I am often asked how I finance my travels without a full time job, how I managed to quit my high profile job and yet survived and tips on how they could do what I have done. Strangely, every one asks about the money part but no one asks how I managed mentally, emotionally and physically. I decided to write this post so that I am able to express the ups and downs and challenges on this path 🙂 towards Life is a Vacation.
Quitting a Full Time Job:
I quit my job after 15 years of full time work since it was not fun any longer, I could feel the stress in my body and mind which was not doing me any good. I did not quit on a whim and toyed over the idea over 6 months. I had done reasonably well, reached a certain level in a large IT services company and the returns on the time invested in terms of personal joy and satisfaction was diminishing and just hanging around for money when I did not have the time to spend it, lost its meaning.
I had planned my finances over 6 months; consolidated what I had, researched on investing options that would give me decent returns if I were not to work full time again, the life style changes that I would have to make to sustain myself. I made different funds for myself – Travel, Daily Living, Medical Expenses to work out a budget. By then, I had decided that I would not have a family and nor would I buy a bigger house and just make do with the apartment that I already lived in.
Life after Quitting:
Travel was not the motif for quitting, it was one of the things that I wanted to do apart from delving deep into yoga and spirituality and just be. I traveled continuously for a year to all the places, I yearned to go, picked up an occasional consulting assignment and went through a great spiritual transformation of body, mind and soul. I got hooked onto travel; I was learning more than I ever did in any class room or any job. I do have a business that I run with friends but I am okay not to sacrifice my love for travel to take it to dizzy heights. It is modest and operational.
Life Style Change:
I did not have to make great life style changes since I was never lavish or extravagant. I am now driven by my needs rather than my whims. From my earlier days of Business Class travel and 5 star Hotels, I am down to Economy Class Travels and Home Stays and I love it. I visit my friends in their lavish homes and ride their fancy cars and enjoy the moment; but I know deep within I left all this to pursue a dream to be free, to see all that this earth has to offer and I am happy with my apartment and my decent car that allows me to live. I don’t compare and I don’t regret my choices but sometimes, when I am feeling really low it comes back to haunt me for a few minutes and sometimes a few hours. I ask myself whether I am fulfilling my purpose in life?
Life Style Status Symbols:
I have stopped buying high end gadgets unless they serve a specific purpose. I opted for a budget smartphone well within Rs 20,000 /- instead of an I Phone. I know I can afford one, but the difference in price is one trip for me that creates memories that will last a life time. I apply the same principle in clothes, accessories, eating out every other day in fancy restaurants. I now buy things that I absolutely need and do not hoard up on stuff that I may not use. It does not bother me if I am in a room full of people who have all the glitzy things!! Each to his own!! I am not insecure of material possessions and nor am I bothered about answering why I chose to go low profile.
I plan most of my travels much in advance, do a lot of research online before zeroing in on places to travel, where to stay, what to see, how to travel etc. It helps me to get the best deals and get the maximum value from my money. Yet, I take some of those impromptu trips when I want to just for the sake of travel. Since I am a solo lady traveler most of the times, I do not compromise on safety to save money. In some places, if I have to pay more for accommodation; I do it.
When I travel, I make the maximum use of breakfast that generally comes in with the room and while on the road during the day, I gorge on street food, since it brings me closer to local life. As for dinner; I have almost given up on it when I adapted to yoga. Most days, I have something very light and on certain days when I have gone light on lunch, I indulge in fine dining in a fancy restaurant.
Saving Time & Money for Travel:
Track your expenses for a month and see where you can save; to your surprise, you will identify lot of things that you can do without for a while; including clothes, toiletries and eating out. There are some great weekend trips that can be done on a shoe string budget; identify them. Sit with a calendar and check out all the long weekends and plan which ones work for you given your work schedule and commitments.
I am blessed with wonderful parents who understand me well and accept a different person. They live through me and my stories most of the time. They enjoy good health and are pretty independent. All my bills that need to paid are tracked online so I can do the needful from anywhere without bothering them.
You Want to Travel BUT what is your Purpose:
I am driven by nature, history, art, culture and food. I love chronicling them and many a times, I go back to reading what I wrote and laugh to myself thinking that is how I felt 🙂 When I grow old, all these memories will egg me to live. After 3 years of blogging and enjoying it, I am beginning to get some commercial traction on the same.
To the ones, who are tired of being in rudimentary jobs and feel trapped; do not take travel as a mode of escape from drudgery!! Trust me, it will be worse. Take a sabbatical for 3 months, travel around, see how you feel, recharge yourself and ask yourself that all important question WHAT NEXT? and you will get your answer.