How to Fund Quitting Your Job
Living a Limited Lifestyle
Travel takes money, but not more than any other lifestyle, if you’re willing to trade A for B. So what do you really value? Do you value a big home, nice car, fancy smartphone? If you do, then quitting your job isn’t really a possibility. If you value freedom then you’re more willing to walk away from your luxury lifestyle items and live a more paired-down existence.
Some independently wealthy people will be able to have both, but if you’re part of the other 99% you’ll likely have to make an opportunity cost decision on which you value more: things or freedom.
There are some very authoritative sources out there discussing the financial benefits of a limited lifestyle. Check out Early Retirement Extreme, for one option on working hard, living minimally and retiring early. This isn’t my favorite approach because it necessitates you working hard through your youth instead of exploring while your joints will comply, but it is a great way to start if you need to build slowly.
Teaching English Abroad
A lot of Cube Abandoners we’ve met left their lifestyle back home to travel, and they fund that adventure by teaching English abroad. This is a great way to make money, learn a new culture, get integrated into the community and make a positive impact. You can read more about our experiences teaching ESL, or do some online research for the region you’re interested in. Salaries are not great, but they will fund your longer-term escapes. I made around $600 a month in Beijing in 2006, but the school also provided an apartment. At the time I felt I was living like royalty, putting all my money to traveling in and around the capital, food, and fun experiences.
We met people in China from all walks of life. One man was a former marketing executive who wanted nothing to do with business and just wanted to play his guitar and teach people English. He was a great teacher, and a real Cube Abandoning inspiration. Another woman had recently divorced, moved to China and was teaching to regain her confidence, reintegrate into society and build a new life for herself that included helping others, being a positive influence to people and inspiring Chinese students.
A lot of people get their start in international living with study abroad programs. These are great ways to expand your mind, learn about a new culture and get some credit for it. For first-time travelers it’s also safer than just jumping into the English teaching game. My first experience alone overseas was with a delegation from my university. I lived with a local host family, ate local food, taught at the local school and used local transportation. In short, I was a local. And I was able to do all this because the schools organized it for me, and, in my case, paid for it.
The Peace Corps isn’t something to go into just to travel, but one of the great perks is that you really get to live like a local where you are assigned, and you learn the language. Plus, you’ll be relatively protected because of your affiliation with the organization. We met Peace Corps folks around the world who were in love with their assigned communities. They were passionate, personable people who wanted to experience a lifestyle away from florescent lighting and TPS reports. For that matter, the people in AmeriCorps are experiencing immersive travel without leaving the US and making a real difference in communities that need help, right at home.
Marketable, Mobile Skills:
A lot of great writers out there live off the pen, and if you have another marketable skill that doesn’t require you to be tethered to a cubicle then that option is available if you’re also willing to live minimally. You can work from the road and make enough to live off of. I lived for several years on $500 a month that I made writing. I lived in hostels, in my tent, and I backpacked a lot, spending my money only on transportation and food. I lived out of a backpack, and didn’t need anything to validate my existence. Some opportunity costs were that I took risks in terms of having no health coverage, no postal address, no resume-building experiences. But I was happy to trade those while I could to travel. Now I have a decent portfolio and can get freelance work easier than when I first started out, writing things that weren’t exactly fun.
We’ve met people who were travel photographers, photojournalists, journalists, SEO consultants, general Asia consultants, professional house sitters and even travel consultants and booking agents. Whatever your niche, excel in it and you’ll be able to fund a life on the road.
We volunteered via the 2010 Mongol Rally to raise money for Mercy Corps. You can read more about our adventures in the blog, but the highlight here is that you can fund experiences by tethering them to charities and that way your travel brings with it the value of actually helping other people. It makes the experience more enjoyable to know that every step you take helps others.