Over the last year or so, Yvonne and I have been toying with the idea of a world trip. We would like to make our way back from Beijing, China to Europe (Amsterdam, Paris, etc.). The idea is great in theory, but there is one big problem. I’m scared to commit. The problem is fear of the unknown and partly of the known.
A while back, I wrote about how my parents traveled the world for about 7 years living off of odd jobs and charity. What I didn’t write about was the rest of their lives after traveling. When I was growing up I was poor, not really poor, but my family would be considered low-middle class. One of the main reasons I felt my family struggled from time to time was because for most of my parents 20’s, they were traveling and not focusing on their careers.
Both my parents are highly educated and capable employees, but by the time they made it into the work force they were 10 years behind their peers. This caused many problems for my father in terms of promotions and advancement. On top of being ‘too old’ and ‘unqualified,’ traveling ruined my father’s personal view on life. He was unable to work in an office, pushing paper, because he knew what the world was like and he couldn’t justify sitting in a cubicle all day long.
Yvonne and I are currently considering a 1 year world trip. I know one year is not the same as 10, but I keep fearing that the same will happen to me. I know that if we travel for longer I will most likely enjoy it and not want to work in an office later. This is the fear of the known. I am scared traveling around the world for a year will make working harder and we might not adjust back into ‘normal’ life.
The second fear is of the unknown. There are so many things that are unknown. I currently have a good job and ‘career.’ I make enough money to pay our bills and save over $800 a month. This is a pretty good life. We can eat out 1-2 times a week and travel 6-8 weeks a year. When Yvonne is working we can easily save over $2,500 a month that can go to our retirement or towards a house. If we travel for a year, we will be forced to give up everything. After one year, we will not have jobs, an apartment, or much money. The unknown can be scary. On top of not knowing what will happen in the future, we also have a cat. If we travel for a year, we will most likely have to give up our cat.
There are two sides to this coin: one argument is we should travel because we don’t know the future. What is the point of saving thousands of dollars and never getting to use them. The other side is keep what you got because it is good and be content with traveling 6-8 weeks a year, which is more than most people. I currently get one month paid vacation and we have two weeks of national holidays.
To World Trip or Not to World Trip?
The main point of this post is I need help. I want your opinion. If you think we only live once (YOLO) and we should just let go and enjoy our lives while we are young, than leave a comment and tell me about your own experience. If you think we should be happy with our current situation and be content let me know in the comments.
How much time do you get off? Are we above the curve, average, or below average when it comes to time off? Too much to think about and we need outside feedback because we have gone over it 100 times together. So, help us out… leave a comment. 🙂
TalonSeptember 2, 2015 at 10:38 am
It is a tough call indeed. In 2011, we rehomed our cats, got rid of almost everything we owned, and left the US for a life of travel. We’ve been on the road ever since.
I can definitely say that it IS hard to go back to a normal job after you’ve been traveling for a length of time. One year won’t harm your propects, though. In fact, it could heighten them. But it will be an adjustment for sure. Then again, you may discover something for yourself while traveling and realize having a typical 9-5 isn’t the end-all/be-all for you.
Could a friend or someone care for your cat for the year you’re gone?
If you see yourself remaining very career oriented or know for sure that’s what you really want for your future, then I’d say taking 6- to 8-week holidays annually is a good way to have some balance between both sets of desires.
Miguel RobergSeptember 5, 2015 at 9:56 pm
Thanks for sharing your story and I am happy it worked out well for you. I would be interesting in knowing how you pay for your travels and save for retirement? As for the cat, we currently live in China and would need to relocate her to Europe or the US, because we will most likely not return to China after we travel.
As for career, I am a marketer and I really enjoy marketing. I could easily see myself working as an international marketer (which I am doing now) and having a career. But, Yvonne is less career minded and really wants to travel. So, that is why this post was made to get others opinions and see how they travel. Thanks for the comment and sharing your story. Every little bit helps. 🙂
Johan HartsemaSeptember 6, 2015 at 1:47 am
hello Miguel and Yvonne,
I do it in Dutch because my English is’t good enough to expres what I want to say. Yvonne can translate it for you. De belangrijkste vraag zullen jullie eerst zelf moeten beantwoorden. Wat willen jullie met jullie leven samen. Waar willen jullie wonen? Zien jullie voor jezelf een leven voor met kinderen? En wat heb je daar voor nodig. Reizen kun je eigenlijk nog je hele leven. Misschien eerst niet voor een lange tijd achter elkaar maar jullie hebben al geleerd om zo te reizen dat het niet ontzettend veel geld hoeft te kosten. Wanneer voldoende carrière hebt gemaakt en je financiën op orde hebt, kun je ook nog verre en mooie reizen maken. Wij ervaren de vrijheid en mogelijkheden van nu om te reizen als erg plezierig. Als het maken van een lange wereldreis nu tot gevolg heeft dat het in het vervolg van je leven een struggle for life wordt dan hebben jullie daar wel erg jezelf mee. Tenzij je reizen zo belangrijk vindt dat niets anders je nog gelukkig kan maken. Misschien kun je van reizen je baan maken, maar er zijn maar weinig mensen die daar voldoende inkomsten uit halen. De wereld wordt steeds “kleiner”, en overal wonen mensen die allemaal eigenlijk het zelfde proberen te doen, door werken een goed bestaan op te bouwen. Overal hebben mensen verschillende gewoontes en gebruiken die interessant zijn en mooi om te ervaren maar al die mensen gaat het vaak om moeilijke omstandigheden om een menswaardig bestaan op te bouwen. Dat kun je ook in 7-8 weken per jaar ervaren en je er over verbazen of er van genieten als dat zo uitkomt. De keuzes zijn voor jullie zelf, ik wens je er veel sterkte mee.
Miguel RobergSeptember 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you are right about finding our real goal and working from there. Enjoy your trip!
DaniqueSeptember 6, 2015 at 9:35 am
Though decision. I came back this year after traveling for six months and I was surprised how things worked out. I came back with nothing but within a month I had my own apartment again and work. Like nothing has changed… Also, times are different now if you compare it with the time your parents were traveling. More work opportunities for on the road for example. It is ‘just’ a year, so personally I think you will be fine. But it also depends on your future goals.
Miguel RobergSeptember 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm
I’m glad it worked out well for you. It is good to hear both sides. I have read stories from travelers like you and everything ended fine. But at the same time there are stories about travelers that didn’t adjust or couldn’t find work. We will probably travel for a longer time, but like I said in the article, there are many things to consider before going.
Conor (The Continental Drifters)September 7, 2015 at 5:45 am
I think once you start travelling – it’s very hard to get back into the routine of day-to-day life. But alas, money talks – so you got to it! Unless of course you crack the whole blogging business 🙂
I’m glad though that I am a traveller. So many others in the office I am in the moment have hardly travelled – only doing their 2 weeks in the Costa Del Sol every year – uuuggghhhhh!!!!
Miguel RobergSeptember 10, 2015 at 11:17 pm
Yvonne and I have traveled a lot and every time we come back, I dread going to the office. I would love to crack the whole blogging thing, but it is much easier said than done. We are trying to build up Trip Bitten and in the future we will pitch it to companies and brands, but it is a lot of work and only a few make enough money to travel and save.
Like you said “money talks” and I guess that is the big gamble/fear how valuable is traveling? Is is worth risking a good retirement? I see some travelers working with brands and making money online, but you also hear about the ‘fakers’ that only make a little money, but act like they are living carefree and making money off their travel blogs. I won’t stop traveling, but the real gamble is to try to make it a full time gig or just 4-6 weeks each year.
Joella // Paper Crane StoriesSeptember 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm
I think you’ll be fine if you go for a year. You could always do some work, studying or volunteering along the way. Or you could maybe just plan to do 6 months and see how you feel?
MichelleDecember 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm
I took a leave of absence to travel for 16 months. See if you can do that. Then you would have a job to return to. I put my cats up with friends. Now I’m back home, and back with the kitties.
Yvonne HorstDecember 12, 2015 at 9:10 pm
Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. Unfortunately China doesn’t give people the opportunity to do things like this. Especially not when you are a non-Chinese working here. It would be very complicated regarding visa’s and such.
Glad it worked for you, 16 months is quite a while too to get off from work. Where did you travel to?
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