This last week has been extremely busy for me. Aside from work, I’ve had an exorbitent number of ‘going away’ parties to attend this week. As sad as this may sound, all the travelers have pretty awesome reasons, and even better destinations. One particular situation I wanted to highlight was that of my coworker…About three weeks ago, he came in to his (very stable and well paid) job, bought a one way ticket to Europe, and then promptly made his way to HR to give his two weeks. Crazy, right? Maybe not. Taking a ‘life sabbatical’ is pretty awesome in more ways than one. And in today’s society (and particularly for the millennials) more possible/common. His lease ended, he sold his car, and bought a ticket. As long as you have an end-game plan, I see this being more of a possibility for most than you’d think. Just up and ‘moving’ to a foreign country for a semi-predetermined amount of time–a ‘life sabbatical’ if you must, allows you to enjoy the ‘local’ experience, and is vastly different than a vacation. When you’re on vacation you’re in a location for a week or two tops, spending money going out to restaurants, on your fancy hotel, and paying for every museum entrance and tourist attraction along the way. Some of the people I’ve known have actually taken up part time work or volunteered while abroad to accomplish and/or fund this. Every country has different visa rules, so clearly you need to keep this is mind when picking out your destination country, however, if you can make it happen, make it happen. I promise it won’t be nearly as expensive as you think if you plan properly.
In college/grad school, I had the opportunity to live abroad not once, but twice, in two different countries (not affiliated with a study abroad program). One went fabulously, one less than fabulous. Regardless, both ‘life sabbaticals’ taught me a lot about myself. That I could (surprisingly) navigate my way in a country I’ve never been to, that I could make friends practically anywhere in the world, and that I could in fact survive a boss that would only yell at me in a foreign language (he spoke no english or french. c’etait un problemme.). While that particular experience has left me extremely appreciative of every other job situation I’ve since had, I still felt like I was shockingly productive during my life-sabbaticals (and have even been able to add a few things to my resume because of it!). Which brings me to people’s biggest worry…
Worried about falling behind in your career? Long-term travel may actually be good for it. My roommate (who is a consultant) has mentioned that her company suggests that they take a 3-month period in between two long contracts in order to ‘recover’, more or less, from the hectic work pace, and recharge so you perform better upon return. America as a whole is relatively stingy with vacation days in comparison to other countries, thus if possible, I totally support people taking advantage of this for that reason alone. Below, I have compiled a list of other resons that were found here to show why taking a life-sabbatical is in fact good for your career as well as your state of mind 🙂
New Skills: Traveling for an extended period of time, whether that be 3 months or 1 year, can easily help you acquire new skills, especially ones that are beneficial to your current job. You can acquire another language or better cultural understanding that is perfect for those that work in an international environment. Those hours you spent bartering prices in the markets can translate to better sales skills, while being able to handle finances for travels all over the world can just make you a better planner in both work and home life.
Fresh Outlook on Work: I find that taking time off work helps you come back with a kick. However, traveling to some areas of the world might also make you really appreciate the opportunities available to you back home, including a job that was starting to seem monotonous day after day.
Besides being appreciative of your job, travel also opens up the possibility of discovering new ideas that can be brought back and integrated into your work. Imagine discovering a new dish to make in your restaurant, a new way to decorate your shop or maybe a new product worth selling back home.
Relaxed and Healthier: When you’re going, going, going all the time, you get caught up and rarely get a chance to unwind. If you feel that weekends are over as soon as they start, and two-week holidays were barely a getaway, then extended travel may be what’s needed in your life to simply relax. It’s unfortunately a live-to-work sort of culture, and sadly that makes many people overlook what is important in life, such as our health and sanity. I think that when we have personal happiness and well-being, it is much easier to focus and be productive in our working lives.
A good friend of mine was actually able to swing an au pair gig in Istanbul this summer. I was able to travel there a few months back for a short trip and loved it; I’m super jealous she’s able to head there to stay for a few months!
Would you ever consider a long-term trip away? If so, where would you go? And the most important question..if no, Why NOT?!