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Why giving everything up to go travelling, was the best decision I ever made

Saxon Yuen is currently in Penang, Malaysia. 6 months ago, he gave up a job he loved on the STA Travel UK marketing team to follow his dream of making a living travelling and making films about travelling. He’s here to tell us how he made it happen, and why he has no regrets.

Leaving your job, home and life as you know it could turn out to be either an inspired jump into the unknown that really pays off or completely insane (or maybe a bit of both). I’ve just done it, and right now, I couldn’t really tell you which it is. Maybe after reading this, you can decide for yourself and let me know.

Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon Ltd.

Giving everything up to live the dream

You see, as far as desk jobs go, working in marketing for STA Travel’s UK division in London was awesome. Ever since my first travel experience knocked my socks off, I’ve loved telling enthusiastic stories of amazing destinations – always with the genuine conviction that you should go there, because it might just blow your mind. A job inspiring people to travel was a perfect fit for me.

My other love of film making and photography seemed to go hand in hand with my passion for travel. I did a few film courses, worked on a couple of indie films in London and built my own projects on the side. I often dealt with video and photography in my job with STA Travel too, and was really progressing in my career. Great opportunities came up, and yet bigger career moves in marketing seemed on the horizon. Overall, I was loving my job and my life in London.

Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon Ltd.

When the idea came up with a film producer friend of mine to start a small film production company together, it struck me that we could take it on the road and specialise in travel content. We had a good look at our combined equipment and skill sets and sounded out the demand for content. We discovered that, with a lot of hard work, a few tricks learned at STA Travel, and just a tiny bit of luck, we might be on to something. With a brand name inspired by our respective Chinese zodiac signs, Rat & Dragon Ltd was born.

We built a website and declared that Rat & Dragon’s mission would be the hunt for travel content to knock your socks off. Naturally, this hunt would require some hefty travel, so we conceived a plan of an Epic Journey which would take us from Hyde Park in London to Hyde Park in Sydney – without flying. At. All.

Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon Ltd.

And so the dream was born. A challenging, 35,000 km adventure through Eastern Europe and Russia, across the seas to Korea, Japan and China, then by trains, buses, ferries and tuk tuks through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and eventually to Australia, capturing beautiful images as we went, creating films, every day a fresh experience, and living from a backpack. Living the dream.

Just one thing…

Sure, it meant giving up a great job and a life I’d painstakingly put together over quite a few years. yes, it involved saying a sad “so long” to friends and putting an enjoyable and promising career on the line and facing serious financial instability, with no guarantees – there was that.

But, no matter what your boss, your friends or your mum thinks, the only thing that truly counts is what you think. I knew I had to ask myself if I had what it takes – would I sacrifice to save every penny, would I study filmmaking and photography? Was I passionate enough, and dedicated enough, to this dream to see it through? When things go belly-up, (and have done many times) would I have the conviction to keep going and put things right, to force it to work? Did I have my whole heart in it?

I dug deep and decided the answer was yes and I could see that my now-business partner had done the same.

Image courtesy of Rat & Dragon Ltd.

I took the leap about 6 months ago now. Currently, as part of Rat & Dragon, I’m putting the final touches on some amazing films for some really cool travel companies. I’ve jumped off waterfalls, ridden the Trans-Siberian Railway, bathed with snow monkeys and chased an elephant through a lake, all to get a shot that will knock your socks off. In fact, right now, I’m writing this blog post in a guesthouse in the old colonial quarter of Penang, Malaysia, after a sensational Laksa and a cold Tiger beer.

So was leaving my job, home, and life as I knew it, inspired or insane? I guess that remains to be seen. But what I can say with absolute certainty is that, even if I’m not yet exactly “living the dream”, then I am doing everything in my power to chase it down, and in that chase, I’m building a life for myself that my heart can be proud of and seeing the world in the process. What do you think? What’s your dream?

If you’re feeling inspired to head off on your own adventure, check out the huge range of travel possibilities on our website and follow more of Rat & Dragon’s epic journey.
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Showing 15 Comments

  1. Pan

    Great inspiring story. I want to lever myself out of the ‘rat’ race and scratch my travel itch. I lack only one thing to make my travel passion pay and that is artistic talent!
    Rat and Dragon have shown some of their talent in the attached photos! I want more …… bring it on !

    1311 days ago
  2. Paddington Bear

    Go for it!
    I am spending a year in Latin America (mainly Chile and Argentina but with trips into Paraguay and Uruguay) after 15 years as a civil servant. I intend to return to the UK but if that proves to be too grim to carry until retirement (I’m already in my 50s!) then I know that I can go out and make a life for myself in another country and another culture.
    They say that travel broadens the mind but it also throws you back on your own resources and I think this the major lesson I have learnt over the last 8 months is: if you are open and flexible there are no barriers to going off and discovering new experiences and possibilities.
    There is a big world out there to be explored and enjoyed.

    Paddington Bear (who got to London from Darkest Peru! I did the trip the other way round 20 years ago and that is why he is my totem)

    1310 days ago
    • shellyjr@btinternet.com

      So admire and envy you good luck and keep safe, I’m 51 and love travelling, wish I had the courage to just keep travelling

      Michelle

      1264 days ago
  3. Marco

    Already done it…i leave my job in 7 weeks time, am renting out my house and im heading off to Oz, Nz and parts of Asia. Scary but definitely the right thing to do. Roll on July.

    1307 days ago
  4. gemma

    Me and my husband have just sold our home of 15 years, and are going into renting until june 2015 which is when our son finishes his GCSE’s then all 3 of us are off to travel the world for about 14 months. And if we come back and decide we don’t want to be back here then we may go off again. We are just going to see what happens and what life throws our way on our exciting adveture. Can’t wait.

    1246 days ago
  5. Erika

    I’m in this process now. At 32 I’m considering giving up my apartment, job and life, and getting out there to see Australia, New Zealand and hopefully Asia. The idea of leaving a well paid job and selling nearly everything I own seems crazy but for some people I think the itch to see the world means more than possessions. The only expensive thing I think I will have left will be my DSLR which will come with me and hopefully make me some money along the way!

    1186 days ago
    • Ruth

      Hi Erika and everyone,

      I am in a similar situation to you, I have just got rid of all my possessions and moved out my home into a house share to save enough money to just leave and go travelling around Australia and wherever I fancy, I’m leaving a great job and future in what I do, but itis not everything, and I cannot think of anything better than taking this leap! I thought I was the only one who felt like this but there appears to be so many people feeling the same :) good luck everyone, enjoy life and every moment x

      1137 days ago
      • Julie

        Hey Ruth,

        I am in exactly the same situation – you are definitely not alone! I am 30 and taking advantage of the Working Holiday Visa for Australia.

        Chase the dream… live the dream :)

        1101 days ago
        • Anna Corbett

          ^^^ This!

          Absolutely loving the inspirational stories in the comments everyone – so much luck to you all.

          1098 days ago
  6. sharron

    I left home when I was 19 to spend a season in Jersey CI That was 25 years ago .I spent 6 years working there for the summer tourist season and the winters travelling..I have travelled to over 43 countries in that time. I’ve lived in Iceland for 4 years Australia and am now I’m a citizen of New Zealand. I used to gaze at maps as a child of strange and far away places …daydreaming about them. AND I STILL DO…I’m still just as excited about travelling as I ever was and Im never happier than when I m on the move! However the biggest thing I ve learned is “home” is always in my heart! Happy Travelling Everyone ! Follow your heart and don’t let fear stop you from doing anything!! These guys are recording their adventure which is awesome! I hope people are inspired by what they see! Life goes by so quickly get out there and live it!!

    1134 days ago
  7. James

    Looking to do the same with my GF in two years time. We’re saving up so we’ve got a good amount to go for half a year. I don’t feel i can make the transition to responsible adult life (marriage and kids) until i’ve scratched that travel itch and had one last adventure to see off my youth. Jobs can come and go, but travel experience memories last a lifetime.

    1064 days ago
  8. Pingback: Why Giving Everything Up to go Travelling is *STILL* the Best Decision I've Ever Made | STA Travel

  9. Hi All, well what can I say, well how about selling everything and having no safety net at 51 years old. Yep, I have worked hard all my life, been married twice. Have 2 wonderful young adult daughters who I love dearly and who love and support me (having lunch with them both today as it happens).

    I have been all over the world and done and seem some amazing places and things. I have not been to university, or have a rich family for support, I am a carpenter is all, with a lust to see and experience what I can.

    Well anyway, enough of that boll#cks. I am planning to set off cycling completely around the world just as soon as my house sells. At my own pace using my own money and without support. Sure, if I can find work as I go I will work for my bed and food, but I am not counting on it.

    The thing is, I feel if giving up everything to do something like this is what you feel you need to do, then do it. You can’t say your giving up everything and yet still have everything but your job. You give up everything! Or say, I am taking time out. That’s how you look at it.

    I have lost 3 of my best friends to illness recently, and they were all my age or under, and that is sad. It is a short time we are here. I have never had a regret and don’t believe in them. I have wondered what would happen if I did something differently, but I have never had a regret. And I won’t start now.

    I have just 2 things left that I have wanted to do. Trek in the Congo as I did in the Amazon, and to cycle around the world. The last one is the big one, as I may never come back. I may settle down somewhere, disappear in the jungle or just keep on moving until I drop dead. Who knows, and that is what is called giving up everything.

    Follow me if you want on my website. It will be cool.

    Steve

    1029 days ago
  10. a cartoon is being done by me webliography for a school in senior high school and an internet book was needed by us. I liked the create of the idea as well as the website of it being peer edited, and so I used it in my own demonstration.

    366 days ago