The secret’s out! Our 2016 travel plans

In all the years I’ve been traveling, I’ve never done that thing where I quit a steady job, sell my stuff, and hit the road.

So now’s the time.

Yesterday, Jared and I both handed in our notices. For the next six weeks we’ll focus on selling our furniture and renting out the house; in June we are leaving Newcastle. This move has been under wraps for months so I’m excited that I can FINALLY write about it.

For the next year (maybe longer) we’ll be road tripping around Australia.

In January we bought a 1997 Nissan Patrol, a vehicle that has already lapped Australia twice. Apparently it’s ‘hard to kill’ the engine of these things so let’s hope we aren’t the first to manage it. This means I will also have to learn to drive a manual, something I have an irrational fear of doing.

Parkes dish
The car on its first practice run out to Parkes.

It’s got a rooftop tent, a free-standing tent, a fridge, a second battery, an air compressor to pump up its own tires, and a whole host of other bits and bobs that I have yet to get my head around. The point is, it drives, and it’s going to take us on a self-guided tour of this beautiful country.

We’ll have to stop and work along the way; you can expect much more action on this blog as I’ll be returning to the world of freelance writing. There may be fruit picking and temp work: yet again a lateral movement throwback to what I’ve done in the past. There’s no set itinerary, but for starters we’re heading north.

We’re hoping to balance the tent life with house sitting jobs, looking after people’s pets and property in exchange for a roof and an unwheeled foundation for a short time. I’m game for camping, but doing it for a full year might be a bit much.

Kuching temple
No more free trips to places like this though.

Even to me, there’s a small part of this that seems crazy. It’s not the quitting my job part, it’s how unpredictable life can be. If you’d told me in my 20s that one day I would get a job in marketing that was based on a university campus in Australia and paid me to travel to Southeast Asia, I would have fainted with happiness.

If you’d told me I would subsequently quit that job within 2 years, I’d have said that was impossible. But here we are, and I’ve done exactly that. That’s what’s crazy to me. The way our priorities can change, and how what once seemed scary starts to seem very sensible.

Although my job looked great on paper (and in curated social media posts), I spent 90% of the time at a desk in front of a computer, clocking in my hours from 8.30-5.00. All the little tricks like taking the stairs, getting up for walks, doing stretches, didn’t cancel out the fact that most of my days are entirely sedentary.

I read a book a few years ago where the main character became one with his desk chair at the end; it sounds weird but the book was actually really good. Anyway, it felt like that’s what was happening and I knew it was time to go.

Sunrise Nobbys beach
I’ll miss this being a bike ride away, but there will be other beaches.

Our jobs were great for paying down the house, saving up a travel fund, and allowing us to enjoy the settled lifestyle for a while – and I did enjoy it – but we’re done. I was turning into a desk chair, Jared was wearing thin doing 12 hour night shifts, so we pulled the plug.

Yes, there will be days when I miss the house, the steady paycheck, the familiar environment of Newcastle. Pursuing something new usually means leaving something behind. There’s always a trade-off, and this time around stability is it. In exchange, we’re getting freedom.

Have you ever left a good job to travel? How did it go?

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  1. Hi Lauren,

    I’ve been reading your blog since the Korea days – I used to teach in Daegu. I loved reading about your backpacking trip in South America – I found it really inspiring! I’m hoping to do a similar (long) trip in the semi-near future, but also have a desk job now. I would love to read about your process preparing for this challenge… especially selling stuff, adding additional income on the road, etc. I’m not far behind you!


    1. Hi Ashley, thanks so much for your comment and for being a longtime reader! I am planning to write about the whole process so definitely stay tuned. It is a little overwhelming how much there is to do to get from desk to mobile office but I’m taking it one day at a time. If there’s anything I miss that you’re curious about just let me know 🙂

  2. But aren’t you going to miss all the memories you and your desk chair shared? And what about the relationship between your eyeballs and the computer screen? HOW WILL THEY COPE!?

  3. Congrats Lauren and Jared! You guys will no doubt have the trip of a lifetime. And also…freedom is awesome!

  4. wow, this blog is how I am exactly feeling in this moment in my life. I feel like I sit in a chair 8-5 and not making memories out in the world. I am genuinely happy with where I live and work and who I am dating, but deep inside I feel I need to change scenery in order to figure out if I belong at this place in my life. I need to uproot and move my entire life across the country; I want a dramatic move, so that once I come back I feel refreshed and have an open mind on where I want to start roots….or maybe keep traveling??

    1. Hi Bettie,

      I understand how you feel – I get the urge to change scenery in some way about every 2 years. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with the fact that I may never feel ‘settled.’ It’s great to shake things up every once in a while if you are able to do it. Though I would be careful about thinking that a dramatic move will leave you refreshed when you come back – it may change your course completely and going back may no longer be what you want to do!

      1. Thanks Lauren. For the feedback. I want to definitely travel and understand I won’t “pick up where I left off ” but I guess it’s like when do I know it’s the right time? Do I set a goal like go abroad before I’m 30? I really did just want to travel in NZ not really planning to work but now I feel obligated since my one and only working holiday visa will expire Oct 1, 2016….so now I feel rushed to fulfill that opportunity….

        1. I find that even when I am certain it is the right time to make a big change (like this trip for example), as it gets closer I have little freak outs and it seems like time is rushing at me. You are in a tough spot but you’re right, even if you’re not able to work in NZ you may still have the option of working in Australia and traveling through NZ, which seems like what you’re more into. Good luck with your decision and I hope you do get to fulfill your goal in some way!

      2. Lauren, thanks for being so helpful and a big inspiration to travel. I did it! I booked my flight and got a Working Holiday Visa to Australia! Wish me luck, and best wishes to you on your travels 🙂

        1. Whoa that is amazing news! Best of luck to you and I hope you have some incredible adventures. Who knows, maybe our paths will cross in Australia 🙂

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