Why I quit my job to travel the world

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I don’t really have regrets. Over my 34 years there have been moments of remorse, but probably no more than a handful; people I’ve hurt; the ones I really owed an apology; those I should have forgiven sooner and most painfully, my habit of always, constantly being late, including the one time I was ten minutes too late to hold my nan’s hand as she died. Those are my burdens of repentance.

But when it comes to life choices, generally I’m pretty okay with it all. That’s not to say I haven’t made bad decisions, because yeah, I pretty much do that on a daily basis. But to answer the age old cliche of whether, given the chance to make them again, would I? Hell yeah. Twice over. I’ve had the time of my life and in the wake of some of the biggest disasters I emerged with the best memories.

This year I’ve decided to quit my job as a magazine editor, rent out my flat in north London and travel around the world. With a mortgage, hopes of starting a family, limited funds and hardly any solid plans, my friends think I’ve lost the plot. But, I disagree. I think I’ve found it. All a good writer needs is a great story so I’m off to get one.

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Working hard in California in 2015…

What made me do it?

I’d like to say I was one of the (probably millions) of people who sit at work fantasising about quitting work to travel the world but it wasn’t really like that. In short, I was too busy to daydream. With a full time job, a website startup and a sideline as a freelance journalist, coupled with a demanding wine drinking social schedule, there was no time to stare into space wondering what the weather was like in Koh Tao. But that was the problem. Despite working my way up from work experience on a paper to magazine queen* (no one ever called me that), I’ve always been a dreamer. Spending 50 hours a week working with no spare time for my fantasy world was no achievement – not to me. John, the station guy at Purfleet (where I lived during Uni. We made friends as my trains were only every 30 minutes and I used to miss them by 30 seconds… every time) once asked why I didn’t want to do something more ambitious than work on a women’s magazine? I remember telling him that it was fun and that I define success by doing something you love rather than being the best at something you don’t. That’s the way I was brought up and I still feel like that now. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job but I wasn’t leaping out of bed every morning, beaming from ear to ear and bounding to the office ready to jump onto the next rung of the ladder. The corporate environment isn’t for me. There are characters in there far shadier than most you’ll meet in a dark alley and brushing my hair for work and showing up with no holes in my tights proved to be a huge challenge.

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Photoshoots and glossy events were fun but I was restless

But mostly I just want to see the world. I can sit in the pub and go on about how I really want to dance on a beach in Goa and zip line across New Zealand, or I could actually just go off and do it. Luckily for me, my boyfriend is on the same page. He has himself an unsolved case of wanderlust, some carefully preserved savings and an itch for change. We both want kids (when we stop acting like them ourselves) but our goal is to dazzle them with stories of magical places we’ve seen for ourselves and teach them about dreams and how sometimes, to follow them all you need is energy, self belief and imagination.

Of course, I’ll still be working but the definition has changed. I started passportstamps.uk as a way to encourage people to travel more and ended up inspiring myself. As well as living out of a suitcase and sleeping under the stars, I’ll be freelancing from my laptop and attempting to make a success of becoming a digital nomad. The best bit is that circling the globe means every day could provide exciting new content. My plan is to fill up my bucket list and pour it into the website – so watch this space!

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vlogging on YouTube with Simon has been a totally new experience

Now what? Travel the world…

In the past, I admit, I have travelled to escape life – not in the eternally positive inspirational quote way – but to run away. That one-year-that-turned-into-three-years-out before uni was just me trying to avoid growing up. Fleeing to the states after the breakdown of my ten-year relationship allowed me to live in a reality away from the grief of how it all went wrong. But it’s only recently I’ve had the perspective to notice the subtext. My friends are the same. One trip to Australia was dubbed ‘the roadtrip for the broken-hearted’. Despite this, I’ve had some brilliant adventures as a result of these catalysts. Turns out running away from your life is okay as long as you have a passport in your hand. This trip is different. I’m not looking for an escape or hoping to disappear for a bit. This time I’m not on a quest to find myself. I know exactly who I am and I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be – which is a pretty good place to be in.

Wish me luck!

(We leave on February 1st 2016…)

Follow Helen’s trip around the world on YouTube Passport Stamps
Follow Helen on Instagram @helenwrites & @passportstampsuk

Related: Why I went from Journalism to Blogging

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