If it’s your dream to take a career break to travel the world, don’t wait around for too long
In September 2017, Lindsay Ferry resigned from her HR 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, including Flash Pack trips 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:
Taking the leap of faith
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.”
For Lindsay, your career is something you can return to – so really, you have nothing to lose.
“You can always re-group and get back into your career,” she says. “If a sabbatical is something that you want to do, I think you should explore it. Jump right in.”
Finding inspiration for a break from work
Lindsay chatted to a lot of like-minded travellers before she took the plunge, which gave her the validation she needed at the brink of a major change.
“They gave me an insight,” Lindsay explains.
“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.'”
How to raise money for a career break
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.
Read more: Want a happy career? Replace what with why
“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 also, you can be creative 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 so many things you can do that are really affordable.”
Saying yes to risk and the Great Unknown
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 sabbatical leave.
“People get nervous that perhaps it will impact their future progression,” she says. “Or could it be a bad move, given 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 bigger 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.
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.”
Making friends with like-minded people
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.
Read more: How to make friends in your 30s and 40s
“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.”
Forget about the cliques
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 that people choose to eat together and do the activities together. 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 be cautious about travelling with strangers for the first time, Lindsay adds, “but it gels pretty quickly, so I’d just say, don’t worry about it – try it. You’ll have no regrets.”
Update: Flash Pack is run by people who truly believe in the power of adventure. And often, Flashpackers are so passionate about our product, they want to work with us too. Happily this is the case for Lindsay: since taking her travel break, she’s joined us full-time as Head of Talent. See more about our work culture and check out our latest vacancies right here
Kick start your career break with a travel adventure
Whether you’re taking a career break from work, going on an adult gap year or simply fancy a taste of solo travel, explore the world with these game-changing group escapes
Dial down to nature in Costa Rica
Kayak between mangroves in Tortuguero National Park, hike beneath Arenal Volcano and live your beach dreams on the Pacific coastline.
Get your chill on in Bali
Trek the jungle hills of Ubud, snorkel around a World War II shipwreck and find sanctuary on the tiny traffic-free island of Gili Air.
Escape to the wilds of Slovenia
Paddle-board across shimmering Lake Bled and canyon the gorges of the Bohinj Valley in this unsung corner of Europe.
Party up a storm in Colombia
Learn how to salsa over rum tastings in Cartagena, trek the beaches and forest of Tayrona National Park, and jet between the dreamy Rosario Islands by private speed boat.
Discover the secrets of Japan
Discover how to make sushi after a visit to the world’s largest fish market, learn the ancient art of ninja fighting at a warrior school in Kyoto, and bathe in hot springs in the hazy Hakone mountains.
Images: Flash Pack, Shutterstock and Movie Stills Database