Narrowing your focus after broadening your horizons: dealing with post-travel life

So, for those of you who didn’t follow the journey on this blog, I spent April 2016 – March 2017 travelling around the world. I left my home in Hong Kong, visited 23 countries over the course of a year and have now returned to my native UK. Let’s say, for argument’s sake that you, like me, have taken time out to travel. You’ve had a great time but you are now faced with the problem that presents itself to everyone who does not possess the funds to travel indefinitely: “What next?” Let’s deal with the decision in bite-sized chunks:

  1. Location – Do you have a set location in mind? This will help enormously in your ability to zero in on companies or industries of interest. If, like me, you find yourself open to working abroad, consider the elements necessary for success in any specific market: language requirements, remote working potential, knowledge of local market etc.
  2. Permanent staff, contractor or freelancer – many travellers return from their trips having been well and truly bitten by the travel bug. Are you happy now to limit your travel to your 20-25 days of holiday allocation per year? If not, is there a skill that you can sell to the employment market on a fixed-term basis? Can you find a way to be paid per project?
  3. Industry – For those wanting to return to jobs in the same area that once they worked, the quandary is less severe. For those wishing to depart from their background to seek new challenges think “why?”: why would you be a better hire than someone with directly relevant experience? What sets you apart from others in the industry? What new perspective can you former role or travel experiences bring to a new employer?
  4. Salary/income – What is the minimum income you need to survive? The minimum to be happy? The minimum to be able to save? Some are happy living hand-to-mouth, others want to ensure they can save a surplus for a rainy day.
  5. Friends and relationships – I’m a big believer that happiness is derived from a combination of factors and can’t be the sole result of job satisfaction. If you chose to live elsewhere how easy will it be to see/keep in touch with friends and family? Will you be able to build a social support network? Will your partner be accepting of your decision?

These are precisely the questions that I am asking myself right now. The wonderful thing is that this past year has taught me that there is no set formula – even if I reject the desk and office computer, there are many other ways to survive, to contribute, to thrive, to earn, to be happy. Let’s experiment, let’s not be afraid to fail, let’s dream big and start small. Answer the questions above in your own mind, smile in the mirror, open the front door and step out.

Good luck to us all!

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