Many travel blogs talk about the full time travel lifestyle. It might seem that leaving a regular job to travel the world forever is the key to happiness. But is it so? For everybody? These are my personal reflections.
It’s a common story among travel blogs: “I quit my 9-to-5 job and now I travel the world forever”.
It might seem that leaving a regular job to travel full time is the key to happiness. So many people have already done it and now they’re happy, right?
Of course… NOT!
About a month ago I read a blog post that left me thinking.
Frank from The Travels of BBQboy and Spanky wrote about recent media articles featuring the misfortunes of full time travelers. Or rather, the misfortunes of those who followed the dream and didn’t make it.
Many bloggers talk about the dream of full time travel lifestyle. Many people believe it blindly. For some of them, it doesn’t work. Life of travel is not a vacation and is not what they expected it to be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject. Traveling is my dream, and I believe in following your dreams. However, I think that this “quit your job to travel” stories can be misleading. These are my personal reflections.
1. Full time travel is not the dream of everyone
The main reason why full time travel is not the key for happiness is that happiness is a subjective term.
What does happiness mean?
- For one person, it could mean stability. Having a stable job, an apartment in a city that s/he knows well, having family and friends around.
- For another person, it could mean the opposite. Experiencing new things every day, meeting new people, having adventures, facing challenges and growing.
- And so on.
Happiness is not the same for everybody. We could probably find as many definitions as persons are on the planet.
So, as appealing as long term travel might sound, it’s important to remember that this is not the dream of everyone. It might not be yours. And that’s perfectly ok!
I encourage you – I truly do – to define what happiness means for you, to imagine your life in a perfect word, how it would be if you wouldn’t have to worry about money.
Then, work in that direction. It’s possible that the ideal world is impossible to reach, but try to get as close as possible.
2. Go step by step and have a back up plan
I’ll tell you my personal experience.
Travel has always been my dream. I started thinking of long term travel more than 10 years ago, before I ever read a travel blog. Actually, I didn’t even know what a blog was, nor a digital nomad.
I wanted to travel because I love it. When I travel I’m more relaxed, energetic, dynamic and positive. When I travel I feel like walking and discovering and learning and taking photos and talking and laughing and sharing.
Whenever I’m not traveling I’m thinking about future trips, and the more I travel the longer is my bucket list.
I’m sure that this is my dream.
Still, I didn’t quit my job to travel the world.
First I traveled the world, and then I quit my job.
That is, I applied for a sabbatical leave at work and traveled for one year. I experienced long term travel with its ups and downs, and at the end of the trip I decided to quit my job.
But, if I hadn’t liked it, if I had wanted to go back to my stable life, I could have done it.
I’m aware that sabbatical leaves are not possible in all countries, or in all companies. What I’m trying to say is that I recommend to go step by step and having a back up plan, or at least savings to go on for a while.
Now… is full time travel your dream?
3. Full time travel is not a permanent holiday
Full time travel has been idealized, but it has its ups and downs as well.
Being constantly on the move, packing and unpacking, thinking where to go next and how, sleeping in different beds and being in new destinations all the time can be exhausting. Not to mention not having family and friends around.
In my last post I discussed the challenges and rewards of long term travel, so I won’t go further into it now.
For me it is worth and the rewards bypass by large the challenges. And I’ve found a way of traveling that fits me: I travel slow and visit friends who live abroad, so I have time to adapt to new places and I meet old friends on the way.
As I said, when I finished my round the world trip I quit my previous job. But hey, this doesn’t mean I’m not working anymore. I’m still working, but on a different job.
4. Full time travelers also work (a lot of hours!)
If full time travel is your dream, here is another truth: full time travelers also work. And most of them work many hours a week, just like everybody else.
Including travel bloggers.
“I quit my 9-to-5 job to travel the world” actually means “I quit my 9-to-5 job to travel the world while I work”.
Travel blogging is far more difficult than what it seems. The blog, actually, is only the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes there is a lot of invisible work. Travel blogging is not only about writing and taking beautiful photos. It’s about learning how to create a website and maintain it. It’s about plugins and SEO and many things you never heard about. It’s about social media. It’s about networking.
A blog can be created in a few days. Having a successful blog can take months. Or years.
Having a blog is not the only way to work and travel at the same time though. There are many options and you should find the one that fits you. Aileen from I am Aileen has a very complete post about 5 job types that allow to work and travel, and another which discusses the things to know before quitting a job to travel the world. Must reads.
5. Find your own path
I’ve been blogging for one year and a half now. The first year I did it as a hobby, to share my round the world trip with family and friends. Six months ago I changed the platform, name and design and started working full time on this. And I’m still far from the day when I’ll be able to monetize it.
I’m not living from my blog and I’m not even sure one day I will.
But I don’t give up. I work hard, I have hope, and I have a plan B. I’ve recently started working on another online project.
My dream is to have a location independent job and I’ll find the way. Maybe being a professional travel blogger is not the right job for me. Maybe it is. We’ll see. In any case I’m working a lot, and I’m working towards my dreams.
In summary, full time travel is not the key to happiness, the key to happiness is to align your dreams and your life.
Define happiness. Follow your dream. Work hard. Be resourceful. And live to the fullest.
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