Well, it’s déjà vu all over again. Last week I gave my notice at work. I’m officially leaving my job to travel. Again. I’m excited, scared, nervous, ecstatic, and everything in-between!
Last year, I left both my jobs (quitting one and taking a leave of absence from the other) to travel for three whole months. March, April, and May 2016 saw me based in Europe, traveling around Central-Eastern Europe and the Balkans, getting married (!), visiting Africa for the first time on a two-week adventure in Zambia, and just in general having the time of my life traveling.
Now, I’m leaving my current job and giving up my 40-hour contract (the guaranteed hours, stable paycheck, paid time off, etc.), and heading off on another adventure. This time, I’ll be gone for almost 6 weeks in Eastern Europe: two full weeks in Russia (a country that means so much to me), a quick day in Riga, Latvia, and then Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania.
I have absolutely zero regrets about prioritizing and choosing travel over everything else in my life in my past, present, and future. But it hasn’t been an easy ride.
It has been two years since my graduation from college. Finally attaining that degree that I spent so much money (time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears) on was a big accomplishment for me. But in the last two years, I haven’t had a “real” “grown-up” job, the thing I was “supposed” to do after graduating. I’ve watched my friends get adult jobs, those dreamy full-time, paid time off (either sick time or holiday or both), above-minimum-wage jobs. I’ve watched them get raises and promotions and move out and live independently and have weekends off and be able to go out on Saturday nights. They’ve paid off big portions of their student loans, and I’m sitting here still so in debt it hurts. And it has been so hard to watch that and not be consumed by jealousy.
Because meanwhile, I’ve been working in cafes and shops and restaurants and more cafes. Working customer service jobs and food industry jobs that have pretty much nothing to do with my career path. Standing on my feet for 40+ hours a week, having to wear my hair up everyday, smiling and chatting and faking it with customers day in and day out regardless of how shit I feel. And that’s been exhausting for me.
I’m hoping that someday soon I’ll get one of those nice “grown-up” jobs. But I chose to work the jobs I’ve worked because they’ve given me money, and they’ve given me the option to spend that money on travel. Yes, I’m still jealous of my friends sometimes. But I wouldn’t change my decisions and my travels for anything.
So why now? What is it about this summer that’s worth leaving a stable paycheck for?
My first answer: why not? There is never a better time than the present to do what you want and follow your heart and make your dreams happen.
Last year, when I said I was taking three months off to travel, the majority of people were overwhelmingly supportive. Most people (including my bosses at my job! Thanks Black Dog!) said, “do it now,” and “do it while you’re young,” and to follow your dreams. Of course, there was a very cute British guy that was a huge factor in my Spring 2016 travels—at the bottom of it all, I wanted to hang out with (and marry!) Adam. I told myself that that would be the last chance I’d have to be able to drop work and leave my job and take off and travel. Soon I’d have a regular job, with a set number of holiday days a year (if I got any!), and wouldn’t want to drop everything and lose a possible job reference and a step in my career to go on a trip.
Fast forward 14 months. Why now? Why this summer? Why a big trip, instead of a regular 1-2 week trip that I can use (my ever so precious) holiday days for? Because of course there’s more to it than just wanting to travel.
I’ve spent a lot of time (months) thinking about this. The truth is that I view my trip this summer (again) as the last time I’m going to be able to leave work and take time off to travel (although who knows maybe because I’m writing this again I’ll just find a way to keep doing it and keep traveling…??). It’s the last time I’m working a job where I will be able to return to as a casual employee and just take a big chunk of time off as a leave of absence.
Because, eventually, I will (hopefully) have a regular job and won’t be able to take off 6 weeks in one go. Because Adam got a huge stipend for his post-grad year and this is probably the only summer he’ll be able to completely take off work. Because I’m not invested in my current job as a career and because my work exhausts me. Because I’m turning 25 in a few months and that kind of scares me. Because I have just enough money saved up since my last big expense (hello, UK visa) to afford to go on this trip. Because there’s no time like the present. And because I really, really, want to go.
I’m not saying that everyone should just up and quit their jobs and travel (although if that’s what’s right for you, I’m cheering for you big time). But for me, for my own personal situation—career-wise, financially, mentally, etc.—it’s the best choice for me right now.
And I’m SO. FUCKING. EXCITED.
After this trip, if all goes well there will be just 4 countries in Eastern Europe that I won’t have visited: Estonia, Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo. This trip will involve huge bucket list items: seeing the monastery domes in Kiev, walking around the fountains at Peterhof in Russia, visiting the castles in Transylvania. And more than anything, I’ll be returning to Russia—which I have so many feelings about it probably merits its own blog post. And not only will I get to go back to Russia, but I will get to take Adam for his first time in a country that I love so much.
Traveling is what sets my soul on fire. It’s my passion, it makes me feel most alive, it’s the constant rock in the crazy past four years. And in the last year and a bit that I’ve been blogging about my travels, I’ve realized that I truly love sharing my adventures with you all.
So I’m doing it now, following my heart, taking the plunge, and going for it. Take-off will be June 29th, and as of right now, there’s still no flight booked home! I cannot wait to explore more of this beautiful world. And I hope you’ll follow along with me too! 🙂
Thank you to everyone for following along with me on this journey! I can’t wait for the next adventure!