How to Find a Job After You Quit Your Job to Travel: On the Road

Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, Kazakhstan
Last week I wrote about what I did before I left on my career break trip to maximize my chances of finding a job when I returned. This week, I’ll focus on what I did while I was on the road.

Many people may not want to think about the inevitable return back home but for me, it was always in the back of my mind. Throughout my trip, whenever I hit rough patches, I always reverted back to my fear of being unemployed for months after my journey ended. As a result, I probably took far more action with respect to my eventual job search than most travelers do.

Here are my tips for what you can do on the road to increase your chances of landing a job when you return:

Enhance your experience.

If your vision of an incredible year of travel includes partying around Southeast Asia or simply lying on a beach in the Caribbean, by all means, go for it. But be aware that potential employers may not be so impressed.  You may be better served to include some volunteering or other skill-building activities along the way. Or, pick up some freelance work online – something that can build your resume and your bank account!

I am not a huge partier or a big beach person, but rather than spend all of my time simply sightseeing, I tried to include a mix of activities in my trip.  I volunteered in Russia, Armenia and Tajikistan and I took language classes in Russia and Ukraine. I also picked up some work online as the managing editor for Meet, Plan, Go! and writing for Not only did the extra cash allow me to extend my travels, I was able to list new skills on my resume, including writing, editing and social media marketing.

Continue to update your resume

As I mentioned in my previous post, you’ll want to update your resume before you leave while everything is fresh in your mind. Likewise, as you complete a volunteer program, class or other work experience, add it to your resume before it fades from your memory.

As I went along, I added the following in a section called “Other Experience:”

Meet, Plan, Go!, Nationwide
Managing Editor, March 2012-present

— Manage editorial calendar for the leading career break resource in North America.
— Recruit and coordinate with 8-10 guest authors per month.
— Edit and format articles in WordPress, including search engine optimization.
— Promote new articles through multiple social media channels.

National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia
Volunteer, Tourism Program, March-April 2012

— Drafted concept note for new Visitor Information Center.
— Analyzed existing national tourism website and drafted proposal for new website.
— Prepared request for proposals to hire a developer for new tourism website.


Stay in touch.

Whether it is through a blog, Facebook, Twitter or good old fashioned email, keep your contacts back home informed about what you are doing. You never know who may know someone who knows someone who has the perfect job opportunity for you – don’t let former colleagues and friends back home forget about you.  And as the time comes to head back home, let people know when you are returning and what kind of work you will be seeking upon your return.

If you do launch a blog, don’t be surprised (or offended) if few of your friends actually keep up with it. I tried to send a mass email to everyone at home every month or two with an update because I realized early on that most of my friends didn’t closely follow my blog and, with our time difference, they missed a lot of my status updates on Facebook.

Be aware of your online presence.

This is another point I touched on in my first post, but it is worth reiterating. Be very aware of your online presence – employers will not only visit your LinkedIn profile, but they will look you up on Facebook and Twitter as well. One interviewer told me right off the bat that he had checked out my Twitter feed – something that hadn’t previously occurred to me!

Launching a blog about your travels can be a great way to keep in touch while developing new skills (writing, editing, social media, etc.), but be sure that your blog is something you are comfortable with a potential employer reading. Would you really want your future boss to read about all the times you got drunk in Thailand or all the men/women you were hooking up with on the road? Such behavior could be a big turnoff to potential employers. It doesn’t mean you can’t engage in such behavior, just don’t broadcast it online.

Share your experiences, but do so in ways that will reflect positively on you as a professional.

Start your job search before you return.

I know, the last thing you want to do while you’re on the road is think about coming back. But, given how long the hiring process can take at many organizations, you can put yourself in a strong position by getting head start on your search.  A month or two before returning, subscribe to job boards in your field and create a list of organizations that interest you. Start submitting applications, making it clear that you can be available for initial interviews by phone or Skype.

I signed up to receive job alerts from LinkedIn and a couple nonprofit-specific job boards about three months before my trip ended. I started applying for jobs at the end of July, two months before my anticipated return date of late September. While they didn’t lead to anything, I did two Skype interviews before I ever set foot back on American soil. Another job I applied for late in the summer didn’t even start interviewing until early October.

It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, but these are a few things you can do while you are still traveling to make the job search process just a little bit easier when you return.

Up next week: How to Find a Job After You Quit Your Job to Travel: When You Return.

11 thoughts on “How to Find a Job After You Quit Your Job to Travel: On the Road”

  1. Thanks so much for this post. I and my husband are planning a six month RTW trip. Did you have to get a work visa to be able to volunteer? We are trying to volunteer in two countries thus stay there for a month each. Thanks in advance

    1. I suppose technically perhaps you should, but I just did tourist visas when I volunteered in Armenia and Tajikistan. For Russia, I got a business visa, but that was only because it allowed me to stay 3 months instead of 1 month.

      I think it is far more difficult to get work visas, so I would go with a tourist visa unless your volunteer organization tells you differently.

      Good luck!

  2. I was fortunate to be able to take an unpaid leave, but my husband hated his job and quit it outright. He started applying to jobs a couple of weeks before we came home, and landed one about six weeks later!

  3. I think that even if starting job applications before going back home can save you time, at the same time can distract you from your travel, and enjoying it. I personally prefer to try to cover my expenses while traveling, so no need to find a stable job 🙂

    1. True. This is really geared towards people like me who just took a career break or gap year to travel and plan to come home again and work in a stable job. Perpetual travel isn’t for everyone. 🙂

  4. Great advice Katie – I think it’s so true that not everyone has the luxury of simply quitting without a plan!

    Just wondering – what are your thoughts on taking a sebbatical from work (as opposed to quitting)?

    I feel like a sebbatical gives more security since you have a job waiting back home but then again a sebbatical simply feels like an extended holiday right? It’s not the same as quitting?

    Only asking because I’m toying with the idea of a sebbatical / extended travel break in the future! Would love to hear your perspective!

    1. Hey Sarah! I think sabbaticals can be a great option for people who want to travel but have a job to come back to. It wasn’t an option for me for several reasons – I hadn’t been at my organization long enough to qualify for one and we were in the middle of a major fundraising campaign so I knew they would want to replace me rather than have my position open. I also was very unhappy and really didn’t want to return to that job even if it meant the uncertainty of not knowing whether I’d be able to find something else.

  5. Great tips! I’m in that stage now and managed to get hired and get an interview for when I come back for a bigger job in my field. I actually am a freak who likes job hunting, I’ll definitely add the Other Experience to my CV, was looking into an effective of doing so! Thanks!

    1. That’s great Caroline – congrats!

      And yes, I found “Other Experience” to be useful. I’m going to touch on it more in next week’s post, but I separated my resume into “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience” and I found that to be very effective.

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