About some three years back, I was recovering from typhoid, burning my fever out. It had already been 25 days since I had been inside a cubicle, and the work toxins were slowly washing down my system helping me to look at things clearly. I undoubtedly needed a small vacation and as soon as typhoid came crashing down, I informed my senior that the doctor said I would need at least another month before I can make it to the office and flew to Kolkata. It was my first solo trip and I was both excited and nervous equally. The original one week plan was soon dusted off the charts and I flash-packed Kolkata, Darjeeling and Sikkim in a month.
In a jiff, my life changed in so many ways; I did my first trek, Goechala (it is reputed to one of the most difficult treks in India and it happened to be my first), I drank tea brewed from freshly picked leaves, ate finger-licking local dishes of so many places, had my first glimpse of a hard life, understood that travelling is a brutality and for the first time in my 25 years of living, I got a feeling that I am exactly where I belong.
Whereas, when I got back to work, nothing had changed. All my colleagues were doing the same work they had been doing 2 months back; they were having exactly the same conversations, and shuffling between deadlines. I never felt suffocated in my cubicle, but that day, I just couldn’t breathe. That day, I understood that there is no rehab for being addicted to freedom. Once you’ve seen what’s on the other side, you cant follow anybody else’s rules ever again. That day, I understood, I have to take a leap of faith and so, I typed in my resignation letter.
Now, 3 years down the road, my life is exactly how I wanted it to be. I am content and living to the fullest. I fell down a couple of times while following my heart and I hoped somebody would have guided me through it, saving me so many sleepless nights. Hoping, I could help some of you, here are some things you need to know before quitting your job to travel:
1. No matter how much you save, it will always come up short.
When I finally resigned from my job, I had a fallback fund for roughly four to five months. That is the number of months, I could give myself to experiment and choose my calling. To extend that, I sold off my camera and my solitaire and so, I stretched that period to a year and a half. Foolishly enough, once I got the freedom to do as I pleased and roam where I wanted, I spent all that money in a jiff, just travelling across India and not thinking and investing in my career path. The realization struck when I just had a month worth of travelling fund left in my bank account and then, I decided to get my shit together.
Truth be told, no matter how much you’ll save, it will always come up short. So when you decide to quit your job, don’t immediately do that. Give yourself a bracket of four to five more months, work and cut down on your extra expenses in that time period. opt for an auto instead of a cab to go back home; skip that extra drink; avoid that expensive sushi restaurant; because it’s the little amounts you’ll save that’ll end up being a lifesaver later.
2. Have a plan, but keep your options open.
It is practical to have plans before you start to travel about your future in the field and your specific line of work. It is good to have a plan but it is fatal to not keep your options open. Travelling is a very diverse field and the more time you spend travelling, the more options will open up for you; you will start to find jobs you did not even know existed and you will definitely find people who inspire you to do something. Under those circumstances, you might miss out something extraordinary in the pursuit of following your plan A.
When I first started travelling, I imagined myself to be working with NGO’s in remote Himalayan villages totally unaware what cards life had in store for me. I never imagined opening up an adventure organisation and making videos of exotic places. It was all only possible because I, just like a river, went with the flow; bent at the curves, said goodbye to some attributes of mine, while acquired some trait from others, hit a rock until I made a dent in it and most importantly just kept flowing.
3. There is no right time to quit your job, but always.
I remember being elated when I finally realised that my job was making me miserable and I need to go out into the wild to discover my self and answer some question about life. When I told my senior who had been in the industry for some fifteen to twenty years about my decision, you should have seen the horror on their face, being concerned for me, they told me I was being irrational and kiddish, they said I should spend more time at the job and gain some experience as it will help me to build a great resume and apply for a job at even more reputed companies and I could be at a great post earning good money within just a few years. “Wake up to the real world” they said, I clearly remember; “I just did”, I replied. It took them a great deal of time to understand that I was chasing to build a life, not a resume and live by a compass, not a clock. Two years after quitting my job, my boss who was friends with me on a social networking site messaged me about how proud he was that I took the road less travelled by and did not fall-back after all the criticism.
Its never to soon to quit as it is never too late to quit. That day, I decided that I cannot look back five years from now and hate myself for not following my heart.
4. Experiment before quitting.
Once you have your plan of action ready for the travel industry, start making your time in cubicle count. Start working on fronts that will help you gain experience for later. Supposedly, if you are planning on leading treks, tips or basically anything that involves leading people on a travelling front, start working in people-oriented roles. Use your job to know what you are good at. The time you are still at work, you can make mistakes and learn from them still scoring a paycheck at the end. Polish your skills and be ready to rock the travel industry
5. Your life will never be the same for better or for worse.
It will be harder than working in a cubicle. It will not just be mentally but also physically tiring. You won’t be sure about your decisions and sometimes you will wonder if it is worth it all. But, despite it all, despite all the hardships and despite always running low on cash, your soul will beam so bright that it will be visible from far off. You will be gaining more experiences than half the population. You won’t be sure where you will be waking up the coming week and who you’re going to meet. Everything will be uncertain and the only thing constant will be change. Within the past three years, I’ve travelled and trekked throughout India, twice; and some places, even thrice. I am so happy I got out of the societal definition of being successful when I did and now, I am grateful that I have the chance to inspire other people to follow their dreams.
No matter how many travellers share their experiences and guide you on your path, you will always make mistakes that are unique to you. There will be times you will fall but be sure to get up. This line that you are going to take up, sucks out the breaths of the best of people. Be steady on your feet, be patient and most importantly, be curious and no matter what anybody tells you to remember you are here to strive, to seek to find and not to yield.