Coming Out as a Traveler

I’m a strong advocate of telling friends and family sooner rather than later about long-term travel aspirations. After all, the more you talk about your plans, the more committed you’ll feel and the more likely they are to become a reality.

I’ve been very fortunate not to meet with any resistance in my personal life. Let’s chalk that up to one of the pros of introversion: because I’m so cautious about developing close relationships, those close relationships are truly supportive and worthwhile. Quality over quantity.

Where I’ve encountered far more difficulty is in my professional life. I told my boss back in May during my annual review about my long-term plans – lucky me, he joined the chorus of supportive voices. I work for a small company, and no one has entertained any fantasies of my staying in this entry level position forever. I’ve already stuck it out far longer than many of my predecessors.

Then my boss quit and the organization quickly went to hell in a handbasket thanks to the misguided and frankly somewhat unethical dealings of our board. All of which has turned my casual networking just in case there’s a good position elsewhere into a more serious job search.

I went to a couple job interviews with the mission of being completely honest and upfront about my long-term plans. I’d like to find a position that’s a good fit for me where I’ll stay for about two years and ideally, I’d like to find a company that welcomes sabbaticals, so I can travel on a career break and then come back. The first companies I spoke to were receptive, and I’ve heard so many successful career break stories in the past. I thought this would be smooth sailing, particularly as I secured an interview with a large educational travel company. What better person to serve their mission than an ambitious traveler?

Prague Church of Our Lady Before Tyn 2

Turns out they, and another travel company, do not under any circumstances support sabbaticals, and they refuse to invest any time in an employee who won’t be around in 2-3 years. So my honesty screwed me out of not just the job I applied for but any position at the company.

Many have advised me to keep my travels a secret, but the simple fact that this blog exists means that’s a worse tactic to take. If I played my cards close to the chest and the company then found out through the grapevine that I was only in for the short term, I would wind up really burning my bridges.

So between these new professional frustrations and my realization that my travel savings fund is far better off than I initially believed, a new plan’s been struck.

I will only consider jobs that truly excite me. If I get one, excellent. I will be able to approach my life at home with renewed purpose, and keep my travel plans in 2018 where I originally thought they would land. If, however, I’m in the same position at the end of January that I’m in now, I’ll be buckling down on my savings and adjusting my plans to leave in July 2016.

This may not be concrete enough for some members of the travel community, but I feel so much more empowered knowing I have options. And isn’t that what long-term travel is about?

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