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How I quit my job to travel

Here is the story of a doctor who quit her job to travel the world!

(Writing this in an organic farm in a remote village in northern Thailand where I and my husband Vijay are volunteering.)

As I sleep in an open hut, gazing at the fire flies outside, listening to the pouring rain, I ponder what made me leave the comfort of my home and job, put all that I need into an 11kg backpack and set off to travel the world!

Was I too bold or plain crazy to just quit my job to travel?  Well, I was working as an assistant professor in Pathology in a medical college. Dealing with cancer diagnoses and teaching young doctors about these terminal conditions was an everyday affair! What made me take this radical decision of resigning from a decent and comfortable job I had?

Traveling was something I always enjoyed. Even as a child I remember pestering my dad to take us out on a vacation at least once a year. He used to do his best, of course, but he was too busy with his work. I used to ask him, ‘Dad, there is so much of the world outside for us to see! You have to take a break once in a while to travel!’

My first ever visit to Bangalore!
My first ever visit to Bangalore!

And then medical school happened. Ten years of my life were sealed! Of course, I had lot of fun, made some great bunch of friends and went out with them on short trips and picnics but it was just not enough to quench my wanderlust! Sometimes, I feel doctors are so over-worked both during the grinding medical school and later on that we don’t have time to even think about our dreams.

With my school buddies near Mantralaya, India
With my school buddies near Mantralaya, India
Hyderabad with friends!
With my friends at Hyderabad, India
The enchanting Jog Falls
The enchanting Jog Falls, Karnataka, India

And then the most wonderful thing happened. I met Vijay!  Of course we knew each other from when we were kids but we started seeing each other only two years before we got married. You know what was one of the few questions I asked him initially? ‘Do you like to travel?’ Yeah, I was very clear with this one! I just wasn’t ready to be with someone who doesn’t like to travel.  And the stars were in my favor. He said, ‘Oh yeah! I love traveling! My current aim is to go to at least 30 countries before I turn 30!’ Wow! Now that’s something! Here I was, a budding and struggling doctor who had not even been on an airplane all her 25 years of life and there he was, a techie, counting the number of countries he had traveled to. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason we got married – I know life is not only about traveling. 🙂 After the wedding we went on a two week holiday to France and Switzerland which made me fall in love with those countries 🙂

Our favourite place in France - Mont St. Michel
Our favourite place in France – Mont St. Michel

Post marriage, we went through the usual phases – an initial honeymoon period, some ups and downs, settling down in a house, my adjustment to a metropolitan city (Bangalore), securing a good job etc., I was really bugged of relentless study in medical school for almost 9 years! I decided to take a break for a few months after marriage. And to this day I feel that’s one of the best decisions I took. It gave me time to settle down, accept new things and most importantly realize my passion for traveling. I always knew traveling was my favorite hobby but it was only during the break that I realized that it was much more than a hobby. We used to travel almost every weekend. I joined several trekking groups in Bangalore and went out with them. And the joy that used to fill my heart after each trek/travel was something that made me realize that this has to be an essential part of my life!

Hooked to trekking!
Hooked to trekking!

And then I got a job! A job which I was looking for – one that involves both teaching the medical students and working in a hospital. I was thrilled! It was going well but then I no longer had any weekends for my travels! I had to work on Saturdays and sometimes even on Sundays. It was a struggle to take even 3-4 days off to go somewhere! I liked the job but not the lack of freedom.

And then our trip to Ladakh happened.  It was our first anniversary and we decided to do something adventurous. The road trip to Ladakh was a life-changing experience for us and we were hopelessly bitten by the travel bug. This time we really had to do something serious about it. And we did.

Fell in love with the mountains of Ladakh!
Fell in love with the mountains of Ladakh!
Ladakh was a life changing trip
Ladakh was a life changing trip

I had most of the things that people usually aspire for – a happy marriage, good education, loving family, a decent job, good friends, overall, a comfortable life! But time and again I felt an unexplained lacuna – maybe the lack of freedom to travel, an urge to break free and explore the world in which we live, a wanderlust! I always discussed these with Vijay. He, being the most supportive spouse and my best friend, always listened to my thoughts and shared his own. Both of us diligently planned and collectively took the decision of traveling for a long time.

I definitely went through a mental turmoil before I actually submitted my resignation! Was I doing the right thing? Am I going to struggle after coming back? And I had to convince my family and friends too. They were skeptical initially but eventually saw what I was trying to tell them :). The day before I gave my resignation, I went to a coffee shop and pondered about what I really wanted to do in life then? And the first thing that struck me was my favorite saying –

Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail.
Explore.
Dream.
Discover.

There it was – my answer.  Yes, I really wanted to take a break to travel and see the world around me.  I knew this was the only time in the near future I could do this. And I had Vijay who shared the same thoughts. What else did I need?! My mind was very clear at that very moment and I happily submitted my resignation.  I was finally free to TRAVEL!

And the freedom that I have felt since then is something that words can’t explain. It is one of the best and most important decisions of my life and I’m so proud of it! I’m doing what I love – traveling to wonderful places, meeting amazing people from around the world, learning life lessons along the way. Traveling has opened up my world like nothing else. I have had such beautiful and eye-opening experiences which are helping me grow as a better human-being.

We also started our travel blog – Away from shor to write about our experiences while on the go and to inspire people to travel more.

Removing weeds in a farm in Thailand
Removing weeds in a farm in Thailand
Watching my first ever opera in the Vienna State Opera
Watching my first ever opera in the Vienna State Opera

I did not decide to travel to escape from my life or work or to ‘rediscover myself’. I simply like the idea of traveling as a way of life. Words fall short to describe the experiences I have had – be it listening with bated breath the painful account of how a Bosnian war refugee escaped from his own country to save himself or flying above the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon or talking to the school children in Poland about India or helping a farmer in Northern Thailand grow peppers or simply contemplating over a gorgeous sunset in a sleepy village of Laos.

Marveling the ruins of Ayuthaya, Thailand
Marveling the ruins of Ayuthaya, Thailand

Feel free to share your thoughts! 🙂

69 thoughts to “How I quit my job to travel”

  1. Akka say hiii to vijay anna…we know him from child hood…He was the best and now u two are the best.. u got a best partner in ur life…. have a great time with him… and ur thoughts are amazing…!!!!!!! Have a Wonderful trip…

  2. I am just not amazed with what these couple are doing!! Hats off to the desire and determination to do what u feel like doing !!! I am glad you’ll are able to do this !! Traveling is just a journey but living throught the different worlds is life and I can’t agree more, you’ll have lots more that you’ll want to live !! Keep going !!

    1. Hi Srinivas!
      Thanks much for those encouraging words. I totally agree, it’s not just about traveling but experiencing life and learning life lessons along the way that really matters 🙂

  3. Very well written! It will inspire many for sure! Quitting the job is indeed a tough decision, not everybody can think of it! That too to travel!!! The credit should really go to Vijay whose wavelength matches that of yours and supporting your decision of exploring the world! Enjoy. Good luck.

    1. Hi sir!
      Thanks for the constant encouragement in our endeavor 🙂 I totally agree with you. Credit goes to Vijay for being a constant support. I can’t be more grateful! 🙂

  4. Wonderful experience Gayathri.. I was one of the trekkers. Never thought you are so different. It takes real courage to do whatever you are doing. enjoy it. Best of luck.. Keep writing..

  5. Gayathri I hope u remember seeing me in wardlaw I m totally floored by ur adventure. Very few people actually follow their dreams. U r one of them. Have a happy and safe journey.

      1. It’s amazing gaya3.. Experiencing adventurous is awesome.. Keeep it up…me to wish will travel soon.. Have a safe journey.. TC

  6. Its amazing to know a person what she actually is,,what she has in her thought,,what she was dreaming about all these years ,,where being in a same batch/class for 5 years without any clue,,,its inspiring…it is my dream…happy to see a person doing it whom I have seen so closely….

    1. Hi Prithvi!
      Thanks a lot those kind words! Haha, so you guys did not know about this part of me, eh?? 😉 Guess they were in hibernation then and were waiting for the right time to surface!
      Good to know that you like traveling too! All the best.

  7. It’s great! Dreams can come true if you have the courage to make them happen. You guys are doing it! Cheers for that! 🙂

  8. Wow.. Very well written. Follow your heart and dreams..what is LIFE? without Living It For Ever.. Every moment you spend or cherish lives with you for ever.. Great going…

  9. Hi Gayathri. Quitting a job is not an easy decision for a Doctor that too for pathologists like us after being so much involved with the subject. Apart from others, there’s this fear of losing the grip over the subject, fear of making a wrong diagnosis just because we were out of touch. In reality that never happens coz we have medicine thoroughly engraved in every cell of our brain.

    I’m glad that you have taken a bold step to take a break to follow your passion. And this is the right time to do it in life. Once you have kids, the kind of travel will be entirely different. Lol.

    I have a great time reading your blog. I’m sure all this travel has enriched you as a person, coz these experience are truly incredible.
    Wishing you much greater journies ahead. Enjoy dear.

    1. Hey Fouzia!
      Those are really some insightful words there! Very well said dear. Thanks so much 🙂 And who can understand a doctor’s feelings better better than another doctor?? 😉

  10. wow u people have done wat i wanted to do…;-)… Indeed a gr8 n difficult for a doctor to leave the job & jump into the unusual dreams….
    Hats off to both of you… may u ve a successful trip n a carrier in future too….
    Take care
    Sush

    1. Hello Sushrutha maam!
      Thanks a lot for those kind and encouraging words 🙂 Well, yeah the day of resignation was really challenging but I did what my heart said. And I’ve not regretted a second after that! 🙂

  11. wow very inspiring journey it ur’s gayathri. Ur something special. Ur awesome dear. Have a safe journey dear:-).

  12. Hi Gayathri ,
    Its great to read your blogs . I keep waiting to know where you are traveling next . in fact following your blog is like traveling the world for someone like me who would not dare to step out of the mandane life .

    1. Hey Vinutha!
      Thanks so much for those kind words. We are glad we make you travel virtually with us 🙂 But trust us, experiencing it yourself is a whole new thing altogether! Try it sometime 🙂

  13. Gayathri, this is the time to travel if you can! As we were discussing while trekking down Kabal Spien make use of the situation (as you guys have been doing) and I suggest that you guys get hold of a good camera to record all your travels- a good DSLR with a 24-70 mm lens will be apt for travel.Or, a good compact one like
    Leica V-LUX D4 One of the reasons I came to Siem Reap to photograph the temples as when I was first here in 2007 I was not much into photography, It is Vasanthi’s 4th visit in 7 years and some places really beckons you repeatedly and Siem Reap probably is one such fortunate “pilgrimage.” You will also realise that easy adaptability to individual places goes a long way in furthering your attitude to specific reality!

    Enjoy your journey (s)!

    1. Hello Rajiv uncle 🙂
      Thanks for visiting our blog and for the valuable suggestion 🙂 I totally agree with you. Siem Reap is a place that leaves you with a special place in your heart and a longing to come back! We do carry a Canon 1000D as we travel but a month ago it started having some issues and we are not able to get it fixed anywhere. Guess it’s time to replace it with a better one when we have the money 🙂
      Our regards to Vasanthi aunty 🙂

      1. Hi Gayathri,Your blog is very much inspiring..and every i really loved ur experience and the thurst for travelling..Good job..keep going..I wish both of you a happy and safe journey..njoy 🙂

  14. It was such a pleasure to go through your story and ur travel experiences. My watery eyes while reading the things that words can never express r a sign of how much i love living on my own terms..just like u guys r doing.
    Its an inspiration to read ur experiences. Moreover the fact dt u didnt strt travelling as an escape frm responsibilities bt to follow ur heart has enhanced the beauty of this passion.
    Looking forward to read more and being able to live such a life one day.

    1. Hey Shubhika,

      Thanks a lot for those insightful words. You made our day! We travel not to go anywhere but to go 🙂 We believe and are now sure that it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.
      Travel widens our horizon like no other. Let’s motivate each other and follow our dreams 🙂

  15. Great decision to quit your job and do something so meaningful ..people like us only think about it all the time..you have actually done it !!!

  16. Hi Gayatri n Vijay enjoy the life ur way its amazing to know about ur travel experince like to know more

  17. Hi Gayathri,

    Your blog is definitely very inspiring and you have actually done something which I have been dreaming of since long. But just don’t know how and when i’ll be able to do ?

    But love your decision.

    Cheers
    Harish

  18. hi,

    i really appreciate you for the courage to live up to your own dreams. Traveling gives us the exposure and helps us to become a better human being.

    I am also a avid traveller and have done 4 countries so far. I want to know that how you manage to go to schools, radio stations etc.

    Rajeshsinghjat@yahoo.com

  19. Hello Gayathri,

    I work at software company. As usual after my hectic scheduled I picked up TOI in the office lobby. ” Couples quit job for travelling” though title looked fantasy to me after reading the article you guys really inspired me 🙂 All the best, Happy tripping 🙂

  20. Hi gayatri..

    Great to hear this …Seriously you r great. Person. “Making your lovely dream as lively dream now” . Thts awesome..
    Many people would have something or other to achieve in life but it’s very difficult tht such things would happen to a common person. your aspiration , willingness ,dare to achieve it and also Ur Great support Vijay … Very luckly enough.. wish you future with more success.

    Exploring to diff places and diff culture.. it would be very thrilling.. super… Lovely… Enjoy madi…

    1. Hi Saisree
      Thanks for those wonderful words 🙂 it feels great that our thoughts are reaching people from far and wide and that we are able to inspire people 🙂
      Keep visiting our blog.

  21. Hello again forgot to mention .. along with your busy trip schedule sharing your experience with all and response to each one ‘s comment…. Great.
    You guys rocking…

    Saisree.

    1. Hi Saisree
      Thanks again. Blogging is something I’ve begun to enjoy immensely. And everytime I see a comment I feel very happy to know that someone has taken interest to let me know what they feel. It is but my duty to write back and I enjoy it a lot 🙂

  22. you both are truly amazing!! to follow your heart and do things which gives you the most happiness is the toughest thing..and u both made it.. happy for you!! keep on inspiring people!! btw where do you get so much of money to travel and bear the expenses?

    1. Thanks Bhargavi 🙂 Yeah it was a tough decision to make initially but once we did that we haven’t looked back. We planned for this trip for almost 8 months before we left and saved up whatever we could. We’ll surely write blog posts with budgeting tips very soon.

  23. Hello guys…..
    Gayathri ur post is so inspiring!!!! I had been bitten by the travel bug since my trip to tomorrowland belgium. Dreaming and reading about all those backpacking gap year blogs i came across urs and proudly can say ur the first medico nomad i came across. I myself am an aspiring neurosurgeon was just wondering how to take care of my own itchy feet. Glad that am married to a similar minded girl and hope to conquer our dreams of backpacking around the world. Cheers to u guys…….all the best

    1. Hi Gaurav!
      Thanks for stopping by and reflecting on our blog. I can imagine what you are going through. We have the longest student life, don’t we? 😉 But I’m glad you are trying to find a balance between work and travel that you have a like-minded life partner. I’m sure both of you can make the world your oyster some day and set off to explore! 🙂 Good luck.

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