Celebrating One Year Without a *Real* Job

My last day as a travel publicist in NYC was exactly one year ago today. A YEAR! Already! (I’m toasting the milestone in London with my brother and a horde of friends I’ve met around the world while traveling this year. So much better than a board meeting and entering my billable hours into SAP!)

When I was home in September watching TV with my little sister, I suddenly had a moment where I earnestly exclaimed, “I am almost 30 and I don’t even have a job! I quit my job! Holy crap. Who does that?!” My sister just looked at me incredulously… after all, I’d been unemployed by my own design for nearly 10 months at that point. I suppose as I began to near the end of my originally forecast journey, the idea that I’d given up a great job in search of adventures finally dawned on me as something a little out of the ordinary. But was it worth it?

It’s no secret — I loved my job. Loved my agency. My colleagues. My clients. I had very few complaints about my work life, so I wasn’t one of those people who was excited to tell the boss I was leaving and storm out in a defiant huff. It was brutal. Packing up my 17 pairs of under-the-desk shoes and walking out of my office on Dec. 2, 2010, was more sad than triumphant.

But ultimately I wanted more and I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I took on the world by myself.

So… was it worth it?

A thousand times yes! I’ve visited 13 countries and made unforgettable memories and precious friends. Adventures found me. Opportunities popped up. Sharks tried to eat my face. I’ve watched my blog traffic grow bigger and bigger (thanks, y’all!) and gotten a better tan than I ever thought possible.

When I stop to take a breath and flip through the photos, I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude. I can’t believe I did it! I can’t believe it all happened – a lifetime worth of experience crammed into one year. Even with the unavoidable downsides of long term travel, I have to say quitting my *real* job to travel was the best idea I ever had.

After a year of funemployment and a big birthday under my belt, I confess don’t really feel much different. I’m still a bit of a perfectionist about some things, but I’ve really loosened the reins on my planning OCD. Quite often, I have no idea where I’m going next, or when, or even where I’m sleeping that night. I don’t even print out itineraries or flight confirmations anymore. Pre-RTW Angie would’ve required hospitalization without a packet… post-RTW Angie takes it in stride.

I like that I don’t have to wake up at any certain time anymore. I don’t have to commute to the office. Now, when I do work on freelance projects and Angie Away, it’s at cafes, hotel rooms and the occasional balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea. The only person my hourly rate goes to is me (well, and 10% to God) – not 75% to corporate overhead. (There are a few things I miss about office life. I’ll get to those later!)

One thing I’ve learned this year is that it’s not the work part of working that doesn’t work for me. I still put in 30-40 hours a week if not more, and for far less money. But now I work for me, on my terms, on my schedule and nowhere near a cubicle. My money goes in my pocket. And even though it’s not nearly on par with my old paycheck, now I know how little it takes to live this nomadic life, so it doesn’t even matter.

I’ve also learned, after some trial and error, that everything will work itself out. There’s no need to get anxious about finding a place to stay or coordinating a tour or making friends or making money. If I need something, I usually just pray about it and boom! An answer or solution presents itself. Every time. I just have to be willing to wait for the right answer.

So what’s next?

Initially I planned to have a proper career break – travel for a year and then pick a city, find another PR agency job and get back to business. But even with the downsides of a nomadic lifestyle, it still beats living in a cubicle, eating lunch at my desk, fluorescent lighting and making heaps of money for other people.

Turns out, my career break wasn’t a break at all. My progress in the travel industry has continued despite not having a *real* job, and now, instead of going back to the same old, same old, I’ll be calling the shots and working on my own public relations, social media and writing projects. At least for the foreseeable future.

If you’re thinking about taking some time off work to travel, all I can say is WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Save the money and just go!

Have you ever thought about quitting your job and traveling? What’s stopping you?

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About Angie Away

Angie Orth is Angie Away, a globe-trekking communications specialist and entrepreneur. In 2010, she left a successful career as a travel publicist in NYC for the unpredictable life of a freelancing digital nomad. She’s passionate about travel, the Florida Gators, Shark Week, trying everything at least once and storytelling here at http://www.angieaway.com.