I was really reluctant to write this post, as we’ve only been travelling for 4 months so I don’t quite consider myself an expert (yet!). But there is an article doing the rounds that has really annoyed me.
You may have seen in your newsfeed a story entitled ‘Couple Who Quit Their Jobs to Travel Now Scrub Toilets for a Living’. It’s been on Buzzfeed, Elite Daily and many other sites and the story comes from this blog post, wherein a South African couple who quit their jobs to travel spill the beans on how tough their lives are.
In the post they talk about scrubbing toilets, living on a diet of crackers and jam and walking streets with their heavy packs because they can’t afford bus tickets. The response to the articles has been one of pure schadenfreude. People who are understandably sick of reading romanticised articles about people who have left behind the 9 to 5 for travel are lapping it up. Pointing and laughing. Which is weird because at no point do the couple say they regret their choice or ask for sympathy.
While I’m all for being honest and admitting that life isn’t all white sand beaches, cocktails and mirror lakes, if you have to live on crackers and fight daily emotional battles I think you’re kind of doing it wrong. Because here’s the boring truth:
Quitting your job to travel is a major investment.
You don’t wake up one morning, decide to hand in your notice and jump on a plane. It takes months, even years, of saving money and planning. It’s a privileged decision and it’s an investment akin to purchasing a house. Andrew and I could have easily put a deposit on a house instead of travelling indefinitely. But that’s not a priority for us, travel is.
If you choose to quit your job to travel, you don’t have to scrub toilets. We’ve been on the road two months less than the South African couple and easily manage to eat proper food and get around without shovelling manure. Yes we slept in a tent for 50 nights but with showers and wifi that was hardly ‘roughing it’.
I can only imagine that this South African couple, who apparently worked in high flying advertising jobs before they left, saved very little or nothing before they left home. Maybe that’s how they wanted it? Maybe they wanted the added challenge of having to find funds on the way. Or maybe they have been staying in really expensive hotels. I have no idea.
My point is I’m frustrated by this so called ‘cautionary but inspiring tale’. Travel doesn’t have to leave you emotionally and physically spent. You just have to be clever about it. And sure if you want to scrub toilets that’s totally fine too. I imagine we will have completed some mundane farm work by the time our travel is through, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
Rant over. Details of how we budgeted coming soon!