Should You Quit Your Job And Travel In Your 30s?

By Laura @ IWMLB Project | Other Stuff

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Mar 27

“Oh my god, did you hear that so-and-so has just gone travelling? So jealous, I would love to do that but I can’t because of my mortgage/kids/job/Outer Mongolian sheepdog”

*Trudges back into work daydreaming of jetting off to explore the world. Again. For the 50 millionth time*

If you have always dreamt of travelling, what on earth is stopping you?

And I don’t mean things like your mortgage, or having kids as all of those things can be managed. Other people have done it, in which case, so can you.

What I mean is, what are your fears that are stopping you from taking the first step towards finally getting on that plane?

Is it travelling alone? Or that you think you are too old? Or that travelling with kids would be too hard?

Whatever your worry is, you still want to go travelling and that feeling isn’t going to go away. So we need to find a way to cut through the fear and get that plane ticket booked!

Why Travel In Your 30s?

The short answer is because it’s frickin’ awesome. I know because I’ve done it.

I went travelling for a year in my 20s and then again for 8 months in my 30s. I quit my job both times even though many people told me not to.

Travelling in my 20s mostly consisted of eating whatever revolting but cheap food the hostel bar was serving and then consuming 2 for 1 drinks until I fell over.

Don’t get me wrong, I bloody loved it. I started off with a friend going from New York to Hawaii to Fiji to New Zealand to Australia.

Having only gone travelling for a year with £2,000 in my back pocket (ah the folly of youth), I stopped in Australia for 9 months and worked.

First of all, I worked at a travelling show, complete with wood chopping championships and diving pig shows (don’t ask). 

Then I worked in Sydney Domestic airport giving 5-minute back and shoulder massages. I lived in a 3-bed flat in Bondi (obviously) with 5 Irish people, 1 English guy and a French Canadian.

It was awesome. I finished off the trip with a month in Thailand on my own and came back thinking I would stick it to the man and never work a corporate job again (or wear shoes, possibly).

Fast forward 7 years, and having definitely not stuck it to the man, I was in a retail office job getting very itchy feet.

So at the ripe old age of 30, I went travelling again.

This time it was a 3-month voluntary project with Raleigh International in Costa Rica and Nicaragua as the logistics manager.

Then a 5-month travelling trip to Panama, Colombia, Trinidad, Tobago, Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.

quit your job to travel

School building project in Nicaragua with Raleigh International

This trip was very different. For one, alcohol consumption was definitely lower. I also went to Costa Rica to do the volunteer project knowing absolutely no one.

And I went with a lot more money so didn’t have to work.

quit your job to travel

Tortilla making workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico

The friendships I made on this trip have lasted.

quit your job to travel

Trekking to the Lost City in Colombia with friends from Raleigh International

I saw the most amazing sites, went to places a bit more off the beaten track and wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world.

quit your job to travel

Meeting a puffer fish in Colombia

I also came back with a lot more confidence.

I’d had a bad experience in my corporate job before I left to go travelling which made me feel like I was a bad manager (I had been promised a role which then turned out to be completely different, and one that I definitely wasn’t qualified or ready for).

I had decided to be a logistics manager with Raleigh International to prove to myself that I wasn’t a terrible manager. And guess what, I wasn’t.

I got my confidence back and was ready to move forward.

Don’t me wrong, once again I thought I would stick it to the man and go do something completely wild rather than wind up in a corporate job again.

I didn’t, I was back in an office-based retail career within 6 weeks of landing back in the UK. Doh!

But at least I felt better about it 😉

If you want to hear others’ stories about travelling in their 30’s, you can have a read of this article on the Two Drifters blog.

The Best Things About Travelling In Your 30s

  • You have a bit more money so can have a cheeky glass in a nice wine bar rather than mainlining cheap plonk in the hostel kitchen.
  • It’s a great mix of culture, food and fun, rather than a party that never ends.
  • You have time to think about what you really want for your life. Now you’ve grown up a bit and know yourself more, it might be time for a change of direction.
  • You’ve already been working hard for the last 5-10 years and you are bloody exhausted. If you need to lie on a beach for a few weeks to recover, then so be it.

What does Travelling Mean To You?

You don’t necessarily have to do what I did. Maybe you want to go with an organised group like Flashpack or just do one country properly rather than hopping about.

Maybe you want to stay in hostels or boutique hotels. Or road trip it. 

Whatever you want to do, is completely up to you. If you plan to backpack and hostel it, it will cost less and perhaps you could go for longer.

If you are going for hotels and meals out, you will need more cash so might decide to keep your trip shorter.

Have a think about what you would really like to do, check out some travel blogs to get some inspiration on the type of trip you would like to do.

Be My Travel Muse

This Battered Suitcase

Nomadic Matt

Choosing the Destination

Ah, the most exciting bit!! Where in the world are you going to go??!

If you are on a budget, you might want to stick to places like India, South-East Asia or South America (do your research though, some countries are cheaper than others).

If you’ve got some cash to burn, you could go to New Zealand, Australia or the Scandinavian countries.

If you are on a budget, this article about cheap travel destinations where you can stay for under $25 a night is useful.

Or you can check the Cost of living index by country on Numbeo to get an idea for living standards vs cost of living.

The other thing to do is ask around, friends may have some great recommendations for you.

If you want to know my recommendation, Colombia is my all time favourite place ever. I spent 7 weeks there, half of it on my own, and absolutely loved it.

Send me an email at hello@iwantmylifebackproject.com if you want to ask me more details about Colombia. I’d be happy to share 🙂

quit your job and travel

Riding the cable car in Medellin (the former stomping ground of Pablo Escobar)

Travelling Alone

One of the big objections to going travelling is the fear of going alone.

Here is the funny thing though, if you are staying in hostels, you are never alone. Seriously. Every time I’ve arrived at a new location or country, I’ve met someone to chat to within half an hour.

You might have to make the first move but you would be surprised how easy it is to strike up a friendship. Whether it’s just for a drink that evening or someone you end up travelling with for weeks.

Honestly, you will not be alone! 

If you really don’t like the thought of it, you could start your trip in an organised group and then go from there.

As a woman, it can be worrying to think about travelling alone but mostly it’s just about common sense.

I honestly never had a problem, on either trip. 

Here are a couple of great articles from a guest writer on the Nomadic Matt blog about travelling as a solo female.

8 Myths About Solo Female Travel Debunked

How to Stay Safe When Travelling As a Solo Female

Travelling with Kids

I didn’t have kids at the time I went travelling but that absolutely shouldn’t stop you.

Above all, I imagine your kids would absolutely love it! What an adventure and how awesome to spend that much time exploring with a parent or guardian.

There are loads of great travel blogs you could check out specifically for people travelling with children.

Here are a couple I found that are pretty big with lots of useful info.

YTravel Blog – YTravel is written by an Australian couple who have 2 girls. They homeschool their children and have lived in 5 countries and visited over 53.

World Travel Family – World Travel Family is written by a couple from the UK who travel with their two kids and also homeschool. They have some great information on world schooling if you are interested.

Should You Quit Your Job?

So, the million dollar question…..

Should you quit your job? The answer is, it depends.

Hang on, hear me out. I’m not just saying that to be annoying!

I quit my job both times I went travelling. The first time I was in my mid-twenties, in a job I wasn’t passionate about and I didn’t have any responsibility (mortgage etc) so the decision didn’t feel that hard.

The second time, I was already living abroad in New Zealand. Before I had left the UK, I had rented out my flat so I didn’t have much to sort out.

I had a lot of savings at this point as I had been seconded to NZ so hadn’t had to pay for rent or a car or phone for a year (I know, how lucky is that?).

Also, I was in an industry (retail merchandise planning) which I knew had a high turnover and isn’t a niche skill. I was pretty confident I would find something when I got back.

If you want to quit your job I would ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have enough money to last me if it takes a while to find a job when I get back?
  • Is my job role relatively common and therefore I could find another similar role when I return?

If the answer to either of these is ‘no’, what about taking unpaid leave? 

In the UK, if you have worked at a company for a certain amount of time, you can sometimes take a career break for up to a year and then return to your role at the end of it.

Even if your company doesn’t offer this if you give them enough notice, you may be able to negotiate something.

After all, people go on maternity leave all the time so it’s not like your company can’t cope for a few months without you.

Of course, if you are fed up with your industry and want to do something completely different when you get back, just make sure you have enough money to do so and then go for it.

And finally,

If you’ve wanted to travel for a long time, make the decision that the time is now. You ain’t gettin’ any younger!

Everyone has worries about going away. It’s normal. You just have to ignore them and do it anyway. Trust yourself, you are a resourceful woman and you will work it out!

As Stephen King put it:

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Oh, and let me know in the comments where you’ve always dreamed of going 🙂

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About the Author

Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)