Eartha's Great EscapeTuesday, January 08, 2013
In approximately three months, I will lose my job and be unemployed for the first time in almost 10 years. How do I know that? Well, because three months ago, I gave them my 6 month notice.
My name is Eartha, I am a travaholic, and I am set to quit my job to finally do what I was meant to do (at this point in my life anyway), which is – to travel the world.
It wasn’t an easy process making this decision. Some people might say it’s a little extreme, but I’ve never really been good at subtlety anyway. I always knew it was something I wanted to do at some point, but there were always reasons why I shouldn’t do it. You know the usual. I won’t have a job… What am I going to do about my apartment? Or my car? I won’t have much money… What am I going to do about money? How can I afford something like that? What do I do when I come back? Will I still have a career to go back to? I’m 30. I’m too freaking old to be having a gap year… Or am I?
These are all really valid questions that I’m sure you guys are thinking about as well. The fear of the unknown and what I can’t control is what kept me from doing it all these years. But then there comes a point when you realize that all those reasons why you shouldn’t pursue your passion are always going to be there. There’s always going to be a car payment, or a new loan you have to pay, a new apartment you have to get, a busted refrigerator that needs to get fixed or a medical bill that needs to be taken care of. They’re never going away. And if I allowed all of those reasons to stop me every single time I wanted to do something --- I’m never going anywhere! The thing is… and I honestly believe this with all my heart… if you want something bad enough, with a little luck and sufficient determination, you can ALWAYS make it happen. Always.
I moved out of my apartment, sold and donated almost everything I owned, moved in and couchsurfed with a friend to save on rent, gave my boss a six month notice, and voila! Here I am, 3 months to go before going on the trip of a lifetime!
OK, so I don’t have everything worked out yet, but I do have a pretty good idea of how I can make this work. Most of you are probably wondering about how I can afford this trip. To be honest, I often wonder that myself. But don’t panic – I have a plan!
Part 1 – Save-Save-Save
The reason why I didn’t quit my job cold turkey is because I needed about 6 months to save up. I moved out of my apartment to be able to set aside the money I would have spent on rent, and I’ve been monitoring my expenses closely. By February 2013, I would have received my tax refund (which is usually pretty hefty) and that will ALL go straight to my travel fund.
Just to give you guys an idea – I do not work in Wall Street, I do not earn big bonuses or anything of the like, and my salary is nothing spectacular. So the amount that I will have to start with is not going to be a lot. But it will be enough to buy me plane tickets, train tickets and feed me for a few months at least. But then I still need money for hotels and stuff, right?
Part 2- Free board and lodging.
I have written a blog post about how I plan to travel the world with free accommodations and you can read about it here. Basically, I am going to stay with friends, go couchsurfing, and join the organization called HelpX or Help Exchange, where I get to work for a few hours a day anywhere in the world in exchange for free accommodations.
I’m very excited about getting myself immersed in different cultures through this organization, and I am sooo looking forward to getting my hands dirty. If someone asked you to help harvest grapes in a vineyard Italy for a few hours a day and you get to stay in a hacienda and eat authentic Italian food for free, would you say no to that? I definitely wouldn’t.
Not paying for room and board definitely helps a lot budget-wise. But still, my savings will only take me so far. If I want to last longer on this trip, I’ll need more money eventually. And that brings us to…
I’ve been given several possible opportunities to work while I’m on the road. A few of them involve teaching English online, one company might hire me to review movie trailers (which is pretty awesome), and another might have me do part time e-learning (which is what I currently do). There are a LOT of opportunities to consider, and all are very doable. They won’t pay as much as what I currently earn – but what I will earn will be enough to sustain my vagabond lifestyle. I mean – I won’t have all the ‘grown up’ responsibilities I currently have (car, rent, utilities, insurance) so all the money goes straight to my pocket. It may not seem much – but I’m sure it will be PLENTY for a lone traveler like me.
And so there you have it, folks! Now you know pretty much everything. I’m not gonna lie – it’s quite overwhelming. What I am about to do is no easy feat. It’s crazy, extreme, and pretty scary. But I also know --- deep in my belly --- that this is what I’m meant to do at this point in my life. If I don’t do this now, then when? I figured I should do this while I still can. While I’m unattached, with no kids or family to support or any real responsibilities. AND most importantly, while my body can still take it!
I really feel like the universe is working towards my favor though. The more people I talk to about it, the more opportunities are thrown my way. And for the first time in a very long time – I feel like I have a purpose again. It feels great working towards a goal, even more awesome to feel like I’m proactively making one of my dreams come true.
I cannot wait to go on this trip, and I just know it will give me more fulfillment than anything I’ve ever done. It’s true what they say… Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I haven’t really begun my trip yet, but already I feel that quote ringing true.
As for you… I don’t know what your dream is. Maybe you want to travel like me? Or be a yoga instructor in India! Go to medical school at 30! Open your own bakery? Or perform in a musical! Whatever it is, just do it. It’s never too late to do anything, and you’re never too old to start doing what you really love.
It’s going to be difficult, I know. Most things in life that are truly worth it are supposed to be a little challenging, and that’s okay. You are stronger than you think you are, and much braver than you seem. Find your passion and pursue it with ferocity! You rarely regret the things you did… but mostly regret the things you didn’t do. So be a doer, my friend. Get out there, and live!
That’s what I would do anyway.
What steps are you taking today, that will take you close to your travel dreams? Share in the comments below!
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