Arré Checklist: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job to Travel in Your 20s


Arré Checklist: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job to Travel in Your 20s

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

We’ve all been there, sitting by the window of our air-conditioned offices that smell mildly of daal, looking out at the smog-filled horizon of the city and wondering, “What the hell are we doing with our lives?” In fact, you’re probably reading this article at work while checking over your shoulder for your boss, while your phone shows you pictures captioned #wanderlust and #vanlife. This weekend, you’re going to meet your friends and declare that it’s time for you to live the dream. You’re going to quit that soul-sucking desk job and travel the world like the free-spirited gypsy you know you were born to be. Allow us to tell you why that’s the worst idea you’ve had since you got that Om tattoo after happy hours.

Mission Spondylitis

Quitting your job might sound tempting, but you don’t want to find out that your family isn’t exactly supportive about having a bum with hippie aspirations living in the house. If that’s the case, then you’d better hope that you can make enough money selling dream catchers or doing fire-poi performances on the beach, because travel without money for decent accommodation is just plain vagrancy. Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side, so you might think a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent is preferable to a rickety swivel chair at an office desk. Just remember, the final destination of both paths is spondylitis.

There’s No Such Thing As Quarter-Life Crisis

The first thing you need to NOT want to quit your job to travel is a healthy sense of dread.  Dreadlocks will only get you so far. You need to give a pause to those “Why am I wasting my life?” kind of questions and instead focus on questions like “How will I pay rent?” Or “Is this all just symptomatic of a quarter-life crisis?” Healthy paranoia regarding the future is what will give you the resolve to say no to the allure of a bohemian lifestyle where you eat only fresh fruit and smoke the best herbs.

Instagram Filters the Reality

Look past the #wanderlust and Instagram filters to see the grimy reality of life as a modern nomad. Behind every still-life shot of a hot cup of tea early in the morning at a remote hill station bus stop is a frantic, manic search for a clean restroom to take a dump in. A traveller’s timeline will always show them playing with cute stray dogs. It will never show you the bored wait at the clinic while they wait for their rabies shots.

Where Will You Find WiFi?

If you make peace with your reality and your job, sure your social media feed won’t be as attractive as your peers who’ve gone the nomad way, but at least you’ll be able to update it without trying to find a café with free Wi-Fi. Additionally, instead of spending money on memorable experiences for your old age, you can bypass old age entirely by spending money on alcohol and cigarettes. Season it with a healthy dose of work-related stress, and you’re looking at an early check-out somewhere in your 60s. Ideally, your PF will have matured by then and at least you can go out in style.

Here’s the thing, giving up work to travel in your twenties is taking off your learning wheels before you’ve figured out how to ride your cycle – it’s probably going to end in a spectacular crash. Sure, you’ve read a tonne of articles on the internet telling you that you can quit your job and travel the world. Before you go and believe them, however, stop and ask yourself if the writer knows how you spend the last week of the month eating exclusively Maggi and Parle G because you’re broke until payday. Perhaps stop and ask yourself if your bank balance can survive a year-long vacation before you turn into Alex Supertramp. Until then, make do with watching Into The Wild.