I did the crazy thing


Have you ever wanted to say goodbye to your job, jump on a place and just go somewhere? Maybe you’ve already heard about this video that’s been bouncing around the internet about an Australian travel company showing this ridiculously good-looking actor travelling around the world. Or maybe you’ve been wondering why I’ve been talking about leaps of faith and master plans on Twitter lately.

Whether it’s all of the above or none of them at all, here’s a update one what’s going on in my life right now.

1) I quit my job.
That’s right, two-weeks’ notice, officially unemployed, only money coming is in whatever I make selling off old CDs and from leftover insurance claims I haven’t sent in yet. I said goodbye to a decent salary, 4.5 weeks paid vacation, benefits, education subsidies, everything. Lots of good friends, mentors and colleagues told me if I wasn’t happy, the job wasn’t worth it, especially if I had other ideas on what to do with my time. Which led to…

2) I’m going to South and Central America for 3.5 months starting in late October.
I’m planning on hiking the Inca Trail, working in the rainforest, sandboarding down a dune, snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, surfing in Nicaragua and learning how to speak Spanish. Over the last five years I’ve saved about a year’s salary after taxes and figure I’ll never be able to take this kind of time off for the rest of my life, so I should do it now.

3) I’m coming back to journalism full-time.
Ever since I got my communications job I’ve been yearning to come back to the industry. I love the opportunities to tell stories, I love helping and meeting people, I love going to new places, learning new things and being able to ask endless questions. I only got to do that to a small degree in my old job and the idea of doing that full-time, even without all the safety nets of benefits, steady hours and better pay, completely thrills me. Over the next two months, I plan on completing the Canadian Securities Course, learning introductory Spanish while physically training for my trip and pitching a few stories to magazines and newspapers. This way when I come back from Nicaragua in late January I’ll be fully prepared to freelance full-time and qualify for business journalism internships.

The reality of it all
I know this situation is only a dream for many. I owe a lot to my parents, who helped support me immensely during my time in university and offered to let me continue to live at home rent-free while I was working. (In addition to being located only 15 minutes away from my workplace, they said it would help me save for a house in the future.) Not everyone can be living debt-free, rent-free and virtually commitment-free at the age of 24.

But I also lived very frugally during the entire time and saved most of my salary. I rarely went out for movies, packed most of my meals, and always took public transit when going downtown from Scarborough. When I traveled on my own, I often took the Megabus to places close to home (Montreal, New York) and stayed with friends or relatives. I mostly lived like a broke student, even when I was far from it.

So that’s what I’m doing with my life. If you have recommendations for places to see in Ecuador or Peru, inexpensive ways to get to Brazil and Argentina, or the best ways to learn conversational Spanish in two months, I would love to hear them.

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5 thoughts on “I did the crazy thing

  1. Good for you! Like you, I also left my job at a newswire agency (corp comm, pr, investor relations, etc) just this July. I am looking forward to what comes next – though I am not as disciplined as you wrt savings, and have to pay my own in terms of living + rent.

    I’ve been reading Lily Leung’s “Live for a Year” blog at http://exploreforayear.com/ – it’s pretty enlightening.

    For some reason I’ve been holding back on travelling, opting to clean up my apartment and finish up my lease, looking after all the odds and ends (like getting the company matched RSP back under my own control!). Everything is running a bit slower, and each day stretches into long hours.

    My dreams of travelling are quite different from yours – mine involve a bike, a bike trailer, and the long road leading out of the city towards Thunder Bay, or perhaps the lonely shores of Labrador. But whereever you go I’m sure you’ll find life everywhere just waiting for you.

    Enjoy your time.

  2. I grew up in Ecuador, and it’s a beautiful place. Must see places: Baños (de Ambato … bike down the eastern edge of the Andes, go white water rafting or hiking up the volcano… also, go to the zoo and hike down to where the Pastaza river pours out of the mountain. Majestic!). Also a good party scene. On the coast, my favourite beaches are Playas (for the huge expanse of sand, the cheap tiki restaurants, and how deserted it is in the early morning when the fishing boats pull up on the beach), Montañita (for the surfing, the restaurants, and the nightlife), Puerto Cayo (for the whale watching, snorkeling, and the white sand). Umm… I grew up in Guayaquil but it’s not really a touristy city, unless you like slums and huge dirty downtowns and miles of market, and slow brown rivers. Mangroves are nice, I guess. And the food is excellent.

  3. And the CSC is pretty useful – even though I failed the exam, I still have all the materials – and just having the knowledge was enough for me – I figured I didn’t have to pass an exam to tell me what I know.

  4. Karen,
    This is awesome…and you are absolutely right that this is the only time in your life where you can take this kind of time off. I hope you have a fabulous time and I know this experience will have a lasting impact on you. This is something that I had always wanted to do after school, yet getting that all important job and paying off the debt was the focus and advice i received from so many. When I had the chance in student affairs, i told this to every student i came across: explore the world first and foremost fore you will never be the same.

    Keep me posted of your adventures.

    Vinitha

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