Getting laid off (voluntarily) made the decision for me to take a year off to travel significantly easier.
For the past five years, I’d been climbing the journalism ladder and building a modest career.
I’d hoped that at some point there’d be an opportunity to spend some time travelling, but I’d all but accepted the fact that I’d probably never know what life with a +44 country code felt like. I might try to cram as much European culture as I could into my two or three weeks of yearly vacation, but more than likely, it was going to become the stuff mid-life crises are made of.
In my early twenties I resented people who had the opportunity to travel abroad.
While millennials with affluent parents could foot the bill for their young to traipse across Europe and Asia between semesters, I spent my summers in a dank warehouse packing plumbing supplies for minimum wage.
Other friends racked up insurmountable debts to live out their #liveauthentic dreams abroad.
There were options, but I spent most of my twenties with a bank account that barred me entry to the thousand-aires club.
And once I finally managed to keep a thousand dollars in my account, I was too established in my career to trade it in for a chance to get bed bugs in a foreign hostel.
I found out I would be definitely leaving the company in the late part of 2016, and it was secretly what I’d hoped. I couldn’t have been happier about my job, the work was fun, the people were great, and I could afford a nice apartment, a car, and hobbies. But in an ever-shrinking industry there were fewer and fewer opportunities to advance.
I could have used the layoff to pull my portfolio together and get back on the job market immediately, but looking over what I’d accomplished in the past four years, I lacked a theme.
I loved food and travel but I’ve only written a handful of pieces for either.
This quote always sticks in my mind by Lucky Peach editor, Peter Meehan:
Peter Elliot told me to do things for love instead of money right at the outset of my writing career. (He said “dosh” instead of “money” cuz he went to school in England and talks like that.) That money would follow after. He was right.
I’d spent the last four years doing things for money and never for love. Which would be great if I was selling Audis, but I was not.
The first couple years of my career, I honestly didn’t know where my interest lay.
I’ve said this before about my post-secondary choices, I went to university because after high school you were supposed to go somewhere, and I mostly squandered them. By college, all I knew was that I wanted to write and that I never wanted to push another wheelbarrow (unless it was full of cash). And then as a journalist, I made a career on being well-rounded as a writer, photographer, and designer without ever stepping too far into any role.
There are a lot of factors that made taking a year off seem like the best choice for me.
First, it was now or never. The Working Holiday visa for the UK is for people between the ages of 18 and 31, and I’m just about to turn 30.
Second, Jakki and I landed jobs at a pub in rural England where we’ll have the opportunity to learn about raising livestock, local brewers, and an ever-changing menu. The ideal setting for an aspiring travel and food columnist.
Lastly, and this was a bit of our doing, we’re leaving for the UK on the night of my thirtieth birthday. We’ll spend a few days in Iceland before making our way to our new home in rural England.
While a good percentage of Instagram influencers are marketing a secret formula that’ll let you quit your job, travel the world, and make money anywhere. I’ve stumbled into it: get laid off.