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Should You Take a Work Sabbatical to Travel?

It’s often a huge challenge to prioritize taking trips or a holiday. A budget that offers options and a little indulge is lovely, but not all of us have this luxury. On the other hand, we might have been squirreling away funds for a while to visit a new destination, but simply can’t find the time from our employer to make the journey significantly worth it.

In fact, New research by Opodo reveals more than a third (38%) of Brits said their company offers no flexible working benefits as part of their employment. Although the holiday time in the UK seems fairly better than that in the U.S., it doesn’t mean the system is perfect and many workers still feel the pressure of not taking too much time off.

After working in insurance as a billing specialist for a couple years out of college, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for my career. I had a journalism degree, but it was right when the market crashed and things were tough for those who work t papers (they still are). I decided instead to take about six month and return to Seville, Spain, as I had fond memories from studying abroad there. I was an au pair living with a family; and although a little on the old side at 25 for being a nanny, I had a great time and learned a lot of lessons about being independent. I quit my job, found an assignment for au pairing in Spain and received a small living stipend for my work.

After giving this sabbatical idea a try a few times, I chose to make working in the travel industry a priority for my personal life, as it made the most sense. I was able to firstly have support of a great partner, friends and family to take a little time to figure it all out. Then I hustled with a lot of tears for months to see if I could generate an income with remote work.

The gig economy isn’t for everyone – but luckily there’s some other options outside of completely quitting your job to travel like I did!

Pros of a work sabbatical for travel

Time for you and family

If you’ve been working a great job for quite some time, you may have been able to get your finances in order. This could mean that a year off is an affordable for just yourself or your family too. Depending on what you do, you could choose to live in a city where housing costs are lower or other expenses, so the spending is reasonable. Or, perhaps your company has some global work available either full-time or contract you can do from the road. Do remember, work is work though, so if you want to ‘travel’ consider your commitments.

Trying new things for your career

Some companies will offer employees the chance for a sabbatical to try a new skill or environment. For instance, Glaxo Smith/Kline welcome people to take a year volunteering while using their current skills within an NGO. This in the long run could lead to new opportunities or a whole new direction of work in general.

A big, long breather

Burnout is no joke. Some of us can get tired of a job faster than others, or fuel anxiety by staying still too long in one place. It’s admirable to continue to job to provide for a family, stick to a career track and save funds for retirement. But if you are miserable at work and see no solution for the situation to get better, it might be time for a change. And, that change might be more than a week-long holiday. Consider looking into sabbatical options for a period of 3, 6 or 12 months. Then you will be able to return to the job feeling refreshed or ready to try something else all together.

Cons of taking time off of work for travelling

More Unpredictability

It’s not often you can plan as far ahead while taking a sabbatical like you can for a career. Things can go wrong and quickly. You might not budget enough money for your time off work. Or, your accommodations could fall though and you have to scramble to find a new place to live. This kind of chaos does not appeal to everyone, and you might not know it’s not for you until you try it first-hand.

Gaps in your CV/Resume

Some old school boss-types might not appreciate a year off in between your jobs. They sometimes wonder what was wrong or if you couldn’t find a job. Plan to continue using your skills sometimes, even while on sabbatical, to stay fresh and have some talking points when it’s time to go back for interviews again.

Have you ever taken a work sabbatical? Have you taken more than a week off from work before? What did you do?

EileenCotterWright

Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA expat living in London, UK. She is a freelance writer and owner of group travel site PureWander.com. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for about a decade. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Twitter @Crooked_Flight.

More posts by EileenCotterWright

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