Putting your career on hold can be a scary thing. Especially when you’ve invested so much time, effort, and money.
In the US, work environments can be very competitive. Salaried employees can be expected to put in long hours without any extra pay. It’s unusual to have more than two weeks of vacation time and even more unusual to be able to take more than a week at a time. In 2011, the average US worker didn’t even use all of their vacation time.
Most people have a hard time believing that they can break away from the standard 9-to-5, but it can be more attainable than you think. There are alternatives such as lifestyle design or phased retirement that are gaining popularity among young professionals.
I recently pulled my boss aside to tell him that my wife and I are planning to travel the world for 8-10 months. He works quite a bit and has complained to me about traveling internationally several times, so much to my surprise he’s telling me – “you’ll never regret it.” (Edit: I have since found out that he will be taking a sabbatical very shortly…)
Some employers offer a sabbatical for their employees. However, it is uncommon and it’s rarely more than a month. It is also possible that they don’t have it documented or don’t have a standard policy. If that’s the case, be proactive. Talk to your manager about the possibility of taking an extended amount of time off. In our case, we knew our employers wouldn’t be able to offer us the length of time we wanted to take and we took the calculated risk. Luckily, my management team has told me that they look forward to my return.
Whatever your situation may be, a sabbatical may be more attainable than you think. And, if you really want to travel, you can make it happen. Do it!