How to take a career break without quitting your job

By Anna Brech

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A career break is the dream scenario for any die-hard wanderluster, but engineering it is easier said than done.

Here’s how to organise time out while keeping your hard-earned job in play:

Career break option 1: Take a sabbatical

The reality for many is that you left school, went straight to university and then launched yourself into working life. It was the sensible thing to do, right? There’s bills and rent to pay. Yet now, as you progress up the career ladder, you can’t seem to shake off that nagging feeling of missing out. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, surely there’s more to life than routine and responsibility?

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That’s where a sabbatical comes in. A period of time totally free of your working duties to do whatever you’ve always wanted, with the added satisfaction of job security for when you return. Your workplace will have a policy regarding how long and if you’re entitled to take one, usually you need to have worked a certain amount of years. You should also find out the maximum duration and if any of your benefits are suspended, and if that’s all ticketyboo then just go for it! We’ll talk destinations and sweet talking your boss later on…

And you don’t just have to take our word for it. These solo travellers have taken the plunge themselves and are well in the know when it comes to taking time out to travel:

Career break option 2: Save up your annual leave

If sabbaticals are a no go, then one of the easiest ways to press pause is to simply go on holiday. Yet not any kind of holiday. Forget week long getaways that are over as soon as you begin to unwind. What you burnt out professionals need is a proper, 2 week or more, break from the world of work. This means saving up your precious annual leave (and your precious pennies) and taking the plunge with booking an adventure.

Read more: Want a career break? Don’t overthink it

Breaking out from your routine and waking up somewhere new will spark a new passion for life and release your inner adventurer. You’ll return a glowing version of your former self with amazing memories and stories to tell. Just make sure to book it around public holidays to squeeze out every last ounce of adventure.

Career break option 3: Take some unpaid leave

Like the Goldilocks of career breaks, for many of you a sabbatical is too long term, yet an extended holiday is just too short. If this is you then there’s always the option of taking some unpaid leave. The best way to do this is to save up your annual leave and then add on a chunk of time away from your office where you’re not paid.

Read more: 4 compelling arguments for a career break

It can be a risky move, both in terms of financial stability and job security, yet providing you’re organised and open with your job then it can be totally worthwhile. Use this time to fully recharge your batteries, do something entirely different and explore this huge world of ours. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s as simple as that.

How to handle your boss

So you’re all inspired with new dreams and aspirations, now it’s time to wrangle the time off work with your employers. This requires being tactical. Requesting sabbaticals, extended holidays and unpaid leave is not always well received, so you need to present your case. Particularly for sabbaticals and gap years, it’s important to arrange a meeting with your manager and outline all the benefits of your jetsetting.

Read more: 5 signs it’s time for a singles holiday

Arm yourself with information about your career plans, travel itinerary and the new skills you’ll bring back to the company. From new languages, enhanced communication skills to overseas charity work, the key is to be totally clear and focused on why it’s so important. Be proactive in lining up cover for whilst your away and, if possible, plan your break during a quieter time of year for the company. Preparing for these factors will show your plans are totally thought through, leave no stone unturned!

Where to go?

Everyone has their own unique places that bring out their inner wanderlusters. Places that make you gaze out of windows daydreaming and mad with envy when you see someone else there. So grab a pen and a cuppa, and write down all the epic destinations and experiences that you’re yet to have conquered. As you find yourself googling the Taj Mahal at sunrise or glamping beneath the Northern Lights, that rush of life seizing excitement will feel AWESOME!

For more guidance on amazing travel locations, check out our adventure group trips for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s. The itinerary, accommodation and activities are all sorted, just choose which country(s) inspire you most and rock up to the airport. Remember, as Paul Coelho once said: ‘if you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal’. So grab life with both hands and take a break from the ordinary. You won’t regret it.

Spice up your career break with a group trip for solo 30-40 somethings. Come join us on a Flash Pack adventure! 

Photos: Flash Pack, Shutterstock

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