Quitting Work to Travel…Again

Quitting Work to Travel…Again

Written by Heather

Topics: Life in Oz

I recently quit my job to travel.

Sound familiar?

You’re probably thinking of the time I transformed from career counselor to career breaker. On a Friday afternoon in March 2010, I met with my supervisor to offer my resignation and share the plan to move to Australia for a year.

Well welcome to “Heather quits her job to travel”, the sequel.

Exit strategy

It was only five months ago that I chose Sydney as my temporary home in Oz. I reconnected with a friend I met in week one, viewed his flat, and decided to move in later that week. Over the next few days I emailed and visited a few potential employers. By week’s end I was offered a trial at an organic food store. A few days later, I smiled my way through a 2-hour shift, which served as the interview. I had no idea what I was doing as there was no training before the trial — you just have to jump in, learn as you go, and pray you don’t make a complete idiot of yourself. Apparently the smiling and apologies to the customers who just wanted to get their groceries in less than 10 minutes worked because I was offered a job at the end. Scanning barcodes is easy. But produce, items with no barcode, items whose barcodes *won’t* scan = nightmare when you don’t know the first thing about the company’s point-of-sale program and people expect to be served promptly.

You may be wondering why I decided to work at a grocery store as a cashier in the first place. It wasn’t what I anticipated doing when I boarded that plane nearly 8 months ago!

The Work & Holiday visa permits me to stay with any one employer for a maximum of six months. I wanted to look for something part-time/flexible (i.e., “casual employment”) as I assumed it would be easier to secure and I could leave more easily if I wasn’t happy. I didn’t want an office job. I didn’t want anything too “serious”.

I DID want to work for an organization whose mission I could support and whose products/services I’d want to use. What better than a casual gig at an organic food store where I could get a discount on healthy food I’d want to buy anyway? Being able to help customers with gluten-free needs and questions = BONUS.

At its best, I really did like my job. In a post I wrote for GoOverseas.com, I shared that:

By working at the store I receive a free staff meal and two free coffees per shift. I have learned to identify fruits, vegetables, and herbs that I did not realize I did not know! The employee discount at our cafe means I can buy healthy meals on the cheap. Most of my coworkers are young and friendly; customers amuse, entertain, and challenge me daily; and on every shift at least one person takes note of my accent, asks why I am here, and encourages me in my decision.

Seriously, how could I not feel good after hearing a “GOOD ON YA” or two or more?!

On the other hand, there were some things about work that weren’t so fun:

— I’ve had chronic issues with my back and neck for about seven years. Stretches, exercises, and visits to the chiropractor go a long way but the problems seem to be ones I’ll deal with for the rest of my life. I was handling them reasonably well until I’d worked at the store for a few weeks. Standing in one spot, reaching for items, and packing bags did a number on me. I paid attention to my posture between customers and outside of work, but it couldn’t compensate for the hours spent at the register.

— At times, I did not respond very well (inwardly) to the environment. There was a small group of people that generally seemed stressed and some days that energy kind of hung in the air. Sometimes that stress manifested itself in ways I really didn’t care for. After a while, little incidents here and there really add up.

Let’s backtrack to early December. I’d finally started thinking ahead to 2011 and how I wanted to spend my last few months in Australia. Something like “as happily as possible” came to mind :-)

To guarantee sufficient coverage around the holidays, the roster had already been announced through the end of January. I figured I would work those shifts, quit, spend the next 3-4 weeks jobless and soaking up Sydney, and then move on to explore Tasmania and Western Australia. But then a couple of things happened.

— On my last visit to the chiropractor, I was seriously out of alignment. I wondered if a short-term job that was causing so many problems was worth it for another couple of months.

— For me the holidays are an overall joyous time of year. For others they bring more stress than anything else. Unfortunately the actions and words of others were felt personally on several occasions. One day I realized that enough was enough.

Between my own back and the stress straw breaking the camel’s, I decided to do something about it. I decided I was going to take ownership of the situation and QUIT earlier than I anticipated. It wouldn’t be the best decision from a purely financial perspective, but spending the remainder of my time in Oz how I wanted to was the first priority.

See, quitting can be the key to winning. In one of my favorite blog posts of all times, Greenjunkieliving.com says:

“If you keep pouring your energy into things that your gut/intuition/whatever is screaming at you to abandon, you won’t have any room for what’s going to make you buzz with excitement and the conviction that This Is Right, whatever ‘this’ may be.”

Just before Christmas I spoke with a few friends who supported my decision to move on and encouraged me to make a move. I needed that.

I had already taken off December 24-January 5, and as soon as I had stepped away from work for a few days, I felt more relaxed. I started chatting with a friend about what I wanted to see next, and suddenly we were brainstorming joint travel plans for the next couple of months. In the spirit of keeping the travel momentum going, I contacted a manager to give my notice. I offered to work my next several shifts, but she said they would be covered and happy traveling. Wow.

By quitting, I have moved full steam ahead on travel planning. I’ve had time to meet up with friends for dinner. Fridays and Saturdays are free again. I’m not spending one more month behind a register just to extend my stay by a few weeks. I’d rather spend these last few months back on the road and run out of money a little early.

So here’s to quitting work to travel…again!

In a few weeks I’ll hit the road with Adam to explore Tasmania. Once back in Melbourne, my friend Nicole will join us as we head west to see, taste, and experience whatever we fancy with no particular schedule. I’m excited to revisit some parts of Victoria and South Australia and FINALLY to see Western Australia for the first time!

44 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. congratulations, have fun on the road.

  2. Olivia (Green Junkie Living) says:

    What a great blog! Thanks so much for your super super sweet words. I can’t wait to follow along with your travels.

  3. Christine says:

    Totally understand where you’re coming from! Cheers to having fun travels :)

    • Heather says:

      I just read about how you went to France several weeks after your friend’s dad mentioned the idea. YES!!

      Hope you love Australia just as much :-)

  4. Kyle says:

    “If you keep pouring your energy into things that your gut/intuition/whatever is screaming at you to abandon, you won’t have any room for what’s going to make you buzz with excitement and the conviction that This Is Right, whatever ‘this’ may be.”

    Wow. I love that, what a powerful quote.

    And good choice, I don’t think it’s one you’ll regret!

    • Heather says:

      I’ve had that post bookmarked for months.

      Quitting my job 8 months ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — no doubts, no regrets. I have a feeling this will be the same and fun times are ahead!

  5. Woohoo to taking off on your next adventure! I will miss you, but I am proud of and excited for you :)

    • Heather says:

      Will I see you again other than Travel Tribe? Maybe I’ll swing by AZ in Balmain for another macaron run next week :-)

  6. Have a great time! Western Australia is amazing.. almost indescribable. I look forward to following your adventures so keep us posted.


  7. Kieron says:

    Is it as good of a feeling the second time around?

    Make sure you guys shout out when you’re in Melbourne, would be great to hang out even if just for an afternoon if our schedules allow it. Any idea when you’ll be in this neck of the woods?

    • Heather says:

      Yes — feels great! Well, not *quite* as good since that was a massive change, but I haven’t regretted the decision for a second.

      The only dates I know for sure are the ones around Melbourne since I’ll be in Ballarat for a weekend. Should be in Melbourne all day Monday and Tuesday February 21 and 22. May not be the best timing for you two — free for dinner?!

      • Kieron says:

        Definitely not the best timing, getting into the city at a decent hour anytime during the week is hard apart from Fridays. :(

        Just send us a tweet or email when you know the exact dates and we’ll see what we can arrange!

  8. mom says:

    As always, I enjoyed your blog…Happy traveling and keep us updated of all the wonderful things you see, do and ‘taste’…….<3

    • Heather says:

      Oh yes mom…I’m sure there will be heaps to taste as all 3 of us love a good dessert and fun meals. Will have to watch the budget closely O:-)

  9. Dad says:

    Eleanor Roosevelt would be proud of this blog Heather. I am proud of who you are! <3

  10. Sounds like a great adventure coming up! I guess I’ll be joining you on it!

  11. Jaime says:

    CHEERS GIRL!!! Congrats on quitting your job to travel AGAIN…lol!!! No for real that is awesome in the end looks like you did the right thing. I didn’t know about your back problems & if that job was making things worth it wasn’t worth it.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures all over AUSTRALIA!!! I am going to live there one day I promise!!!

  12. Jade says:

    WooHoo! Can’t wait for you to make it to Tasmania and the Western side… really want to know more about both of those areas!! Wish we were meeting up with you there, too!

  13. Kirsty says:

    Sounds brilliant and like you have made the right decision… hope you have a wonderful last few months there…. any plans to visit SE Asia on your way back???

    • Heather says:

      Quite possibly! Been discussing spending at least a couple of months there between Oz and visiting friends in London… Then I guess I will make my way home! As soon as I have more solid ideas about where in Asia I will be I will let you know!!

  14. Hi Heather, enjoy your time in Tasmania! Right now the best time to visit!

  15. Look at you all full of energy and off to explore more of OZ. Looking forward to what you get up too mate, just leave enough $$ in the bank to come see your friends in the UK.

  16. Sounds so wonderful. Maybe once I’m healthy, and after I get a few freelance jobs and save some $$ I might do this. GOOD LUCK!! Can’t wait to read more!! Stay positive!!

  17. Laura says:

    Quitting a job- one of the life’s greatest moments :) Enjoy the road trip!

  18. Kay Bee says:

    Love this entry and love living vicariously through your travel! Hope to do this for myself one of these days … cheers!

  19. Nicole says:

    LOVE that quote from Greenjunkieliving.com! That’s essentially what is giving me the courage to embark on my own adventure to Oz in just a few short weeks! It’s scary sometimes not knowing what lies ahead, but the idea that I am creating space to discover something more about myself is what this trip is all about for me. So glad you’re starting another new adventure, Heather!

  20. Rebecca says:

    Hooray! Have fun exploring the country! Go south from Perth – lots of beautiful things to see there.

  21. Tijmen says:

    Western Australia is amazing, do visit Rottnest Island if you have the change for it :) I went to Perth from Adelaide by train and drove back over the Nullabor Plain, both where great experiences.

  22. Garreth Lodge says:

    Awesome! No doubt you’ll have an amazing time and as another back-pain struggler I feel for ya! Need a travel tens unit in your backpack! Cheers to you….

  23. This is exciting… and since we’re just about to quit our jobs to travel too, your post helps to inspire us. Thx!

  24. Erica says:

    Grats lady! You just go do your thing – especially if you are on a year time line. No regrets! No wasted time!

  25. Megan says:

    Oh, exciting! I quit my job back in June and haven’t regretted it (besides the money) once. Now thinking about quitting my job in Bangkok…but again–money = being able to live here, so…have fun! Any plans besides Australia?

    • Heather says:

      Hoping that even with quitting my job, I’ll have just enough money to see Oz for a couple of months, visit a few places in SE Asia briefly (Thailand included!), and fly home via London so I can spend a week with my friends there :-) I’m sure Bangkok will be part of any visit I make to Thailand — so maybe see you in a few months?

  26. Sally says:

    I LOVE quitting jobs! It’s the best. I was just reminiscing today about quitting my last job & how happy I was when I turned in my letter of resignation (after hemming and hawing for months and dealing with lots of stress & burn out). I’m not really looking forward to working full-time again… but I am looking forward to quitting. Wheeee!
    Good luck with your travels. May macarons find you wherever you go!

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