Are you planning to quit your corporate job to travel forever and become a digital nomad? Congratulations on the good decision! However, quitting the corporate life is not as easy as it sounds. In this article, based on my own experience, I would like to tell you about a couple of steps that are important to follow before taking such a decision
In 2016, I left the corporate world to pursue my biggest passion: traveling the world and talking about it through a blog called Against the Compass.
By that time, I had been living in Dubai for two and a half years, working in the marketing department of a well-known international company.
I had a good position with responsibility and was making a very decent living.
I had never been passionate about my job but I was comfortable with it.
In this sort of company, the pressure and the level of stress are extremely high. During peak times, we used to work up to 14 hours a day. Every day, I got home exhausted.
Then, the weekend came and all I wanted to do was to party and get wasted in order to gain release from the stress of the week.
After two days, back to the office and start the cycle again.
That’s what real corporate life is, every single week of the year. Is this a nice way of living?
Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?
From being comfortable with my job, I started to hate it.
I just regretted not having enough time to dedicate myself to travel. I had six weeks of vacations a year but, unfortunately, they didn’t make up for all the stress I had.
One day I told myself:
I am going to quit this shit and start traveling
That sounds easy and quite impulsive, right?
Yes, but honestly, it was a process that took me weeks to execute. It was not an easy decision, as it involved abandoning a career that had taken me so much time, effort and resources to build.
The consequences could be awful, so I had to bear in mind and analyze a couple of considerations, to make sure I would never need to go back to the corporate world.
In this article, I would like to tell you all the issues you should consider before quitting your job, traveling the world and becoming a digital nomad.
All right. You decided to quit your job because you are dying to discover more of our precious world.
However, firstly, you should ask yourself:
Is it going to be permanently or are you just taking a one-year break?
If your objective is to never come back to corporate life, you are at the right place then.
Otherwise, if you aim to travel just for 1 or 2 years, I also congratulate you, as not many people are willing to do the same.
Nevertheless, that wouldn’t mean quitting the corporate life but taking a sabbatical year.
Before making any decision, have your ideas clear, as leaving your career permanently involves a lot of preparation and, on many occasions, there could be no way back.
It seems like a joke but I swear that this will be one of the most relevant variables, as not everybody is made for traveling for a long period of time.
Traveling eternally is no joke and, unlike what many people believe, not every day can be easy as pie.
Like in real life, you will have ups and downs and, at some point, you will miss your family, friends and home country.
There are going to be an endless number of days when you will be alone, with no friends, sleeping in depressing places.
There will be so many times when you’ll have to eat the greasiest and most disgusting food ever because there are no other options.
One day you might get sick and, on many occasions, you won’t want to talk to anyone. Being constantly on the road is very tiring.
This is the dark side of traveling and, everybody I know has experienced it sometime.
Traveling is one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences you will ever have.
That’s for sure. However, does it make up for you?
Ask yourself this and analyze all the odds.
My personal experience – Like everybody else, when I travel for a long period of time, I do get homesick and there are many days in which I felt lonely, of course, but I do believe I am a social person who can make friends easily, so that helped a lot. Also, I would always take a long break every 2 or 3 months, and settle in a nice place with plenty of social life. However, after 4 years on the road, when I was traveling in Ethiopia I decided to put an end to my vagabond life, and you can read here about it.
You have quit your job.
That’s pretty cool but, how are you going to make a living?
Honestly, I don’t think that putting an end to your career without having a clear target is a good idea.
Yes, you’ll go on an awesome journey but then what?
How are you going to generate income?
Moreover, I totally disagree with people who tend to say: ”Well, I am going to travel to find inspiration and I will come up with something”.
I am sorry to tell you that ideas don’t pop-up in your mind just because you are looking at that sunset in Cambodia.
Ideas are something that have been thought, re-thought and elaborated for days, weeks and months, a consequence of a great mental effort.
Before resigning, you should have an idea of what are you going to do.
It doesn’t need to be something unique or creative.
There are tons of travel jobs: teaching English, working on a cruise or even being a bartender.
There are also loads of people who work as freelancers from a distance.
Are you working in a company which offers website development services? Could you do it by yourself from a distance?
There are many portals, Upwork for example, where people look for this kind of services.
I use it constantly for my blog, to find editors, designers, and website developers.
My personal experience: Traveling is my hobby, so I had very clear that I wanted to work remotely on something related to travel and, after doing some research, I saw that starting a travel blog was something many travelers were making a living from.
On the same day you leave your job, you should be completely prepared to pursue your target.
Why? For two reasons.
For example, do you want to teach English online?
That’s all right but, do you have any document proving that you are eligible for teaching to non-native speakers?
Do you know where to start looking for that job?
Do you know anyone who does the same and can help you?
Try to have all the answers from day one. My friends from Journal of Nomads did great with teaching languages online.
My personal experience – If you really want to make a living, a travel blog (and any blog) requires a shit load of time, effort and work. I launched my blog exactly two days after quitting my job but before that, I spent 6-8 months working on it. I signed up for a travel blogging course and launched it with a good design and a well-defined strategy for the first year. Having your project already on track before you start traveling is a key success factor.
It’s very important to know which countries will you travel to, as your route will decide your budget.
It’s not the same to travel in Europe or Australia as in Laos or Kyrgyzstan.
If you don’t have many savings and have no idea when will you generate any income, consider seriously traveling to third world countries.
There are many Asian countries where you can easily live on $15 or $20 a day.
If you have already planned your route, then you should calculate your weekly or monthly budget. Obviously, this varies hugely, depending on each person.
However, bear in mind that it will always be higher than what you estimate, as unexpected events will always occur.
Furthermore, you also need to add some extras on top, from travel insurance to any travel gear you might need.
My personal experience: Obviously, I started saving money several months ahead of time and, after drawing up my route, budgeting my trip and buying a laptop and a camera, I came to the conclusion that, with all the money I saved, I could be 20 months on the road without needing to work. I have to say, however, that working in Dubai and being a budget backpacker helped a lot.
It’s also very important that you estimate when could you be generating income, as this period of time will decide how much money you need and how long you can subsist without having to look for a job, and just work on your digital nomad project.
My personal experience: In my case, I had estimated and learned that, if you do things correctly, monetizing a blog takes at least 18 months, so 18-24 months was my target, and I started making a full, decent a living after almost 2 years, so it worked great for me. Read my 6 ways of making money from blogging.
I don’t want to scare you with all these considerations.
If you are not happy with your current job and don’t have any family or responsibilities, go for it because, in the worst-case scenario, you will just go back to where you are now but with plenty of travel experiences to tell.
You just need to think of something you would be passionate about, work hard for it and, in the end, you’ll get it for sure.
If you have any doubts, I will be happy to help!