I Quit My Job To Line Up For A $65 Flight To Thailand

Quitting your job to travel the world is not a fresh narrative: The internet is full of accounts of people quitting their corporate jobs, long-term relationships, and fancy apartments to go explore the world. But, as far as the "up and leave" factor goes, few stories are as dramatic as what Mollie Merrifield pulled off last year.

The 20-year-old was working at a London restaurant when an email alert from STA Travel popped up in her inbox: The travel agency was doing a flash sale of £49 ($65) return flights to Thailand, with duration of stay up to three months. The only catch? The deal was only awarded to the first 49 people waiting in line for the bargain.

Merrifield and her boyfriend, Dan Jeffs, both decided to quit their jobs and wait in line with sleeping bags in tow. The couple successfully nabbed the tickets — after two nights of camping by the curb — and ended up spending a month in Thailand. In fact, they found the experience so enriching that they did it all over again this year and queued up for the same deal — this time to Malaysia.

We caught up with Merrifield to find out why she decided to quit her job to travel. Click through to see more envy-inducing photos from her overseas adventures.

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Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
Quitting your job to line up for discounted plane tickets is a pretty bold move. Can you tell us what made you make such a big jump?

"My boyfriend and I were still in school and had part-time jobs at chain restaurants. When we got the announcement about the flash sale, we just thought that we had to take this amazing deal, or we'd never be able to afford traveling. I've never been to Asia before, so it was worth it for me.

"Deciding to leave my job wasn't too difficult of a decision once we knew that we'd be working on the days when the sale took place: We either had to leave the job entirely or miss a lot of work and get penalized. I tried to hand in my notice five days before the sale, but my boss refused to let me quit. Instead, he offered to suspend my contract so I can come back in September. I had already entertained the idea of leaving this job, so I just ended up telling him that I'm not coming back two days later.

"In the end, I'm happy that the flight gave me the push to quit. We've read some mean comments on social media, saying that we shouldn't just leave our jobs and go traveling, but the thing is, I wanted to travel more than I want to keep my part-time job. Thing would be different if I had been in a big position."
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
What was it like camping on the side of the road for the tickets?

"Since the queue was expected to be an overnight thing, we very quickly bought a tent and some sleeping bags. There were reps from STA that camped alongside us to make sure that everyone was okay and gave out hot drinks from time to time. They were also on duty to make sure there no one left the queue for long periods. They'd knock on our tents to do a headcount at the crack of dawn.

"There was actually a lot of solo travelers camping for the deal, and a few of the same people wait in line every year. We were particularly impressed by this one camper, who was in his late 70s.

"When we first got there, a staff member took down our names and email, so that no one who came after number 49 could take our spot. We were also given a list of dates to choose from, so we had to decide when our trip would be right there and then. On our first year of lining up, we arrived three days before the deal and were number 16 and 17. This year we arrived at the same time but was number 36 and 37. It's definitely becoming more and more popular!"
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
You and your boyfriend ended up staying in Thailand for a month. Did both of you already have money saved up for the trip?

"We bagged the tickets back in April and we picked July as our departure date. Because we had both been working, we already had some savings to go towards the trip. My birthday was in May and my parents also offered me some travel money as a present. Luckily, Thailand was very affordable so we didn't end up using a lot of our savings — we already got such a great deal on the flights, which is the most expensive part."
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
What was the $65 flights like? How many places did you visit in Thailand?

"The economy flights actually exceeded our expectations for what we paid: It was Qatar Airways, with a layover at Doha, which is the most pristine airport you can imagine. We went at an off-peak time, so the plane was almost empty.

"We stayed for a whole month and traveled around the country. We started in Bangkok and stayed at Phuket, Pi Pi Island, and Krabi, which had this amazing beach with limestone cliffs called Railay Beach (pictured)."
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
You went back to line up for the deal (to Malaysia) again this year. Did you learn anything from your first experience?

"We came back this year with a much better understanding of the timeline and how STA releases the details: The company teases out the deal bit by bit, and the destination of the flight is usually the last bit of information that becomes available. My boyfriend and I had such a good experience last year that we already decided to queue up without knowing the destination.

"I've now graduated and work as a freelance makeup artist, so it was easier to make the traveling work. I hadn't really known much about Malaysia before, but was excited to plan an adventure around it. I think that's why I love these sales so much: I didn't really know where I wanted to go, other than the fact that I want to go somewhere. This was great because the location was chosen for me and I could just go and wait. We ended up visiting Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bali, and Langkawi this year."
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
What would you say to the people who think it was irresponsible for you to just quit your job and travel?

"Both my parents are entrepreneurs. When they were younger, they couldn't really afford to travel, so they are really doing what they can to make up for it now. They've always taught me that experiences are worth more than possessions, and that memories stay with you longer. I've always been inspired by them and make gaining experiences via traveling my priority. "
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
What advice do you have for people who want to do the same?

"There was this one guy who lined up with us two years in a row: The first year, he was on crutches and had nothing but a chair — people had to lend him sleeping bags and blankets. The same guy showed up this year for the deal again, and it turns out that he had to borrow £20 from his housemates, because he didn't have enough money in his bank to pay the full £49.

"Seeing his approach proves to me that you don't have to have loads of money or overplan things to travel. Seeing the world doesn't have to be scary or expensive as long as you look for the great deals."
Photo: Courtesy of Mollie Merrified.
Do you think you'll do it again next year?

"My boyfriend will be working abroad for a year in Colorado, so unfortunately he won't be able to come with. Due to the distance, we've actually decided to take a break in our relationship, which made these trips all the more special: They were such a nice way to celebrate the relationship, made some great memories, and have all the pictures from the trip to remember by. If I can, I'll definitely try to rake in my friends to go line up with me next year!"

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