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Why I quit my job to go solo backpacking

Amy O'Dell

Last week I did something crazy – I quit my job so I can go solo travelling around the world, inject some variety into my career, and then move to the Aussie beach.

My turning point was the night I suggested to a friend that we bar hop in Braddon with fake British accents. It was a hilarious night but one that triggered a reality check; I am well overdue for an adventure!

So with a shaky voice I told my employers my intention to swap my comfortable management role in one of Canberra’s great companies for a 65L backpack, a bed-bug resistant bed sheet and a modest handful of cross-seasonal outfits to see me through the months ahead.

And I was scared shi*tless, because resigning is the final snip of the safety rope and now there’s no turning back.

But alongside my pre-big-life-change jitters, I’m feeling for the first time in a couple of years a heightened level of purpose and possibility.

I know that by committing to change I’m grabbing the bull by the horns and I’m ready for the ride. Honestly, it feels great.

With less than 20 sleeps until I hit the road I’m living life in the fast lane. I’ve moved home with my parents (how great is mum’s cooking!), I’ve done my taxes (a miracle), repacked my backpack one thousand times, and spent my spare minutes reading guide books and hanging with my nieces and other loved ones. I’m also organising freelancing work for the road to help sustain my travels, and getting fit and strong to carry my luggage with ease.

These last few weeks are whizzing by with incredible speed, and while I’m stressed out of my head with a list of tasks as long as my arm, I’m busting with excitement from the lure of possibility.

Sunning myself in Thailand for a couple of months? Organic farming in Canada? Cups of tea with Grandma in England? Line dancing with cowboys in Texas? Exploring the jungles of Central America? Seeing my favourite band in San Francisco?

This is all very different to my first extended travel abroad, when at the fearless age of 18 I saved $1,000 cash and jumped on a one-way flight to work in England for a year.

This time around I’m older, wiser, the world has now has wi-fi and my mind boggles at what opportunities lie ahead.

My mind also boggles at the extra effort required of backpacking: lugging luggage on my back like a turtle, sleeping in mixed hostel dorms, taking long bus trips to save money on flights, and of course dealing with a weak Australian dollar (that was never in the plan).

But travelling on a shoestring will afford me an extended holiday and I hear that budget travel is character building. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, right? I’ll be the judge of that in a few months, thank you very much.

As corny and cliché as I sound, this is my Eat, Pray, Love moment in life. Move over Juliet Roberts – it’s time for some self-discovery, time out and gorgeous Javier Bardem style love affair of my own*…

The point is, I’m in my mid-thirties, single and surrounded by a circle of family and friends who are all settled or settling down.

They’re married, engaged, with kids or paying a mortgage and building their lives in one way or another. Quite frankly it’s the perfect opportunity to run for the hills (or in my case, run for mojitos on the beach) and escape from the rat-race for a while. I’m slowing things down, and I fully intend to smell the roses.

While I am very connected to these wonderful people in my life, the closer I get to my date of departure from Canberra, the more disconnected I feel. I’m drifting from their reality and craving one of my own.

Don’t get me wrong, in one year or five it is very possible that I’ll be at the same stage in life, but for now it’s so liberating to have the opportunity to get all kick-arse girl-power and do this trip on my own.

Last week’s resignation marks a big step forward into the unknown.

I’m on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. As the countdown is on I’m feeling nervous yet confident, sentimental yet content.

They say that everything you’ve always wanted is a step outside your comfort zone. Well, life is short and I want to see it all, so please hand me my passport and back pack and come at me, world!

*OK, so the thing about Javier is a bit far-fetched but let’s not let reality get in the way of a good celebrity fantasy!)

Image of ‘Hiker with backpack relaxing on top of a mountain and enjoying valley view during sunrise‘ via Shutterstock

Amy O'Dell

Amy, born and raised in Canberra, works as a marketing manager in the private sector and is in her final semester of uni. When she’s not pulling out her hair from study, she enjoys good music, food and cocktails at Canberra’s hot spots, powering through an extensive bucket list, and giggling with her two adorable nieces. Amy tries her best not to take life too seriously, living by the mantra that happiness is a conscious way of thinking, feeling and being. More about the Author

  • Natalia Węglarz

    Enjoy the trip!!
    But 1 piece of advice. you will change on your journey…. everyone else will be the same. don’t get too disheartened when you come back. Just realise this will happen.

    From someone who knows.. <3

  • Carmel McDonell

    Go Amy- may your light continue to shine brightly…

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