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It’s been one whole year now since I handed in my notice at a job I loved in order to escape from a city I didn’t love. That’s 12 whole months, 23 countries and more lessons learned than in the 26 years prior to that.
I’m normally all about looking forward, but it’s good to stop and reflect sometimes. That’s why today I’m sharing some of the incredible, not-so-incredible and downright crazy things that happened when I quit my job to travel. That happened because I quit my job to travel.
I’m talking about emotions, money, and all the other big scary topics that come with a big scary decision. Here are totally unexpected things that happened when I quit my job to travel…
#1 I questioned my love of travel… and just about everything else
To many people, travelling full-time sounds like the dream. Having all the time in the world to explore the world. Hopping around as you please. But as dreamy as it may be, it’s not the endless Instagram-worthy sights and romantic sunsets it’s cracked up to be.
It only took a few months for me to learn the meaning of the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’. And when I found myself questioning if I even enjoyed travel, it was devastating. I felt like a little piece of me had died. And when I began questioning if I had any hobbies or interests at all, I had to catch myself before I fell in to a very dark place.
Of course I love travel – and all my other passions and interests – but that doesn’t mean I love it all the time. And travelling all the time was beginning to make my biggest passion feel like an Earth-sized chore. It’s hard to say that without sounding spoilt, I know. But when you have all the time in the world to do what you love, it’s easy to take it for granted.
#2 It became impossible to switch off
When you work an office job, you’re restricted by the schedule someone else sets for you. When you work for yourself, only you can set your hours – and you’ll probably become the harshest boss you’ve ever had.
You see, every moment you don’t spend working on your business is a minute you’re not growing. Every hour spent watching TV or having a nap is an hour you’ll never get back. And every day you spend doing anything else puts your retirement back another 24 hours.
The truth is that I don’t even care much for retirement or being ridiculously wealthy. I’m doing the things I want to do most right now so Future Jodie’s bank account isn’t really a concern for me. Yet there’s always this nagging voice in my head telling me I should be working more.
#3 Life becomes a juggling act
When I worked full-time, I would spend all of my free time blogging and travelling. Now, I can make as much time for those things as I like.
Even though that sounds like a blessing, it often means I never feel like I’m doing enough of either. I’m often in this constant limbo where I feel like I’m not working long enough hours and I’m not travelling enough in each destination. Oh, and did I remember to do anything other than travelling and working this week?
I’m getting much better at this by setting regular work hours, planning my travels in advance and admitting my mortality. I’ve also taken on two employees so I can focus on the things that I’m good at (and enjoy!) and not worry about business matters while I’m off enjoying myself.
#4 Checking my bank balance became the most terrifying part of my week
When your comfy London salary stops pouring in on the 27th of the month, it takes some getting used to. One of the great things about running your own business is that somebody, somewhere, always owes you money. That means it’s almost impossible to spend every penny you have!
Jokes aside, that also means you never truly know exactly what your financial situation looks like. Checking my bank balance in those first few weeks became a bit like playing a round of roulette. Let’s just say it wasn’t a fun feeling.
In the end, I set up text alerts from my bank. Every Friday morning, while I was distracted by a multitude of other trivial concerns, my bank balance would flash up on the screen in front of me. That way there was no avoiding it and, you know what? It was never that bad – sometimes it even brightens my day!
#5 I had my best pay day to date
Speaking of money, it’s not all doom and gloom (sorry!). Yes, it’s been more up and down that ever, but it’s ultimately worked out for the best. The pot of savings I set aside would have kept me going for a year – and, one year on, it’s only grown in size.
I’ll never forget the first time I sat down to do my monthly accounts and realised I’d made more money than ever before. It was about eight months after giving up my London salary – and I had just earned twice as much. Suddenly it all felt worth it and I knew I’d never regret my decision. Sorry for the cheesy moment, but that was one of the proudest moments of my existence so far.
#6 I learned the true meaning of imposter syndrome
Oh yeah, that ugly beast of a mind trick that makes you feel like you do not deserve to be where you are. That one day they – whoever ‘they’ may be – will expose you for the fraud you are. It’s a nasty one.
Despite earning more than ever, I’ve also felt more like a failure than ever before. Honestly, it feels kind of silly to be writing it out like this. I mean, who goes out to live their dreams, achieves all the wildest goals and then starts feeling like they failed?
It’s something that doesn’t make sense to me, and that only makes it all the more frustrating. I know a lot of entrepreneurs suffer with this, though, and the majority of them are women. Still, it doesn’t make it suck any less at times.
#7 I feel safer than ever
Even though the imposter syndrome is very real at times, I’ve never felt more secure in general. I no longer worry about getting fired, being made redundant or my council tax going up again. Not being dependent on one person paying me – and continuing to want to pay me – is just a huge relief.
Without a year-long lease for £10,000, a car to run or office to commute to, I have fewer liabilities than ever. If I ever lose an income stream, I have the others to stop the river running dry. And if I ever need more money, I can always take on more work or live more frugally.
#8 Fantasies of sweaty London tubes aren’t uncommon
This is part where you’re going to think I’m totally crazy…
Even though I could never go back to working for someone else, I do still fantasise about it from time to time. Normally it’s when I’m having a bad day, something’s taking me longer than I wanted or I incur a hefty expense. On those days, being squished into someone’s armpit and arriving at a dreary office with my hair covered in someone else’s sweat almost seems appealing. Almost.
When that happens, I know I just need a break. Whether it’s settling into a stricter routine for a few days or escaping from the office completely, it’s never long before I remember just how lucky I am. And how hard I’ve worked to be here. And that, you know, I should enjoy it a little.
#9 I forgot how to take a holiday
When you travel full-time, ‘holiday’ is more likely to mean lying in a hotel bed watching Netflix than lounging by a hotel pool. I tried to take a ‘real’ holiday on my birthday this year – no phones, no laptops and definitely no WiFi! – and it was hard! Not only did I wake up feeling motivated to open my laptop, but I just didn’t know how to sit still and enjoy it.
I never would have imagined that taking a holiday could be hard. It was a bit of a shock to me, but it was a lesson I needed to learn. It’s easy to think you’re switching off when you aren’t, and now I know the importance of taking a complete break.
#10 I found my true friends
Something funny happens when you make a big life change. Your closest friends and family will mostly support you, and everybody else will be divided.
People you may have forgotten were it not for Facebook will suddenly resurface. They’ll share their biggest dreams with you because you’re doing the one thing they’ve always wanted to do. It may even bring you closer than ever before, and you’ll find you had an amazing friend right under your nose this whole time.
Others won’t take the news so well. People you thought would be happy for you will turn against you. It might be fast or it might be a slow, trickling change. But their snide remarks and refusal to accept your new life will mean you have to let them go. And yes, that one sucks.
If you ever want to find out who your true friends are, make a big change.
#11 I feared for those same friendships
When I first started travelling, I was surprised at how easy it was to stay in touch with everyone. Trips back to London meant epic catch ups and it all seemed a lot easier than I’d imagined. I’ve even bumped into several friends around the world, in Kuala Lumpur, Vegas, and Japan, and enjoyed travelling with people I might not have travelled with otherwise.
Then, one day in Greece, I panicked. Suddenly it didn’t feel so easy any more. I worried that, now the novelty of it had worn off, my friends would start to forget me. They’d be too busy doing ‘normal’ things and I would just slowly fade out because I wasn’t celebrating new jobs, buying a house or even having a birthday party. More importantly, I couldn’t always make it to theirs.
I’ll be honest: it hit me hard. But like a prayer being answered, one of my best friends called me a couple of days later and asked me to be her bridesmaid. Even though I’m not around much and I’ll be a complete pain when it comes to planning and fittings, she still wanted me to be there and it was the pick-me-up I needed. And that’s when I knew it would always be the same with the friends that truly matter. That we’ll always find a way to make the important friendships work.
#12 I learned to listen to my body
Working in London meant feeling tired around 60% of time – and completed exhausted for the other 40%. Now, I have days when I’m more energised than I ever was in London but I also have days when I’m much more tired. Sometimes I’m tired for no apparent reason.
For a long time, I was reluctant to admit that I need to rest sometimes. The constant work-travel juggling act meant rest and self-care were completely out of the picture. They didn’t even cross my mind.
Now, however, I’m beginning to learn the importance of having down days. It’s still a struggle to admit it to myself, but I’m far more efficient when I’m well-rested and eating healthily. I still make excuses – even though I’ve always wanted more time to hit the gym! – but I’m definitely getting better. Self-care has gone from being an emergency intervention to part of my daily routine… slowly.
#13 I became a better person
For all the internal struggles and worries the last year has brought me, I do think I’ve become a better human being overall. Travel has a way of putting things into perspective and teasing out every drop of empathy in you.
Sometimes that’s hard, especially when you come across others who aren’t so privileged and you know there’s not much you can do to help. It’s not easy to come to terms with those situations and I still find them challenging. But overall, I think it’s made me a nicer, kinder, more patient human being.
Did any of these surprise you? Let me know below!
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