Girl wearing backpack, holding map (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List Words : Gwenllian Jones | 28 October

6 reasons to take a career break NOW!

Stop making excuses. We found the most common reasons people give themselves for not making the leap – and rightfully shredded them to obscurity

1. It won't wreck your career


Quite the opposite – a career break can reinvigorate you in your current position, give you the impetus to move jobs or even push you to change careers altogether.
If you want to keep your current job, ask your employer about time out (which may not be paid). Many companies run sabbatical schemes, and may even encourage you if you’re planning to do something that could beef up your skills – for example, a job-swap, learning another language or teaching your skills overseas.

But before you approach your boss, you'll need to convince yourself. Break the big dream down to digestible, bite-sized chunks; map out a rough (but realistic) plan and build up a case for your break, highlighting relevant experience and the boost in motivation. Many prospective employers look favourably on career breaks – you just have to sell the benefits.

If you're having a bit of a career slump, why not bite the bullet and worry about the small stuff later? You never know what new opportunities you'll be exposed to.

More advice:

Career breaks: Been there, done that | Practical advice

How to explain a career break on my CV? | More practical advice

Career breaks: why you should take one! | More myths debunked

2. You can afford it


Time for one of our favourite clichés – can you afford not to? Doing anything new only serves to expand your mind. Exploring the world will result in priceless memories, and will serve to reinvigorate your health and career. If you don't know what's out there, how can you be sure that you're not missing out?

Still not convinced? Work abroad. You could arrange a working visa (As a Wanderlust reader, you can claim £5 off yours here) and pick up some vocational or temporary work: try worldwide WWOOFing – work on an organic farm; head to the EU, where UK citizens can work without red tape; or get a TEFL qualification and teach English overseas.

It doesn’t have to be pricey if you budget carefully. Be canny – look for deals on flights or Airmiles offers; offer to do some work in a guesthouse or hostel in return for a free stay; or volunteer long term – cheap or free lodging and board is often part of the deal.

Quieten your financial worries, and get organised. Sort yourself out before you go, and get prepared for what's to come on the road with these handy tips

More advice:

12 travel classics vs budget options | Big trips on the cheap

19 trips for under £250 | Little ideas to kick-start your big trip

9 of the best trips under £1000 | Inspiration!

3. Your mortgage won't hold you back


Sell up and use the cash! Incredible career break (if not future financial security) guaranteed! But if that’s too drastic, you could rent out your house to cover your mortgage – letting agencies can sort out the practicalities. You could also get a friend or family member to move in, or use the house as an asset and arrange a home-exchange with a pad overseas.

More advice:

25 ways to save money when your travel | How to conserve your cash

4. You can go it alone... if you want to


If you're planning a long trip, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to find someone to go along with you. The good news is that, thanks to the internet, it's easy! Try registering with myWanderlust, and post a comment for companions on our Forum pages. You could also join a local travel club. The company you keep could make or break the trip, so choose your travel buddy wisely.

Alternatively, go it alone. Solo travel has a lot of upsides, and will usually prove to be a very liberating experience. If you're a bit unsure of yourself, join a tour for the first leg to gain confidence, or start in a big city – Bangkok’s traveller zone around the Khao San Road is packed with other single travellers looking for companions. 

If you join a trip, beware of the single supplement! You might be asked to pay extra for the privilege of travelling on your own (no, we don't understand it either). But there are ways around this added expense – have a look at these supplement-free trips to get you started.

More advice:

Your guide to solo travel | It's not so scary after all

First time travelling solo | How to take the leap

5. You're not too old


Never! According to hotels.com, 60% of three-week-plus breaks are being taken by over-45s. There are advantages in advanced years: for a start, you’ve probably got more cash than the nippers, so can do things in more style. And if you want to work or volunteer, your experience will be valued so placements may be easier to arrange.

If you do choose the backpacker route, you’ll find hostels – great places to meet other travellers – packed with people of all ages. Conversely, if you’re worried about being surrounded by teenage gappers, it’s really easy to get off the backpacker circuit.

If you're worried about insurance costs, remember that all Wanderlust readers get 5% off their travel insurance (and subscribers get 10% off) – and better still, there's no upper age limit! Visit our Hot Offers page for other deals too.

More advice:

How to grow old and travel outrageously | Throw caution to the wind!

6. Having kids doesn't stop you travelling


Long-term travel with children presents challenges – but it’s also a great time for kids to experience new cultures and situations while minds are still open and fertile. And people do it all the time! You could volunteer, go on safari, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. For some inspiration, read our guide to family travel. And you don't just have to take out word for it – read this account by Guy Grieve, who took his family sailing around the world. 

More advice:

Tips for photographing a family trip | How to capture those memories

Children not allowed | Should some places be off-limits for kids?


Main image: Girl wearing backpack, holding map (Shutterstock)