Asking yourself if you should take a career break and travel? Is it right for you? Can it really work? Is it smart to do that? How does a career break even work?
Do you wish we’d stop asking questions?
Jokes aside, if you asked a group of people all of these questions about taking a career break then you’d probably receive a wide range of answers.
Well, asking an individual if a wanderlust-filled career break is right for them is a lot to ask. There’s risk involved with this decision and different people have different ideas when it comes to risk.
So, before we even get started talking about why taking a career break and traveling can be one of the best experiences of your life, ask yourself how risky you’re prepared to be. Because for most people, a career break is too scary or just too crazy of an idea.
Our intention isn’t to freak you out or scare you away from this adventurous idea. We want you to be honest with yourself and really think about. Because risk is part of figuring this out!
Before our career gap!
Before we flipped our lives upside down in August 2018, weighing the pros and cons of quitting our job was very stressful for us! We planned an entire year in advance before quitting our jobs and going abroad. As our departure date got closer and closer, our stress levels got higher and higher.
While we’re big cheerleaders of traveling abroad and experiencing the world, we’re also not blind to the fact that realities like money, planning, personal life, etc., exist. These are things that need careful consideration and planning.
But what’s the first step in making a big decision like a career break?
Having a real desire for change.
How Has Our Career Break and Travels Played Out?
14 months into our career gap!
Traveling the world is all unicorns and rainbows, folks!
While that statement is far from the truth, there are definitely some days that live up to the hype and, 18 months later, we’re still very happy with our decision to travel (and work) abroad.
Besides the awesome experiences we’ve shared while traveling to more than 20 countries, we’ve gained some really useful life skills. Communication, patience, confidence, to name a few.
The process of improving these skills wasn’t easy though. We’ve had plenty of ups and downs with each other (we haven’t been apart for 18 months!); we’ve been completely lost at times; heck, we’ve almost lost our online teaching jobs due to crappy internet (Bali, Italy, Poland…it happens a lot). Almost every destination we’ve visited has had some sort of hump to get over.
But in hindsight, while those tough times were really stressful, none of that really matters today. We’re better (and stronger) thanks to all the hiccups along the way; visiting so many places and meeting so many people has been unforgettable.
In addition to life skills, we’re learned a ton about WordPress, copywriting, web design, SEO, marketing, the list goes on! Oh, and we’re online English teachers. It just so happens that teaching online is an amazing way to work remotely and travel.
In a nutshell, we left jobs we were unsatisfied with and mixed our love of travel with useful skills that we hope to make part of our future.
That’s the plan for us! As our time abroad nears its end and we head back to the US, we’ll continue to travel the Americas (there’s so much more to see!) while continuing our remote work.
Now that you’ve heard a little bit about our story, it’s time to focus on yours!
7 Reasons to Take a Career Break and Travel
Whether it’s a disappointing job or you’re just ready for some adventure, we’ve written 7 reasons why you should take a career break and travel.
Of course, these are just reasons that you should take a career break and travel. These are not tips on how to take a career break. That’s a whole different story!
If you’re in the early stages of a career break (aka actually thinking about doing it) then you’re in the right place!
We’re not going to tell you that there’s a perfect way to do this or that you’ll get rich quick or that you’ll leave the office behind for good. But hey, it could happen. What we will talk about is our own experience and some reasons why a career break and travel are a good idea.
Stuck in a Rut
One of the biggest downsides to having a routine job is that day-in and day-out, everything starts to look the same. You wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, work for 8 (or more) hours, go home, eat dinner, go to bed. You’re supposed to exercise somewhere in there too!
Of course, there’s more to every day than that but if you’re unhappy at work, it won’t be hard to sum it up like we just did.
The full-time routine is a cycle that has many benefits going for it (think health insurance) but it’s also monotonous. Being in our late 20s it was a now or never kind of moment that we took advantage of. Even though we just mentioned our age, we would like to emphasize that age does not matter here!
To be completely honest with you, we felt unfulfilled at our jobs and wanted something more. If you’re experiencing that too, we hear you!
But please don’t cling to the idea that traveling around the world means there are no routines and no cycles. You still wake up, eat and go about your days but you have these routines in new and exciting places.
If you’re feeling down about your job and you have the travel bug, that’s a recipe for some change!
Some jobs have terrible vacation time while others have ample amounts. Our friend in the Netherlands gets 40 days off a year! That’s pretty sweet.
However, if you find that vacation time is too little or you’re just not getting enough adventure, then a career break can definitely be in your future.
Ready for a New Adventure
It took just a few years of the corporate life to realize we wanted something else. While a steady job is the safest and very logical choice, we eventually mustered the courage to follow through with our desires.
Our desire was for a new adventure, one that we were making. Not our boss.
If you’ve got the urge then what are you waiting for? Start researching!
Pick a continent and look up the countries. What kind of visa do you need? How long can you stay? What’s the cost of living? All of these (and many more) are important questions to ask before embarking on your career break.
Pro Tip: Beware the Schengen zone! If you want to travel around Europe keep in mind that the Schengen zone consists of 20+ member countries. You can spend up to 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen zone.
It’s Not Bad for Your Resume
The internet is full of arguments on this topic. Some say that a break in your career can harm your CV/resume. The other half says the opposite.
There is nothing factual about this outcome, only opinion.
What’s our opinion?
It’s freaking awesome for your CV/resume.
Your people skills will be much greater than someone who has never been forced to live in a foreign place. Think about it. Who would you want on your project? Someone who has world experience and an understanding of different backgrounds and cultures or someone who doesn’t.
You’ll be able to think on the fly and problem-solve. For example, we arrived in Taipei, Taiwan with the idea of teaching English there for one year. Nope! We actually realized soon after arriving that teaching there wasn’t for us.
We were in a foreign country, didn’t speak the language and had no job! Needless to say, that was terrifying. However, we quickly found that we could teach English online and travel. So we applied and in a few days time, paid for our luggage to be sent home and began our digital nomad adventure.
You’ll learn so much about budgeting. Being online English teachers and new bloggers, our budget is pretty tight but that hasn’t stopped us. In fact, we’ve learned some helpful methods of saving money and traveling that will help us back in the States.
Those are just a few perks that a future boss would love to see in an employee. However, be sure to not make your career break sound like a fun-filled, party-happy time.
Your employer may not find that very impressive. By all means, you should have a lot of fun and party (responsibly!). Just leave that stuff out of your CV/resume.
If you need some reassurance about leaving a gap in your resume, then see what CNBC has to say about it.
You Like Independence
Let freedom ring! Seriously.
One thing that we really love about this whole career break and travel thing is the independence that comes with it.
We make our own choices and go where we want.
That’s just awesome!
Granted, we still work for a company (online English teachers at SayABC) while we travel so we still have to make plans around that. But being independent contractors/freelancers, we now have so much more control on pursuing things for us.
Whether you’re figuring out remote work on your own or deciding which destination is next, you’re the boss while traveling!
There’s No Time Like the Present
If you’re on the fence about taking a career break and traveling around the world then maybe you need to hear that old timey advice: there’s no other time like the present!
Life has a habit of getting in the way and creating many reasons (or excuses) why you shouldn’t do this. But if you’ve planned for this career break, have a way of taking care of yourself (a remote job or enough savings) and it’s something you really want to do, then just do it. Enough said! We’re here to help you if you need it!
You (Probably) Won’t Regret It
It’s always a possibility.
If something terrible happens, then yes, you may wish you had never taken a career break.
BUT, what if nothing terrible happens? What if you have the time of your life and learn things about yourself you didn’t know before?
More likely than not, you’re going to return home a totally different person and for the better. You’ll know more about the world, yourself and what you’re capable of than you did before you left home.
If you return to the office life afterward, you’ll be a better, more well-rounded employee. If you found something else along the way then even more power to you!
There’s no telling how the people you meet and the places you go will change your life or your career. But we can tell you that taking a career break and traveling will definitely alter your perspective!
Summary of Taking a Career Break to Travel
The most important aspect of taking a career break and traveling is being honest with yourself. Are you willing to take on the risk? It can be a really beautiful thing, taking on the unknown.
Many people are afraid of taking a career break but take it from two naive, eager travelers: it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!
If you have any questions about taking a career break and traveling, working and traveling or what the planning process is like please leave us a comment below or contact us!