Work leaving card

Leaving my Job and Working while we Travel

On Friday I turned off my work computer, left my desk and walked out of the office I’ve spent more than three years working in forever. However many times I imagined leaving, saying goodbye and shedding my old routine I never thought it would feel like this: Hollow. Instant. Irrevocable. Insignificant.  All Friday a quote from a TS Eliot poem kept running through my head:

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper

Work leaving card

My Leaving Card from Work

And while this might not be the end of the entire world, it’s the end of mine as I know it and this really is the closest it feels; as if it should be a huge event, a monumental emotional climax, but actually, it’s just a moment. Lots of small moments: clearing my drawers, packing up my stuff, saying each individual goodbye.  As I walk away everything feels like it’s closing behind me; the people I knew and the places I spent so much time in shift and adjust, effortlessly, to fill my absence.

That life I used to live is already no longer mine.

But even though I’ve left full-time work, I’m still struggling to sever my connection with it. There’s a sensible part of me that has always felt horrified about quitting our jobs to travel the world. Lately, that part of me has been whispering in my ear, asking me how we’ll survive without an income; how we’ll cope with seeing all our hard earned savings slowly drain from our accounts each month, never to be replaced.

Working while we Travel

Heather and Amy at the office Christmas party

Heather and I at the office Christmas party

When we first started planning our trip three years ago I always envisioned quitting my day job and travelling solidly on our savings alone; being completely free of any ties and responsibilities. I used to relish that thought – it became part of what travel was about for me. However, this vision has slowly disappeared as our trip has solidified into something real and transformed from a one-year round the world blitz before a return to ‘normal’ life into a complete lifestyle change. Now, we want to live more, work less and be free to roam where we please – in short, we want to be location independent – but how?

As luck would have it, over the last few months several people I used to work with have contacted me asking if I’d like to do some freelance writing and online content work for them while I travel. In addition, I’ll be continuing to write a few articles per month for my old company, so I’ll have a small set of freelance clients and an even smaller freelance income before we even hit the road. Looks like we’re all set for location independence, right? Not quite.

The Problems with Freelancing

  • Firstly, I am haunted by a perpetual fear that I’ve taken on too much. Will I really want to lock myself in a hotel room and work while we’re half way across the world and I could be out exploring? How much will those few extra pounds really matter when instead of earning them I could be visiting old ruins, climbing glaciers or just relaxing on the beach? What if I end up simply working as much while we’re away as I used to in my old job?
  • While I can theoretically do my job from anywhere, Andrew is a teacher, so we really need to be in one place for at least six months if he wants to work. I can already imagine how annoying it’ll be for both of us; he’ll be hanging around waiting for me to finish my work so we can go and have fun while I’ll be cursing the fact that he’s idle while I have deadlines to meet. Oh, and only taking one laptop on this trip already seems like a bad idea – Andrew can’t even work on the blog, upload pictures or research destinations while I’m slaving away on the computer.
  • The most frustrating thing so far about trying to organise freelance work while we travel has been trying to sort out the tax side of things. Am I supposed to register as a sole trader? Who do I pay tax to? Do I pay it upfront and claim it back? Why the hell are the government even taking it in the first place when I’ll be earning a pittance and won’t even be living in the UK? When I find out the answers to all these questions – I’ll let you know.
  • Finally but most importantly, one of the things I promised myself was that after years of writing stuff I wasn’t passionate about, on this trip I’d be free to write whatever I wanted to again. In part, that means keeping this blog going – it’s the one type of ‘work’ that I really enjoy and want to spend my time doing but perversely it’s the thing that’ll probably never make me any money  – and I’m ok with that; just as long as the work I’m paid to do doesn’t leave me without any time to write what I really want to write.

Have you quit your job to travel? Or how do you cope with working while travelling?

  • Helen
    Posted at 22:26h, 11 February Reply

    No matter how long you’ve been working somewhere, its a strange when you say goodbye to a steady income. But it all works out!!!
    Looking at your blog I’m very impressed with your organisation and am very interested in seeing how your travels go. Me and my partner will be getting to NZ about a week after your guys. Good luck!

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:02h, 11 February Reply

      Hi Helen, thanks for the support. It’s great that you’re also headed to New Zealand – I’ll have to check your blog out; maybe our paths will cross out on the road!

  • Patti
    Posted at 23:29h, 11 February Reply

    I think what you’re experiencing is completely normal. My husband and I own a B&B and for days leading up to us leaving on a trip it is just so stressful trying to think of everything we need to do, for the business, before we leave. But once we leave, we’re done, we’re good to go. I think when you and Andrew land at your first destination all of your fears will melt away. You’ll develop new fears, because life always has a certain amount of fears, but you’ll find your way. Through my research I have learned that there are so many opportunities out there for supplementing your wallet. But I think you need to give yourself time, when you first start traveling, to peel off the old layers of life and just focus on moving forward. As you do, I think everything will fall into place for you. When we let for Paris, we had no time to think about what we would do when we got there but what we learned is that it was okay because we figured it out one day at a time. We learned that when the day comes for us to sell our B&B and travel extensively, we know we’ll be able to figure it out, one day at a time! You’ll be great!

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:05h, 12 February Reply

      Great advice Patti. I do feel like I we both need time, at least for the first six months of our trip, to really appreciate travelling and let the fact that we’ve left our old lives sink in. As you mention, I also hope we find new ways to make money while we’re on the road and have time to develop new interests and passions. This is such an exciting but daunting time, so it’s great to hear that other people like you have been through something similar and thrived.

  • Heather
    Posted at 22:53h, 06 March Reply

    Hope you and Andrew are having the MOST AMAZING time!!!
    We miss you at work – everyone is asking about you.

    • Amy
      Posted at 07:10h, 07 March Reply

      Awww – thanks Heather! I miss you guys too, hope everything is ok at work with the new boss 🙂 We are having an amazing time so far, just got back from a boat cruize in the Bay of Islands; we did some fishing, night kayaking and snorkling – we’ll be posting about it later this week.

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