Like it or love it, most of us have to work for a living. This is the place to commiserate with other cube-dwellers and get tips from other business travelers. Talk about how the daily grind will one day allow you to realize your vagabond dreams. Share tips for turning travel you have to do into travel you want to do.

Gave Notice! Now why are coworkers being weird?

LindsayNicole

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2010
Wow, I haven’t been active in this community for a few years! It is so great to see people taking risks and doing what they need to do to see the world.

I moved to NYC approx 5 years ago for grad school, finished, found a semi good job, and have been working solid for 2 years. I've felt so uninspired. I could only read my past travel journals (mainly through Europe and some SE Asia) so many times, and I could only look at photos so many times - before I finally thought, 'I have to go away'. Of course, I wasn’t courageous enough to march into work and quit the next day. But after some coordination, convincing (my boyfriend to go with me - it didn’t take too much convincing) and a lot of late night thinking, and occasionally crying: "what am I doing with myself and my life?" I decided to leave my job. We are heading to Guatemala in June and will see where that takes us. Disclaimer: Travel will end in late August when we move to Portland Oregon for further work ands school endeavors.

So I gave the notice to my 2 bosses yesterday. They were actually supportive of my goals, choices and desire to relocate. They didn’t understand the travel thing - and that’s ok. I'm not trying to prove anything to them, or anyone, and honestly, they probably don’t care what I do after I leave here. And I imagine they were happy that I gave 2 months notice, so that I can train the new person.

Seeing as word travels quickly throughout the office about my leaving, and I'm actively telling a few friends/acquaintances, I am repeatedly getting the same BLANK STARE when people ask what my future plans are, and I say "We are going to travel for a few months". Then comes the flood of questions (which I feel are kind of personal). How are you paying for it? How much money are you spending? Where are you getting the money? What does your family think? How could you leave your job in an economy like this? You don’t have anything lined up in Portland when you get back? The questions go on and on.
So far my response has been basically telling them briefly that travel is important to me, and walking away. I don’t want to break ties or segregate myself from the people I’ve spent every day with for the last two years. But I also don’t feel the need to explain myself by detailing the ways that we’ve prepared for this trip (saving, etc) and how relatively inexpensive some of the places we are traveling to will be.

Can anyone relate? What tactics have you used in the past when grilled by coworkers, friends or family?

seeker

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2010
I've just answered all the questions with as much honesty as possible. When someone asks what it costs I'll them of the approx. day or monthbudget that I've planned for. It didn't feel too personal for me. Of course in my country honesty is probably the most important value, so you may feel different.

The hardest one to answer has been "what will you do there?", or "why?". Those are very hard to give specific/satisfying answers for. The problem has mainly been getting tired of answering the same questions over and over again. Also "Alone?" with a very surprised/not understanding expression is a winner in what is most asked.

VagabondQuest

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  • Added on: March 25th, 2010
I and husband left Canada almost a year ago for backpacking. I can totally relate to your feeling. The questions from people that can get too personal, and the blank stares when I try to explain about saving, preparation, reason, how fun it could be, etc.

I'm originally from Indonesia, a country that backpacking is not well known, so family and friends there thinks I've been having a splurge vacation for the last 1 year. The kind of traveling that they know is using pricey guided tour everywhere, hit every single money drawing tourist trap, and a lot of taxi rides. They thought the backpacking is the same thing with that, only I carry backpack instead of suitcase...

"Having kids", "settle in a place", "build a career", "when will you go home", are frequent topic people ask me. I still struggle to answer many of these questions, and sometimes feel a little sad that such a wonderful thing like this can't be shared with some of my family and friends. When that happen, reading forums and blogs by backpackers comforts me, there are a lot of people out there that understand us.
Dina at VagabondQuest
http://www.vagabondquest.com/

C-and-C

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Location: currently traveling

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  • Added on: March 27th, 2010
In the US, it seems "taking time off to travel" is a very foreign concept for most people, even our closest friends and family. When asked about why I travel, I used to ramble on and on about all the benefits of experiencing new and different people, customs, and cultures. Now it just comes down to one simple concept: it makes me feel alive.

Of course there are a million other reasons why I travel, but so far I've found that people can't really dispute or question that answer... after all, most of us can relate to what can become the monotony of everyday life, especially in the corporate world: get up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat.

The truth is, you will be hard pressed not to get the BLANK STARE response from people who simply cannot fathom leaving the security and creature comforts of their own microcosm. The wanderlust spirit doesn't live in all of us. Try not to be annoyed by their questions no matter how personal they may seem as they're probably just genuinely curious that you're not following the same status quo path as everyone else. And maybe, whether they realize it or not, they might be a tad jealous of your courage, as well as your desire, to set out into the unknown...
Europe travels
South America to SE Asia travels

Michaela Potter

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  • Added on: March 27th, 2010
C + C mentioned that your colleagues may be a tad jealous - I think that that is actually a main factor (whether they realize it or not!). The culture in the US has engrained in us that we must follow a certain path in life. Unfortunately, most have bought into this and believe that this is the only way we can be happy. But how happy are your colleagues?

Take comfort in the fact that you are going to have an amazing experience, and a life changing one at that. When you start to get annoyed by people's questions, just picture yourself free of the cubicle, hiking the ancient ruins of Tikal, strolling along the cobblestone streets of Antigua, and all of the other great tales you'll be filling your travel journal with.

And who knows - hopefully you'll inspire your colleagues to start dreaming of their own getaway!
Michaela Potter
Briefcase to Backpack | Twitter:CareerBreakHQs

Tortuga_traveller

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  • Added on: March 28th, 2010
Most Americans don't know what to do with a person that is going off to the great unknown for an unknown time period. If they are your co-workers, they are half jealous, and half think you crazy. They're half jealous because you must have gotten a bundle from somewhere in order to 'vacation' for an unlimited time. The idea that one can literally live in Central america for 200-400 dollars a week for two people will never occur to them, because to them travel means four star resorts.

If it does occur to them, they'll consider you oddballs.

You've just left their pigeonholing, their social scale, and now they don't know what to do with you. Now, if you had told them a little white lie, that you had received a job offer in Central America for a mid-sized company doing the same job you did in the USA, they'd be happy for you, make some talk, and you'd have NORMAL relations.

You see, by giving up your job and just wandering, you've become a POOR person, and of course they can't put you on the same social level as before.

Or, you've let them know you're independently wealthy, and you've just been slumming with them for two years. Oops.

So, to fix this, tell them you've just got word that you received a job offer from an international corporation, and you can't turn this opportunity down. If they ask when you come back, well, say it didn't work out, that the position was made redundant by a new manager.

From now on, repeat this story to all white collar people, or be vague about your intentions, saying you're seeking new ways to use your talents for a short time, and you can't have the company hold the job for you.

Just for fun, try out the first option on an unkown white collar person and see if you don't get more than a blank stare. Oh., and have a backstory to match the story....Even if you don't stick with it, you'll learn WHY the reaction is as it is.

Reminds me of the time a college co-ed came up to me and asked if I was an engineer. I said no, and recieved a similar lack of interest. Should have said yes. I could fake it well enough.

Bedhead

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  • Added on: April 11th, 2010
When I went through this, one of my bosses made the nice comment that everyone dreams of what they'll do "someday", and I was actually making my "someday" happen. I really liked that. I found people were supportive, but there were still plenty of people who just didn't understand. And sometimes I'd tell people I was going to China and I would get comments about how they never wanted to go there, or it seemed like an awful place, or whatever -- having no idea that what they were saying might be rude.
If you're going to visit Beijing, get some tips from an expat on where to stay, where to eat, and where to have fun.

Timmie

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Location: Northern California

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  • Added on: April 12th, 2010
I'd say the most common response I've gotten is whether I am scared of getting robbed or killed. As if I will be any safer in the typical American city. I do hear how it must be nice to travel since I must be rich. The first response is erroneous, the second is not, simply because I consider myself rich in the sense of having an independent nature and being retired and having the mental and physical health that allow me to feed my nomadic desires. So lately, I just limit what I tell family and friends, all of whom are not so narrow minded. I long ago tired of explaining myself to those who's minds were made-up anyway.
"Whatever you can or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it". Goethe

VagabondQuest

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  • Added on: April 13th, 2010
Timmie: well said!
Dina at VagabondQuest
http://www.vagabondquest.com/

Timmie

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  • Added on: April 13th, 2010
Thanks VagabondQuest. I suppose I veered from the subject since it was related to bosses or co-workers, but it did give me a chance to vent. Since I have neither of those I just substituted family and friends. Carpe Diem, Timmie
"Whatever you can or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it". Goethe

PDXnative

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Location: Pacific Northwest

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  • Added on: May 21st, 2010
C-and-C wrote:In the US, it seems "taking time off to travel" is a very foreign concept for most people, even our closest friends and family. When asked about why I travel, I used to ramble on and on about all the benefits of experiencing new and different people, customs, and cultures. Now it just comes down to one simple concept: it makes me feel alive.


I was just thinking the same thing yesterday. I feel half dead living the 8-5 work week. But when we travel, I feel fully alive and never happier.
Planning our family RTW Trip on:
http://travel-junkies.com

Twitter: GoRTW

Miss Logic

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  • Added on: July 12th, 2010
When asked why I have done, am doing or will do something...I always have the same response...I say "because I want/ed to". This leaves most people more dumbfounded then the idea of going to to Europe for 2 months with just a backpack. The concept of doing something just because I want to seems to be a foreign idea to many people I know.

This is how I live my life though. If I want to do something I create a life that supports that desire. I am a happier person because of it and because I know that if at any moment I don't want to do something...I just don't.

Dan The Chainsawman

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  • Added on: July 26th, 2010
Ehh... They probably think you are bananas and are keeping their distance in case you are contagious.

Dan The Chainsawman

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  • Added on: July 26th, 2010
Not being snide, I'm just pointing out that people who make your choices are viewed as a bit off. Makes sense to you why you are going out on the travel trail, but it doesn't make sense to them.

Hence, that's why they think you are bananas.

lovemyluggage

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Posts: 176
Joined: October 13th, 2007
Location: South Carolina. Sigh.

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  • Added on: August 22nd, 2010
It's good to be bananas.

For the most part people have stopped asking me why I'm going. And without exception, they ARE envious, though (and maybe I'm just lucky) they express this positively, with phrases like, "Good luck!" and "I wish I could just take off," and all the rest. When I started leaving everything and moving to the other side of the world, though, I got plenty of BLANK STARES.

To be fair, though, I gave plenty of my own blank stares in return. Like when people talked about buying a house, or settling down, or getting a mortgage, or having babies and going hunting and buying a boat...and all the accoutrements of "normal" life. I can't enter into that world, nor do I wish to.

So I don't mind the blank stares and the questions and the raised eyebrows and the head-shaking, or even the doubts as to my sanity. Because I have the same response to "their" suburban, khaki-wearing, 8-5 aspirations. And turnabout is fair play. Your coworkers aren't being weird, they're being typical.
__________________________
“I'm not at my best when I moralize or philosophize. Logic is elusive, especially to one who so rarely uses it.”
--Tallulah Bankhead


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