TAKING A SABBATICAL
If someone tells you that they are considering taking a sabbatical, you would probably think one of two things. Either – wow, good for you, go for it or wow, that’s crazy and likely career suicide. In most of the discussions I had when I announced mine, people admitted it was something they had thought about for themselves, but very rarely agreed it was a step that they would be willing to take. Whatever your view, career break discussions are starting to come up more frequently and companies without formal sabbatical policies are starting to evaluate how to leverage these programs to attract talent and retain their employees.
By definition, a sabbatical is a period of leave granted to an employee for purpose of study or travel (or any other thing that they want to with their free time). The reasons why people choose to take them is just as varied as the ways in which their time is spent. You only have to read a couple articles about taking a sabbatical to see that a lot of individuals site feeling burned out at work as the reason they are looking for a break. When I read articles about people who get pressure to not take their leave or countries where it is frowned upon to take a break longer than a week, it’s no wonder why some are feeling the need to disconnect.
The attitude towards a work life balance and taking holidays is much better throughout Europe than other parts of the world. If you plan smartly around public holidays, it is very easy to get a two-and-a-half-week period off (and have it approved). In fact, this is how I plan most of my adventures. That said, whether you are looking to go after an MBA, write that book you have always wanted to write, explore new directions in your life or like me, simply just travel the world – two weeks just doesn’t cut it.
A series of delays in our home buying process, led my partner and I into a unique situation whereby we were unattached to most of the ties that tend to hold adults with careers down. Having already moved out of our previous home with no place to go, we found ourselves spending the summer hopping between Airbnbs as we waited for the final paperwork to be signed. With the exception of a suitcase each, all of our belongings were stashed away in a storage unit and we were living a “nomadic” lifestyle in our own city.
It was the first time in our adult lives that, aside from our current jobs, there were no other ties holding us down. We joked about renting out our house when the purchase finally went through and travelling the world. That idea quickly snowballed and next thing you know, we were making it happen. I’m of the mindset that you should not allow yourself to fall into the what-if trap. Never give yourself the opportunity to look back on a decision you have made in your life and wonder – what if? This was one of those moments. What if we would have taken the opportunity to travel the world – was not a statement I ever wanted to play back later in life.
So flash forward to now, while it wasn’t all smooth sailing, taking a sabbatical was the best decision I ever made for myself. I get asked a lot of questions about the experience by friends and family, people I meet on the road and by DomOnTheGo readers – so I decided to write this post about it.
Here’s a look at the top 5 questions I get asked about taking a sabbatical.
//HOW DID YOU DID IT?
My company were supportive and ended up approving my extended leave. I spent the remaining time ensuring that every “i” was dotted and “t“ was crossed to make it as easy as possible for the organisation to keep things business as usual. This also gave me time to get personal arrangements in order and begin planning my adventures around the world.
Coming Soon: How To Take A Sabbatical Without Risking Your Career
//HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?
My sabbatical was spent travelling around the world and decimating a lengthy bucket list. My partner and I have both travelled extensively, so we independently created a long list of places we wanted to see as to not overly influence the itinerary. There was a fair bit of overlap in the lists which was fantastic. We selected our top destinations based on experiences we wanted and mapped out our trip around the world.
We ventured through fifteen very unique countries and had some mind-blowingly awesome experiences. Sailing in the Galapagos Islands. Ice Climbing in Patagonia. Hiking in the Himalayas. Jungle Trekking in Borneo. The list of equally awesome experiences literally goes on. In fact, I even took the opportunity to start DomOnTheGo. As a reader, you probably already know that I offer detailed and original first-hand accounts of these adventures (and those of the past and future). I highlight the lessons learned from journeys taken, showcase fantastic adventure destinations and introduce readers to the connections I have been lucky enough to make on the road.
DomOnTheGo’s useful destination guides, videos and photography help fuel thousands of reader’s wanderlust and inspires them to break out of their comfort zone with their own adventures. It’s a project I have always wanted to do and taking a sabbatical gave me the opportunity to finally do it.
Be sure to check out Journeys // Itinerary to see how we tackled our route around the world.
//HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO SUPPORT YOURSELF?
My partner and I let out our London flat, which assisted covering most of our financial obligations back home while we were away. From there it was all about being smart about the ways in which we travelled. This was the key to maximising our trip without having to go sacrifice our travel style. Some of the methods included using loyalty bank cards for everyday payments which allowed us to accumulate and redeem airline miles for flights. In fact, most of long haul and internal flights were covered by airline loyalty programs – that alone was a massive saving. When it came to accommodation, we would book through online travel sites that offered rewards and did so via cashback sites that gave us 3-12% back on our purchases. The list of how to travel smart without being on budget goes on.
The combination of personal savings, rental property income and making smart (not budget) decisions in our planning meant we could maximise the trip and support us along the adventure.
Be sure to check out DomOnTheGo’s Travel Resources for a comprehensive list of the smart travel tools and companies we use when planning our adventures.
//WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
An observation I have noticed is that sometimes taking a step away from a situation you have been close to for many years allows you to not only come back with clarity, but also enables you to better understand and advocate for the bigger picture. This of course isn’t just isolated to work, but in every aspect of life. I feel like I have a better sense of identifying what is important and where I should apply my efforts to impact change. The opportunity to completely disconnect – and do so for almost a year – made that understanding possible.
A bit cheesy, but I also learned that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Prior to my journey, I wouldn’t have categorized myself as a very creative person. Through the launch of DomOnTheGo, I was able to find ways to test and pull that part out of me. The website continues to evolve and the methods of story-telling these adventures through tales, videos and photos continues to engage more and more people. (Thanks by the way).
Coming Soon: Journeys // Top 5 Lessons Learned On Sabbatical
//WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE PLANNING ON TAKING A SABBATICAL?
Coming Soon: Journeys // Post-Sabbatical Re-Entry Tips
The places I saw, experiences experienced, feelings felt, lessons learned, comfort-levels tested, all tied together with an overall appreciation of life – culminate into an experience that is very powerful.