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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30 thoughts on “Celebrating One Year Without a *Real* Job”

  1. I love this post. I quit my job 4 months ago – not quite to do the RTW trip yet, but to spend time on my desire to explore my home country Indonesia, writing, and photography. I just came back from one month in Bali solo-backpacking, road-tripping all the way up to the east and north Bali in a car, and I loved it.

    I do aspire for RTW trip, but taking it on baby steps with local travels, just because I think Indonesia has so many places I would love to see.

    In any case, kudos to you – you are a great inspiration 🙂

    This post came through as I landed in Jakarta, and I can resonate with so many points you raised in this post.

  2. Congratulations on your year of funemployment!

    Yes, few people are lucky enough to find jobs they enjoy like you did. But FEWER people are lucky enough to know what they want out of life and are able to seize that!

    Can’t wait to read more about your travels Angie!

  3. Inspirational post. I’m preparing to quit my job in around 5/6 months. I’m terrified but know its necessary. Like you, I want to see the world and don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. I hope in a year’s time I’m as positive a your are 🙂

  4. Congrats on your 1 year anniversary, Angie!

    I left my job just over a month ago, leaving the country next month. I’m currently on a road trip in the US.

    I’m finding that the longer I’m away from home the more I realize that I don’t really need much to live happily as well. It’s definitely nice not having to wake up to an alarm clock and not be on someone else’s schedule, work on my own projects anytime and anywhere I want.

    I planned for a 1 to 1.5 year break but if I end up really liking this lifestyle hopefully I can find a way to keep doing it :).

    Thanks for posting this, it makes me feel better about my decision! 🙂

    Good luck on your projects!

  5. Fantastic post! Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. I’m in full support of everything you’ve shared and love to hear the stories of how it is working out. Keep up the great work!

  6. Happy 1 Year Anniversary!! Posts like this are such an inspiration!

    I own a restaurant, so i dont technically want to “quit”, but I have been diligently working in order to set it up to be run remotely. I’m up to being able to leave for 4 days in a row & feel somehwat comfortable. Whoo Hoo!
    RTW here I come 😉

    1. I think ultimately I’ll get to the point where I can travel a bit less but set things up where I can leave a few days like you said without worrying. Good luck making that happen for you!

  7. Hey Angie – Its been a long time but my, how far you’ve come from being a finalist for the Greatest Job in the World. Looks like you actually FOUND it through different paths. Good luck to continued success and stay happy and safe! Cheers!

  8. Oooh I hope your new PR endeavors mean we get to work together again! I mean, being friends is good enough for me (obviously), but as you know, you were always the BEST PR GIRL EVER and so awesome to travel/work with!

    1. You just never know! And thanks for the props… sometimes I do miss my PR days, especially now when I work with PR people who just can’t seem to respond to emails in a timely manner or who offer trips and then never follow up. Crossing fingers that I’ll see you soon… it’s bound to happen!

  9. Great blog, Angie! So inspiring! How did you financially support yourself throughout your trip if you weren’t employed? Would love some advice as I plan to take a RTW trip as well from a PR background. P.S. Go Gators!

    1. Hi Marissa – thanks for reading! During the first year, I spent what I’d saved during my entire 7 year PR career… which was somewhere around 20k. Now that I’m moving into my second year of travel, I’m working on a variety of projects to keep the party going – I’m consulting, selling ads on my site and continuing to freelance travel write when I find the time. If you have other questions I’m happy to help! Go Gators!

  10. LOVE this post! When my hubby and I decided to take an expat opportunity for three years, I had to quit a job that I absolutely loved. It has been about 11 months since I told my boss, and while I was so scared of being “jobless” I discovered so much about myself, what I love and the world outside of my cubical since we have been on this adventure.

  11. Hi Angie! I just came across your blog while reading your article about how you’d do things differently if you were to study abroad again. I’ll also be heading to Paris this fall, but for a full academic year, and am so excited to start traveling, as I dream of the kind of life you’re currently leading! I noticed you said that freelance work contributes to your income, which is something I’ve been researching lately. How did you score your first freelance jobs? I’ve worked for my college’s newspaper and plan to start a blog when I’m abroad, but I have no idea how to freelance so any tips would be great! I love to write and hope to pursue it as a career one day.

    1. Freelancing isn’t the easy road, and it barely pays the bills – BUT if you can stomach that, it can be fun. I basically networked my way into early assignments, and then it was easier to pitch magazines & newspapers once I had a bit of a portfolio built up. Definitely blog while you’re abroad – it’s a great way to document your trip, keep up-to-date on your writing skills and let everyone at home know how you’re doing. Just make it a priority to post often!

      You’ll have so much fun in Paris – eat a nutella crepe for me!

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