Should you take time off from your career to travel?

If you love to travel, you have probably imagined what it would be like to do it for a long time. A trip where you spend months going from one place to another, seeing the sights while also living like a local. Instead of a short vacation, you have the kind of adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life.

It’s an exciting idea, but it can also be hard to pull off when you have a full-time job. Many employers will not be okay with taking months, a year, or more off at once.

Your other option is to take a job leave so you can travel. This is definitely a huge decision, and something not many people would consider. If you’re trying to figure out if it’s a good idea, here are some things to think about that can help you make the right decision.

First, see if remote work is an option

Before you decide between travel and your current job, make sure you really need to choose one or the other. If you have a job that can be done remotely, speak to your manager and ask if this is an option.

I’m biased because that’s what I do, but I think telecommuting is one of the best ways to be able to travel a lot. Surely, you don’t have much free time, because you’re still working. You’ll need to find a balance between that and enjoying your travels. But you can also travel without worrying about running out of money and then needing to go home and find a job again.

However, not everyone can work remotely. If you can’t, it may make your decision more difficult, but there is usually still an obvious choice.

If you know you want to take the time to travel, this is what you should do

It’s cliche, but the older you get, the more you realize time flies. We hope that in the future you will have the opportunity to travel as much as you like, but it is not guaranteed. Just ask anyone with big travel plans who have been interrupted by COVID.

There is also the possibility that you will start a family and not be able to travel as much. Or you may decide that you want to spend more time with your parents as they get older. These are just a few examples. The point is that life’s circumstances can change, and travel plans you put off can become something you can never do.

If you know that long-distance travel is something you absolutely want to do, find a way to make it happen. Take a break from your career, if necessary. You never know how many opportunities you will have to do this.

Also, remember that if you built a career for yourself once, chances are you’ll be able to do it again when you come back. You may not have fallen into a good job due to sheer luck. You earned it because of what you have to offer a company.

Spend a lot of time preparing financially before making the leap

I’m all for making a big move if it feels right, but that doesn’t mean I’m recommending you quit your job tomorrow. Before you do anything, it’s important to get the personal finance aspect of your life in order. Running out of money halfway around the world might make for a good story later, but I imagine it’s pretty stressful right now.

The first thing to do is Save as much money as possible. Create a savings account as your travel fund, and start transferring money into it every month. You can definitely travel on a budget — just read how one writer traveled for 20 months with $8,000 to get the perfect example. But saving more money makes life easier and allows you to travel longer.

This is also when you should Estimate how much money you will need. Do a lot of research to find out the costs of living in the places you want to visit. Once you do, you can use those costs, along with how long you want to travel, to figure out the budget.

Taking a break from your career to travel can be intimidating, but it can also be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Just remember to plan ahead financially and make sure you save enough money first. You’ll have a better time traveling and when you come back if you’re able to pay for everything with your savings, without going into debt.

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