Quitting to Travel 🧳

Here it goes:

So I'm currently 23 and working in CREF. I'm thinking about staying at this (first time) job for 2 years and then quitting at 25 to travel to Europe for 4 months. Questions:

1) Is it worth it to quit if the job market/ COVID is much better in 2 years' time?

2) Should I ask for unpaid leave? How realistic is it that they'll say yes?

3) Will future employers hold these 4 months of not working against me when I look for a job upon returning?

Thanks again 🙂

Comments (54)

Oct 26, 2020 - 6:07pm


I have known a couple people who did it. Different field from you though. My only advice to you is if you end up doing it please don't start a blog about your travels......

i think you should. writing's good for you but most people can't force themselves to journal


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

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Oct 26, 2020 - 3:39pm

4 months of travel in Europe won't be as enjoyable as you think.

- No cash flow. Will you have enough money to visit all of the museums, try out the cuisines and explore the night life in each European city you visit?

- Always being on the go will make you tired and not really appreciate the cities that you're in. Imagine being stuck in a hostel room (don't know how else you can afford staying in Europe for 4 months) shared with multiple people that are coming and going and waking you up at odd times to get to the airport and/or coming back from partying. You'll acquire sleep debt and the lack of privacy will get to you eventually.

- You'll grow tired of traveling, and each European city will seem the same to you.

I strongly suggest you use your vacations to travel to Europe, and take time to visit each city as opposed to racing through each one as if it were a race. You'll grow burnt out from traveling, and the many "traveling nomads" that were doing it full-time appeared to me like they regretted their decision and were trying to use travel as a way to get away from their problems at home.

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Oct 28, 2020 - 12:30am

Excerpt from the letters of Seneca to Lucius

"Whatever your destination you will be followed by your failings. Here is what Socrates said to someone who was making the same complaint: „How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you? You are saddled with the very thing that drove you away.‟ How can novelty of surroundings abroad and becoming acquainted with foreign scenes or cities be of any help? All that dashing about turns out to be quite futile. And if you want to know why all this running away cannot help you, the answer is simply this: you are running away in your own company. You have to lay aside the load on your spirit. Until you do that, nowhere will satisfy you... Once you have rid yourself of the affliction there, though, every change of scene will become a pleasure. You may be banished to the ends of the earth, and yet in whatever outlandish corner of the world you may find yourself stationed, you will find that place, whatever it may be like, a hospitable home..."

Oct 28, 2020 - 3:56pm

I wonder if anyone who gave MS has actually spent 4 months traveling like this. I did 15 days before my MBA across 4 European countries, tried to avoid the race of a city a day type of thing which definitely helped to prevent burnout. However, by the time I got to day 10 or 11 I was getting a little tired. For the last two nights I used points to stay at a proper hotel instead of a hostel, the privacy was amazing haha. I definitely recommend traveling, without a doubt, but I'd recommend smaller trips spread out a bit. Four months could work if you get an apartment in a city like Berlin or Paris and use it as a base for smaller trips around Europe, while still providing a rich "home" experience. 

Oct 29, 2020 - 5:20am

Shocked at how much shit this got. These are all valid points and your point about no cash flow is especially applicable. Are you willing to deplete saving etc for this trip? And I'd add that after you come back, you've got to work around a rather large gap in your resume which is difficult to explain (at least if you're trying to go back into high finance) by saying you wanted to fuck off for x number of years just because. 

Oct 26, 2020 - 3:41pm

Just do the traveling before/during/right after your MBA. You'll have plenty of time and you can reskill and have a reason to be off work.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
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Oct 26, 2020 - 3:42pm

Hmm I was planning on budgeting out ~$7k per month, staying in a private room/ place with Airbnb with a kitchen so I could cook a few mins. I plan to have about $80k saved up by the time I leave for Europe

Oct 26, 2020 - 6:48pm

I'm impressed you'll have that much. Remember there may be some anxiety with private rooms as you can only book them for a certain slot of time, and then you'll have to move out. If you don't find a place in time, you might have trouble finding a place, especially once travel picks up again. 

Using a private room you might feel lonely, but some hostels should be ok with you coming by to socialize and join them for their nightly outings (although it's much easier if you're already staying at the hostel). Some hostels have private rooms too, so try to book those if you can.


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Oct 26, 2020 - 4:35pm

I wouldn't listen to "incoming cfa level 1 charterholder" above. Just because he didn't enjoy his experience that much doesn't mean you won't. You don't always have to be on the go if you don't want to and you can take it as much at your own pace as you desire. Just don't lay out plans far into the future and you don't have to worry about that. I wouldn't book anything in advance except your first week before you arrive.


As for staying in a private room/AirBnb.. do you plan on just doing everything solo for the entire time? I would highly recommend spending some time in hostels where you get to meet people from around the world (girls included). I spent a couple months in Asia and made friends that I still talk to/meet up with around the world even 3 years later. If you get tired of the lack of privacy you can always mix in a private room somewhere. The best route is stay at the hostels, meet a girl that is also traveling for a bit, and then split private rooms with her every now and then. Best of both worlds.


As for your actual questions - why not ask for unpaid leave? Worst they do is say no.

Oct 26, 2020 - 6:17pm

This guy gets it, definitely stay in hostels and break it up with a private room / hotel every now and then when you need a break. Most of my favorite experiences from traveling were the result of meeting some randos in a hostel. Totally depends on your personality, but given you want to do this trip I think you could handle it. Getting an AirBnB the whole time will 1) diminish the experience by limiting social interactions / connections and 2) run up your budget for housing and therefore limit your budget for other things. If you're going to travel, you shouldn't be spending a ton of time in your accommodations anyways

Oct 26, 2020 - 6:53pm

Where did I say I traveled for 3 months at a time?

How can he not plan far ahead? You do realize you have to book apartments and hostels for a certain period of time, and once travel picks up, the best hostels and apartments are overbooked? If he can't find a place on the last day of his stay at a hostel, he's going to be fked and have to resort to staying at a shitty hostel or expensive hotel/apartment?

My post is opinionated, but I stated some objective facts/questions he should consider before planning this trip, and for him to think about.  


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Oct 26, 2020 - 7:24pm

So you've never done it yet you can say definitively that it won't be as much fun as he thinks? How much hubris can one person have that they have never even experienced something before and they can attempt to speak on it like you did?


And then you go on again to talk about the hostel and hotel booking situation..again - how can you speak so confidently about something you just said you have never experienced?

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:00pm

Never stayed at a hostel and tbh kinda scared about sleeping next to randoms... my friends have done it and said it was fine but idk haha

My plan was actually to take a month long art program at the Louvre which they offer, and take drawing/ painting classes for ~20 hrs per week (and maybe meet people there?). After the program ends I'd travel around Europe for a few more months. Was planning on staying in a private room Airbnb the whole 4 month trip

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:02pm

MonopolyMoney do you think it's that bad to quit and try to start up again after 4 months? I still want to stay in my industry but I'd like to make a lateral move from being an underwriter to being a broker upon my return from Europe

Oct 26, 2020 - 7:24pm

It's really up to you, I am a broker and I found it tough to be on the other side of the world for a few weeks because it was so tough to talk to people with the time zone changes. I do know a guy that does at least a month away every year, and he makes it work, but it definitely affects his total production, has to hand (refer) a lot of deals over to friends to execute.

Oct 27, 2020 - 1:02pm



When you say CREF, are you referring to a conduit or a balance sheet lender? The reason I ask is that I think that you would have an easier go of doing something like this working for a life insurance company than a CMBS/Debt Fund lender. As a Mortgage Banker, vacations are tough. Last year my 2 week vacation ended up costing me an extra $120k (or I guess $60k in terms of take-home). I didn't know I was competing on a take-out of a bridge loan that I closed a year prior. I ended up approaching the lender who ended up doing the deal 3 days too late since I decided to wait until I came back to start shopping the deal. 

Most Helpful
Oct 26, 2020 - 8:19pm

This is definitely going to be an unpopular opinion (at least in finance in the US imo), but it would be cool to normalize this again in the US. Australians especially and a good amount of Europeans do this, but in the US there seems to be a very strong stigma against doing something like this. Honestly, what does 9mo-1yr matter in a ~45yr career?

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Oct 27, 2020 - 9:04pm

Pierogi Equities

Honestly, what does 9mo-1yr matter in a ~45yr career?

What do the initial stages of a seed and plant matter? They are where the roots take place. If you have not developed the roots in a career path or formed skillsets, there may be nothing to come back to. 

Leaving for a year with 10 years experience is a lot different than leaving for 1 year with 1 year experience. If you take off 1 year with 1 year experience, you are basically coming back to 0 year experience entry level positions again. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Oct 28, 2020 - 5:57pm

Yeah that's true, I was thinking about further on in one's career. But then again, what if you really did not like what you did in that 1 year and need a new start anyway? That doesn't happen to that many people, but I would rather people be accepting of that than shun them, their application in the first place is a good sign that they're getting serious imo.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Oct 28, 2020 - 12:26am

When I started my career I heard about this stigma and I let it guide my decissions; I feel like such an idiot allowing it happen and trying to be such a hardo.

I would encourage OP to take a break. If OP plans on switching careers or going to work for a new firm, quitting to travel will create a natural breaking point and they can weave in their travels into their decission to follow the new path they chose.


Oct 27, 2020 - 9:28am

I have quit my job for a year to travel and "personal development" lol. Depends where you work, but as long as you stay in touch and don't burn any bridges, you can always come back or find a different job. Unpaid leave is probably your best bet. Obviously you will be a year behind or 4 months in your case but to me it was worth it. 

Oct 27, 2020 - 9:39pm

Will you have enough saved to not run yourself dry during the trip? You good also wait and delay your next role enough to take this trip but have a job lined up before you leave.

Oct 28, 2020 - 11:47am

I did this much later in my career and was out for much longer than 4 months. It was totally worth it and frankly I think the industry and many people would be better off as people and as professionals by taking time off to explore whatever pursuits or see/do different things.

You'll still be young and seen as cheap so that should not be a problem. In general people won't hold it against you, especially if you can spin it.

Yes ask for unpaid. You probably won't get it but if you don't ask you don't get.

There will be three groups of people you meet  

1. People who think it is amazing what you are doing. Many of these will be mid to senior level types who will want to hear all about your adventures and totally get it. Many of them will say "I wish I had done that" and be super cool. They can be really helpful. Find them. Keep in touch with them. They are decision makers and or know decision makers.

2. Haters/doubters. Typically skew mid level and bitter probably because they haven't done stuff like this and or hate their job and path. There is a TON of this in our industry and these are often the first to screen resumes etc. many will also be younger types who are hardos. Some or many will become the mid level lame types. Others will become type one but later in life. 

3. Clueless people. This is like all of HR and often random front line types. Or juniors around your age who are so stuck into what they are doing (and that's totally cool). They will be nice enough but neither helpful nor harmful. 

Without knowing your personal situation and bank account status, tough to say but 4 months is nothing. Time flies. Seriously. Plus Europe is expensive. 

I could ramble on but will stop here. PM if any questions.

Good Luck

I used to do Asia-Pacific PE (kind of like FoF). Now I do something else but happy to try and answer questions on that stuff.
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Oct 29, 2020 - 7:42pm

This article makes you think about the topic, and is an interesting adaptation of what Phat  referenced in Letters of Seneca to Lucius: https://moretothat.com/travel-is-no-cure-for-the-mind/

My take is to only consider such travel (breaking up the daily routine) if it grants opportunities to grow beyond just the experiences that come with travel - e.g. actually learning new language, doing research on a topic, getting specific work experience. 

Then it's a matter of hedging your risk. Think 1) what's the worst scenario that can happen, and are you ready for that; and 2) how well can you handle rejection and continue to put yourself out there, since there's a chance you'll have to network and put yourself out there to stand out from those who've stayed course

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