Back in 2003 when I took my first Contiki tour, I never thought 6 days could change my life so much. I met people who were taking 3, 6, 12+ months off from work to travel the world. WHAT? It was crazy, I had heard about people taking a gap year after college and before going back to work. But your company was holding your job while you were traveling the world? Between that and the experiences on my trip (and in hindsight I wouldn't even call this my best Contiki trip) I came back and started to look at my life from the outside and was horrified. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but I wasn't in love with my life either. I did make some adjustments in my life, but it's a process.
8 and a half years later I'm still processing those emotions and considering my options. For 8 years of processing I haven't gotten that far... That is why I decided to go to the Meet Plan Go national event, to help get a push in the process.
What did I get out of it?
No one who has done a career break has regretted it.
My concerns about health insurance are real (check out my other blog at http://creatingabeautifulmouth.blogspot.com if you want more information on that.)
I need to start saving more (or cutting out more spending), maybe both ;)
There are companies that already support sabbaticals, and many others will even if they don't know it right now.
You should incorporate volunteering or learning in your trip, it will give a better justification for the trip and improve your resume when you come back and want to find a new job.
Have a purpose for you trip.
What are my next steps? I work for the government so a sabbatical will be harder then it might be for someone in private industry. BUT, I do get 5 weeks of vacation time, which is FANTASTIC for an American and a reason I do stay at my job. So, after I finish all the work on my teeth I will take a month long career break - that should be in about a year or so. I'm still trying to decide where, but it will likely be either Australia or New Zealand. I'm open for opinions on that, as long as you don't get offended if I don't choose your choice of destination.
I can retire from my government job in about 7 and a half years. I would like to make it that long at my job, but I'll have to see what the future holds. But once I retire I fully plan on taking at least a couple months to travel. Knowing that I plan my shorter trips to hit places that I would be less likely to visit on a 3+ month trip around the world.
All of this is a rough plan, but gives enough structure to allow me to start making choices in life. Do I really need a new car with a hefty monthly payment? Or would a used car be ok with a smaller payment? Do I really that stupid thing in the store that's just going to collect dust?
On a completely different note, a reminder about my giveaway that is ending on October 30 for a copy of My Memories Suite 2, digital scrapbooking software. You can find out more about this here.
If you're interested in a career break here are a few websites that you might want to check out (I originally made a list, and then got a better list via email from Meet, Plan, Go so I copied that):
CAREER BREAK/RTW TRAVEL SITES
Apartment/Condo/House Rental Sites
Staying with Locals
Working Abroad/Exchanging work for room and board
travel/rtw_packing/ (includes a female packing list)
travel/how-to-pack-your- backpack/ (how to best pack your backpack)
extended-travel/ultimate- packing-list-for-a-round-the- world-trip/(2 female packing lists)
gear-list-our-2011-packing- list/(male and female packing lists for two digital nomads)
AIRFARE SITES AND DEALS
INSURANCE - MEDICAL/TRAVEL
TRAVEL MESSAGE BOARDS