Globetrotter, author, and thinker with interests in environment, minimalism, health, dancing, architecture, décor, politics, and science.
How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World
It’s a dream for many people – never to have to work again. And for some, there is an additional dream – to travel the world. There are those who do it. They have blogs, are on Instagram, and various other sites that give them some sort of passive income. But more than that – they prepared for it. Here’s how.
Passports, Visas, Vaccinations, and Paperwork
Traveling to another country always requires a passport. The one exception used to be Mexico. One could just walk across the border from the USA into Mexico. However, upon re-entry into the States one either had to present a green card, a passport, or some other form of American identification. Other than that, every country requires a passport.
In addition to passports, visas are required for some countries. In 1975, I tried to go from Spain into Gibraltar and Morocco but I couldn’t do it without a visa. A visa is special permission to enter a country.
Both visas and passports cost money. Visas can be quite expensive. And permission to enter a country is not always granted, so visas are turned down.
Lastly there is the matter of vaccinations. If you are going into a country where there is rampant malaria, for instance, you will need to show documentation that you have been inoculated against it.
Generally you will approach the consulate of the country you wish to visit in your own country. They will tell you what is required. They can take anything between two weeks and six months to obtain, so it’s best to start early.
It’s also important to make a list of the countries you wish to visit and find out what you will need to enter their country. Some countries are more lenient in their requirements than other countries.
The best passports in the world are those which allow citizens to enter without requiring a visa. Below I've listed the passports which enable the most visa-free access.
- Japan and Singapore have access to 189 countries
- South Korea, Finland, and Germany have access to 187 countries
- Denmark, Italy, and Luxemburg have access to 186 countries
- France, Sweden, and Spain have access to 185 countries
- Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Portugal have access to 184 countries
- Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, Canada, Greece, and Ireland have access to 183 countries.
So for people from these countries, as there are 195 countries in the world, that’s as good as it gets! Even citizens from the country that requires the most visas (Afghanistan) and get into 105 countries without a visa.
Money to Pay for Traveling
Probably the biggest obstacle to quitting the job and setting off to see the world is income. Yet many do it, and they aren’t millionaires.
Again, depending on which country you are from, it’s easier for citizens from some countries than others.
For instance, the UK has the Youth Mobility Scheme which allows citizens from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, and Taiwan to work in the UK for two years if they are aged between 18 and 30 years and have £1,890 in savings.
The temp industry in London is virtually entirely staffed by travelers. So it’s easy to work for a month, then take off somewhere else for a month.
For those living outside the USA, and who wish to spend more than one to three months there, there are seasonal programs that provide work. This is called the H-2B program and it provides work in the tourist and hospitality industry. Again, this provides an income for six months so that travelers can explore the USA while simultaneously saving money to go elsewhere.
Ireland offers the Working Holiday Authorisation. Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, and various other countries also offer temp working opportunities for young travelers.
If you have a passive income of about $2000 per month, you’re ready to quit your job and become a traveler. Passive income can be earned in many ways – examples are authoring books, designing and selling software from sites like Gumroad and others, plus renting out a fully paid home.
Cashing in Your Retirement Annuity
Yes, it could be short-sighted, but it’s doable. If it’s sufficient to live off the interest, then you won’t lose the capital if you invest wisely. Studies have shown that it’s not possessions that make people happy – it’s experiences, and the happy memories are not from things they bought but from travel. Travel is the single biggest experience that makes people happy.
Financial Planning – Two Years
From experience, it takes about two years to plan long term travel. That’s the time it takes to figure how and where the money is going to come from, deciding which countries you want to visit, how long you want to be there, if it’s going to be forever, and if you decide never to go home again, how you are going to survive (financially) in a place far, far away.
Traveling can be cheaper than living in suburbia.
There are those who convert buses to mobile homes or build tiny houses and tow them through wind and snow, sun and wind into countries on the same continent. This becomes problematic, though, when one wants to go to another continent. And traveling just isn’t traveling if one does not cross the seas and move from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere, from east to west, from first world to third world, and from rural environments rich in game to cities choc-a-bloc with high rise buildings.
Trains are phenomenal ways to see the world. From India’s high lux palaces on wheels through a Eurail pass to China’s Silk Road rail, the benefit is that you can sleep in your bunk during the night and wake up the next morning at your destination. I once did that from Berlin (Germany) to Granada (Spain).
Yet another way to work your passage is to find a ship that is crossing the ocean to ply trade during the summer months in the opposite hemisphere. I once worked passage from the UK to South Africa aboard a Greek ocean liner. It was a one way trip. Ocean liners will work six months in the northern hemisphere and six months in the southern hemisphere. They take a one way route both ways, and passage can either be worked or are given at discount prices. If you have the skills, you can deal tables (casino games), be a personal trainer (body builder), be a dance partner (works for men who know how to dance to partner single old ladies), or be a guest speaker (author, musician, artist, etc.)
Buses are also wonderful. Outside of trains, they are my second best travel option. They can be exceptionally inexpensive. I once paid about $40 return from Edinburgh (Scotland) down to London, then Dover, boarded the ferry to Calais, then bused to Amsterdam. Bus rides are wonderful. I’ve zipped my way across Spain and Scotland for months on end, never spending more than $5 or $20 to get to various places. If you are a pensioner, contact various government authorities and see if you can get special rates.
I have always stayed in hostels. They are not just for young travelers. Pensioners (seniors) are increasingly backpacking with the best of them. So are women. There are groups on Facebook appropriately name Women who travel solo and Women who travel alone. I’ve traveled on my own my entire life – in Africa, in South America, in the USA, in Europe, and I’m still here. Of course, I am a cautious person, and I don't put myself in situations which are not safe. The great thing about groups like this is that they provide tips, enable you to meet up with others in the area, and give you a heads-up on dangers you may need to avoid.
I use Booking.com to find hostels. I also enable settings to provide me with the cheapest options. I do not use Airb&b as I find them more expensive, and I don’t get to meet other travelers. If bunking in a dorm is not to your taste, you can book single rooms in a hostel. Some of them are nicer than others. My best hostels were in Edinburgh just below the castle (Castlerock, I think) and San Francisco.
Other options include using publications like Gumtree (London) to find where travelers have houses. Generally someone who is in the UK for two years rents a house, then rents rooms to other travelers. Earls Court is London is known for this.
Yet another option is housesitting. There are international sites to which you pay a small fee each month, and this enables you to find homes where you can housesit for two or six months for others. It’s advisable to have some experience, and if you’re good with animals/pets, say so. It will open doors for you.
Yup, I’ve couch-surfed and met some pretty decent people that way. This is easier to do if you’re single than if there are two of you. Nevertheless, it’s doable. Just make sure that the person has plenty of references from other travelers.
What to Pack When Traveling
Trust me on one thing. You want to travel light! You do not want three large suitcases with hairdryers, six dresses for a dance at the local Buckingham Palace, etc. It’s too much to carry. Also, travel is more expensive, and there are fewer opportunities if you have a lot of luggage. Some flights only permit hand luggage and charge extra if you have luggage for the hold. Plan on traveling only with cabin luggage.
I take cabin-sized luggage. That’s it.
Here’s what you need.
- A special around-the-neck bag that fits your passport, money, and important documentation. Never, never, never let it out of your sight. Also make sure that all this information is backed up on Google Docs so that if you lose your passports, etc. you have copies.
- A smartphone that you can unlock. This is important because you can then buy a sim card for each country you're in, and this works out a lot cheaper when making calls. Do not travel without a phone. Always keep it charged, and have a fully charged power bank with you. If necessary, upon entering a country, purchase an adapter which enables you to recharge whatever appliances you have (e.g. laptop). Also make sure your phone has google maps and can use a GPS.
- Camera (and charger). Yup, your phone is good, but a camera is awesome.
- Cabin sized suitcase plus bag that is big enough to pass as a bag but small enough not to be counted as cabin luggage.
- Patience. I kid you not. If you’re traveling, Murphy will be your constant companion. If things can go wrong, they sometimes will. Just accept it. You’ve got all day, plus tomorrow and next week. The point of leaving it all behind is that you’re not under pressure to get it done immediately.
- A lightweight rain (and windproof) jacket. It rains. This jacket doesn't have to be warm – just water resistant or waterproof. The smaller it wraps, the better. Rain hat and scarf. Make it large enough so that you can wear a fleece underneath for really cold days.
- Sufficient clean underwear and socks for a week (you have to do the washing sometime). Gloves.
- Three to four pairs of jeans (bottoms). Five or six tops (two for cold days and four for hot days).
- Pair of boots or walking shoes and a pair of sandals.
- Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, brush, comb, etc. As small as possible. You can buy these in travel sizes in most cities.
- Travel towel. They’re lightweight, don’t take up much space, and dry quickly.
- Lightweight blanket. I have one that used to sell as a beach mat but is very thin and folds into about two inches. It is soft, silky, waterproof and windproof. On long bus rides, in chilly weather, it has been wonderful!
- Water bottle, small lunchbox, knife, fork, spoon.
- Lock (you might want to store your stuff in a locker at a rail terminal). I generally travel with three.
- Collapsible shopping bag that you will find useful when you have a temporary overload of things.
- Warm pajamas and a hot water bottle.
- A small kit with a needle, a small pair of scissors, cotton, a bandage/plaster, some Aspirin, disinfectant, and an antibiotic cream.
- A small LED high intensity flashlight.
As you’re not planning to camp out, you don’t need a sleeping bag.
Laptop and VPN
When you travel from country to country, the internet adjusts to the country you are in. So it can be very frustrating to find yourself with the internet in another language. The best way around that is to use a VPN service. That way you can determine which country's servers you want to attach to. I use Chicago and London.
Life On the Road
Life on the road can be lonely or it can be a party. This is why it’s best to stay in hostels. There’ll always be other people that are on the road. If you’re traveling with a partner or in a group, then you’ll find that friction can develop at times. Like I said, patience is a necessity when you’re a traveler.
I’ve spent years traveling. It’s the one thing that lights up my life. When I’m on the road, I’m free as a bird, forever checking out buildings (I love old architecture). I live at Starbucks, and besides South Africa, virtually every country I’ve been in has a Starbucks. Apparently South Africa declined Starbucks' permission as it would have put other coffee shops out of business.
Personally I think jobs are overrated. Life is too short to waste it making money for someone else. There’s a world to see out there – people to see and places to go. Happy journeys!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 09, 2019:
Thank you. Appreciate the feedback. :)
Viet Doan from Big Island, Hawaii on November 09, 2019:
I love your article, Tessa! It's so insightful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing the great travel tips. You are truly a savvy traveler, my hat's off to you. Happy journeys my friend!
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on October 26, 2019:
Thank you, Liza. :)
Liza from USA on October 26, 2019:
I agree with Liz. Your article is full- thorough with astonishing tips for travelers. Thanks for sharing, Tessa.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on October 26, 2019:
Thank you. :) What can I say? I've been traveling since 1973. One learns as one goes along! ;)
Liz Westwood from UK on October 26, 2019:
I have just sent the link for this excellent article to someone who is planning on travelling. This is a great resource and it is packed full of useful tips.