Taking a Year Off Work? No Way!

Yes you can! Here's how to fit a gap year into your busy life and learn to love travel again.


The Short-break is King

In Australia average trip lengths have been declining since 2009, says Tourism Research Australia. And Roy Morgan Research data shows a million Aussies plan to take multiple holidays of around 3 nights in the year.

The story is the same in Europe with Euromonitor identifying a trend throughout 2016 – the “microadventure”, taking a short break to participate in a small, achievable adventure activity such as kayaking in the Loire Valley. The ABTA says 10% of travellers had a “microadventure” in 2016.

In the US an AARP survey reveals people are planning to take 5 annual trips in 2017.

Short-breaks Are Short-changing You

The short-break began emerging as the GFC bit, there simply wasn’t enough money around to afford a long break. The sense of security, that you’d have something to come home to was also missing. So it made sense to take a shorter holiday to somewhere closer (domestic travel boomed in this period).

As the number of people taking short-breaks climbed something else happened, “selfies” became a thing. Now you’re seeing scores of people just like you posing in beautiful locations creating travel envy. This FOMO reduces travel to a fast food diet of cheap flights, a long weekend AirBnB booking and a selfie in front of the local landmark – 5 times a year.

Why Snack When You Can Feast?

Yes you have ‘traveled’ to be somewhere, but you haven’t traveled – you haven’t done too much that you couldn’t have done at home.

Where are the locals you’ve met and got to know? Your dormitory accommodation doesn’t even have a check-in clerk!

Apart from learning Mexican rental car insurances are really high, what skill have you acquired?

Were you able to contribute something to the places you travelled?

What story did you bring home, and the miniature bottles of luxury shampoo you took from the bathroom don’t count.

Why Long Term Travel Rocks!

To be truly satisfied by travel you need a recipe where the ingredients have had time to mix and integrate to create something greater than their parts. It comes not from looking at (and taking a selfie with) a mountain, but from living in its shadow for many weeks, from feeling how it’s many moods affect on daily life, from being a part of the community that lives there, with relationships to the people.

You’ll know you’ve done it right when it hurts to leave when the time comes. Only then can you say you’ve traveled.

Why Travel For So Long? Because I’m curious about our planet. I want to take risks, meet interesting people, challenge myself, see amazing things, explore the world, and learn as much as a can. Not to mention have a bit of fun along the way!”

Matt Expert Vagabond

Other Benefits of Long-Term Travel

  • You collect friendships and experiences, not place names on a list.
  • You learn a language by being immersed in it.
  • You’ll know what it is to be truly relaxed – You thought you were relaxed after a couple of weeks, try a couple of months.
  • You learn to make things up as you go along (not planning).
  • After months of “traveling light” you’ll embrace living with fewer “things” in your life.
  • The amount of money you’d spend on 5 short trip airfares could fund you to travel for a month in some countries.
  • You appreciate the luxury of guaranteed hot showers and washing clothes in a machine (not everyone in the world has this).
When we went on our RTW trip, we figured we’d be crossing off a lot of destinations and activities from our list. But we soon realized that there were so many more places to see and experience, more that we ever imagined or knew about, and that list keeps growing and growing the more you get out there.”

Adam Seper in Bootsnall.com

The First Steps

If you’re young, unencumbered by debt, or obligation there’s not much holding you back (more on how to save for a trip later) so take that gap year.

The older you are the harder it is. Once career aspirations are involved, when there’s a partner or even children, it gets harder. But as many wise people have said, the hardest part is walking out the door.

Increasingly it is possible to take a mid-career sabbatical, without ruining your life.

More companies are open to the idea. If yours isn’t it’s time to switch employers anyway. Some of the most progressive companies even encourage you to take a sabbatical. They know it makes you a better person, gives you insight and skill they can use and it engenders loyalty. So simply ask your employer about their policy, and if they don’t ave one, help them write it.

How to Save for a Long Trip

Save, save, save. But set a deadline, set a departure date, it’ll make you focus and help you work out how much you can save, which in turn will help you budget for how much to spend while away and how long you can go for.

  • Rent your house out or use AirBnB and let someone else pay your mortgage.
  • Get out of that rental agreement, you’ll always find another place when you get back and move in with mum or a friend.
  • Sell your car and get catch the bus to free up cash.
  • Get a second job. Be an Uber driver a couple of nights a week. Start waiting tables at a local café on weekends. Put every cent you make into your travel fund.

How to Make Your Travel Dollar Go Further

It can be cheaper than where you’re from and you may not need as much as you think. Get an idea of living costs by joining ex-pat’ forums, or check out Numbeo’s cost of living comparison calculator.

Work while you’re travelling: become an English as a second language (ESL) teacher. You’ll earn a little cash (emphasis on little!) and you’ll meet local people. You’re the teacher but you’ll learn from them too.

If you have the type of skills that can be employed remotely, set yourself up at a work hub and do project work. (Work hubs are also great for simply staying in touch with developments in your industry, and this can ease you back into the workforce when your sabbatical is over).

Sign up as a temporary worker - as long as you don’t break any visa rules. There’s always a need for people to do menial work on a short-term basis. The job could last a few days or a few weeks, perfect for topping up the bank balance before you move on.

Learn to love hostels.

And buses.

Eating out is part of the travel experience, but if you’re travelling long-term you can’t afford to o it day after day. You’re living like a local, and remember when you were a local at home you didn’t eat out every night, no you cooked inexpensive meals at home. Do it.

If I look back at the last six or so years of us travelling around the world, there is not a minute that I regret making the decision to leave everything in the ‘real world’ behind and embark on this life of long term travel.”

Alesha and Jarryd Nomadasaurus

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