From Goldman to Geneva: Why I Quit My Job in NYC to Travel
On August 17, 2016, I left JFK on a one-way flight to Dublin with my Game of Thrones hat and 35lbs in my backpack. It was the first leg of a journey that will surely be one of the most exciting chapters of my life! Along with an experienced travel blogger friend, we plan to travel from Ireland to Cape Town (if I make it that far!), entirely overland. We’re expecting to travel for 6 to 8 months, but will be moving and exploring at our own pace!
This trip is exciting for a few reasons: I’ll be traveling with a well-known travel blogger; we’ll be visiting 28 countries (including the east coast of Africa!); it’s the first time I’ll be traveling with a backpack (and on a budget!). I’m thinking about it as the gap year I never had (or could never afford).
I’ve been getting a lot of questions and wanted to answer a few of the more common ones I’ve been asked. I received mixed responses from family and friends about this trip, which I expected. It’s not often that someone decides to quit his cushy job, move out of NYC, and take an extended journey around the world, all within a month’s notice. But it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and now seemed like the perfect time to do something impulsive like this!
If you want to follow my trip, I’ll be posting pictures primarily on Instagram, so be sure to turn my notifications on – @ianellis5. I’ve got a few ideas for articles I’d like to write, so I’ll also be posting here periodically – keep an eye out!
Are you crazy? How did you come up with this idea?
To answer that question, I need to give you a little background. During a 3 week trip to Thailand in April this year, I met Janet Newenham while on a motorbike tour of Koh Phangan. There was a group of about 20 of us from The Nomad Hostel riding around the island, hopping from beach to beach. At one of the beaches, while we were swimming, I heard Janet talking about her blog and how she was able to quit her full-time job to travel. Being a big fan of some travel/fashion bloggers on Instagram, I was fascinated by her story and asked a bunch of questions. After that day, we were each off to our next island (but unfortunately not in the same direction) – we exchanged contact information and I became another one of her 20,000 fans.
After returning to the States, I followed Janet’s adventures as she made her way north through Chang Mai, and as she continued to travel to Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and (lastly) the Maldives. A 5-month trip! It was incredible that our paths crossed over 8,000 miles from NYC. When I met her, I could tell that she was extremely passionate and loved what she did. But after following her blog for a few months, I began to understand why she had so much success: I truly enjoyed her perspective, the articles she chose to write in her friendly, fun, and engaging writing style, as well as her dedication to her followers (I was amazed that she took the time to answer everyone who comments on her blog articles!). Be sure to check out her blog!
I saw Janet start posting about her next trip: Ireland to Cape Town, and jokingly asked if I could tag along! The rest is self-explanatory.
Why did you decide to go? What about your career?
The stars really aligned here, and I think about it three ways.
- I really didn’t like my new job. After working at an investment bank for 4 years, I decided that I wanted to try something new (while I still could). But the replacement job I ended up at wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and I missed working at Goldman. I was unhappy in the new role – and whether I quit today or waited for a few months, I could tell where it was headed. The opportunity to travel with Janet seemed like a much more rewarding way to spend my time.
- I had very few responsibilities… no significant other… no mortgage. The lease on my apartment would expire at the end of the month. Nothing was really tying me down. I felt like this was the right time to do something like this, before life got in the way.
- I caught the travel bug. I went on my first solo trip about a year ago to northern Italy and had the time of my life. It happened on a whim – I had never thought of myself as someone that would travel alone. I hadn’t taken vacation in over a year and wanted to go overseas, but couldn’t convince any of my friends to go. So I decided to go on my own. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and highly recommend it. My trip to Italy prompted another solo journey to Thailand the following year. I wonder where I’d be right now if one of my friends had decided to go on that trip with me last year?!
So this trifecta led me to make the decision to join Janet. I’ll worry about what I want to do when I return from my trip. I have a good resume, so I’m sure something will work out…
What did you do during your time before the trip began?
I had a lot to do in about a month – It was a little overwhelming. I had a long list of to-dos. I had to pack everything from my apartment into a UHaul and drive it out of Manhattan (something I would normally ask Roman to do). I had to get 6 vaccinations, research travel insurance, cancel recurring bills, update my passport, and get all of my affairs in order. But I was able to get it all done! I’m planning to follow up with a more detailed post about those experiences.
What are you most excited about?
- Croatia: I’ve heard amazing things about this place, but I’m particularly excited for Dubrovnik – where they film King’s Landing in Game of Thrones!!
- Egypt: I’ve been fascinated with the great pyramids and sphinx since I was a kid, so seeing them will be a childhood dream come true. I also really want to get a good pic on top of a camel.
- Cape Town: if you never have – google this place and you will understand.
What will you miss this most?
This will be the longest I will be out of NY and away from my friends and family, so I will definitely miss them the most. However, they’ll be able to follow my adventure all along, and I’m never more than a FaceTime call away! Surprisingly, I think I’ll also miss NYC a little bit – it’s grown on me over the last few years – especially hanging out in downtown Manhattan (at Clintons and on the water in BPC).