How to take a year-long vacation without ruining your career

I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, in which the author takes a year-long hiatus from her life to travel to Italy, India and Indonesia. In a way, I wish I hadn’t read it, because goshdarnit, I want to take a year off. Alas, I am not a best-selling authoress so working is definitely on the agenda for the next few years of my life at least.

But taking a year off doesn’t have to be out of everyone’s reach — even if you have a lucrative career, you can make an extended vacation part of your 5-year plan, according to this article from Forbes. In fact, some companies will even pay you to work in another country for a developing corporation. But if that’s not an option, and you’d have to quit your job to travel for a year or at least take an extended leave of absence, here are some tips:

  • Test it out first. It’s true — some people just don’t like to be on vacation 24/7, and that person might be you. Take some time to do nothing first before committing to do nothing for a while. This doesn’t rule out travelling completely — you can always work in another country!
  • Budget. When you’re not working, this is key. Make sure you have a nice travel fund set up too
  • Give lots of notice to your employer. It’s just the right thing to do.
  • Maintain a good relationship with your boss. Maybe you’ll find yourself and pursue a different career path. But then again, maybe you’ll return home broke and in serious need of your old job back, so stay on good terms.

Yesterday, I asked the question whether spending a year traveling
before going to college was a good idea — and so far, the answer has been an overwhelming "yes."  So if
you’re planning such a journey (or know someone who is), be sure to check out — a website with ideas to suit every traveller, "from gappers to
graduates to globe-trotting grannies."

The site is chock-full of ideas to help sustain extended life on
the road, including teaching English in Thailand, to learning Swahili, to attending a floating university, while
studying on a cruise ship while visiting destination after destination.  If you (or your high school graduate) are
planning any sort of extended holiday, I wouldn’t leave home without it.

To Travel or Not to Travel: That Is The Question

Say you’re 18 years
old.  You’ve just graduated from high school, and you’ve been accepted to one of the top universities of your
country —  a university which, by the way, is happy to defer your admission for  a year.  You also
happen to have saved up quite a lot of money from working at your part-time job all through high school.  You now
have a decision to make:  do you go straight to university and get started on your career, or do you take a year
to backpack all around the world, first?

More and more, high school graduates are grappling with this
decision — and Rolf Potts, of
Yahoo! News Travel, helps one such graduate tackle this question
.  As for me, I went straight to university —
but it’s a decision that I sometimes question.  Rightly  or wrongly, it was my perception that most American
universities wouldn’t look kindly upon a highschooler taking a year off to travel; and yet, I also felt the opposite
would’ve probably been true had I chosen to attend university in Europe.  (Of course, things have changed
considerably in the 20-odd years it’s been since I graduated high school!)

What do you think — if you could
do it all over again, would you travel first, or go to college first?  What would you encourage your kids to do?

Sabbaticals and Gap Years

Thinking of taking some time off
to see the world?  In England (and many other parts of the world), it’s almost for traditional for students to
take a "gap year" — the year between high school and university — to travel.  Now, however, more and
more older people are taking sabbaticals from their work anywhere from a month to a year — to spend some time

If you are thinking of taking some time off from work, the BBC has a great website to help you plan your
.  The page for "grown-up gappers" has a case story, sample itineraries (depending on how much
you’d like to spend), and tools to help you determine your travel budget, and information to help you choose where to
go.  A great resource.