In September last year, Lindsay Ferry resigned from her job in the London banking industry to take a career break. Coming to the end of a major project, she decided the time was ripe for a seven-month sabbatical, and she’s since travelled with Flash Pack to Italy and Chile.
“There’s so many places I want to see, but you need a little bit longer to fully explore them, and annual leave is fairly limited,” she explains. “I just decided it was a really good window of opportunity to take some time out for travel. One by one, I’m ticking off the countries that I’ve been desperate to see.”
With a 10-year career under her belt and money saved up, Lindsay was in a good position to make good on her dreams. But pressing pause on the corporate wheel still required a fair amount of guts. Here’s how she did it:
Making the leap
So many of us mull over the idea of a career break, then file it away under “would be nice to do sometime”. Lindsay (pictured above) believes that if you’re in a situation where you could take a break, you should just go for it.
“I didn’t really overthink it, it just seemed like something that was the natural next step for me,” she says. “I don’t want to be cheesy and say YOLO and things like that, but I do think there’s a point in seizing the day, and actually when it’s right, just take that moment. Because you can always re-group and get back into your career… If it’s something that you want to do, I think you should explore it, and you should jump right in.”
Lindsay started her adventure by attending a few of our mini experiences (pictured above), where travellers get to mingle with one another at supper clubs and other London-based events. This gave her the validation she needed, at the brink of a major change.
“There were a lot of well-travelled people there,” Lindsay explains. “They gave me an insight. As I was preparing to make the decision to press pause on my career, many people were just like, ‘you will not regret it, it’s the best thing I ever did’, and it was really reassuring. And I was like, ‘OK, so this is definitely what I should do.'”
The money issue
Raising the funds for a career break can be a huge challenge, especially in an age where rent is higher than ever, and salary levels are stagnating. In order to afford her career break, Lindsay cut down on lifestyle spending – and she also made an active choice to prioritise experience above all else.
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“I decided that I wanted to put my money into experiences, and for me, that’s not a waste of money and it’s certainly something that I feel like is well-spent,” she says. “But you can be creative, as well, about the choices you make for travel. It’s great with people I meet through Flash Pack, because I get continual ideas about places people have gone to, and how they’ve done it. There’s many things you can do that are really affordable.”
Saying yes to risk
Having worked in HR, Lindsay has seen plenty of people come up against the same decision she’s just taken. And – although she actually quit her career – she believes the tide is turning when it comes to how bosses feel about their employees taking a career break.
“People get nervous that perhaps it will impact their future progression,” she says. “Or could it could the job market. There is volatility there, it’s not necessarily that jobs are a-plenty. But I also feel like sometimes you have to be less risk-adverse, and just take that leap of faith.
“I would say that employers look at it favourably,” she adds. “I think they want people to come back to the workforce who are re-charged and ready to sink their teeth into a new project or something, rather than people getting jaded and cynical and tired.”
Change sparks change
The general perception around taking a career break is that you’ll do all the planning before you go. We tend to think that you’ll know ahead of time where you’ll be, and what you’ll do in your career when your break comes to an end. You’ll also fire up motivation for the trip fully beforehand, and be sure of what you’re doing.
But Lindsay’s experience has been that she’s built up momentum while on the road. By taking one major change – the decision to pause her career and travel – she’s opened her world up to a series of new ideas. And in doing so, she endorses the choice she originally made.
“I love my career but equally I do think sometimes things can stagnate and so, definitely a change of scenery can give you a really good injection of energy,” she says. “I’m meeting new people, seeing new places, getting fresh ideas. There are so many people I’ve met recently that are entrepreneurs doing solo projects and working remotely. And that could be a change of career for me, just from what I’m learning over the next few months or so. So, I’m very much open to ideas, and just looking for those new opportunities.”
A key element of Lindsay’s time out has been the people she’s travelled with. “I didn’t want to do it completely on my own, I wanted to experience it with others. I’m very social,” she explains.
“I didn’t want to just do tours with one company, so I’ve tried a couple,” she continues. “I think the great thing about Flash Pack is the people I’ve met on the group holidays. They are people who I would socialise with anyway. It’s testament to the friendships I’ve built on those group holidays, because I’ve still kept in touch. These will be friends for a very long time.
“I think that’s the point,” she continues. “You are meeting a friendship group that you may not necessarily find in your normal day-to-day life, but they’re very interested and interesting people.”
On Flash Pack trips, “you don’t have factions,” Lindsay says. “Obviously people will make genuine connections with different people, and some may be closer than others, but I think the social element is people choose to eat together, do the activities together, and even when options come up that people could actually splinter as a group, people always choose to gravitate back together.”
It’s normal for people to worry about the concept of travelling with strangers, Lindsay adds, “but it gels pretty quickly, so I’d just say, don’t worry about it – try it. You’ll have no regrets.”
Images: Flash Pack and Shutterstock
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