Why I HAVEN’T Quit my Job to Travel the World Full-Time

By Abi King | Inspire Me

Aug 30

Today’s guest post is by Lillie Marshall.  She  is an energetic, six-foot tall Boston Teacher who runs AroundTheWorldL Travel Blog and TeachingTraveling Global Education Site. She is also the Boston coordinator for the Meet, Plan, Go! Career-Break Travel Movement.  She took a year off in 2009 to travel the world, but unlike a lot of travel bloggers she returned to her chosen profession.

“So Lillie,” you might ask, “now that you know how to do extended travel cheaply, why the heck did you go back to teaching in Boston? Why didn’t you just keep traveling full time?”

Here’s why:

One CAN have too much of a good thing.
“Steak, steak, steak–” said my Grandmother once, “If you eat steak every day, it becomes dull and you don’t appreciate it.” It’s the way of humanity! I LOVED my year of travel around the world, but now I luxuriate in having a home base and taking frequent shorter trips. Which leads to the fact that…

With a full-time teaching job, one can still travel a ton.
If you connect with the right job, you don’t have to give up the world! During the 2011-12 year of teaching, I traveled to Spain for Winter Break, China with a group of students during February vacation, Greece with a teacher tour during April vacation, and Belize for my Honeymoon over summer break. Three of those trips were FREE thanks to teacher grants and programs. If you’re torn between a career and travel, you can actually just have it ALL by being a teacher!

Contribution to the world.
Researchers have repeatedly shown that helping others brings huge happiness to humans. I learned this in month five of my around the world journey while sitting alone on a beach in Thailand and realizing: I really missed working! We complain about it, but there’s something delicious about waking up every weekday and helping people in a structured way (versus spending five months gallivanting around Southeast Asia with little aim except to gallivant, as I’d been doing). As a result of that epiphany, I flew to Ghana and volunteer taught there for a fabulous three months. And after traveling, returning to my teaching job in Boston Public Schools was even more wonderful. A volunteer job is lovely, but to have a paid, long-term position in a helping career truly is an honor.

Family and Future Planning.
The plan was that I would keep traveling for years and years. The next stop after a quick hello to family in Boston after my year away was to be Bolivia, where a nonprofit had offered an alluring job. But I tell you: the moment I re-saw my family and friends at home, I thought: “I don’t need to be away from these great people for another year.” Then at my welcome home party I met the fellow who is now my husband! He’s also a teacher, so together we created a nest from which we can soar around the world during our vacations.

So are you saying extended travel is a bad idea?
No! Traveling around the world for a year was one of the best things I have done in my entire life, and I recommend it to ANYONE. Extended travel helped my career and life path more than I ever imagined it would. But do I need to continue being a nomad for more than that year? Nope! My job in Boston, circle of loved ones, and the freedom my job allows to still travel are the right combination now for a well-balanced meal of life.

What about YOU? What combination of travel and staying in one place is YOUR ideal?


Katie August 30, 2012

Thank you for this – it’s exactly what I needed to read right now! I’m approaching the end of my 13-month career break and actually looking forward to getting back into a work routine and feeling “productive” but I feel like that puts me in the minority! Like you, the best, most fulfilling parts of my trip have been when I volunteered and got up every morning with a purpose and a knowledge that I was helping people.

Lillie - @WorldLillie August 30, 2012

I’m so glad it hit the spot, Katie! Being home after extended travel is great (though the first few months were a kooky adjustment). Another thing I forgot to put in the article: it’s so RELAXING to have a home base after living out of a backpack/suitcase for months on end. More on this here: http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2010/05/24/a-post-travel-drug-sort-of/

Enjoy your reentry and be in touch!

cuong August 30, 2012

Nice! I agree with you! We should not quit our job. Job not just earn money but also be permanent. We can travel when we under stress or have free time! And then come back us work and family! It’s a wonderful life!
I love your job! It gives you a lot of chance to travel!

Wynne August 31, 2012

I wonder now if 3 mos. will be long enough of a travel break (all I think I can afford at this point). It seems most take off at least a year. Either way, I’m excited!

    Lillie - @WorldLillie September 1, 2012

    Three months is absolutely a great amount of time to travel. Heck, it’s FAR more than most Americans ever do, and it’s the perfect amount of time for a rich, life-changing, and varied experience. As mentioned above, I’ve been taking a lot of 1-2 week voyages this year and still find them so powerful despite their length.

      Abi King October 15, 2012

      I’ve always found three months of solid travel to be just about right. I’ve never felt the need to move about for longer than that…

Angela September 3, 2012

I understand what you mean, Lillie, sometimes I, too, feel I want to settle, but then after a while I want to leave again, not sure if it’s identity crisis or just itchy feet.. And then I complain that I can’t stand still. So for now I’ve come up with a compromise, I keep traveling but I alternate longer periods at home, I’ve recently stayed a whole year in Sardinia, although interrupted by a couple of trips. I don’t really mind traveling often, but I would like to be based somewhere, just I’m still deciding where…

    Lillie - @WorldLillie September 3, 2012

    Sounds like you’re finding what works for you! Each person has a different combo of staying and traveling that works for them. It’s all good! :)

Camels & Chocolate September 7, 2012

Thank you, Lillie! I get so tired of the attitude I get from others I meet on the road for taking a “career path” (when, uh, my career actually is to travel!). I like being able to visit 20 or so countries a year, while also having a house, a husband, a dog and a base.

Mike September 8, 2012

You’re job is so amazing and fulfilling. However, it would be way better if you’re passion and enjoyment is there. Good thing that you go back to Boston. Hope everything is still great.

Jenna September 10, 2012

I like what Camels and Chocolate said above, that we can have a rewarding career and travel, too. I also get tired of hearing that having a job (and home) = being stuck in a cubicle that you should be released of. My work in education allows me to serve my community while also have a lot of time off that I can use to travel every year.

    Lillie - @WorldLillie September 10, 2012

    The more I hear about these “cubicle” jobs the more I love being a teacher :)

Runaway Brit November 10, 2012

Well said! Sometimes I feel really inadequate when I read all of these ‘quitting your job to travel’ or ‘earning your income online’ posts that are so common among travel bloggers. I feel that I am somehow not in the travel elite club because I spend most of my term-time weekends at home on my sofa watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother and grading papers.

But, I spend time developing friendships with people who are not always moving on, I spend time with my boyfriend and family. I have a sofa (something I REALLY miss when travelling), and enough clothes to match my shoes with my mood when I go out. I shower in my own bathroom, and use nice products – not whatever I can find in the local corner store.

And I get to spend 13 weeks travelling while still getting paid :-) Teaching is the best!!

Abi King December 5, 2012

Hm…Someone should gather these comments together and use them as a campaign for recruiting teachers! So glad to hear from people who are happy in their jobs.

Bijaya Ghimire December 25, 2012

When there is dream, it inspires. Really inspiring…

KHD January 3, 2013

Definitely good to get back to a base, recoup and appreciate everyday life…builds up a thirst for the next adventure!

    Abi King January 11, 2013

    Suits me!

Nathan May 29, 2013

Thanks for the great article. Travel creates a great sense of wonder and excitement. While sharing those thoughts through the written words can create a feeling of accomplishment, I’m sure that sharing them with the children that you are teaching feels even better.

    Abi King May 29, 2013

    That’s a good point…

Katka July 4, 2013

Woe, what an article! I actually dont know myself at the moment where I stand and what I want my future to be like, but I do agree that too much of steak is not the way to go … one appreciates more what he does not have, and he plans better for his travels. I personally cannot understand the people who just travel for the sake of showing that it is possible. Well … we all have some inclinations and dreams in life, and I wish I knew what mine were, but your article helps me sort the things out, thanks for that.

    Abi King July 10, 2013

    I think that sorting through the dreams we have in life is probably a lifelong pursuit! Good luck and enjoy it along the way!

bradzazzara August 14, 2013

Such a great post. I think everyone has to find the right balance and its different for everyone. Some people teach in a different country to fulfill both work and travel at the same time. I think it also varies greatly with age, as the younger you are the less likely you are starting to think about settling down. I enjoyed your article!

    Abi King August 14, 2013

    Yes, I certainly think your perspective changes as you have different people to consider in your life (both young and old!) We’re very lucky to have so many choices :-)

ChinaMatt September 13, 2013

I’m planning on traveling quite a bit for a year while working. Fortunately, my job can be done anywhere as long as I have a reliable internet connection (and as along as I’m online at specific hours). This also means I’ll rent apartments rather than stay in hotels and hostels.

Jessica March 3, 2014

Great post, I felt the same way after living in Europe for 6 years, I love to travel but I wanted to be closer to my family.

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