How a 9-5 Cubicle Dweller Like Me Travels the World . . . and Why

How a 9-5 Cubicle Dweller Like Me Travels the World . . . and Why

Throughout the overwhelming number of travel blogs out there, how many times have we all heard the spiel, “I quit my job to travel indefinitely around the world”? Too many to count. That is truly great for those who have taken the plunge and realized that is the way they want to see the world. But the blogs of those who wrote these statements would haunt and tease me endlessly in that they convinced me I wasn’t living life the best I could when my biggest passion in the world is travel. I truly thought that I wasn’t doing my life any justice by sitting back in a 9-5 cubicle dwelling job. I couldn’t stop the battle inside my head and it led me to write the most depressing post I’ve ever written. (Remember that one? I’d hyperlink it for you to read but I have since deleted it because I hated how negative I came across). I kept comparing myself to others. I thought I had to make an ultimatum between work/home life, or travel. 

For the past five years now I have always made travel a priority in my life. It’s not just something I enjoy doing, it’s who I am. It’s a part of me that I really don’t wish to sacrifice, and I almost had forgotten that. For the first time ever I had been second guessing myself, wondering if it was time to stop traveling, just because. I even took a hiatus from my dear blog! (As my Irish-living in-Latvia friend Linda pointed out the other day).

I refuse to give in to any judgment when I announce that I am jetting off on an adventure again. People do this because they actually think that there is a right way and a wrong way to live life: people should settle down and have a family, invest in a home, and do what everyone else is doing. Life really is what you make it, and I’m not going to stop doing what I truly love now, after all these years and after all these wonderful experiences I have gained and wish to continue gaining. This is my life. This is my money. There is a part of me that will always be independent, whether I am in a committed relationship, engaged, or married. That is how I was raised and it is a quality I value greatly. Traveling ignites a fire in me that feeds me more life, more inspiration, and more passion than anything else I know.

I have put so much thought into each of my trips it is immeasurable. I have put the research in. I know where I’m going. I have budgeted. I don’t need to hear any warnings about danger, cost, or unfamiliar culture. Trust me that I know what I’m doing at this point.

Finally, after months of being convinced I was trapped while comparing myself to others, I realized that what I’m doing now is what works best for me all along. In the grand scheme of things – what’s traveling once a year? Nothing. I go, travel my heart out, and come back. Then I return to my cubicle working away, daydreaming about my next adventure.

And that, is really how simple it all can be.

I plan on will be visiting Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia this February. I’m done with the back and forth of “Should I?” “Could I?” “Will I?”  When have I ever had such a difficult time making my travel plans set in stone? Well, I’m at a different place in my life now. I’m no longer a student simply wishing to make my summers off count. Now I am in a very committed relationship, trying to build a career, with many personal events haven taken place simultaneously, so that is probably where most of my reluctance had been stemming from.

Most of who I am is built off the experience of travel and the love I have for it. Closing the door on travel, even if it were temporary, would bear an adverse affect on me.

The people who know me best understand and accept that.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett

peru

Cobblestone streets of Cusco, Peru

Author

My passion for capturing memories through the lens of my camera, my love for food and the joy I find in reflecting on my travel memories using a pen and paper results in a series of blog entries filled with warmth, pure happiness and inspiration. I hope to share a little bit of myself and my adventure of life with you.

86 comments

  • I remember the depressing post/ reality check. Glad you have plans to travel again & that those around you accept your love and passion to travel. Bon voyage et Joyeux Noel.

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  • (Some random, ambling thoughts) You go girl! So many of these supposed ‘travel bloggers’ are lonely dreamers, living hand to mouth and trying to make the best of it ‘on the road’. When they return to their underfurnished, swag and promo filled batchelor apartments, it is always with a chipper resolve that the are somehow ‘living the dream’ The same with the supposed ‘Foodie’ Bloggers: making and eating one more jazzed up version of Mac ‘n Cheese sure isn’t how I want to live my life. I left my 19 year job, big house and BMW in 2003 to travel around the world for a year, which inspired me to set up the website followsummer.me. I discovered a true passion for writing and a keen interest in experential travel writing in particular. I was quickly re-employed when I returned in 2005, allowing me 6 weeks of PAID vacation where I can dream and travel where I want to go. Oh and did I mention that I am getting paid AND sponsored for those trips by the local Tourism Boards for coverage on my blog?
    Let the Nay Sayers be Slayed!
    You GO Girl!
    Travel Well!

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  • Thank you for this post! I often get crazy looks and questions of, ‘but why would you want to do that,’ or comments like ‘but it’s so expensive’ thrown at me when I talk about all of my past and future traveling. I’ve also started feeling self-conscious about all of my traveling (even though I have saved and budgeted and am so proud of what I’ve accomplished) because no one else I know has the desire or the money to travel. I’m currently attempting to ‘grow up’ and focus less on traveling (mainly because my husband is not too much of a traveler and can be a naysayer when I bring traveling up), but I still have that itch to experience everything, but still maintain a happy home/work life. This post definitely makes me feel better about everything, and that it’s not only me that has struggled with these situations! Thank you! Have a blast in Southeast Asia! (I’m super jealous, especially since my husband and I were supposed to go to Cambodia in January, but it got shot down because ‘it was expensive and we need to save for later.’ Sigh. Still a bit bitter about that one.

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    • Hi there! Don’t feel self-conscious about what anyone else thinks about your traveling! It’s your life, your passion, your accomplishment. I hope you get to travel soon since I can tell it is part of who you are :)

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  • Hi there – thanks for popping by and liking a pic on my blog – I followed the breadcrumb trail back to yours – love the dancing guy statement – makes me want to get up and join him :) Happy new year Polianthus

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  • I always tell people “You just ATE your trip”!…they think nothing of spending $3 for a cup of coffee and $15 per day for lunch and then wonder why they can’t “afford” a nice trip…’cause they eat that trip everyday, instead of saving some $$$ and using it to create memories…instead of just indigestion! LOL! Keep on traveling!

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  • Great post. I really believe you should follow you heart however difficult that may be to others. The way travel enriches you is priceless. Enjoy south East Asia!

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  • I travelled extensively around SE Asia – amongst other places – and it was something I’ll never forget. But regarding your hesitancy about travelling whilst into a committed relationship, don’t always let these things stand in your way, if they are meant to be, they are meant to be. I got into a committed relationship back in 2004, but I also had my heart set on a backpacking trip through Central America too. On the one hand I had found someone I really wanted to be with, on the other I really needed to fulfil my curiosity and travel to a place I hadn’t visited before. I decided to go, had the best time ever and my then girlfriend still loves the fact I went and followed my passion. She is now my wife, we have two children and have been married since 2008. A relationship should never get in the way of each other’s dreams, ambitions and passions. Hope this helps.

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  • Traveling is both healthy and spiritual. Personally, I will never see enough of the good old USA to take time to see the rest of the world. (I have seen about 18 states or so and part of Canada). I love to do my “world travel” virtually. Been to the louvre –beautiful, and been to so many countries that way. Smiles, and I have no desire to see the other countries any other way. I’m pretty convinced that almost anything that I can see overseas is probably right here in the USA, if we look long and hard enough. There is carhenge … in the USA rather than Stonehenge overseas. This works for me. Nice entry you have here. Good luck on all your travels wherever you decided to go next.

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  • Reblogged this on Wanderlust: A Hobbit's Tale and commented:
    The very first travel blog I ended up loving before I set off on my journey of self-discovery… ends up being the same blog I go to for comfort.
    And I’ve realize I relate on SO many different levels.
    Thank you, Alli, for being positive reinforcement to others like myself who are more of the “travel planners” rather than the “I quit my job to travel the world” type. <3

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  • Good for you! I’ve just come back from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Laos is an unexpected surprise, really loved it there. Make sure you buy a bracelet from Inger on Pub Street when you get to Siem Reap, she’s the best little girl you’ll find!

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  • Best post I have read on any travel blog so far. I too do the 9-5 game with an extended holiday once a year. Always thought I wanted to be a permanent nomad but realized I am perfectly happy doing what I do so why would I need to give it all up.
    Cheers,

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  • What a lovely read! Follow your heart girl :) and you will love Thailand I can promise you. Careful, once you are caught in thailands grasp it’s hard to leave! Look forward to reading about it!

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  • Good point. Even if you’re in a 9-5 job, you can still take the time to travel…it’s all about finding the priorities that are right for you. SE Asia is beautiful, I hope you have an amazing trip.

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  • I couldn’t agree more with you! One life we have and should live it how it makes us happy and not by how society thinks is best. Traveling is an incredible experience and uncomparable to a 9-5 job. Good luck on your trip. I’ve been to Thailand and Cambodia few weeks ago, it was quite an experience. Be happy and healthy, have a great time!

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  • Oh my! I related to this post so much, especially when you talk about people judging you for not living a “normal” life as defined by society, i.e. working on a steady job, getting married and having a family etc. Moving around so much I have had the opportunity to build a career and not only travel as a tourist, but immerse myself in new cultures. I think you can definitely travel and have career, family etc – if that’s what you want. I have a life that people frown upon, admire or envy. In the end, we will always be judged and ultimately, we need to be happy with the decisions we make. Thanks for this, very insightful and inspiring. Happy Travels!

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    • Hi Ale, I couldn’t agree more. I’m glad you can find yourself relating to my words . . . it has really helped to learn that there are so many others out there that feel the exact same way regarding this as me :)

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  • Totally appreciate what you are saying!! We were in exactly the same boat when we started blogging publicly but then the more we thought about it – we realised that full-time travel is not for us, at least not now. We wrote a post about how we couldn’t do it as we would miss our families and our home too much! So at the moment, the working and travelling full-time suits us :) we get to do what we love (I.e. Travel) yet not have to quit our current lives which we love too!

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    • Why thank you! I feel like it is a predicament that most travel bloggers find themselves in at some point or another by the sounds of it. I’m just learning how to balance travel and work/home life as well. I love them both too much to weigh one out completely.

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  • Totally agree with this. Each time I return from my trip, I’m off planning for my next one. My friends have stopped asking me whether I’m traveling and instead just ask me where to now…haha…awesome post and blog…:)

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  • so glad to have come across your blog, especially interested in your tips on chicago which i am going to in a few weeks. your shots of NZ, queens town, doubtful sound and beyond brought back great memories, too. have fun in asia!

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  • I couldn’t agree with you more Alli. I have been traveling for many years and still when I am home and start reading other blogs I get all revved up and need to get out there again. Being on the road and experiencing life while traveling is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world. I love your outlook and look forward as always to reading your posts. Tim

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    • Tim thank you so much for your very kind words! I agree with you in that traveling to new places is incredibly exhilarating. I think I’m just learning the perfect balance between travel and work/home life, without getting too overwhelmed.

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  • I very much relate to this! I have been doing the back and forth for awhile and I’m finally taking the plunge–I’ll be taking off for Europe in a few months. Good for you for following your traveling dreams.

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  • When I started blogging I felt guilty that I was starting a blog but not travelling full-time – silly I know. There are so many people out there that do travel full-time that I almost felt like I should be but then I considered what was important to me and I realised that I still waited my home – the place that I have spent years working for. I am not saying that I don’t enjoy travelling – I whole-heartedly agree with everything you have said – the bug is not just about taking the trips it is the build up and the planning that takes place beforehand as well – I love travelling it is who I am but I don’t think you have to sacrifice the other parts of you in order to get it. Would I like to travel full-time – potentially one day! But, ultimately I would still wait a base, somewhere I could call home! :)

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    • In the world of blogging it really is so easy to compare yourself to others. I agree with you in that the travel bug is also about the planning and the excitement leading up to a trip. Like you, I also need a home to come back to.

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  • Honesty is so refreshing! I’m happy to hear you say that you are happy with what works for you. That should be what everyone should be striving for! Whether it’s traveling the world, being dedicated to your dream job, or settling down (or any combination of these)- do what feels right to you! :)

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  • Hope you enjoy your adventure in Asia. Thailand is one of my favorite countries! People are so focused on judging other’s decisions. I am happy just to hear that people are traveling whether it’s their yearly 10 day vacation or on a around the world trip! Great to have these discussions.

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  • As a new blogger, I have been struggling with this very same issue. I see so many that have quit their jobs to travel and wonder if i could/should do it too. I have a good job though. And I’m in a good relationship and love where I live. But sometimes I feel like I’m wasting precious time by sitting behind my desk. At the end of the day though, I am able to travel. And that’s what’s important. Maybe one day I’ll be able to take the plunge, just not yet.

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  • Well said…and it is refreshing to hear from someone who works a regular job as well as travels. You are working hard. There is no reason why you shouldn’t do what you want. If you don’t travel, believe me, there will be people asking you why you don’t travel, how you are missing out on something great etc.

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  • Very well said – I totally agree, there is no right or wrong way to travel, and I think the current onslaught of “quit your job to travel the world’ really over glamorizes and over glorifies it. Because it’s really not the lifestyle for everyone, and there are plenty of ways you can make travel work while maintaining your career, and not having to sell everything you own. Thankyou for spreading the message that the right way to travel is what works for YOU – and congrats on finding your balance :)

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