How to quit the rat race and follow your dreams

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In 2012, I was working as an investment banker in Newport Beach, California. It was considered a great job and I got to drive a nice car, but I’m a dreamer and I craved more. So, I quit my job and sold my belongings to hit the road solo. Fast forward to the present day and I still travel full time, living a life of wanderlust, and now with my partner and young son, too. I have always funded my adventures through the success of my travel blog Be My Travel Muse, a resource for like-minded travelers. I’m also an author. For anyone else dreaming of a life of travel, here are my hard-earned tips to help you on your way…

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It gave me time to evaluate my life choices

I thought the only way to make something of myself was to climb the corporate ladder, drive a nice car, live in a nice apartment, and own some shiny, expensive purses. Everyone around me seemed to have the same goals and they seemed happy, so I thought it would make me happy, too. Two weeks into my job as an investment banker I hated it, although I stayed for four years. I came to realise that those people who seemed happy were often feeling the same as I was.

For me personally, deciding to go traveling came down to a shoulder injury that left me bedridden. It gave me time to evaluate my life choices and decide what truly makes me happy. I think that should be the ultimate question and answer — what makes you truly happy? If it is keeping a steady job and buying a house, then work towards that — it’s a perfectly noble goal. However, if it’s not, perhaps it’s time to start exploring other options.

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Travelers are friendly people

South Africa was the first place I visited. I was blown away by its natural beauty and friendliness. I could stay on the Wild Coast forever, wandering along rural bluffs overlooking the ocean, while dogs from the backpackers hostel joined me for walks. I also loved hiking and participating in retreats. And I loved the ocean — scuba diving, swimming, or free-diving, a skill I’ve learned on my travels.

It’s also much easier than you think to meet people on the road. If you crave company, stay in a social accommodation and hang out at the common area. If dorms are not your thing, sign up for group activities. You can take walking tours, find meet ups and check out social media groups as well, for whatever destination you’re going to. Travelers are friendly people. It’s easiest to find someone else who is alone — and trust me there are a lot — and strike up a conversation. Chances are, they’re just as excited to talk to you.

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Traveling alone doesn’t inherently mean you’re less safe

I’ve faced so many challenges on my travels, like getting dropped off somewhere new in the middle of the night, being hopelessly lost, and when I sensed I was in the middle of a scam and needed to talk my way out of it. But then I look back on those moments and I know that I grew each time, so it’s all good; it’s a learning experience.

I believe that traveling alone doesn’t inherently mean you’re less safe. Your intuition is sharper, you are more aware of your surroundings, and when locals see you — especially if you’re a woman on your own — they are more likely to want to help you than harm you. Give yourself some confidence by reading more solo travel blogs, join solo travel communities, and take safety tips from people who have done it.

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You know what makes you happy and fulfilled

I have lived cheaply, set money saving goals and stuck to them. I also invested most of what I made, paid off all of my student loans and have managed to avoid credit card debt. I don’t believe in spending what I don’t have.

As a solo traveler, people will often ask why you travel alone and if you want to settle down. Before meeting my partner, I always felt it was no ones business, but I also had compassion as I knew I was living a life people didn’t always understand. For some people, it’s threatening. It helped me to care less about anyone else’s opinion. I think it all comes down to living life for nobody else but yourself. You know what makes you happy and fulfilled, and that’s all that matters.

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Lean into the fear and take a chance

I am a lot happier now, having quit the rat race — it’s a cliché but it’s certainly true. With a wholesome lifestyle, opportunities to go to places I had only dreamt of going, and meeting beautiful souls from all over the world, you bet I’ve never looked back. I think you just have to hit that one point where you finally go, “Okay, I’ve had enough. That’s it. This needs to change. Now.” Lean into the fear and take a chance. Nothing is a forever decision.

You can keep up-to-date with Kristin’s travels via her Instagram and Be My Travel Muse blog

Ready to set off on your own solo adventure? Join Flash Pack today to meet other like-minded travelers just like you.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveler like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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