Wander world. What is that? Where is it and how do we get there? It sounds expensive. (But it’s not!) It’s a place for the brave hearted and the strong willed. The curious wanderers and lustful nomads drawing people from all over the world, all around the world. A community of wanderous wandering world travelers awaits at any destination you may have, and you will be welcomed with open arms.
I have dreamt of this place my whole life. I knew there had to be a way out of societal norms and into a world I could wander and discover as a whole. I had always wanted to take a year (at least!) to go travel the world but could never seen to find the guts to do it. It all seemed a pipe dream without any real merit. It was a very difficult decision for me to leave everything behind and follow my dream, but once I did, my entire world turned right side up and I became happier than ever. Just a month ago I made this happen for myself and I would love to share the steps I took to get there (here).
If leaving your 9-5 job and traveling the world is your dream, there are some things I recommend you do prior to your departure. Since I left, countless messages have come in from people asking how I did this, so here you go wondering wanderers!
- Lean in. Make the decision and commit to it! You will feel it in your gut the second you make the call. Does it feel right to you? Of course it does! You have dreamt of this your whole life, and here it is right in front of you: the opportunity to go see the world. (Fun fact: that opportunity has always been there, you’re just now seeing it, which means you are already on your way and growing!) Get out of your little box and think bigger! When your decision is made and you fully lean into it, you start to realize absolutely nothing in the world could keep you from this path you’re about to embark on. A truly beautiful feeling that will carry you through the process of making the dream a reality. Once I knew I was going to make my dream happen for real, I felt more at peace with myself than I ever had before, and then I knew with absolute certainty I was making the right decision.
- Budget your money, honey. Save, raise or earn adequate funds. You don’t need as much as you think you do, but you DO need enough to get there and stay for a while, wherever that may be for you. Do your financial research. Learn how to travel on $50 per day. You may change your travel plans at this point to accommodate your budget. For example, if you are on a very tight budget, consider going to a place like Thailand where it is very inexpensive.
- Network, network, network! This will help you more than I can even express. Joining travel groups online through social media is an excellent tool to connect with likeminded travelers like yourself, find inspiration and gain knowledge.
- Lighten up! Start getting rid of things. Once one thing goes, I swear your become addicted. By eliminating clutter from your home and your life, you start to imagine your life as a minimalist and suddenly it dawns on you: YOU DO NOT NEED ALL THAT CRAP. You are trying to be a world traveler after all, and to travel effectively means to travel light.
- Movin’ on and out! End your lease (if you have one). I had to break my lease and pay a fee of $1800 (which I do not recommend as it forces unnecessary spending). Be smarter than me and time your trip around when your lease is up or find someone to take over your lease for you. Don’t have a lease? Even better! Give your landlord and room mates (if you have them) a generous 30-60 day notice. You never want to burn bridges you may need to cross later on. Plan and manage a smooth exit.
- Put your money where your mouth is! Most people say the best time to book a flight is about six weeks out. Use websites like Skyscanner to book your flight to your dream destination where you will begin your backpacking journey. I used Skyscanner and saved hundreds booking my flight to Spain. One-way tickets can be more expensive than roundtrip so stay patient and shop around for the best deal.
- D-Day! Quit your job. How many times have you said you wanted to do that? Depending on who you are and what you do, this could be extremely difficult or quick and painless for you. For me, it was difficult. I had a great job that provided all the comforts I could have ever wanted and I had a great team to work with. While it was hard, I knew all the while that my true connections with the people at work would last and that if I ever came back we could find a way to work together again.
- Sleeping Beauty, where will you sleep? Book your accommodations for at least the first 5 nights. Depending on how much you plan to move around, you will want to stay at a hostel or rent out an AirBNB for your first leg of travel. Use sites like Hostel World, AirBNB, and Couch Surfer to find a place to sleep without paying hotel prices. Tip: Hostel World has an app you can download on your phone that will keep your credit card on file and make it extremely easy to book a hostel on the go. I always stick to hostels with a 90% rating or higher and make sure they are in the right area of the city you’re visiting. Hostels are a great way to connect with other world wanderers and can help you get acclimated to the city quickly. They offer free walking tours daily and have someone at the front desk to help 24 hours a day. I highly recommend staying in a hostel, at least for the first portion of your travels.
- Pack it on up. Have you gotten rid of everything yet? Did you find storage for items you could not get rid of? Ie. Family heirlooms, etc. My friends and family really came in handy for this step. My parents garage is holding a few boxes and my friends are “babysitting,” if you will, some of the other items. Everything I needed beyond that would have to fit in my backpack. I have the Ariel 70 backpack from REI and it holds everything I need. Practice packing and unpacking several times until it feels natural to you and you know where everything is.
- Bye Bye Birdie! Say your goodbyes to your friends and family, put on that backpack, and hit the road! This was the best (and worst) part for me. Everything seemed surreal until all I had was my backpack at the airport about to board the plane. You will feel anxious, excited, relieved, light, and heavy all at the time; but do you know what all of that emotion and feeling is? A sign that you are ALIVE! You are finally really living and headed in the direction of your dreams. You are about to embark on a journey that will likely be the best experience of your life and that is worth a hundred trivial steps. To travel and wander the world is to be free; and to be free is EVERYTHING. Fly away to your wander world and be free little birdie. You’re going to be great.