How I Quit My Job To Travel The World
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
One of the best decisions I ever made…
After years of dreaming about it, I quit my 25+ year career in Corporate America to solo travel the world full time. I thought it would be for 3 – 6 months. Four years later, it’s become a way of life. I traded life in a cubicle for views like Machu Picchu, Perito Moreno glacier, and the never-ending plains of Namibia.
I didn’t know it would happen, but traveling full time allowed me the time to ask myself “who am I”, “who do I want to be”, and “what do I want to do with the rest of my life”. These are questions you don’t get to ask when you’re in a “9-to-5,” bring home stress and then have to take care of the rest of your obligations. Except, due to working from home so much during the pandemic, you got the chance I did, albeit in potentially less enjoyable scenery.
Photo by Heather Markel, copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.
Watching articles come out about “The Great Resignation” it’s clear that it’s becoming normal, and more frequent, to quit good jobs. When I quit, people thought I was crazy to walk away from all the money and benefits. Now, more people are beginning to understand that success isn’t about having lots of money and the stuff you buy with it, it’s about finding who you are and having the courage to be that person, no matter what. You’ve begun to confront that you want more meaning and fulfillment in your life, and sitting at a desk job 40+ hours, or more, isn’t cutting it.
Photographs by Heather Markel. Copyright 2020
Now four years into full-time travel, I feel a greater sense of personal accomplishment than in my entire corporate career. I confronted sheer terror and ziplined 17 cables in Costa Rica. I solo traveled, by bus, throughout much of South America. I visited Machu Picchu and Easter Island, saw the big 5 in Africa, and drank malbec in Mendoza. I’ve learned how resourceful I am, and that the real world works very differently than I could understand from the comfort of a stable job. Instead of feeling pulled in seven directions, stressed out, overwhelmed and tired, I now feel centered, and have a deep sense of connection between my head and heart.
“I have a deep sense of connection between my head and my heart.”
Watching the sun rise on Easter Island.
Photos by Heather Markel. Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.
It wasn’t easy to change my life. In fact, I struggled for years with the “normal life” I was “supposed to” live. I spent years telling friends I’d quit and then not do it. I created a posh lifestyle and didn’t understand how I’d afford it without a job. I had a nice apartment, could buy whatever I wanted, and take nice vacations. The problem was, my life felt empty. I love my friends and family, but I felt like I was rotting away at a desk job where I couldn’t find the meaning and purpose of my time there, apart from money. I felt there had to be more to life than waiting until retirement to enjoy myself.
The northern lights dancing in Iceland.
Photo by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.
I finally had the courage to quit and am so proud of myself for doing it. I thought I was just taking a career break to find a different job. Instead, I made a way of life I never imagined was possible. I’ve learned to follow my heart instead of letting my mind control my life. Pre pandemic, I got to 25 countries and 6 continents. Of all places in the world, my heart led me to New Zealand in February, 2020, and that’s where I’ve ridden out the pandemic.
Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo by Heather Markel, Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.
The question I’m asked the most is, “how do you afford all the travel”, including being marooned in New Zealand for 18 months. To answer that, and some other great questions, I’ve put together a free training with 5 simple steps you can use to quit your job and travel full time, based on everything I’ve learned from my experiences. You can watch it free, no sign-up required, by clicking here. Enjoy!
This is probably the ultimate dream, and hopefully one I will be able to fulfil one day. It’s so good following your travel and experiences, and sounds like there has been so much fun and adventure for you over the last few years
Yay! Glad to hear it’s on your radar for future. It’s a wonderful way of being.
I quit my Corproate America job in 2018 and have not once looked back. It is such a freeing experience. Now I work as a consultant for triple the money and a fraction of the time. Glad to see other people out there doing the same thing!
Woo hoo! That’s awesome. So glad to “meet” you. I thought I might be crazy when I quit and I’ve learned there are so many of us out there doing this…it’s a great life!!!
I must admit when I was younger I never even thought of quitting my job to travel. But when I was older, we chose to semi-retire at a much younger age so we could dramatically increase our travel. We still contemplate moving to a more nomadic adventure like you have been on. Your adventures have been amazing and I can see why you did not regret your decision and should feel proud.
Linda I had no idea my adventure would be what it has become and I’m definitely proud of them! I think anyone who can and focuses their life on travel should be proud. It’s a beautiful way to discover the world and ourselves.
Photos are stunning and story is inspiring! #wbps
When I was in my twenties, I regularly quit my job to travel – every time I had saved enough for three months or so. When I was married the first time, we quit our jobs to travel for a year in Europe – I’d have done much more, but getting married means compromising. These days, I can only dream of doing it all again.
Enjoy it while you can.
Indeed! I was married too and we didn’t travel much so I’m certainly making up for so many things I’ve always wanted to do!
Your adventures sound so amazing, thanks for sharing! I quit my job to travel for 6 months a few years ago and it was the most amazing experience. I’m back at a desk job for now but always dreaming of my next adventure. I’m so glad you’ve found such joy and happiness in your travels.
Good on you! I feel it’s not the length of time of the journey, but the courage to take it that counts. 🙏😬🥰