We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World

Hey everyone! A couple of weeks ago I asked one of my favorite bloggers to write a post for me. Just last year she quit her job, and her and her significant other decided to travel the world. I thought she was super inspiring and knew she just HAD to guest post for me. You can…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 29, 2020

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We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World

Hey everyone! A couple of weeks ago I asked one of my favorite bloggers to write a post for me. Just last year she quit her job, and her and her significant other decided to travel the world. I thought she was super inspiring and knew she just HAD to guest post for me. You can follow her lifestyle blog at Mish Lovin Life or their travel blog at Filling in the Dots.

Hi there. My name is Michelle. But you can call me Mish, so as not to confuse with the real Michelle of this blog. 🙂

While I truly admire Michelle’s dedication to keeping this wonderful and successful blog of hers anonymous, I’m going to be frank with you and say, I just can’t do that. So, to continue with my “I like to put it all out there” vibe, here’s a picture of me to put a face to this post.

Nice to meet you! So. About me. Here’s a little back story:

Ten months ago, I was working 40 hours a week at your typical 9-5 office job. I was faced with a glaring computer screen every day and attempted to keep my phone’s “Do Not Disturb” button active more than I’d like to admit. In so many words, I was pretty unhappy in the career department.

But what could I do?

I was almost 26 years old with a hefty student loan, living in Downtown San Diego with rent and car payments to make. Plus, this is just what you’re supposed to do, right? You go to college, then you get a job, and you work your way up the corporate ladder. That’s the path. You can have fun when you retire, they say! So how come I felt so miserable? Why did I want to gouge my eyes out every morning as I opened my Microsoft Outlook only to be greeted with 100+ emails?

I knew I wanted more. There had to be more.

Last May, my boyfriend Verner and I went to Korea for a week. My brother was getting married and we jumped on the chance to take a trip outside of the ol’ U-S-of-A. Needless to say, it was a blast. We did some sight-seeing, enjoyed a beautiful wedding, ate the most amazing kimchi I’ve ever had, and just soaked it all in. I mean, just look at us: That’s true happiness right there. And who wouldn’t be with a beer the size of your head?


We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World

Anyway, that trip sparked something inside of us. We returned to San Diego with this nagging feeling in our stomachs. We had an urge to see more. Do more. Be more. The thought of living my life, working so hard (okay, not that hard, but hard enough) at a job I didn’t care for seemed like torture to me. There was no way I could do that for 40+ more years!

Something had to be done. I had to stop making excuses. I had to think about what I wanted and make it happen. Simple as that. And it really is as simple as that. I firmly believe YOU are the only one that can hold YOU back. So I took responsibility and I went for it.

We decided to travel.

We decided to sell everything we owned. Goodbye cars. Goodbye furniture. Goodbye clothes.

We decided to quit our jobs. Goodbye and good riddance, I said!

We whittled our possessions down to fit in one suitcase each.

We set a goal of 5 months to plan, sell, save, and say our goodbyes.

With $26,000 in our bank account, we bought one-way tickets to Spain. And on November 18, 2012, we began our journey.

Excited didn’t even begin to describe our emotions that day.

We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World

We made a goal to only spend $100 a day. Total. For the both of us.

We wrote down everything we spent.

And surprisingly, it was totally doable.

Our first 50 days of travel were spent in Europe: 30 days in Spain, 20 days in Italy, with a short trip to Paris and Morocco!

We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World
^^^View from the Eiffel Tower^^^

After Europe, we went straight to Thailand and spent a month on Koh Samui.

Our $100/day budget easily came down to only $50/day, splurging on the best Pad Thai noodles for only $1.50!

I think I found my second home there in Thailand.

We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World

After Thailand, we went to Malaysia, then Bali, and Vietnam.

I’m actually currently writing this to you from our $22/night hotel room in Hanoi.

I am excited to say that next week, we will be heading back to Thailand to explore Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok. And again, excitement doesn’t begin to explain how I feel about that.

Let’s just say Vietnam hasn’t necessarily been my favorite place in the world.

We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World
^^^You can’t get this in Vietnam!^^^

I am sharing this because I want, more than anything, for you to know and to believe that you can truly do whatever you set your mind to. If you told me two years ago, hell, even a year ago, that I would be doing this now, I would have laughed in your face and said, “Yeah, right!”

But trust me when I say this, if I can do this, anyone can do this!

It takes a little bit of planning, sure. It takes a lot of sacrifice, yes. But it’s about priorities and it’s about your happiness. With anything in life, really.

We bought tickets finally to head to San Francisco in May. A part of me is really excited and looking forward to being on American soil again and scarfing down some good Mexican food. And there’s a part of me that will really miss being away, discovering new places. But there is one thing that I have learned from all of this, and that is: Never Settle. Don’t accept the “norm” in life if that “norm” is not what you want. If you’re unhappy, do something about it. Stop making excuses.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in San Francisco for, but I can guarantee that you won’t be finding me in another cubicle, gouging my eyes out! I vow to keep travel a close part of my life. I vow to put my happiness above what society tells me I should do. I vow to stay present, focused, and determined!

We Quit Our Jobs With $26,000 To Travel the World
^^^Doing what I love in Barcelona.^^^

Thank you for allowing me to share with you. I hope to meet some new friendly faces over in my little corner of the interwebs!


Have you ever thought about doing something like this? What’s a major goal of yours?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. The Norwegian Girl

    What a great experience, and such an inspiring travel story! I´ve always loved travelling, and hope to do it more in the future, when I just get done with my studies. and who knows, maybe I`ll end up doing the same thing! I´m definitely going to check out that travel blog of yours!

    1. You should definitely check out her travel blog! She has tons of awesome pictures.

  2. myfijourney

    I would love to travel the world. Particularly in a long extended tour.

    But I don't really have the option of quitting my job, traveling for several months, and then expecting to be able to find another job. It was hard enough to get this job.

  3. Christine

    This is amazing! A lot of people talk about doing this sort of thing but it's awesome that you actually did it! Hopefully you find something to do that you love once you get back to the US. Maybe a travel writer!? lol
    My recent post Monday Confession: I Want to Lose Some Weight

    1. I agree! She would make a great travel writer.

  4. Wow, this a really inspiring post! To see someone who didn't just say "I want to travel someday…" but actually took steps towards making it a reality is inspiring.
    My recent post Friday Giveaway Roundup – 80 Giveaways

  5. plantingourpennies

    Oh I love it! Mr. PoP and I talk about doing something like that when we reach financial independence in a few years. It's one of the big reasons we want to make that happen while we're still in our 30s and young enough to truly enjoy it!

    1. I agree, we want to do the same 🙂

  6. Ally

    I love this story. I'm doing the same thing (well about to be doing it). We've been saving for quite a bit longer since we're students but we're leaving for our big trip in January.

  7. Michael

    I already follow Mish and absolutely adore her. I am immensely jealous of her life changing travels. Do I want this? Absolutely. It’s just not in the cards right now. Lately I’ve been second guessing my career choice though, so maybe it’s time to take a hard look. Glad to see her be your guest today!

    1. Same here. I'm so jealous also.

  8. evencheap

    I have definitely thought of doing this. I have travelled to many countries but I always had to come back to work. It would be nice to not have to worry about work.

  9. Liz Taylor

    Wow! What an AWESOME blog entry to read.

  10. I would love to do something like this but not sure if I would have the guts to do it. Our finances would never allow it for one right now. Maybe some day. I do like the fact not having to look at this darn computer screen everyday, blah.
    My recent post Save Money in Your Bathroom

    1. Haha I agree Alan. Maybe one day.

  11. That's awesome. I hope to someday do the same.

  12. I hope you get to debt pay off soon Catherine 🙂

  13. Financial Samurai

    Fun stuff! Which part of Thailand was your favorite, how does it compared to Bali and what did you think of Morrocco? I’m planning a trip this fall and would love ideas.

    If you need any tips on San Francisco, let me know. It’s been my hometown for the past 12 years and I love it!



  14. I know my wife and I would love to do this, but we will have to wait until our kids are on their own. You just can't travel like this with kids, but your story is inspiring. Thanks and I am adding it to my Feeling Good Friday post.

  15. @StreetSmartTips

    Awesome post! I think this is an awesome idea for many people who have some extra money and are looking to invest in themselves. While 26k could do wonders in the long term for retirement, or a downpayment for a house, it's money well spent to learn and educate yourself on the world around you. We can't always be frugal and save, sometimes it is ok to spend. Great job on being so responsible with your money while travelling. Awesome, and inspiring! I hope everyone who plans to travel takes a look at this!

  16. Nick @ AYoungPro.com

    What an awesome and inspiring story! Good for you for forging your own path.
    My recent post I’m Building a New House

  17. therandompath

    What an inspiring story! So many people want to do this and I think you just gave them the incentive to do so!! 🙂
    My recent post Link Love: Happy Easter Edition!

  18. brickbybrickinvesting2012

    Fascinating stories and pictures!

  19. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence

    Cool story! I did the same 10 years ago, right out of college so I had a tiny tiny budget, after a year it came to about $7,000 including flights around the world, my friends were so envious to see I lived all those adventures for a year for the price of their rent a dozen of them left the next year!
    My recent post Carnival of passive investing, Easter edition

  20. astetts

    I loved this post! Reading it makes me feel like it should be mandatory that everyone takes a year to travel after they graduate college. It's those kinds of experiences that you should do when you're young and you don't care that you're eating noodles and just laying on the beach all day. The older you get the more you care about comfort and safety blah blah — good for you for taking the chance and doing what makes you happy – despite what anyone said was the safe route.

  21. studentdebtsurvivor

    So inspirational. I definitely would like to travel much much more then I do. It's hard to imagine doing a world tour (well an extended tour) at this point in my life. But I would like to do several larger 2-3 week traveling excursions per year.
    My recent post Cut Out of Dad’s Will? How My Dad Shapes My Finances

  22. Canadianbudgetbinder

    Well done Mish, I'm glad you were given the opportunity to guest post here as I really enjoyed this story. I've done plenty of travelling in my life but I just used my holidays at work but understand what you mean about living life not accepting the norm although not many break free like you have, kudos to you. I craved my next trip and I worked and saved and you bet I ate some good food in Thailand, it's amazing there. Cheers!
    My recent post PF Reading List #13- Good Friday, Good Food and Meeting Gail Vaz-Oxlade

  23. Tabitha

    Soooooo cool. I’m hoping our honeymoon will give M the travel bug.

  24. I have the travel bug. Michelle how is that you know so many cool Michelle's? Hehe! LOVED this post thanks for introducing this blog to us.

  25. andiperullo

    I loved this post!!! So inspiring that you dreamed big and accomplished everything you wanted!
    My recent post Cayman Islands: Day 3

  26. Funancials

    Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing

  27. @VisualFin

    It takes a lot of guts to sell everything you own and travel. I wish I had done something like that a few years back. Now that my wife and I are planning for kids, it makes it more difficult to take off for extended periods of time. Still, I'm happy with the amount of traveling we do now.

  28. It's amazing what you are doing. I love your attitude. If you want something – go for it! Making tradeoffs in your life definitely pays off. You go to show that you can do anything you want as long as you stay focused and take responsibility of your goals!
    My recent post Is Your Comfort Zone Hindering Your Success?

  29. Wow, it looks like you had a fantastic time!!! My husband and I don't enjoy travelling that much, but we too have vowed to live life the way we want and to ignore "the norm" if it isn't for us. Good luck with your future plans!

  30. This is really inspiring Mish! I'm currently in the phase of quitting my job, stashing cash and making plans to travel for the next 3 months. It's been crazy, exciting and scary all at the same time, especially since I've worked the same job for the past 10 years. But it's time to change my life, to go out and create my own adventure. And while it's not quite as awesome as yours, at least I'm making the change and starting a new beginning. Thanks for sharing that it is possible!

  31. Amazing, amazing story. This truly inspires you that you can do anything, as long as you set your mind to it. How I would love to travel, see the world. Good luck with your future plans and enjoy life.

    My recent post Catastrophic Health Insurance: Is it right for you?

  32. Karen

    Mish this made my day. Two months ago I returned from a two week trip in Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Phuket (inc. James Bond Island & Ka phi phi islands). I can shake the feeling I had when I was away. Thank you for inspiration and reminder.

  33. Anna

    Good for you for taking the leap! It really changes the way you look at things, no? I've done a few big trips, and found the toughest part was coming back and adjusting back to life in the US. I was really surprised to experience culture shock coming home.
    Hope you are doing well!

  34. Awesome story! Stay in Southeast Asia as long as you can. Cheap, fun, sun, what else can you ask for?!

  35. Zach

    This is AWESOME! Made me really want to make sure to do things I didn’t think were possible!

  36. Oddly enough my writing has become third to my Life Coaching and Social Media Consultancy, but it’s often been dream to ‘nomad’ for awhile and explore more of this beautiful world we all share. I do love travel! (Oddly enough post College I worked at an Airline briefly, left it because it gave me NO time to travel!)

    Great Post!