Why I Decided to Quit the “American Dream” & Travel the World
I have everything I thought I ever wanted; a successful corporate career, a beautiful Manhattan penthouse apartment, a company sponsored (free) MBA, a loving partner, friends and family. I am living the American dream. Whose dream is this though? For the last ten years, I have been following the path that society has placed in front of me; go to school, get a job, climb the corporate ladder, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc. This is what we are taught from an early age. This is not my dream. This is the safe path through life. One that will ensure an average and unmemorable existence.
I’m done doing what I’m told. I want to see the world, adventure into the unknown and have new experiences. This is why I have decided to let everything go. I have quit my job, left my apartment and booked a one-way ticket to a city where I know no one; Buenos Aires, Argentina.
I’ve been living in New York City for ten years, and, as much as I love the city that never sleeps, it’s time for a big change. I will be travelling the world for one year and living in a different country every month. The goal is to have new experiences, immerse myself in different cultures around the world and bring you, my reader, along on the journey.
The first three months will be spent in South America. Exploring Buenos Aires, Argentina; Florianópolis, Brazil; and Lima, Peru. Next comes Europe, where I’ll tell the stories of Las Palmas, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Stockholm, Sweden; Prague, Czech Republic; and Limassol, Cyprus. Last comes Asia, where I’ll be living in Seoul, South Korea; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Bali, Indonesia.
All these locations have been chosen strategically and for two reasons. First, I want to experience summer for a whole year—a well-deserved year of warmth after having lived in New York State my whole life. Second, every location on the list must be safe, fun and have high speed internet (what would I do without it as a digital writer/photographer?).
The order in which I will be visiting the countries is important as well. I have scheduled them according to major festivals and cultural events. For example, I’ll be in Brazil for Carnival—the annual festival that marks the beginning of Lent in which Brazilians hit the streets in gorgeous colorful costumes dancing to rhythmic tunes. My time in Chiang Mai, Thailand coincides with the Yi Peng Festival and the Mae Jo Lantern Release in which they release thousands of candle-lit lanterns into the sky all at once. It will be stunning!
Many people have asked me how a trip like this is possible: “How can you afford not working for a year? Where will you live? Are you scared to drop your life in New York and move to places where you don’t know anyone?”
Many people think travelling is harder than it really is. Before I studied abroad in Barcelona during college, the thought of living somewhere else seemed overwhelming. That is until I did it and realized that you can get pretty much everything you could ever need anywhere you go (with the exception of very remote places). Within four months I was fully immersed in Spanish culture and having the best time of my life. Jumping from country to country and living a nomadic life full of adventure became addictive.
LET ME ANSWER SOME OF YOUR QUESTIONS.
How do I afford not working for a year?
As a travel photographer and writer, I have partnered with travel brands that will pay me to create content. I have also saved enough money that if I have no income I can still fully fund the trip. Also, living virtually anywhere in the world is cheaper than living in New York. With airfare, lodging, food, transportation and miscellaneous expenses factored in, I will spend about $1,500 a month, which is less than what I spend on my monthly rent in New York to share an apartment with four people. What’s more, I will be living in a penthouse in Peru, a modern loft in Prague and a beach bungalow in Brazil, all for significantly less than what I pay in New York.
Where will I live?
I will be renting monthly apartments, mainly from Airbnb, which come fully furnished with high speed internet, a washing machine, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Again, all at a fraction of the cost for what you would get in New York. For example, my apartment in Buenos Aires is only $895 for the month and is the same size as my $4,000 apartment in NYC that I split with four people.
Am I scared to leave NY to live in places where I know no one?
Deep down inside of course I am a little nervous. But all great adventure starts that way. Doing something I’ve never done before is what makes it so exciting. In order to grow as a person and experience life to the fullest, moments like these are necessary. I am now 27. If I don’t do this now it will be difficult to do it later when I have kids. For me, sitting in a cubicle for the next year is a lot scarier than getting out and trying something new.
With that said, I’m off to start this trip. If anyone has been to any of the locations, I welcome your feedback and suggestions! Tweet me at @SFunkyTravel. I’d love to hear your advice.
Follow me on Instagram @SarahFunky for daily updates.
See you in Buenos Aires!