By: Grace Gavilanes
Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job to travel the world? Genevieve Tabios has. And after deep contemplation that spanned months, she bravely turned her fantasy into reality.
To outsiders, Tabios, now 28, was living the dream. She worked as a graphic designer and web developer at a global journalism organization in New York City. Her co-workers were nice. Work-life balance wasn’t something she struggled with. Yet, something was still missing. Three years after coming on board, her life and career had started to feel stagnant.
“I no longer felt like I was growing my skill set,” Tabios candidly tells Lively. “I was just doing and executing at the same level, day after day, project after project. I began to think, ‘Is this my every day for the next 40 years?... Is this what I want my every day to be like for the next 40 years?’”
Tabios found herself fantasizing about her days off, which were always spent outdoors, either rock climbing or hiking. “It was such a contrast to my normal daily life where I spent at least eight hours a day sitting still in poor posture under freezing air-conditioning,” she says.
And that’s when it hit her: A traditional job no longer fit into her life plan, which had previously promised financial security and a stable profession. As it turned out, her longtime boyfriend, Doug, shared similar feelings. The two began flirting with the idea of quitting their jobs to travel places they hadn’t yet explored. But the transition from clocking in at a 9-to-5 to traveling the world with no end in sight didn’t happen overnight. “We didn’t muster up the courage to share the news with our friends and families until a year or so later,” Tabios tells Lively. (For the record, most of their loved ones have been “beyond supportive” of their decision.)
The couple is also “quite risk-averse and likes to be over prepared," according to Tabios, so they waited to make moves until they cemented a detailed game plan. But when they did, they were ready.
Since leaving their New York City apartment almost a year ago, the couple has traveled to a slew of different U.S. cities and countries. After making their first stop in New Zealand, where they lived for four months – two of which were spent working at a winery – Tabios and her boyfriend explored Sydney, Hong Kong and Los Angeles during 12+ hour flight layovers.
“I began to see the different ways people spent their days, how they defined success,” she recounts. “I started to see more options in terms of what I should be doing, or even what I should be eating or drinking.” Like how eating dinner after 10 p.m. should be embraced because "the Spanish do it," she reminds me.
After New Zealand, the couple returned to the U.S., where they spent a month converting an old plumber’s cargo van into a tiny house/camper van to live in as they continued their travels from New Jersey to Washington state. When it came time to return east before hopping on another plane abroad, they spent three weeks camping through the deserts of Utah, New Mexico and Texas. “We covered the eastern half of the country by eating our way through Austin, Memphis and Nashville before returning to the northeast,” says Tabios.
But the months-long domestic detour was just that – a temporary detour. Tabios and her boyfriend are now in western Australia, where they’ll be for five months. “My time has been split between camping on the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and spending my days among kangaroos and chickens in rows of vineyards and orchards of fruit trees,” Tabios tells Lively of her current picturesque setting.
While Tabios says she can’t see herself ever returning to her life in New York, she will always call “my favorite city in the world” home. But the lessons she’s learned about herself and the world around her are too profound to ignore:
“The more places I go, the more I think, ‘Wow. There are a lot of people in this world!’ Whether I’m one of the many tourists on the central-mid-level escalators in Hong Kong, or a single customer chatting with the owner of Helen’s BBQ outside of Memphis on a slow Monday night, I’m constantly reminded of how there are so many people out there other than me living life.
“I’m also constantly awed by the 100-year-old trees I hike through and the million-year-old rocks I see. Those trees and rocks have been around a lot longer and don’t care about me, my job or how I decide to spend my days,” she shares. “This is a constant reminder of how small I am. I find this smallness… freeing. It frees me from getting caught up in the little stuff of life that can be annoying because I’m reminded that those things don’t really matter… and no one gives a s— anyway. So why should I?”