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The Realities: Why I Quit My Job To Travel… Yada Yada Yada

One day “they” told us to grow up, so we packed our bags, sold our things and booked a one way flight around the world. – Luke Gibney, The Ungraceful Guide.

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The PlanThe Plan Why The Blog?Why The Blog? What's It All About?What's It All About? The End GameThe End Game


The Plan:

I’ve always dreamt of having the freedom to travel in a way that I have the option to settle and experience life as a local or keep moving forward. Haven’t we all? Personally, I’ve a big to do list, one I began years ago, and I’m sick of reading it over and over again. It’s time to start living it.

All I needed was a final push. Thanks to the current state of Ireland, creating a future and sourcing security is next to impossible. We’re not giving up on our home. We will return. It’s just unfortunate that, like many of our fellow Generation Y and Z’s, we need to emigrate in order to have a future.

I graduated peak recession, not a great start but it all worked out. Despite failing miserably at becoming a journalist, after years of unpaid internships and working for free, I fell into the industry of PR and Marketing and I’m confident to say my experience is reputable.  This led me to what is a dream job. Up until one week ago, I was marketing executive for a fun, creative and lively radio station. Ireland’s leading national station in fact. I had a dream job, an average salary, a roof over my head and I saved as much as I could every year to enjoy a simple luxury – holidays.

The year, I decided to travel, I turned 27. The love of my life turned 35. Despite being in denial, we saw it coming and we knew it was time to have “the talk”. Should we buy a house? Will we look at getting married? Will we start building a haven so one day we can have kids without me having a panic attack?

This time last year, while in Thailand, I dreamt about taking a trip around the world. Fast forward to today and I’m now preparing for that world tour, starting in New York on the 6th February. Come join me on my journey. First time for everything, or so “they” say. – Katie #wanderlust #travel #travels #igtravelthursday #travelgram #ungracefulguide #follow #f4f #world

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Even with two salaries combined, the figures told us that we would need to save €500 per month for up to 10 years or €1,000pm for 5 years, just to have enough for a 20% deposit (mortgage). Not too bad right? Well, let’s be honest for a moment.

My monthly salary meant that after paying €600pm rent (€1,200 in total for an apartment on the Northside of Dublin), paying half the utilities, the car payments, the grocery shopping, the this, the that and the those…. Saving the €250-€500 was possible. But it also meant I had to wave goodbye to living. I mean simple living. The holiday, the date night, the takeaway, the little treats, not to mention contingency money.

I’m not a drinker. I rarely go out. I don’t shop. I dye my own hair. I don’t wear or buy makeup. I wear clothes that I have owned for over 5 years now. I don’t splurge, I save. I mostly bring lunches to work.  I hunt for deals. Yet, at the end of every month, I struggle and crave payday. Just to do it all again.

This is not a pity seeking blog. This is the reality for my friends, my cousins, my neighbours, for mine and Luke’s generation. There is a renting crisis in Dublin. The solution might be to regulate and look at our European neighbours. If I felt secure in renting, I would do it for life. I don’t obsess over ownership. But being Irish, we seem to have a rather unusual relationship with possession. Buying is more important. Renting is money down the drain.

My point is, we can’t have both. It’s either move home with our parents and save (not an option), ask our parents to go guarantor on a mortgage (not an option), or shut up moaning and prepare for 5 to 10 years of no living. Only scrimping and saving, so that the end of it – we have a home, we have security, we have a mortgage. So, does that mean life starts at 37 and 45?

It really is a struggle to become a first time buyer in Ireland while keeping your head above water. The “system” isn’t working for us and since time is passing by so quickly. Panic set in. We needed a solution. We knew we had to firstly, downsize. As in move from a two-bed to a one-bed apartment, meaning we could save up to €100-150pm but live in a kennel.

So, we handed in the notice for our lease before Christmas in 2017. Two weeks later, we received an eviction notice as our property was under order possession so we were given 28 days to leave. Reality hit me. Will this happen again? Will we downsize to then have the rent increase (no regulation, remember?). Saving for 5-10 years it’s probable. I mean, we didn’t even live in our apartment for a full year and the banks were taking it.  There is no room for contingency. The future looks bleak.

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So, What Are We Going To Do?

We both have friends who are travelling and teaching English as a second language (ESL) all over the world. They’re making decent money, working fewer hours, experiencing life, saving from the road and are so content they have yet to return home. The best part is the salary exceeds the local living costs.

We looked into the possibility and upon research we realised it was more than doable. There is little risk, more than ever now, since we would have to begin the gruelling process of hunting for a new place (something that’s a physical and mental torture).

We researched into TEFL, CELT and overseas courses. We settled on CELT, a little more expensive than TEFL, but a worthy qualification. That’s for another blog – which you can find here.

Where It Begins:

Originally, we had a trip to New York booked and when we made the decision, we decided it would be best to go on from there, rather than come home to then jet off (double the costs too!)

We priced flights to Mexico City and at €100 a pop, we couldn’t say no. So we decided to start the journey in South America. Conveniently, February is peak hiring season for teachers, and we have the advantage of being on soil so we are confident we will secure a teaching job instantly. There is also an extremely high demand for ESL teachers.

Because we are working on the road, we’re not entirely sure how long travelling South America will take, but that’s the fun part! We plan to visit everywhere from Mexico to Cuba, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia – you name it.

When we’ve done all we had to do in South America, we will have money in our bank, genuine teaching experience, previous employers and can start making our way around the world.

Teaching across Southeast Asia, again there is high demand for ESL teachers, but also they pay much higher than South America and accommodation, travel and health insurance are all provided. It’s a no brainer. This is where the teaching experience from South America comes in handy. In countries such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam etc. salaries range from €2,000 -€3,000 per month and in Saudi, Emirates, Qatar etc. salaries average from €3,000-€4,000.

After 1.5 years of travelling across South America, we didn’t succeed. Instead, we excelled. The sudden realisation and reality that to teach was to dedicate at least a year of our lives to one place, which meant stopping before we had even started. We grew travel smart, learned about budgeting and turned to volunteering. This is where our teaching experience reached heights like no other. From teaching English to the Amazon-based Shipibo Tribe, to working and teaching English to the less fortunate orphans in Bolivia. We held private English lessons for new friends, offered online courses and worked across schools from Nicaragua to Chile.


Why The Blog:

If you have made it this long, I owe you a coffee, and you must be seriously bored but thank you.

So since it looks like we’ll be living life on the road, the immediate thought was to launch a new project that allowed me to build something that is my own, and the topic of travel is always of interest to people.

We are lucky to know people who are doing or have done what we plan to do, and the fact we have such information at hand is a blessing as we can get first-hand experience and feedback. We did research and there is information but I felt there could be better out there. Looking into TEFL/CELT alone was quite a head melt!

So again, the whole idea of working on a project from the road, plus the fact that I struggled to get solid information when researching, pushed me to set up this site so I can share my own analysis.

We came across many inspiring travel blogs and have since connected with so many of our favourite writers, however  we noticed the lack of valuable information available. For instance, reading a wonderfully written experience piece is inspiring, you are ready to visit the place mentioned and attempt to do all your favourite travel writer recommends. However, majority leave out the simple details of how to follow suit. For example, how much does the bus cost, when does the bus leave, which bus do I get and how do I reach the bus station.

So what started as a quick insight into our adventures turned quickly into a no bullshit travel guide. Which just so happens to suit our brand name. We will give the nitty gritty info, writing it so a baby could understand. Not to condescend but to speak and write as if we ourselves were reading and following.


What’s It All About, Alfie:

Similar to the above, we want to bring informative but entertaining content that is written from the point of view of two people (Luke and I). We’re talking a simple, no bullshit blog, all written according to our own experience.

We will share our entire journey, from how we secured the qualifications to teach English, literally quitting jobs, packing up our life and taking a leap into the unknown, knowing it couldn’t be as tough as our current situation here.

We want to bring people like you (woah, you still here?) on our journey; sharing the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely hilarious. Whether it’s to provide some fun, some reading material, some insights or maybe even encourage that one individual to take the leap they have always wanted.


The End Game:

To live life
To experience the world
To teach
To learn
To earn
To do what many people crave to do, regret not doing and wish they could do.

And the goal?:

We had one set, but we knew the minute we set foot into our new life, it would change. It’s the unknown and it’s the unpredictable.

So, we welcome you to The Ungraceful Guide.



Author Katie

I’m a self-diagnosed wanderlust sufferer who fell victim to the travel bug. As someone who has yearned for the freedom to travel for as long as I can remember in 2017, I decided to quit my dream job, run away from the "marriage and baby" queries and trade the societal life for a life on the road. Now, I spend my days wandering through the unknown, being nosy as hell while sharing stories, building websites, helping others plan their backpacking adventures, writing, filming, snapping and reminding myself to shut up and stop talking every now and again.

More posts by Katie
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