can do the same, or simply set up your own services of teaching English abroad, building your reputation as a dance/yoga instructor, etc.! I’m pretty sure that along the way, you will find an idea that will help you earn a reasonable sum that can last you for the rest of your life.
RELATED READ: How to Travel on a Budget
- Start a travel blog!
There are a LOT of benefits to blogging, other than the fact that you can earn money, you can also meet a lot of like-minded individuals! You could even have the chance to partner up with big travel brands, hotels, and resorts in the long run to further help you fund your travels! …Don’t know how to start one? Don’t worry, just read this guide that I made:
RELATED READ: How to Start a Travel Blog
• • •
I tried to be as detailed as I could… I really hope that this answered all the questions!
(Whew! This took me days to make!)
Just always remember that to start a life of travel like mine is NOT impossible. You really don’t have to be rich; you don’t even need to be ‘lucky’! Because I’m neither of the two! I always believe in this quote: “Lucky is the word lazy people use to describe people who work hard.”
And I don’t consider myself lucky.
I made this lifestyle happen.
I had to persevere and make full use of the opportunities and innate skills available to me.
I had to make changes and sacrifices to get to where I am today.
I had to make do with the little resources that I had in order to make it day by day.
…and you can do the same! Definitely!
IMPORTANT NOTE: I talked a lot about how I didn’t enjoy a 9 to 5 job. Please be mindful that I am saying that out of MY own experience since my past just happened to be a discovery of how that kind of life wasn’t a perfect fit for me. So of course, I wholly recognize the fact that there are some people who enjoy their corporate/office jobs (I know some of my friends who do), some people also enjoy just staying at home as a stay-in mom, etc. etc. and in NO way am I putting them down; because in a sense, they are just doing the same thing that I am doing: pursuing things that they love to do. I wholly respect their kind of work but it’s just not my preference; therefore, this post caters to the people who are going through the same path or mindset that I had back in 2011 and are now wanting to make a change in their life given how they have the same passion as me.
Now, to end this entry, I leave you with this amazing quote in hopes that it would keep you motivated in making the MOST out of your life.
As cliché as this might sound: we only live once. It’s a waste of time and effort to do work that you hate or dislike, purely for the aim of just making money. Please try to make the steps of abandoning conformity and fear. Don’t hesitate anymore. Don’t mind what society or what other people may say. This is your life. NOT theirs. So take control and make that change.
JUST. DO. IT.