Take the plunge with a career break (pictoscribe)

Career breaks and BIG trips


Put your working life on hold with a career break: volunteer, learn a new skill or language or a take part in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure

A career break is a step out of the old nine-to-five. It’s a chance to put your working life on hold for a while (or maybe take it in a different direction completely) and do that thing you always wanted to do: be it learning Spanish in Guatemala, helping street kids in India or leaping off a bridge attached to a flimsy bit of bungy cord in New Zealand.

You might think you can’t take a career break. Common excuses include “I can’t risk giving up my job”, “I’m too old”, or “I’m just too frightened”. But they’re all nonsense! Anyone who wants to can take a career break – you just need to do a bit of planning first.

Making the mental leap is the first step. Believe you CAN take a career break and then decide what you would like to achieve on it – be it flying to Outer Mongolia or walking to Timbuktu.

Get out the maps and begin plotting your Michael Palin-style Pole to Pole adventure, scour the internet for volunteering opportunities in South-East Asia, post questions on forums to find out what other career breakers have done before you – get as much inspiration and information as you can.

There are practicalities to consider: should you quit your job or arrange a sabbatical? Should you sell your house or rent it out? Who is going to look after the cat? But none of these are insurmountable problems if you have a good plan and the passion to see it through.

The options open to you on your career break are practically unlimited. You could spend time volunteering (perhaps with people in Romania, with animals in Kenya, with ancient buildings in Peru); you could set out to learn a new skill (languages in Morocco, cookery in Italy, belly-dancing in Turkey); you could try working overseas (either in a profession related to your current one or something completely different); you could build a travel itinerary based around countries beginning with the letter A (Austria, Australia, Argentina, Angola…). It’s up to you.

Far from breaking your career, career breaks can take your working life to a whole new level. Get planning!

Further Reading

Top 10 tips for taking a career break

There are rally no limits on what you can do with your big break, but here's a few things to consider first


  1. Find inspiration – remember, you CAN take a career break – read about what others have done to prove it: look at forums, ask tour companies and volunteer agencies to put you in touch with previous clients, read books...
  2. Plan a volunteering placement – from studying meerkats to mentoring small businesses in developing countries, there are a wealth of options open to you. Volunteering can be a great way in to a new community.
  3. Get a job overseas – finance your career break by finding work, either related to your current profession or completely different – it might even open up a hole new career for when you return home.
  4. Leave your current job – think about whether you want to quit or negotiate a sabbatical: many employers are open to the idea of giving good staff members time off to learn new skills (and ease the burden in the payroll).
  5. Get your affairs in order – think about the practicalities of a career break: such as renting out or selling your property, selling your ca, redirecting your post and finding a long-term cat-sitter.
  6. Learn a new skill – there are infinite courses you could enrol on worldwide, from language classes to learning to scuba dive. These will not only be fun, but will look good on your CV when you return.
  7. Take the kids – career breaks aren’t off limits just because you have children, and they can be a great education. Try to talk to other parents who've done something similar.
  8. Make a packing list – if you’re heading off for a whole year, think carefully about what you put in your backpack: you might need to pack for different climes, but remember you can buy things en route – try to travel light.
  9. Travel the world – a career break is a great time to plan a round-the-world itinerary or tick off some travel classics: the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Americas top to bottom… the list is endless.
  10. Do something different – why not crew a yacht or plan a full-on expedition? Apply for a bursary to trek a never-before trekked route or go in search of a rare bird. Find a cause or quest that motivates you.

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