If you are stuck in your office browsing through pictures with tropical beaches and dazzling mountains, you could be just tired or in need of a real, extended break. The idea of a sabbatical year (or half-year) emerged in academia, but applies to most careers and can help avoid burnout.
Humans are explorers, conquerors, and although we have settled into 9 to 5 routines, our ancestral wondering lust did not die with this. There is something about going on an adventure that makes people rediscover the simple pleasures, think more about their role in the world and emerge with a new perspective on life. Yet, before venturing in the great unknown, there are a few things to take care of.
End work on a positive note
Going on a sabbatical usually means that you can keep your job, but unpaid. However, be sure to check the actual arrangements with your boss and understand the impact on promotions and pay scale. Ask about who will replace you, accept to give someone proper training before leaving and initiate the new employee with tips and tricks to make sure they perform at their best while you are away.
Inform all people whose life you influence in some way about your decision. From your top clients to your personal assistant and even your virtual collaborators, it is a matter of courtesy to let them know about the changes and reassure them briefly. To count on them as future contacts and secure your network, be sure to include a short description of your personal motivation to take this step.
Put your finances in order
Taking so much time off from work means that you have already put aside some money, at least for the first months of your journey, if you intend to do some local or remote work along the way. Yet, your life and bills are not ready to wait for you to find your inner peace and unless you design an automated system, they are going to pile up and haunt you.
Organizing everything well ahead is a daunting task, and you must ensure there are no small things left aside. If you follow a monthly budget, you will find it easier to cut down on unnecessary items like cable and gym memberships and will create an account for paying your credit card debts. One thing you should be careful to avoid is overdue debt, since this grows over time, in a snowball effect. Each due payment which is still outstanding after 6 months is sold to a debt collector. If you have no idea how to dispute a collection you should learn more about it or enlist professional help before you leave.
One of the reasons you are doing this is to escape routine, but don’t fall into the trap of going with the flow entirely. The basics include plane tickets, minimum accommodation information and preferably some local contacts, especially in third-world countries or less touristic places. There are dedicated sites to help you plan your trip. Do your homework and learn about local currency, price ranges, and customs to avoid cultural clashes and running out of funds.
If you intend to work to support yourself, it’s a good idea to make some arrangements and not only rely on luck. Always have an emergency fund large enough to help you get home safely.
Life on the road is full of surprises, yet you don’t want your health to be one of them. Invest in a reliable travel and health insurance that covers all the territories you will be visiting.
Are you ready?
A sabbatical can be a great way to regain stamina and to put things into perspective. It can give you a new business idea, teach you a new set of skills, or just expand your horizons and increase your tolerance levels.
As long as you take this decision with maturity, preparation and set your expectations to low, you are going to enjoy the adventure. Although not necessary, it would be nice to find a way of keeping track of your journey by keeping a journal, a YouTube channel or writing a book when you return. Sharing such an experience of a lifetime makes it echo in the hearts of those who don’t afford it or are too afraid. A sabbatical traveler is an inspiration.