The Day I Quit

By Nomadic Matt | Published June 28th, 2011

Quitting your cubicle job“I’m going to quit my job when we get back,” I said, turning to my friend Scott.

“Really? I doubt that.”

“No really, I am. I’m going to quit and travel the world,” I said, turning my face back into the warm Thailand sun.

It was 2004, and we were in Ko Samui. We had just visited Chiang Mai where I had met the five travelers who so inspired me to travel the world. Their world of no 401ks, vacations, and bosses seemed too good to be true and I wanted to be a part of it. I was determined to be a part of it. I even started to prepare for it while in Thailand before I had any real idea of what I was going to do.

While on Ko Samui, I bought the Lonely Planet guide to Southeast Asia. I didn’t even know if I’d go there on my trip. I didn’t know when my trip would be or for how long or what I wanted to see. But buying that guide made the whole thing seem more real. It was my commitment to travel. I had the guide; there was no turning back now. The guide symbolized my trip and, for me, it represented what I had to do to make the mental leap.

I read every page of the book on the flight home. I highlighted destinations, planned routes, and worked out my trip in my head. I knew everything about Asia by the time I touched down in Boston.

However, once back home, I came to the realization that I had no idea how to make this happen. Would I finish my MBA? How much money would I need? When could I go? Where would I go? What would people say? How do I get a RTW ticket? What credit card should I use? Are hostels safe?

The list of questions seemed endless, and, in the days before travel blogs, Twitter, and iPhone apps, the challenge of planning a trip was a lot more daunting than it is today. Outside a few websites, there just wasn’t as much information on the Internet back then. It took a lot longer to find and was usually a bit dated.

But the real challenge would be telling people I was leaving and letting them know I meant it. I don’t remember the exact conversation I had with my parents. They always counter my impulsive decisions (of which there are many) with some nervous, “the world is a dangerous place and we worry” parental response. Over the years I sort of tuned them out. I have my father’s stubborn streak, and, once I make a decision, I make it. For a while I don’t think they even believed me, and, until the day I left, they tried to talk me out of it.

But what I do remember is going into my boss’ office. It was a few weeks after I had come back from Thailand, and I was getting more and more sure that I was going to do this trip. I knew I had to do this trip. I went into his office and told him we needed to talk. Shutting the door, I sat down across from his desk and told him.

I was quitting. After meeting those travelers, I knew I had to travel around the world before I started my career.

He sat back and grumbled. “You have only been in this position 8 months. It is hard to find a new person right away. It really puts me in a bind.”

He stared at me intimidatingly.

“I know and I’m not quitting right away,” I replied. “I’m going to quit 6 months from now, finish my MBA, and then go.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I said, as confident as I had ever said it before.

In a way, it was more than my job I quit that day. I quit my life. I quit the American Dream. My life was heading down a road that I realized I wasn’t ready for. Marriage, houses, kids, 401ks, play dates, college funds – everything you think about when you think about the American Dream. While there is nothing wrong with that, it wasn’t what I really wanted. It took a trip to Thailand to make me realize I was unhappy. At 22, I was working 50-60 hours per week, investing in retirement funds, and planning out my next 40 years. I never loved it, but that was just what people did, right?

My trip to Thailand showed me that there was more to life than the corporate grind. While that lifestyle is good for lots of people, it wasn’t good for me.

The day I left the office was the day I quit a life I never really liked. I was living to work, not working to live. And, when I hopped on the road at 25, I wasn’t ready for that type of life. I’d come back to the “real world” when my trip was over.

Though, as time went on, I realized I could never go back. The divide between that world and mine was too great.

Sometimes decisions we make ripple forward in our lives like giant tsunamis. I thought the day I quit I was just quitting a job. It turned out I was quitting a lifestyle. I quit the American Dream and, in doing so, I found my own and have never looked back.

And they say quitting is for losers.

comments 119 Comments

“Though, as time went on, I realized I could never go back.”…Does this mean you aren’t retiring from travel after all?

NomadicMatt

I’m not quitting travel. Just my 100% nomadic ways. I’m going to be semi-nomadic.

Basically, after this trip we’ll have to find you at your new website: semi-nomadicmatt.com??? Just kidding. Honestly, after 6 years of travel I might be transitioning towards that soon myself but I still have to complete two epic journeys: Alaska to Patagonia & London to Singapore (overland)

NomadicMatt

hmmm maybe I should get that domain name right now.

Denise

Samuel, Those are the two epic journeys I would like to take!! Any tips or updates would be greatly appreciated :) I won’t be leaving until 2016, time to save etc etc.

Cinthia Zarate

Hi Matt, my question is: what are you going to do when you stop traveling all the time and start being semi-nomadic?

NomadicMatt

Good question! I’m still figuring that out.

prachi

If I am right , he is trying to say that he can never go back to that “American Dream “.:)

NomadicMatt

Correct!

Nicely done. It took me until I was 30, but I quit my job and moved to the south of France. It lasted almost a year for me. I did resume a somewhat typical life after I returned to the U.S., but the “dream” will forever be different.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you realize what you really want to do with your life, and making it happen feels even better. :)

NomadicMatt

It truly is.

Dick

“in the days before travel blogs and iPhone apps, the challenge of planning a trip was a lot more daunting than it is today” – dude, 2004 was only 7 years ago, and blogs and lonelyplanet already existed… ppl have been traveling RTW at least since the 1970s… sorry, but you are not so original.

NomadicMatt

I never claimed to be original in this post actually. If I was, then it wouldn’t have been OTHER travelers who inspired me to quit. In terms of blogs, iphones, etc., the point you missed was that the ease in which people can get travel information now didn’t exist back in 2004. There might have been a website or two, Lonely Planet, and Boots N’all but no mobile apps or 98745749375 travel or destination blogs filled with information.

Betty

Hey Matt – I traveled through Greece for a month before I started Corporate America 6 years ago…it def gave me a different perspective on life…during the last 2 years, I have been organizing ski trips with friends and strangers – it’s been a blast!

Just as I have decided to finally make a big step, planning my move to Denver from the East Coast and playing with the idea of starting a travel group, blog and getting people together, so that I can do something I love and not work in front of a desk the rest of my life….i stumble onto your blog. It’s quite inspiring! I’d love to email with you and get more info on your book!

NomadicMatt

I don’t use a guidebook. I just go.

Great story–loved reading about the path you took to getting out of Dodge. Though I want to echo what an above commenter said: Are you not “quitting” travel after all next April?

NomadicMatt

I’m not quitting travel. I’m just quitting my full time, non-stop, nomad lifestyle. Smaller trips now.

Dave

I like your story- it took some real balls to step out off the escalator like you did. I feel like it might be getting late for me to do something similar- at 28 years old. I recently travelled overseas for the first time (to the U.S, from Australia), and the number of open, genuine and friendly Americans I met has inspired me to travel more. You guys have an awesome nation!

Nicholas

It’s never Late. I’m 35 and I took the first step couple of months ago. If you really, really want something there are always ways to get it.

Remember, it is never too late.

NomadicMatt

I agree. It’s never too late to make a change. Tomorrow starts today!

Deb

You’re absolutely right about its never too late – my husband & I started our Excellent Adventure five months ago and we are 55!!! While we have travelled before this time we have quit our JOBS and are travelling South America first then wherever. So get out there and do it.

You don’t have to be in your early 20s and single to do this. You can be in your 40s, with kids and a house, too. My husband and I quit our jobs, went RTW homeschooling our kids, and are now starting a new biz. Life has many chapters, and “quitting” has a negative connotation whereas “changing” may be a way for others to think of it and open new doors. There’s something to be said for growing roots through work/home/community/family–and then uprooting and repotting.

Colleen Setchell

Fantastic article!!! I can relate so much to your experience because it’s do similar to mine except I pushed the corporate job so far, I ended up with burnout! Luckily I had already quit when that happened and I am currently working my 3 month notice period. 21 working days left :-)
Thanks for some great motivation!!!!

NomadicMatt

Great! Good luck with the upcoming trip!

It is nice to hear about the experiences others have had dealing with a similar situation.

I was so excited and nervous the day I quit my job. But I had a different experience because my supervisor was incredibly supportive. Of course he was going to have to fill a gap, but he knew how much I love to travel, and he was truly happy for me. I feel very lucky that I had a lot of support from everyone around me when I quit to travel.

NomadicMatt

In the end, my boss was incredibly supportive. We still stay in touch and he frequently reads this website. I think he was just sad to see me go even though he now says “he knew I would do great things.”

Brilliant post – I went through the same thing just a few years after you.

NomadicMatt

In the beginning, I saved money for over a year. Now, this website covers all my bills.

NomadicMatt

I’m not sure what you mean by the second part of your question but I started making money after 8 months.

NomadicMatt

As they say, it is the things we don’d do that we regret, not the things we do do.

vlad

this is making me feel uncomfortable. i think i know what i need to do, but i guess the unknown always boggles one mind, everyone wants to settle for something that appears to be safe. ahhhhhhhhhhhh

take the leap, Vlad! I promise you, you won’t regret it

– Maria Alexandra

this is beautiful matt. i love how you leaned into uncertainty, trusted your instincts and got HUGELY rewarded for it. that can be so frightening but exhilarating at the same time! i know what you mean about how different things were back then. when i took my first solo trip to paris, there was no tweeting to meetup with fellow travelers on the road…no internet even. what a difference now- hell, i left on my solo road trip 3 weeks ago and haven’t been alone yet- ha ha. sometimes the life we want doesn’t exist as a solid model to follow, and we just need to go from our gut and create it. good for you. :)

Really, Lorna? It is what people never understand … even if you travel on your own, there is always someone spending time with you if you want! During my 3 solo months in Mexico I spent maybe max a week altogether just on my own, and only because I wanted it that way :)

oh yeah alexandra- think you misunderstood! i meant that there was no way back then (which i think is what matt’s saying) pre-travel blogs, internet, etc. to make plans ahead of time. it took a little extra courage then i think to travel solo, as you knew even less then what you were heading to. now, i can put out a tweet that i’ll be in portland, oregon soon, and fellow travelers will organize a meetup in my honor- i know i’m showing up to people excited to meet me and may even have plans before i get there! back then, i met folks when i arrived- from all over and had a blast solo, but it took extra guts to make the leap because of not having a way to meet anyone online prior. honestly, i think it was an extra thrill to travel that way, but i definitely love the online travel community too :)

I love this story of “how it all began.” However I now feel robbed of the chance to dramatically quit my big time job (since I never had one!) :)

“I have my father’s stubborn streak, and, once I make a decision, I make it. For a while I don’t think they even believed me, and, until the day I left, they tried to talk me out of it.” <— I actually could've written this paragraph myself, so true is it about both me and my parents' attitude towards my trip.

Loving your last few posts as they've been personal to you and it's always great to find out about the people behind the blogs.

NomadicMatt

Thanks! My parents also still try to talk me into coming home. It will never end.

Sio

This really spoke to me. It is really nice to not feel so alone in wanting to quit the American Dream for something else…. especially as a woman. Part of me feels so ungrateful for all I have and all my family (immigrants) have worked for…. but following the norms does not equal fulfillment. Who says you can’t have a little bit of both?

NomadicMatt

Exactly. Your life is meant to be lived how ever you want.

This is great since many people flirt with this idea but few follow through on it. You mentioned your worked 50-60hr weeks in finance; how many hours would you say you work now with your website and other projects?

NomadicMatt

I don’t know. I don’t really keep track. 25?

(what I’m getting it at is that I’m sure you’re still working very hard (maybe harder) than before but it’s different when it’s something you enjoy or find rewarding)

I’ve just made the decision, and the announcement, that I’ll be taking 6 months off to travel – starting next year. I’m curious to know how much money you left with, though I realize 2004 was a while ago, I’m still curious. Also, you mentioned not going back to the American dream. It’s clear that your blog is monetized. When did you start your blog, how long did it take for you to monetize it, and is travel a large source of your income now?

NomadicMatt

So many questions:

1. I left with 20,000 dollars to last me through Europe, Asia, Australia, NZ, and Fiji.
2. April 2008
3. 8 months
4. All my income comes from this website.

Thanks Matt! This is all very encouraging!

NomadicMatt

Great! That’s exactly what I like to hear.

Mariyam

Hi Matt I just stumbled upon your website, I’m a 22 year old girl from Pakistan, about to graduate, love your website!

I just want to ask how do you make money from this website? and from this lifestyle?

AJ

Very brave, and a great decision. You felt it and I think that made the difference. When you feel it in your bones, you can’t think of anything else, it has to be right. Congratulations on making it and enjoying it happen.

Matt,

Great article and inspiring! I am actually going down the same path right now after having visited Asia for 8 months and lived in Singapore. Your website is what inspired me to do it, I quit my job and got into a sales position while building traffic to my adventure website. My plan is to leave in February 2011 or as soon as my site reaches a number of click-thus that could support me while exploring the rest of the world. If it takes off, you should know that your site was part of what convinced me to do it as well!

NomadicMatt

Well Karl, thanks for such kind words. I’m glad I could inspire you in some part.

Great article Matt. I admire your courage to step out of the rat race and carve your own path. I did the some thing at age 49. Sorry I waited so long but as they say better late than never. I think that people do need to realize that this is something you should really think about and plan for. Walking into the boss’s office and quitting may seem cathartic however you may find yourself in a worse situation and more frustrated than you began with. My advice is to do some research set up a plan and start executing it. Thanks for sharing your story Matt.

NomadicMatt

It is never too late too start. 24, 49…doesn’t matter!

Fantastic post. I loved reading about your decision to quit the American dream and live the life you want. I think for a lot of people that’s the hardest thing – to be brave enough to live the life you really want. I’m glad you quit the life that wasn’t meant for you, to live the life that was meant for you.

How inspiring! If you think about it, what you did really is the original American Dream- wasn’t America founded by explorers looking for a better way of life? Sounds like that’s just what you did. Awesome!

NomadicMatt

Good point, good point.

Amber Chapman

I couldn’t agree more Jessica!

I don’t know where we all lost the “American Dream,” but it’s about time we start remembering what it’s really about and how lucky we are as American’s to have these opportunites.

Insipring Matt, as always!

Hi Matt, good on you for doing what you really wanted to do in life. I moved to London from Oz at 22. It’s great in LDN because if I want to, I can travel every weekend, or every other weekend. Most other countries in Europe, for example, are less than a two hour flight. So popping across to places like Paris for the weekend (like I’m doing this weekend) keeps me sane and happy! :)

NomadicMatt

From London, Europe is just an easyjet flight away!

I was terrified of telling my bosses I was leaving. Not because I was afraid I was making a mistake, but because I was pretty friendly with these people and didn’t want to leave them in the lurch. As it turned out I was incredibly lucky. My boss accepted my resignation with sadness but was excited about the trip I was going on. He then did me a massive favour – he told me to hold off handing in my official notice as something was just around the corner. That something turned out to be an opportunity for voluntary redundancy which he encouraged me to apply for. I got it and managed to secure a massive chuck on top of my savings from a job I had already intended to leave… Sometimes things seem to work out a certain way for a reason.

Good post.

That’s very interesting. I did almost the same thing when I was 25. Been living away from my own culture ever since. A bit weird reading this about someone else going through a similar thing.

Glad things have worked out for you. ^_^

Fili

NomadicMatt

The more I travel, less unique I realize I am…and I mean that in a good way.

Your life choices are certainly inspirational Matt…thanks for sharing. A few years ago, I was so burnt out with my life as a teacher of the deaf that I quit and purged my things and started to travel and live a nomadic lifestyle. (I had been living in Boston for 25 years and needed to experience something different.) I have been living off savings and doing odd jobs and massages as a certified therapist, but am looking for alternatives to earning money online. I don’t want to return to the traditional work paradigm, or be dependent on doing massages since this isn’t something that I love to do. I am on a short hiatus with my travels due to the finances and am looking for suggestions…you seem to have made it work for you. I haven’t searched all of your site so the answers may be here…I’ll look, but if anyone has any suggestions…I’d appreciate it. I have become restless and am need of traveling again…so money coming in would be beneficial. Thanks!

I thought your post was romantic in a way and quite inspirational, but it was actually something you posted in response to a comment above that really hit me..

“The more I travel, less unique I realize I am…and I mean that in a good way.”

It’s a hard feeling to put into words, but honestly I couldn’t agree more!

NomadicMatt

I don’t know but I will make it one!

This is a great post, Matt.

Yippee, i made the plunge off and on for a long time figured you should work later in your life not now. Problem was as i grew older I still felt the same way, i just wasn’t buying into the old american dream not for me.
Funny thing your friends and family really hate you for doing something different and proving it doesn’t have to be that wat after all.
There’s more us out there who move to a different beat and get restless sitting still, there’s so much to see and be a part of.
Living in Tulum, Mexico now but already looking to move on soon

Damn ! You are so lucky you had your epiphany at a very young age.
I went backpacking to Europe just last month and it made me realize how much there is to see of the world.
I am about to make the same leap of faith..
Cheers.

NomadicMatt

Once you make the leap, the rest is easy.

JC

Great story, Matt!

I just left my job last week, gave my two weeks notice the following week after I got back from my New Zealand trip. I actually told my boss about my plan last year (we’re good friends) and originally planned to leave around April or June of next year. But I was pretty miserable when I got back to work, all I could think about was getting out there again.

I’ll be traveling around the US for the next couple months as I still haven’t seen much of the US before I leave the country (planning to be away for 1-1.5 years). I’m also planning on finishing up a couple of software projects I started a few months back that could hopefully add some additional income, and maybe if I end up really enjoying life on the road I can be just like you :).

Thanks for creating this blog, you have a lot of very useful information here!

NomadicMatt

The US is great to explore. I never really how big it was until I tried driving across it. I mean sure you see it on the map but when you drive coast to coast, you get a real appreciation for its size and cultural diversity. Have a great time!

Dear Matt,

I really liked reading this post, especially about the part where you acknowledged that you were not ready for a life lived for marriage, houses, kids, 401ks, play dates, college funds. It takes a lot of guts to just quit a job and hit the road; not many people are brave enough to that. Even in my part of the world, that being south-east Asia, I hear so many of my contemporaries just living their lives in the structured order that others have done but secretly wishing they could do things differently but don’t dare to do so.

I’m aiming to quit my job in 2013 and travel Africa!!

Happy travels, Matt!

Hi Matt,

May I ask why you got your MBA and spent all that time and money to then quit? One doesn’t need an MBA to travel to SEA right? Or was the MBA the epiphany that helped you realize it’s not for you?

Would your view be different if you went to Harvard Business School and had your pick of the liter of what you could do for a living?

Thx,

Sam

jenny methew

If some one is determined for a goal, then he should go for that. Follow your dreams. And yes, Courage do not look back.

Zen

Quit my job 2 weeks ago. Sitting on the fence at the moment – look for a full-time online marketing job or make a living online before my money runs dry. I would like to have a chance to chat with you personally if possible Matt.

As a nurse I have nursed many patients who said “If Only…..” – since we have turned our backs on “The Australian Dream” we have changed our whole lifestyle! We are living outside of the box, and we love it :)

Its amazing how good it feels to “let go” of the norm and live a life of dreams.

Love reading your story of how you knew what you wanted, and how you chased your dreams – good on you.

Cheers
Lisa

I will be quitting my “American Dream” tomorrow. Glad I came across this tonight…Wish me luck! :)

NomadicMatt

I wish you a lot of luck! Have a great time!

This is a great blog and i really want to travel with my with with these guys , whats south America like for getting around by bus.

Hi Matt. Since I started taking short overseas trips on my own (to the US, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina) I knew that travelling is one of the main things that make life worth living. I’m 38 and I’ve always hated the corporate lifestyle and everything that goes with it, but quitting it all and taking the plunge was always too scary specially from a financial standpoint. Until recently, when I finally got a job that allows me within reason to be “location independent”, and with that in mind I’m planning to hit South America for living there through most of this year. I can’t wait.

I’ve come to learn that the only thing no one can ever take away from you, not even after death, is the experiences you seek to live through. The experiences that make you say to yourself “It was SO worth doing it!”. That’s way more valuable than anything else you can buy. Things won’t change your life. Exposing yourself to other realities and people in this world and learning about new cultures will.

Glad to see you’ve loved my home country, Costa Rica. For us, the rest of the world is what’s exotic and awaiting discovery, of course :) . Thanks for this inspirational site.

Froo

I just stumbled upon this post – I think I’m in the exact same position. I’m from a small country in Europe and spent the past 4 years living abroad (university in the UK, exchange in Malaysia, work in Indonesia and volunteering in France). I’m 23 now. I returned to my home country in September last year to start a graduate job. It has now been about 7 months and I’m getting the itch to move abroad.
I guess the stability that corporate life offers is just not what I want at the moment – at least not here. I’m terrified of the thought of settling here. I’m just trying to weigh up the sides and decide what I should do. The only thing that is keeping me here is the job – I know it’s good for my career. I do enjoy it, but I’m not happy with my life. Not here. I guess all that travel I have done in the previous years has changed me and I guess my “dream” is not to go in the direction the society wants me to… Ah, the crossroads…

Marishka

Ive been reading your blog everyday now for the past 3days since i stumbled across it via a friend’s facebook likes. and can i say that with every read, it makes my itch to leave new zealand grow BIGGER! I spent the last 2&ahalf months abroad in France, Germany, the UK, Italy & India & WOAH what an eye opener! ive come back home to NZ and can’t settle in. i just cannot WAIT to get back out & explore the world!! so thanks for the tips and everything yo,
READY FOR MY WORLD ADVENTURE!!

Travel is a great gift in our life. Traveling make our life more interesting and broader. I will choose to quit my job for travling someday. But now it’s difficult to do so. We need to live and pay for the house load.

Wish you travel to China some day. It’s really a great and interesting country and travel destination.

Barbie

Hey Matt,

I love reading your blog. I’m addicted. Get so much good info. I am not doing quite the same thing as you. I quit my job and I’m moving overseas on August 1st but staying put for a least a year. Don’t have a job but am taking the TEFL course to Teach English.

My parents didn’t think I would really do it until I wrote my will, got medical & financial power of attorney for my Dad, starting fixing up my house for rent and started selling my belongings. They then realized I was serious. Surprisingly, they are getting on board and are helping throw my bon voyage party.

I am the child (1 of 3) that keeps them wondering what I’m going to come up with next.

Thanks for the inspiration and hope to meet up someday.

Lou

Matt,

I’ll be entering my mid 20s, right out of college, before getting a serious job if I decide to try this. My question is, do you think I can return to pursuing the “American Dream” even if I decide to try going abroad for a year or two?

Alexandra

As so many others I’ve stumbled across this site. I’ve been dying to take a gap year ever since I left high school and moved to Poland, and then to London. I was in a customer service role for about two years and hated it. I thought it was the job role itself so I changed and became office manager of another pretty awesome company.. Funny thing is that I’m still not happy as everyday I sit at my desk and dream of getting out there and travelling and experiencing the world. This job is a great opportunity for me to grow in this world, and I’m afraid I’ll screw up my career prospects if I pack up and leave.

I am afraid of what will come after travelling and worry about finances etc. Like someone said before I also do worry that my age is catching up with me (29) and that I should have done this sooner etc. I also worry about safety for a female travelling unfamiliar territory on her own (especially after some hairy experiences living in South Africa). However blogs like this just fuel the desire to get out there before I’m really old!

My problem is that I’m scared and worry about everything. ANy words of wisdom perhaps?

TJM J

Alexandra,

I’ve done a fair bit of travelling and I’ve encountered women travelling solo just about everywhere. While it’s true that you should pay attention to some extra stuff when compared to male travellers, it’s also true that humans appear to be kind to eachother in most places ;).
Quicktips : start travelling from places like youth-hostels, or follow the ‘lonely planet’ – trail. You’ll never be truly alone and there’s bound to be someone that can reassure you on whatever local worry you’ll have.
Also, take a prolonged vacation as a try out. From the sound of it, maybe a holiday like that every now and then might suffice to fulfill your desires.
If not, take the plunge!
All the best!

Surminfa

I was told at my graduation that if you’re not happy, do something about it and only you can. I’m to young to make any big decisions but I know I’ll make some big life decisions soon

I hope to be able to quit my job to start a new aventure and to travel all over the world like you did!

phil

wish I could travel and get paid for it , I think one day you will want to settle if so what is your favourite place in the world to enjoy ?

Jacquelyn

June 3rd, 2013 <—- the day I will quit and join you :) It's been less than a year since my first trip outside the U.S. The American Dream was never for me. Cheers

NomadicMatt

Good luck!

Hi Matt I’m just about to launch “our” travel blog this month. Your story and success is very inspiring, I’ll be very happy just to get half-way of what you reached. :)

Travelling is getting easier, with apps, internet and travel blogs, but the pressure still exists from friends and family that seems to extinguish many peoples ambitions to travel. I never wanted to live in one place, I never wanted to have to book time for myself 3 months in advance.

I have no problem with working hard, I would just rather work hard on my own terms. Me and my girlfriend have been fully nomadic for over a year now and waking up in new interesting places is our new normal. I could never be fully happy If I stopped doing this for something that energizes me less, even if it did pay more.

Very inspirational – I decided about 3 months ago that I’m going “nomadic” in 1 year from September. First thing I did was write my story about how I quit my job – I now have something to live up to! Thanks for all your words!

Peggy Miles

In 1961 I sailed to Europoe, 18 years old, going to see relatives who survived THE war. Cashed in my return ticket andinstead of returning after three months, I stayed nearly a year and a half.

Took a job as a cleaning lady, then a waitress in Switzerland. In those days letters to the States (and back) took a week each way; phone calls were prohibitably expensive. Without computers, Skype, cell phones and other current communication devices, travelers were far from home and one became quite independent.

Fifty-one years later, I leave next week for SE Asia and then Europe.

Just like malaria or Dengue Fever…the travel bug gets in your system and does a number on you for the rest of your life.

MattJ

Matt,

This article just made my year. I lived in Spain for two years teaching and writing for a magazine but after constant pressure from the family I sold out and returned. The last two years I’ve had an awesome job in sales, living in DC, and have a sweet apartment. And it is not enough. Not close, man. I literally dream every night that I’m back in Madrid, and every single day I wake up disappointed to be here. I can’t tell you how happy I am happy to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Already I dread telling my folks that I’m leaving again and am worrying about money (trying to save money in DC is no easy task), but that in no way comes close to matching the excitement and passion I have to live this dream. Thank you for having the stones to do this. Totally inspired and totally ready to start living again.

NomadicMatt

Great! Get out there and do it yourself!

Spot on. I tried to comment on your “Everyone Says I’m Running Away” post, but I think you must have maxed out your comments there..;-) I try to explain to Europeans I meet while traveling that Americans just don’t travel. Not extensively and extendedly, at least. I think there are a few of us in the minority. It’s all in the culture, this American Dream you speak of. Part of it stems from, I believe, our Calvinists forefathers who founded this country on strict, conservative beliefs of hard work and no play. We can’t fault them, I guess. We live in a (for the most part) great nation. But the product of their success is a somewhat rigid interpretation of life revolving around very hard work and family life. These, by most folks’ standards, are great values to have at the core of your country. Americans have warped it a bit, though. We (meaning the average American) have placed an unprecedented importance on material wealth and the accumulation of things, which render us burdened with overwhelming debt. I mean, look at what is going on large scale in our country right now! People feel the need to buy a big house, drive nice cars, send their kids to expensive schools, and provide countless (unnecessary) niceties for their families that rack up the credit card bills like no other (iPads, ipods, iphones, flat screen HD t.v.s, Mac laptops- hey, I’m guilty! I’m on mine right now!) My point being that Americans have become fixated on these things that represent their monetary value (or wealth) that represents or reflects all of their hard work. And what’s it all for? For the family, of course! (well, not always, but it’s still the norm for single folk to work hard and play hard and accumulate lots of nice things to show for it).

It’s very frustrating to me that mainstream America does not appreciate or even attempt to understand the benefits of really traveling. I’m not talking about a vacation to an all-inclusive resort, a cruise, or a ski trip (and I’ve done all these, and that’s fine). I mean exploring a different culture, far away, being completely shoved outside of your comfort zone and appreciating that you have toilets you can sit on at home….

On my most recent trip, an Austrian lady was explaining that in Vienna, people don’t really own their homes. They rent. It’s too expensive. They’d rather travel I guess! I know that there are plenty of countries with poor traveling representation, but it seems that most of the Europeans I’ve met are at least more understanding, and they just- get it- when you tell them you’re traveling for 4 to 6 weeks (not to mention years!) I feel like the Dutch and English travel the most, and a lot of Germans I’ve encountered these past 6 months. Gosh, New Zealanders are the BEST travelers!

I just started a travel blog, and one of my goals is to (with the help of others!) try to sway this static and rigid mindset Americans have. Maybe convince some of them to trade in their fancy cars for a few months worth of traveling in Africa (albeit not all at once for most people- can’t get the time off from work!). Although, I find that more and more people are working for themselves or working remotely and have more flexible schedules than past generations. Why not entice them to spend their spare time abroad- exploring, learning, adventuring, bettering themselves? It would make my life easier anyway, if Americans started thinking differently about travel. I’ve definitely noticed a slight change in attitudes in the last few years, as travel becomes easier and cheaper, and more people see their friends traveling and want to have similar experiences.

I feel that I am still battling the idea that my travel passions are just needs for me to escape and run away from my life. My recent travels may have been a bit of an escape. But I totally agree with you, that I was running toward life, because I felt like I was choking and withering away here. I’m tired of defending my passions, beliefs and choices, though. That’s where I’m hoping the blog can help!

xo, Lindsay

I like how you stated that you said it with the most confidence you ever had. Im looking forward to that day in my own life. It will come eventually. You’re an inspiration and I hope you know that! I would love to be able to meet you one day.

Kristin

Love hearing this story. Seems like yesterday when you started out touring the US as just Matt :) Congrats on living your dream and loving it.

NomadicMatt

Ahhh I remember crashing in your guest bed, meeting your friends, and getting suck in ATL traffic!

HG

I guess societal pressure is what keeps everyone in line.
Just like different kinds of ants..
but I’m always glad to hear from the nomadic ones.

So semi-nomadic now means.. what? A home base in the US to return to?

NomadicMatt

I have a home base in NYC though I am regularly still on the road.

One issue I have with this article is I think it paints the idea that people who work typical jobs (and get married and have children) are all boring individuals whose lives are over. I myself question what the American Dream is but I realize it is different for everyone and we don’t have to adhere to some “mold” even if we do get typical jobs, married, etc.
I too feel an overwhelming desire to travel and for awhile I thought that me accepting a “normal” job would mean I was giving up those dreams. So not the case. Life is indeed what we make it … people can travel at any age, married or not married, with children or not with children. Once travel gets in your blood, I think it’s there to stay. If you want to travel, you will make time and find time to travel, especially if it’s one of your passions. I now realize that having a stable “normal” job doesn’t mean I’m selling out or becoming another typical robot of society. It does mean however, that maybe I can save a little more money to do things like go on trips and not have to worry about where that money is going to come from.

Sarah

Hi Matt, my name is Sarah and I just discovered your travel blog. So far, I love it and find it very inspirational. I too am 22 years old and started to discover that the American Dream lifestyle is not for me. It’s still difficult for me to come to terms with it because my family, friends, etc all are pursuing that. All I really want is to travel the world…and when I tell people that they laugh and do not take me seriously. It sometimes makes me not take myself seriously. But then there are people like you who tell others that it is possible. To me you are like the 5 backpackers that changed your life. So thank you!

Moni

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your great website…it’s really got me thinking…good on you for challenging the conventional materialistic lifestyles we are conditioned to accept… I’m 40 now but I spent 4 years “on the road” in my late 20s and early 30s… it was hard at times being a lone female in the big wide world, but like you, it shaped who I am today…I’ve been back home for nearly ten years now, but I’ve done things differently as a result of my travels…I didn’t go back to a “9 to 5 job”, I have worked as a contractor to large companies ever since and while there is no financial security and no pension plans, i have managed to make a living doing this…I don’t have a boss, I work the hours I want to, and I have 2 months off during summer each year…I also have made sure I never got stuck in a metal rut of who I should associate with, I have a wide variety of friends from a wide variety of cultures here at home… I also try to constantly break out of my comfort zone with new experiences and new adventures whether it’s trying a new food or visiting a part of my country that’s off the beaten track…I don’t own a house or have 2.5 children either, and I still have very few possessions compared to my friends, but I am also happy and content and have a very enjoyable life… all lessons I learnt “on the road”!!! May the road rise to you…. :)

Mikaelo

Truly, this is inspiring. There is something greatly admirable in people who prefer defining their own path over just conforming to the society’s preconceived, (sometimes) hypocritical notions of success and happiness, a wave that the majority often inadvertently follows. I look up to you man. If I may ask, what job exactly did you do before you traveled?

Ludovica

Fan-ta-stic!
So inspiring… I was emotionated while reading… In 3 days i am reading all the possible;) and ican just say one thing…
Thank you!!!!

Joey Waters

Hey Matt,

Been reading through much of your website. It’s really inspiring.

What was your job that you quit?

NomadicMatt

I worked in healthcare.

This is super inspiring and something that I am beginning to plan for right now. I’m just racking my brain trying to figure out a business I can run remotely while i’m on this excursion. Your posts are getting me very excited for the future, though!

This was inspiring to read. I feel like my life is completely parallel to your situation before you quit. I graduated with a marketing degree just assuming that I would head straight into career life. I spent a few months in Chile after graduation to do an internship in order to gain “work experience” but instead, through people I met and places I went, I gained “life” experience. I came home with an uneasy feeling about starting the 9-5 world. But I needed a job. So I started working at whole foods in order to avoid the “real world”. But that didn’t make me feel any freer. I was being helped out by my parents still, and I hated it, so last January, I got my first 9-5 job as a production designer at a consulting firm. I like the work… but every single day I think about the places I want to travel, and with no actual return date. But I don’t know how to do it. I have nothing tying me down in Houston, TX, no kids, no significant other; just a cat and a car payment. I tell myself day after day that when my lease is up in June, I want to make the plunge and go against the American “normal”. But then I freak myself out thinking about being stranded with no money, and also alone. It’s a never-ending emotional rollercoaster every time I think about it. Your story really inspires me as I face the same decision you had to make. And you made it. I will definitely read more of your posts. This itch will never go away unless I make it happen..

NomadicMatt

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post so much!

Lucy Williams

Hi Matt.
Thanks for taking the time out of your journeys to stop still and inspire others.
I spend a year abroad at 19 and vowed to live this type of life forever. Life got in the way and I am now 32 and writing manuals for a living. I want nothing more than to be a travel writer/translator but I can’t find the time or energy to search these jobs out because I’m so deflated from my job. Your blog has made me kick myself up the bum and not to be afraid of taking home less money. Thanks grazie gracias.

To repeat what everyone has already said: thanks for a beautiful and inspiring post!

I have not quit… yet. I try to juggle Corporate America with expeditions to places that make my coworkers frown and ask what is wrong with me.

It’s funny. It was Ko Samui where I realized that “traveling” was so much more and so different than “tourism”. Watching the ocean in Lamai Beach, I asked my friend J what day of the week it was. None of us knew. That was the moment of enlightenment :)

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