3 tiny pieces of advice for those who want to quit their job and travel

If only I knew this too.

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali on 23 March 2016

It’s about to be a year now. I made the decision to quit my job and travel around mid-September, and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, I am about to go on my last big trip and finish off right around the same time with 17 new countries and 38 cities clocked.

After coming back from South Africa recently though, I’ve had time to think about all that travelling and also answer some people’s questions regarding them. And thought hey, maybe I should offer some constructive advice to the growing number of people (hopefully Singaporeans!) who might be thinking of doing the same thing. I would totally encourage you to take the leap but here’s just 3* tiny pieces of advice — nothing that will stop you in your tracks, but these are things I wish I’d read before doing what I did.

  1. Actively save and plan for it

This is probably the most important thing that I wished I had done consciously. Even though it wasn’t an impulsive move to quit and travel, I’ve pretty much exhausted all my savings for the trips and find myself coming to the end of the string because I did not actively save while I was working — I simply tried to spend less but did not look at the bank balance, and still indulged pretty much often. Maybe I should have stayed another 6 more months and set aside at least 90% of my take home pay for travel funds. Or perhaps I would have wilted in sadness by then. Of course, it is what it is now and I am still really grateful for all the places I have seen and will see. But planning ahead for the trips, I suspect, could have probably increased the no. of countries I can travel to (London, I’m looking at you!) and for even longer. Please, plan and save if you want to quit! Otherwise try to find a way to remote work (easier in Asia; quite difficult in South America/Africa).

2. We are same same (not different)

Like I told my friend who asked, so, have your world view changed from all that travelling? No, it hasn’t. What I have found out is that people everywhere in the world are essentially the same. Everybody wants a better life for themselves and their family. Every city will have a gorgeous market to visit and at least one cool museum. Coffees all over the world taste the same if your barista wears an apron and has a beard. Cab drivers are usually chatty. The best food does not exist in fancy restaurants. The standard tip for a walking tour is $5. Caring about someone is the best way to make friends. The strange thing, is no matter how hard I tried to look for paradoxes and differences across the globe, I end up with the same place and conclusion — that we and things, are no different.

That’s something I wished I knew earlier which would have alleviated my fears about these new countries. It also means that you should not expect to “find yourself” (impossible to be still; best to just use GPS to locate where you are at physically) or think that the trip will be life-changing (unless you found a job and decided to stay on while travelling there).

3. Record, write and upload more

Another tiny regret after coming home is that I didn’t document my travels as obsessively as I could, so I could create content from it and maybe even get monetized or sponsored for more trips (!). However I know that if I were to do it again, I would probably still be like that, because I was just so absorbed in the moment to be holding up a camera. Perhaps though it is about forming habits — noting down restaurant names and addresses, prices of tours and booking tips. Stuff which could potentially help me create more travel itineraries to help fellow travellers… and get that sponsorship to travel for free (*hint?)

Anyway, that’s the 3 pieces of advice I could think of. The rest, like bringing S-hooks and bringing your own food when backpacking, are no-brainers. Hope this article helped — share and recommend if you think it did!

*Even tinier pieces of advice.. hug your pets A LOT before you go. And maybe get one of those global SIM things so you can still get photos of your pets via WhatsApp.