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I’m Leaving My Job To Travel

Posted on | August 2, 2010 | 9 Comments

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Since our recent dinner-time conversation where CAM berated us for being irresponsible parents for abandoning our jobs in order to go travel for a year, I’ve been thinking about the reasons behind my confidence in making this choice now. CAM is right, it is a little crazy to leave a well-paying job in the middle of a recession but I argue that taking a trip like ours is never a financially prudent decision and there are other reasons why now is a good time for us to leave.

Our children are the perfect ages for family world travel. We first considered the idea of taking a year to travel in 2001 but with a new baby and a kindergartener who struggled with change, we parked our plans. In 2007, when CAM was coming to the end of 5th grade, we discussed the trip again with our kids. BigB’s response was to run to get his toothbrush. CAM flat out refused to even consider the idea. Just a year later we started talking about 2010 as our proposed departure date. Never enthusiastic, CAM resigned himself to the mercy of his crazy parents and at least entertained the idea as a thought experiment.

Even at this point, we could have kept on talking and never actually taken the trip if it were not for two things. Firstly, a friend of mine here in Seattle took five months and traveled in South East Asia with her husband and two boys who were just a little older than my boys – and they had a fantastic time. Secondly, the recession brought us some financial turmoil, enough for me to think, “OK fine, I’m going to have to re-build my retirement savings anyway, why not take a break and then start saving again when we get back?”

But neither of these reasons would make someone comfortable with the risk of leaving a job and perhaps having difficulty finding another one in a year’s time. That confidence – if it is confidence, not hubris, only time will tell – comes from the career experiences I’ve had over the past 19 years working in technology.

This will be the fourth time I’ve resigned a position without having another job to go to. The first time, when we moved from Dublin to the U.S. I was way too excited at the prospect of moving to a new country to worry about something as minor as work – at least for the first couple of weeks. And once we started looking for work, we were gainfully employed within days. I left work again when CAM was born, finding a new job just as quickly once I realized that I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. Similarly, I stayed at home for three years after BigB was born and my job search in that case amounted to a phone call to my previous employer. Who knows what the job market will be like when we return to Seattle, but I’m pretty bullish on my employment prospects. (You can check my LinkedIn profile if you think I’m making this up.)

There’s a general point here relating to working in technology and how the business of building software is new enough to have counter-culture tendancies such as being more tolerant of people taking a break from work now and then than other industries. There is a price for this, as anyone who has worked on shipping a software product or who has supported software systems will tell you: long hours are expected, no required when you’re in the middle of a project. But this is a true ‘work hard, play hard’ world and I’m glad that I can take advantage of it.

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Comments

9 Responses to “I’m Leaving My Job To Travel”

  1. Taylor
    August 3rd, 2010 @ 8:26 am

    That’s so awesome! You have some experience doing it, so obviously you’ll be fine. Can’t wait to read about the coming adventures with kids!

  2. Randy @thelollipoproad
    August 3rd, 2010 @ 8:39 am

    It takes a lot of courage to take the plunge…congratulations! There is more to life than a 9 to 5 job – family is important. Traveling the world is an experience your kids will never forget and it will impact them in many ways…forever.

  3. J. Is a Bird
    August 3rd, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    Diversity of experience is popular with employers too. I’d much rather hire someone who has traveled than someone who has never been 50 miles from where they were born.

    I have worked in a very conservative field and I can’t tell you how many times my travel experience has come in handy for my clients.

    Cheers!
    J.

  4. Molly Hyde-Caroom
    August 3rd, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Hello! I have found your blog because some day we would like to follow in your footsteps! I loved that your son “berated” you for being irresponsible!
    We lived in Japan for 3 years and we are currently living in Germany. My oldest son was 16-19 years old when we lived in Japan and it was life changing for him! He has a sense of the world unlike some of the people he knows. My other kids are much younger (one was born in Japan) but I hope this will have an influence on how they view the world for life.
    With our trip still in the dreaming/planning stages I can understand your feelings! But, I think you are giving your children such an education by exposing them to this whole wonderful world. I believe it gives a person a healthy perspective of life. You are choosing to share time and memories with your children that will influence them for life. You are investing in your relationships with your family and you are building a resume entry! There is so much more in life than just working! I agree with J, I would rather hire someone with travels on their resume then having not ever gone anywhere!
    Please go with confidence and have the time of your life (lives). And, please, keep us up to date with your blog, you are my inspiration!
    Molly
    PS if you find yourself in Germany please let me know!

  5. Colleen at Travel Mamas
    August 4th, 2010 @ 9:34 am

    How exciting! I hope to someday be able to do the same with my brood!

  6. Victoria
    August 5th, 2010 @ 7:21 am

    We have less than three months now before we leave. We’ve been through all of the same conversations as you and keep coming back to one thing: life is short, you never know what’s in store, so live it now, don’t wait. I’m excited for you!

  7. David
    August 5th, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

    One word: totally cool.

    Great route too!

  8. Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-07
    August 7th, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    [...] to @wandermom for taking the plunge. http://wandermom.com/around-world-trip/im-leaving-my-job-to-travel/ [...]

  9. Peyman
    August 10th, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    Fantastic and inspirational! I’m looking forward to reading your dispatches from the road. :-)

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