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Quitting the public service to travel

By Lisa Martin 5 February 2016 11

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2015 was my year of travel. I packed up my house, rented out my room, packed my bags and headed off on a three month round the world trip starting in San Francisco and ending in Athens.

That trip had actually begun as only a three-week trip but travel research led to more and more places I wanted to see. I took leave without pay from my job to explore and felt I learnt more in those three months than the past couple of years. I challenged myself reaching the top of hikes battling fatigue and fear of falling; I volunteered in an English immersion program for Hungarians; I hitchhiked; and I met many inspiring and like-minded people along the way that I know I will be friends with for years to come.

Coming back to reality and working life was difficult for me. I knew Canberra wasn’t where I wanted to be at this point of my life. I didn’t feel at home here. I was single and had no family here, no mortgage and nothing really was tying me down.

I know I’m not the first person to be an interstate blow-in to Canberra and struggle with living here. Talking to many people during my nearly three years in Canberra, I heard a lot of people say Canberra is cliquey, it’s hard to make friends, it’s very transient, it’s too cold, they didn’t really like it here but work was what brought them here and what was keeping them here. (I’m sure I’ll cop flack for this but Canberra isn’t for everyone).

After returning from three months away and not having a place to live, all my stuff being packed up and finding out some of my closest friends were moving away at the end of the year, I decided it was the right time to move on from Canberra.

But I haven’t done the usual thing of just finding another job and moving to another city. I quit my job and booked a flight to Guatemala. This time, I’m doing a big loop of the Americas and I’m not totally sure when I’ll come home.

I’ve had a lot of people think I’m foolish for throwing in a well-paid public service job to travel the world and not know when or where I’ll get my next paycheck. My parents especially were not very happy with me. But I’ve also had a lot of people be very supportive of my decision and wish they could do what I was doing but mortgages or family prevented them from packing up their life like I had.

It definitely wasn’t an easy decision quitting my job. I enjoyed my job but I never really felt I fit into Canberra. I battled with the decision for several weeks and when my position was advertised, I felt like taking back my resignation. Even when they had given my job to someone else, a part of me still felt nervous about if I was doing the right thing. But I kept going and booked more and more of my next trip, sold all my furniture and organised house and dog-sitting opportunities to help me save for the next trip and give me a place to stay while I remained in Canberra.

As the saying goes, making a big life change is incredibly scary but regret is worse.

One line I read in one of my favourite travel blogs, Little Grey Box, that really rang true with me is the best experiences you have in life are the ones you line up with what’s in your heart. For me, I knew in my heart I wasn’t happy in Canberra and needed a change, and more travel and experiencing new things was what was in my heart.

Even though I still doubt myself every now and then, when I did hand in my resignation, a weight lifted off my shoulders. I then put all my spare time into organising my trip and getting ready to document my upcoming travels.

I revived my love for photography and started social media accounts to showcase my photography and my passion for travel. I felt a new energy that something exciting was coming up that would take my life in a totally different direction. It’s scary jumping into the unknown, but sometimes you need to take risks to reap the rewards.

I don’t know where I’ll end up – it could be Canberra again once I get some of the travel bug out of my system, or it may lead to another Australian city. But for now, Central America here I come!

What’s Your opinion?


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Quitting the public service to travel
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Lisa Martin 12:54 pm 12 Feb 16

Holden Caulfield said :

Masquara said :

Someone has bought an airline ticket. This is a headline story???????????

It has A LOT more relevance to RA than documenting a couple’s decision to elope. Please, spare us the New Idea stories. No, really.

Aside from that, Lisa, are you willing to share you SM accounts? I’m at least one RA reader that may like to travel vicariously with you.

You can follow my travels on Instagram at @_thelittleadventurer or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/thelittleadventureraustralia

miz 7:45 am 11 Feb 16

Central America? Watch out for Chagas disease, it is most unpleasant

diseasehttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs340/en/

Masquara 8:09 pm 10 Feb 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Hi Masquara, has he already appeared? He was due to appear during a two week period this month, I know, but I haven’t seen anything about it and his name doesn’t come up in the law list at all on a check today.

There was a mention on the ABC on Monday …
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-08/david-eastman-begins-stay-application/7148446

OpenYourMind 6:33 am 10 Feb 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Hi Masquara, I see where you’re coming from, but Lisa Martin’s posts are among the most read on the site so it was appropriate for her to publish one explaining that she’s leaving and why. I suspect it may also resonate with plenty of public servants out there who dream of doing exactly what she’s done.

Exactly. RiotACT is great in that it captures some of the essence of Canberra. That can range from big political issues, local Canberra stories (such as a travel tale), right through to the banal such as who knows of a good plumber.

Travel is a big deal to many Canberrans and this story added a personal element. Well done.

MERC600 6:03 pm 09 Feb 16

Well I’m envious. South America has long been on my list. Perhaps next year, or the one after that that ….

As Holden Caulfied has said, perhaps you could keep in touch with Riot about your travels. Would be great to read of your experiences in those countries north and south of Panama. All the very best..

Masquara 5:36 pm 09 Feb 16

Holden Caulfield said :

Masquara said :

Someone has bought an airline ticket. This is a headline story???????????

It has A LOT more relevance to RA than documenting a couple’s decision to elope. Please, spare us the New Idea stories. No, really.

Aside from that, Lisa, are you willing to share you SM accounts? I’m at least one RA reader that may like to travel vicariously with you.

Has the David Eastman appearance in court been covered? Or did I miss it?

    Charlotte Harper 2:12 pm 10 Feb 16

    Hi Masquara, has he already appeared? He was due to appear during a two week period this month, I know, but I haven’t seen anything about it and his name doesn’t come up in the law list at all on a check today.

pink little birdie 4:58 pm 09 Feb 16

you should follow Mapping Megan – She’s a Canberra native who is among some of the top travel bloggers.

Holden Caulfield 10:59 am 09 Feb 16

Masquara said :

Someone has bought an airline ticket. This is a headline story???????????

It has A LOT more relevance to RA than documenting a couple’s decision to elope. Please, spare us the New Idea stories. No, really.

Aside from that, Lisa, are you willing to share you SM accounts? I’m at least one RA reader that may like to travel vicariously with you.

Masquara 6:04 pm 08 Feb 16

Someone has bought an airline ticket. This is a headline story???????????

    Charlotte Harper 9:39 am 09 Feb 16

    Hi Masquara, I see where you’re coming from, but Lisa Martin’s posts are among the most read on the site so it was appropriate for her to publish one explaining that she’s leaving and why. I suspect it may also resonate with plenty of public servants out there who dream of doing exactly what she’s done.

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