We’ve all read it a million times: “I quit my job to travel the world – you should too!”
While this sort of mindset is certainly a trending topic these days, I don’t think it’s something that should be taken lightly. Lots of people have “Eat, Pray, Love Syndrome” when they set their sights on traveling long-term, forgetting that life doesn’t just magically get better once they step off their home soil.
I know the feeling well.
I literally ran away to Korea totally unable (er, unwilling?) to face some of the realities of hardships back home. In all honesty, deciding to teach English abroad was easily one of the best decisions I could have possibly made. However, it hasn’t always been easy to adjust to the self-realization that culminated within this massive shift.
While I encourage everyone and anyone to follow their dreams, I’m still a realist at the end of the day. If you’re looking to read an inspirational yet unbalanced opinion, I’m sorry but I can’t be that person for you. With that said, I want to reiterate a few reasons why I think it’s important to take this “quit your job to travel the world” movement with a grain of salt.
- Traveling is not a Band-aid for your problems
There are a plethora of reasons to travel. I’ve even wrote a post about how traveling changed my life! It obviously cracks open one’s mind and heart and lets light and new culture into spaces that weren’t there before. Nothing compares to connecting with a stranger you meet while traveling or living in a new city; there’s certainly something to be said about being able to learn a thing or two about yourself along the way. However, something that people often forget is that you don’t just completely lose yourself on the road. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. You’re faced with some harsh truths and sometimes it’s not always a pleasant experience to look so deep within. At the end of the day, you can’t run away from your problems. If you’re someone who is afraid to encounter oneself in [what can sometimes feel like a] constant existential crisis, then I think you might want to consider just booking a longer vacation first.
- The grass isn’t always greener
There was a time in my life when I fantasized about being able to regularly travel rather than mindlessly type away at my writing job in Chicago. I scrolled through my Instagram feed and enviously clicked through photos of people relaxing on beaches in Thailand or endlessly exploring new countries. Now that I’m living this sort of lifestyle, I get the reverse fear-of-missing-out when I see my friends or family together and enjoying one another’s company. I’ve missed a lot of events since I decided to live abroad and while I wouldn’t trade any of these memories or experiences in, I definitely miss the ability to make new ones with my loved ones in America.
Moving abroad was pretty easy for me, though. I attended sleep away summer camp for several weeks each year between the ages of 7-15 (what up Camp Kon-O-Kwee) and my college alma mater in Chicago is 10 hours away from my hometown. With that said, If you’re someone who finds it difficult to spend long periods of time away from home, your belongings or any semblance of familiarity… you may want to reconsider selling all your personal items to travel the world.
- Traveling isn’t always as glamorous as it looks
Traveling can be really difficult, man! It forces people out of their comfort zones immediately and while exhilarating it can be absolutely exhausting as well. I tend to have some pretty bad travel luck. Like comically bad. My experiences include, but are not limited to:
- Crashing my motorbike in Vietnam about a minute away from a fork in the road with no idea where to go.
- Being abandoned in the Macau airport overnight because my flight just never showed up.
- Getting completely lost on my descent on Mt. Hallasan in Korea with nobody else around (one of the scariest situations of my life to date)
- My plane’s engine failing mid-air on my way to Tampa, Florida for Christmas in 2011.
These moments have certainly tested my patience and sanity but are also sort of hilariously tragic in hindsight.
The fact of the matter is these images or woes rarely make it to Instagram or Facebook. While I believe that’s partially due to the fact that sometimes people avoid honesty on their social media accounts, I think it’s mostly due to the fact that not everyone wants to read that far into the story. If you’re someone who isn’t sure whether you have enough patience to quietly go back to sleep after a loud British gap year drunkard turns on the light in your hostel at 4 a.m. to SNAPCHAT PICTURES OF HIS YOU KNOW WHAT*, then I suggest you think twice about leaving the comforts of home behind.
*This is obviously not a common occurrence but…it does happen!
Don’t quit your job to travel the world
Unless you want to, that is. The wonderful moments obviously outweigh the bad when it comes to traveling, but it’s important to keep an open mind about the fact that traveling is not some majestical cloud that people on Instagram are floating upon. It’s just life on the go.
If you’re unsure about whether you’d like to quit your job to travel the world, I think it’s best to explore your options. The global economy is pretty terrible and if you’re a young American, the chances are pretty high that you have debilitating student loans to pay off. If that’s the case, then teaching English in South Korea is an excellent alternative. You will be able to save money while immersing yourself in a new culture and still have means to travel the world.
Before I came to Korea I did lots of research on which company offered the best TEFL package so I could properly teach English as a second language. I think The International TEFL Academy is the best there is for a multitude of reasons. The state-of-the-art curriculum has been externally monitored and approved for accreditation by TQUK, an officially recognized Awarding Organization that is recognized and regulated by Ofqual, the British Government body responsible for monitoring and maintaining educational standards in the United Kingdom.
If you’re wondering why the accreditation is related to UK-based learning, the US government has little to no regulations of the English or TEFL markets, which is why the International TEFL Academy, or ITA, is an excellent source. The certification not only has the widest global acceptance, but the staff provide a guaranteed lifetime of assistance. The alumni program is second to none and the student affairs team is dedicated to providing quick and efficient assistance when needed.
ITA offers two types of courses: online and an in-person practicum. Both are extremely helpful and designed to work around peoples’ various lifestyles and situations.
If you have any questions, about my experience, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via my Contact Me page. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere! Just remember: lead with your heart, but take your brain with you.
This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to sign up with the International TEFL Academy through the links provided above, not only do you get a discounted course, but I’ll get a bit of cash as well – everyone wins! Although the links provide me a bit of commission, please know that I genuinely recommend this TEFL program and am willing to answer any questions you may have.
This piece has also been featured on The Huffington Post.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!