We have quit our jobs to go on the road and become full-time travel junkies.
I still cannot believe I’m actually typing those words.
Yes, Tom and I have both quit our perfectly good, well-paid jobs in Switzerland to go and live in hostels and AirBnB’s with a backpack.
For us, it feels like this has taken such a long time to happen but because we have not told many people, it has come as a big shock for some! This post is one of the most personal things we have ever put onto the internet, but we would like to share with you how we have come to make such a life-changing decision to embark on full-time travel.
When did this desire for full-time travel start?
Tom and I have been together for the last five years, and since we have been a couple we have both loved to travel. Our first trips together were close-ish to our home in Switzerland and mainly city breaks – Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, my beloved London. I also had many opportunities over the years to travel on business, to Russia, parts of Africa, all over Europe and to India.
In 2013, we took our first big trip together – a combined safari and beach trip in Kenya and Tanzania. Then in 2015, we took a three week trip to Asia, visiting Bangkok, Bali and Singapore. From that trip onwards, we both knew that we wanted to travel more.
But being on holiday is not the same as full-time travel
For me in particular, it was more than that. My career is in HR and was spanning more than 11 years at that time. I had spent my entire career focused on gaining as much experience and moving as far up the corporate ladder as I could. This ambitious attitude was mainly driven from a belief that had been instilled into me since childhood – you work hard all your life, save enough money and you may be able to retire on a comfortable pension in your early sixties. If you don’t work hard and don’t save, you’ll be consigned to the life of a state pensioner – scrimping every last penny to afford to sit in front of a gas heater and occasionally treat yourself to a tin of baked beans for supper, and probably die of hypothermia for your efforts.
Having just come back from this amazing three-week trip around Asia, and facing the prospect of waiting 12 months until we could do another long trip, I started to feel like I was trapped. The next 30 years of my life at a desk slowly burning myself out about projects and deadlines just for the comfort of knowing I can retire into a comfortable arm chair at the end of it? Suffice to say, the prospect wasn’t thrilling me.
Stuck in a rut, trying to find an easy way out
At the same time, I had no idea how to change this or what I really wanted to do. It was just a sudden and deep dissatisfaction but without any useful outlet or direction. So without really thinking too much about it, I just started making some small but significant changes in my life.
I stopped spending money. Not completely, I still bought everything necessary like food and things that needed replacing. But whereas previously, I would have quite happily gone out every weekend shopping for new clothes, makeup and “things” for the apartment, I just stopped buying everything unless I could rationalise that I really wanted or needed it. All the money left over at the end of each month, I put into a savings account. I quickly discovered there was far more slow-burning satisfaction in watching the savings grow than in the momentary glee of coming home from the city with a pile of shopping bags.
Some life-changing decisions
A month or two later, Tom and I both quit smoking. At first, we really struggled and were starting to snipe at each other a lot. After seven days of this, I decided to put a temporary hiatus on the “no spending” rule and went out to buy a pair of running shoes and some exercise gear. A couple of months later, we ran our first 5k, then our first 10k. Although our commitment to the exercise routine is not always consistent, to this day, neither of us has started again and I can honestly say that quitting smoking is one of the top two best things I have ever done for myself (moving to Switzerland from the UK seven years ago is the other one!)
We booked and did another three-week trip almost a year after the Asia trip – this time to Central America. We took backpacks and moved around a lot from place to place during that trip, covering a total of 8 destinations in Panama and Costa Rica. When we came back, we knew for sure that we were now on the final countdown and it was only a matter of time before we would give ourselves the chance to do some full-time travel. We set a deadline for the end of 2017 to have quit our jobs and started travelling.
We started researching in earnest the lifestyle of the digital nomad – do people really make money online? We found out that yes, they did. Not just hustling by on a minimum wage either. People who are creating lifestyle businesses that allow them to live and work when and where they like. Some of the sites and people who inspired us most are the Location Indie podcasts (still love the enthusiasm of Jason and Trav!) Goats on the Road, The Planet D, Sean Ogle and Authentic Food Quest.
… to novice bloggers
We started the TripGourmets blog last summer and discovered that there is an amazing community and dozens of networks for people who love travel, food, culture, adventure, sunsets, remote working, freelancing, personal finance, entrepreneurism, productivity, learning, fitness, photography, mindfulness and minimalism as much as we do. Some of you even read our blog! 🙂 In the short time we have been doing this, we have already connected with some fabulous people online and even had some in-person meetups right here in Basel.
As our network grows, so we learn more and more, so the blog gets bigger and so much more we realise that this is something we really love doing.
Stepping into the unknown
So in June, we finally took the plunge. Both of us quit our jobs, and our apartment. At the end of September, we will put all of our stuff into storage and after saying goodbye to family and friends in Switzerland and UK, we will embark on full-time travel for as long as we can. It’s scary and nerve-wracking and oh-so-bloody-exciting all at the same time.
We will write a lot more over the next weeks and months about our upcoming full-time travel experience, and the process of financing, planning, preparing and packing for the big adventure. The short version (by now well-practised) is that we will start in Vietnam in South-East Asia and India for 8-9 months. Back to Europe next July for a family wedding and then… who knows?
A word from Tom about our plans for full-time travel
So Sarah already described in detail why we want to go out and start doing full-time travel. I just wanted to add my take on it as well. For me, moving from place to place was always a big part of my life. Since I was born, I moved house/hometown with my family at least 7 times. So going somewhere different (at least within my own country) is not really a new concept for me. To be honest, even though it was not always easy, changing places was always exciting for me. As a kid, I often went to sports camps and often I was the only one who was not homesick. Later I joined the scouts and I gained so much experience of going out on camps and adventures.
All that said, the first time I went on holiday abroad, I was more than 20 years old. Before that, coming from landlocked Switzerland, I had never seen the sea. I went to Rhodes with my mother for a week. The moment I saw the beach for the first time was the moment I wanted to see more of the world. Some years later I met Sarah and since then she showed me already so much of this wonderful planet. I cannot wait to get out there and explore more once we start full-time travel!
Facing the fear…
Was it difficult to quit my job? Yes and no. I have worked as a nurse for 10 years. This brings a fair share of good and bad memories by now. I have loved being a nurse. Helping people getting better after an illness or an accident can be very fulfilling. I had a great team as well. However, hospital politics can be exhausting. It is also sad that some patients don’t get the post-hospital care and rehabilitation they badly need. I plan to think about some business ideas to help people in this position when we are travelling.
…and taking the leap
I have to say that I am a bit nervous about going off to do full-time travel. Not scared or paralysed, just a tiny bit afraid. For the first time in my life, I’m going to say goodbye to Switzerland for who knows how long.
It reminds me of a moment when we were in Costa Rica. I’m not very good with heights, but we wanted to rappel a 60-foot high waterfall. When I was at the top of it, I had a little look over the edge and I was petrified. Am I supposed to go down there? My legs were shaky like never before, but I wanted, no, I HAD to do it! So I just trusted the people and the equipment and let myself lean back over the ledge.
This was probably one of the best moments of my life. I was so proud that I faced my fears. So yes, I am a bit nervous about what comes next. But we have each other’s backs. And I totally trust in our abilities to withstand any potential problems that could occur during our trip.
So please stay reading to join us on this life-changing experience of becoming full-time travel monkeys! If you are interested in our planning and preparation process, we would love to read your comments below!