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Feb
2017
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travel nomad leaving corporate world dubai sunset

What I Learned from Leaving The Corporate World (to travel—sort of)

I am sure that I am not the only one who ever thought of leaving the corporate world to pursue passion.

Last 2016, I made a leap from being a senior designer in a reputable firm in Dubai to someone who travels for a living (well that’s what I thought I will be doing long term).

I read almost every blog that encourages us to take that leap. “Pack your backpacks and book a one way ticket”. Those blogs and Instagram pages looked very dreamy at the time, I bet they still are. There is a constant lure to travel for a living. Especially for the millennials. No BOSS! Yeah! The most ideal scenario in the world.

I have been in a constant tag-of-war with this thought (definitely a lot of discouragements and big-eyed faces ). In fact, it took me almost 2 years to finally decide to be on board the FUNEMPLOYMENT TRAIN.

A year has passed and YES, I am still on that train. But it wasn’t really what I thought it would be. I guess, with a bit of common sense, one can easily figure out that this life ain’t that dreamy as what you can see in those Instagram photos.

Gold Coast, Australia, travel blog, leaving the corporate world

The View of Surfer’s Paradise in Gold Coast. The 2nd city I visited after I left Dubai

So before we welcome you in the FUNEMPLOYMENT NATION, here are some of the things I learned after a year of leaving the corporate world.

You Need Money (even if you try to deny it)

This is a no brainer, actually just common sense. Of course we need money to function. I told you that I took almost 2 years to finally decide to jump, the main reason for this was money. I had to make sure that I can sustain this lifestyle financially.

Ring Road, Iceland, Travel blog, Leaving the Corporate World

Planning a trip around Iceland (yheap one of the most expensive countries in the world).

Flights, accommodation and food ain’t cheap especially when you are visiting European cities. The best way is really save up at least a good amount to kick start your traveling around the world dream.

Not Everyday is a Vacation

Sure today you will be scuba diving in The Marianas Island or cliff dive at Isla de Gigantes (in the Philippines) but not everyday will be like this. There will be a big chunk of your time where you:

  • Just want to sleep and do nothing (not even to take a shower haha)
  • Focus your day/week/month on your chosen income generating activities. For me, I get some travel/food money through this blog, making and selling my handmade journals –Surat Journals/ suratjournals.com and also doing some Interior Styling on the side (please follow @flat209 on Instagram). Some people volunteer to work in farms and hostel in exchange for board and lodging.

I remember in Melbourne, I met a British lady (we were on the same dorm room) and she said that long term travel was not what she was expecting, she spent most of her days in a farm rather than the typical ‘adventure’ activities. — my answer to this is just setting your priority. What do you want to achieve today, what is your current need?

Sleep? Money? Activities?

Not Everything is about Travel and Exploration

Of course, not everyone who dreamed of leaving the corporate world will leave to travel (though 80% of the time this is the reason), but there are people who left to pursue other life dreams.

I think after a year of moving, I came to a point now to look further in the future, what I want to see myself 10, 20 years from now and build something from there.

I guess the Travel and Exploration part is just part of it. As cheesy as it may sound but I discovered a lot about myself because of traveling and now I am using those to see what I can do in the future.

If you have less sleep before, you’ll get lesser now

If you are looking for more sleep, hmmmmm I guess leaving the corporate isn’t the solution. My previous job dealt with events design and management and sleep was very limited whenever we have events, but on a regular basis, I worked the usual 9-5 shift and getting a salary at the end of the month was a sure thing.

November 2015, I officially became unemployed and worked for myself, people were envious that I don’t have to be in the grind and sleep till 10am. What they didn’t know, I woke up at 10 am but slept at 4am to produce hand made journals to sell in a weekend market (yheap I work as well on a weekend). Also, right now, I am writing this article at 1am hahah. Sleep what is that?

You will miss the daily grind routine

Reykjavik! I was sitting in the pantry (in Bus Hostel) talking to some of my backpacker friends and telling them, I miss doing the daily routine (SHOCK!!). Yes this came from my mouth. The guy who dread waking up early in the morning and ride the metro to the office, now missing this? Hahaha. Well I was thinking that it might be part of the adjustment, the withdrawal phase haha.

travel blog, dubai, leaving the corporate world

Sometimes I do have thoughts of “what if I never left” – photo taken by @charleslibanjra

Though when I had a meeting during a rush hour, and saw people going to work, I remember the feeling why I chose to leave the corporate world hahaha —- so it is safe to say, the “I MISS IT” part was short lived.

You will learn to set aside independence even for a while

I have been independent for almost 11 years now. I never asked anything from my family especially in finances. Also, in most of my travels, I travel solo and hardly relied on anyone. Since I left the corporate, a lot of my friends and family have been helping me, well, to survive.

A lot of people asked how I managed to survive the year, I think the main answer to this is the support of the people around me. Learned a lot from my travel bloggers friends who are in the same boat as I am. Also, I got trips where sponsors offered free food, lodging, tours and sometimes even flights. I also got some friends who offered their houses for me to stay for days even weeks (Australia, Iceland, Germany and France to name some of these cities with generous people)!

Of course my family played a big role. You see every time I park my bags, I am at the comfort of our home in the Philippines, enjoying the shelter of Family Love.

You will learn to tap talents you ignored when you were getting a monthly salary

Pretty much the next two points are both related to point #1. Money! As someone who tried “working for himself” I got a chance to work in several fields that I thought I could excel.

Good thing, my original line of work is in the creative and I got to tap some skills that I hardly used before (or let’s say ignored).

Interior design, travel blogger, dubai

One of my recent interior styling stint (final output). Follow @Flat209 in Instragram ^^

I designed logos for companies, got to work with travel agencies for social media, accepted paid guest posts in the blog, wrote articles for magazines, designed fashion boutiques, restaurants and even a laundromat. I even sang (busked) in parks for some cash.

I call these as part of the story. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and happy that I got to see that I have several options on how not to go broke.

You will also learn to tap your budgeting skills

Ooooh, I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest things to do when you are traveling, is to travel on a budget. I must say that I have mastered this skill pretty much! My new mantra now, EVERY PENNY COUNTS!

Read my blog about being a Traveling Budgetarian

Traveling Budgetarian travel budget wanderlust travel blog

Instead of eating outside everyday, I chose to buy food from the local supermarket

Last year, I got to travel to 13 countries and an enormous amount of cities explored, every single one of those, I kept my mind in budgeting. The more you save, the longer you stay. Pretty much commonsense. So I trade buying expensive souvenirs to eating local delicacies. I seldom (most of the time never) shop for clothes unless I really really….really need it. And you will find me at a local market buying food instead of going to restaurants. Yes, I did settle for INSTANT COFFEE. This was how I stretched my budget to travel. Something I hope I will still carry even when money starts rolling.

 There are no rules, nothing can really prepare you

I read numerous blogs about nomadic travelers to get tips on how it is like to live with only your backpack. I also listened /watched a lot of TED talks for added inspirations. My friends were worried, though my family are supportive, I myself was scared of the unknown. With the corporate-life-money as my only known support for the past 10 years, being away from my office cubicle will surely bring some challenges.

After a year, I can say that I changed a lot of set plans, things I thought I will do pre leaving the corporate life and come to think of it, I am still changing plans even at this moment.

I think the beauty of this life is, it will always surprise you (don’t worry, there are a lot of good surprises than the bad ones). You will see yourself grow along the way. Even preferences will change.

You didn’t leave the corporate world after all

Yes yes yes, I always say that I left the corporate world, but in fact, I am still surrounded by it.

After my 5 month trip (which is the longest continuous trip I did—see, I told you plans do change), a day after I landed in the Philippines (jet lagged and all), I did an interior styling work for one of the big retail brands in the Philippines. Also, as I continue traveling, I got to meet and work with several big travel agencies, retail brands and publications around the world and also became a brand ambassador of Deuter Adventure Bags.

Until now, I work as an interior stylist if I have a chance (mostly when I am not traveling) and create beautiful leather crafts through Surat Journals. I guess, you can’t really leave the corporate, it only transformed into a different form.

Will not trade this to anything in the world

I believe that when passion calls you need to answer. I had several discussions about this from people my age. Often we are itching with the idea to leave our (current) jobs and start something we love. It doesn’t necessarily be about traveling, it can be arts, music or even volunteering to help those who are in need.

I wouldn’t trade anything in the world to do something I love. Whenever challenges came, I have this mindset that any problem will be considered as good problem. Because, I still prefer to solve this problem wile doing something I love.

It wasn’t a walk in the part, I do assure you, but as I said in one of my magazine interviews (naks plural), sometimes I don’t know where to get the money to finance my food for the next day, of my train/plane ride to move or even to go back home, but the beauty of it is that, I am thinking about it while staring at a beautiful horizon by the beach or having enough time to bond with my family.

Such an awesome way to start 2017! So happy to become one of the Top 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf! Thankful that even in a small way (naks) there are people who are inspired on what I do. 2016 was not easy, ain't a walk in the park but it was indeed an ADVENTURE! So many people to thank and I know you guys know who you are. Kuddos to the whole ILLUSTRADO TEAM. One of the things I love in this issue is that a big chunk of these trailblazers and tastemakers I consider them family and friends. Cheers and congrats guys! (BTS Vlog link in my bio ☝🎥🎬) #TAASNOOFILIPINO Grab the latest issue of Illustrado Magazine in bookstores and newsstands across the UAE. Or click the link below kung di kayo makapaghintay hahah. https://issuu.com/illustrado/docs/illustado100digital #illustrado #mydubai

A photo posted by Kenneth Ephraim Surat (@kennethsurat) on

We used to live in a world where success is equated with how high you are in the corporate ladder, although I think there are still a big chunk of the population who feel the same thing, the millennial age introduced the idea of THRIVING WITH YOUR PASSION. It is easier for us now to realize our dreams and there are several tools that are available to help us.

What are you passionate about? Are you living your dream? Share it to us at the comment box below.

Watch my 365 adventure sum up below: 

 

travel blogger, dubai, uae, vlogger

 

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4 Responses

  1. We applaud you for your courage, perseverance, and fiery drive to pursue your passion, Kenneth. We are avid travelers and adventurers as you know when we first met. However, we could never leave our corporate jobs behind due to familial responsibilities. Perhaps one day when our daughter can independently live her life…hehehe!

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