How To Take a Sabbatical to Travel the World

Written By: The Planet D

Once you’ve been working for 10 years or more and your career seems well underway, you might feel as though the opportunity to take a sabbatical to travel the world.

But the idea of taking a sabbatical, or a year off work, is one that has spread from the fringes of mainstream society into offices and workplaces all over the world. Today, many people consider a career break at some point or another in order to travel or to fulfill some other ambition that burns inside them.

Tips to Take a Sabbatical and Travel the World

Not everyone has to quit their jobs to travel the world. Many people love their work and don’t want to leave it all behind, but still have a yearning to get out and explore.

There are thousands of people that take a year out from their careers and return to a fulfilling and successful working life after travel.

If the idea of a sabbatical appeals to you, here are a few of the most important steps along the way to realising your dream trip around the world.

1. Talk to your boss

Your company may well already have systems in place to allow staff to take extended periods of paid or unpaid leave once they have worked for the company for a given length of time.

If this is the case, you should be able to make arrangements with your employer quickly and easily, establishing the dates between which you will be out of work and the terms of your return to employment after your trip.

If your contract of work does not mention sabbaticals, don’t assume that you won’t be able to take one.

Have a chat with your boss and find out if there is any scope for a period of leave. You will be surprised with how flexible some companies are.

2. Assess your situation

sabbatical and travel the world

The best time to take a traveling sabbatical is when you are going to be free to make the most of it. If you have responsibilities at home you might not be in the best position to go flying off around the world.

If you have a family, that doesn’t have to stop you from traveling, just be sure that it is something that they want to do and that you are prepared for.

Many families travel the world successfully and it can be the best education for children.

Take everyone’s feelings into consideration. Do you have any large events coming up that would let your friends or family down if you aren’t there?

You will have a much better time traveling and get the most out of your experience if you take everything into consideration and leave without guilt of letting a loved one down.

But if you have a year or so ahead of you that doesn’t seem particularly busy, then you might be in an ideal position to take some time off work and plan your trip around the world.

3. Make arrangements for your home

Once you have made sure your in the position to take a sabbatical and you have checked that your employer will allow you the time off, you may need to make arrangements for your home if you are a homeowner.

Options include inviting friends or family to house-sit for you while you are away, renting out the house to tenants for the period in which you are travelling, or even selling your house and waiting until you return to buy another one.

The most popular option amongst homeowners who take an extended period of travel is to rent out their home to cover the cost of the mortgage while enlisting the help of friends or family to assist with the maintenance arrangements in their absence.

It is worth noting here that leaving your house unattended for a long period can void any existing home and contents insurance policy.

4. Choose your destinations

When traveling for the first time it is important to plan out at least a loose itinerary.  You can either buy a flight to a particular region of the world and travel overland or you can find a travel operator that offers round-the-world tickets and select the destinations you wish to visit on your trip!

Depending on the terms of your ticket, you may be limited to certain routes and flight directions at certain times, so check with your travel operator before setting your heart on a particular route. There are many travel blogs out there to help you decide where you want to go in the world

5. Cover against problems

Taking out worldwide travel insurance is an absolute must before any round-the-world trip. The cost of travel insurance is miniscule in comparison with the potential cost of having to rearrange travel plans without insurance when problems arise en route.

Use insurance comparison websites to find the best deal that offers the correct level of travel insurance cover for your needs.

6. Budget

Long term travel doesn’t have to be expensive. If you stay in locally run guest houses or hostels, eat a local restaurants and hire local guides, you will be able to make your money last longer. It is important to have an idea of how much it will cost so that you don’t come home to a mound of debt.

Plan how long you will be gone for and how much money you will need to be able to travel the way you want to travel. There is nothing worse than coming home from a life changing experience to a pile of bills.

It will ruin the experience of everything that you accomplished and saw while you spend your time figuring out a way to pay it all off. You want your travels to be positive in every way.

So if you have been considering a sabbatical, start planning now and soon you will be on your way to seeing the world.

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Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

3 thoughts on “How To Take a Sabbatical to Travel the World”

  1. Thanks for sharing this great advice and encouraging others to take the plunge — it’s the best thing our family ever did!
    I’d like to add to a couple of points above — regarding family, I encourage people to think about the age & stage of their kid(s). We did our year-long RTW journey when our two kids were 11 and 8, so we taught them the equivalent of 6th and 3rd grade on the road (and then transitioned back to 7th and 4th grade at a regular public school this fall w/o much trouble). I think this is a great age because they’re old enough to remember and learn from the destiations–and to carry their own stuff (we had a “carry your own stuff” family rule that applied to them, too!)–but they’re young enough that we didn’t have to fulfill the more rigorous academic demands of middle/high school. We traveled abroad with them when they were toddlers & little kids, and I’m glad we waited to do the big trip til they were older; conversely, I have friends with teenagers in high school, and they said, “you’re so smart to travel when they’re this age, because when they hit high school, they’re so wrapped up in their school, sports and social lives that they won’t want to leave.” Plus, I feel it extended my preteen daughter’s childhood by a year insofar as she had a year to play and bond with her little brother, who became her de facto best friend, whereas her sixth-grade friends back home were in the throes of puberty and growing up too fast.
    Anyway … I also highly recommend renting out a house. It’s a pain and a bit scary to hand the house over to someone, but it worked out great for us and helped offset our costs greatly.
    Finally, if you need help planning an itinerary, I boiled down my advice for this article The Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Long-Term Travel.

    Go for it!

    • Thanks for the great advice regarding traveling with kids. I am glad that you had a positive experience traveling with your family. And renting a house is another great idea. Cheers.

  2. I started thinking about taking a sabbatical a year ago and now I’m just a few months away from taking one. It’s really not that difficult and employers have become more receptive to them as they see the benefit not only to the employee but to the company as well. Of course sometimes convincing them of your value can be trying. I requested a year off but was only able to get 5 months. Maybe I’ll just stay on permanent sabbatical.

    I think you’ve hit on some great points here and they are all things we’ve considered before jumping into our own sabbatical. Budget is probably the biggest thing that holds people back before they discover that depending on where you go it’s not as expensive as one might think.