Like it or love it, most of us have to work for a living. This is the place to commiserate with other cube-dwellers and get tips from other business travelers. Talk about how the daily grind will one day allow you to realize your vagabond dreams. Share tips for turning travel you have to do into travel you want to do.

Should I Even Be Considering A Sabbatical Now?

docKaos

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  • Added on: January 4th, 2010
I'm 44 and am well-compensated by my employer of 10 years. I've been in the IT field for over 20 years and am pretty much burned out from on-call demands and the general "do more with less" attitude that seems to be prevalent in the industry these days. I would like to take possibly up to a year off to work on getting my health back on track (weight issues), travel and do a bit of downsizing. Financially, I have about $100k available without touching retirement accounts. No mortgage or loans - just monthly expenses of about $1,500. No wife or children. My girlfriend is completely cool with the idea of me taking a sabbatical. Given the current economic climate and, let's face it, my age, is this idea completely a non-starter?
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Flackattack

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  • Added on: January 5th, 2010
Yes yes yes yes yes yes. Go, see, do, live, enjoy. Seriously, with no kids and no debt, a nice bankroll, and a supportive gf, your only question now is "where". In fact, I would forget the sabbatical and make a clean break with your company. Opportunity may knock in another area, you may want to be gone longer, or you may parlay your work experience into a different type of IT job somewhere else when you return. I'll be 44 this year, and I am planning to be "jobless and homeless by choice on a budget" again later this year. Dont worry about your age. You will meet and hang with plenty of packers who have also voluntarily left jobs to go travel. Consider with your funds living in the 2-3 star style (almost flash packing). And the sensory experience of vagabonding is amazing because so many of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes are brand new.

Life is about experience, not possession. You will not lay on your deathbed thinking "gee, I wish I had worked more."
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halfnine

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  • Added on: January 5th, 2010
Yes, go

And while gone convert some of your tax deferred retirement plan to a Roth (enough to get your AGI just to the 25% tax bracket). You'll have to use a small bit of the 100k to pay the taxes for the conversion, but over the long term you'll be money ahead

KathrynD

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  • Added on: January 5th, 2010
I'd say go the sabbatical route and take a leave from your company if they allow it. Many years back I took a six-month leave from a company and it was great to know I had a job when I got back. You can always quit if you decide you don't want to go back. Like I always tell myself "a permanent job" is really just a short-term job that I keep extending...

Pelke

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  • Added on: January 5th, 2010
I can't tell you whether you should go or not. I can tell you, though, that I'm 47 and planning to take a year off starting this Spring. If your main concern is taking off in "this economy", you have to think of how thing will be a year from now when you get back. We are almost two years into this downturn now, so you have to figure the prospects in 2011 will be even better than they are for this year. You work in IT, so should have little problem finding employment when you return. Even if it takes a few months, it sounds like you have more than enough buffer cash to carry you through.

Let's face it, $100K for one year of travel works out to almost $275 per day. You would have to work really hard to spend that much. In many places, you can live VERY comfortably on $75-100 per day. (In a lot of Asia, it would be tough to spend even $50 per day). So, my point is, you can probably travel for a year and spend far less than $100K and have plenty of buffer left over for when you return.

More importantly, when it comes down to it, how can you put a price on the experience of traveling for a year? Do you really want to trade off that experience and work non-stop another 15-20 years just to be "secure". I work in high-tech also. As you know, regardless of performance, we could be laid-off any time for any reason. So, there really is no true security. And do you really want to look back when you are 60 or 65 and say to yourself: "I never did anything with my life, but at least I worked and saved my money so I could be secure now"? Those are the thoughts that haunt me. I finally decided I'd rather travel and get the experience while I can still enjoy it, even at the risk of seriously impacting my career. The fact is, people take off in our industry all the time and land on their feet just fine when they return. It is just the fear that something will go wrong that keeps us from going. But, at some point hopefully, the fear of not traveling will scare you more!

Good luck with your decision. Maybe I'll bump into you on the road next year :D

Pelke
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Ant

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  • Added on: January 21st, 2010
There's never a "good time" to do anything — there's just the right time for you, and it sounds like this is the right time for you.

If you have the desire, and it sounds like you've got the resources, I'd say go for it. As others pointed out, there are plenty of places you can go and live well for cheap.

Where are some places you'd like to go? Or just a place, even?
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Michaela Potter

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  • Added on: February 25th, 2010
I'm with everyone else - you should definitely do it! Especially since you have no ties and a big cushion in the bank. The economy will go up and down but you need to seize the opportunities in life that make you happiest.

And you'll find that sabbaticals and career breaks are becoming more common in the US, and many countries in the rest of the world already embrace them. So you're not alone. And there is a growing community of career breakers out there that can offer you the mental support you may need if you don't have that already in your life. But it sounds like one important person, your girlfriend, is already on board.

Looking forward to hearing about your plans!
Michaela Potter
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C-and-C

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  • Added on: March 3rd, 2010
ABSOLUTELY YES! To add to everyone else's responses. Here's a quote to motivate you:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain
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