Hi, I’m Ben, sabbatical expert (and taker!). I’m the founder and main content creator for this site, The Sabbatical Guide.
That’s me with my gorgeous and smiley wife Becca on our first-ever extended break to South Africa.
And yes, they are owls on our heads…
…and yes, they are real!
I started this blog back in 2018 after embarking on my first sabbatical and realising how little useful information there was out there on the web to help people in planning one.
It has since become the biggest sabbatical resource anywhere online and I have gone on to be featured in bigger publications such as the Telegraph, the BBC and a large number of travel websites.
I have also travelled extensively, so alongside my sabbatical guides you’ll also find lots of practical first-hand destination guides. I have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia so am an expert on travel in these two countries and have also written at length about Southeast Asia, Malta and Seychelles.
My Sabbatical Story
I always describe that I lost my twenties to work.
I was working weekends and late nights when all my friends were off at university or out partying. I said no to more invitations and more nights out than I care to think of.
It was an important time in my life. Putting the work in allowed me to have a strong foundation for my future, giving us the financial freedom and credibility within the industry to make decisions.
But I couldn’t keep working at this pace forever, the balance needed to be re-addressed.
Something had to change…
…and early in my thirties, I made some brave choices.
In 2015, I decided to leave my job but built in three months before starting the next one. In this time I got to spend some much-needed time clearing my head, but Becca and I also spent a month in South Africa, the country my dad moved to twenty years ago.
In 2017, we booked and took a three-month sabbatical away from work where we travelled through Southeast Asia. This was an incredible experience. It was the most time I’ve spent with Becca in our 10 years together, and allowed us to travel slowly through a new part of the world.
In 2019, I got offered the chance to take a job in Australia, a great opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Again, I gave myself time off between jobs to spend time with family and friends.
READ MORE: My Sabbatical Story
Work & Why I Love My Job
I need to be clear from the outset though, I love my job.
I’m not one of the ‘quit work and travel the world’ brigade, I love having the safety, security, financial independence and success that comes from a career.
I’ve gone from sitting on a checkout in a local supermarket at the age of 16 to now running a business of over half a billion dollars in turnover and a team of over 1,500.
I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t signed that contract at a young age and I owe so much to the people who’ve helped me along during my career.
But my biggest passion outside of work has always been travel.
Travel became a central part of my world as a kid. My dad’s job took him away from home a lot, to Bangladesh, India and Indonesia to name a few. He would come back with incredible gifts of far-flung places that didn’t seem quite real.
When I was about ten, he made a permanent move out to South Africa. My sister and I joined him in all the major school holidays to go on adventures that were almost unimaginable before. Road trips up to Vic Falls, long dark evenings playing cards in Kruger National Park or driving the Garden Route down to Cape Town.
My dad was a brave man taking young kids on journeys like this, and I think it was these experiences that led to my deep-rooted need to travel.
When you combine this with my mum’s skills as a teacher, you start to get a picture of why I became who I am.
Someone who craves travel, but also loves to learn and write about my experiences.
Someone who wants to have experiences that you can’t get at home, but also create a trail behind me reminding me of where I’ve been. Photographs do this, as do memories, but writing has always been my first love – whether it be music, poetry, or now, sharing my stories through travel writing.
My career has helped me to do this. Giving me the money and annual leave to travel and more recently using sabbatical leave to see even more of the world.
Travelling As A Couple
My companion through the last ten years of travel has been my wife Becca. When we first met, she hadn’t done much travelling, but now she’s the one pushing us on! We’ve seen so much of the world together, and I’ve loved every moment of it.
Time on the road would definitely be boring without her there. I’d be rattling through temples, museums and churches, but with her, we’re paragliding, visiting zoos and getting every fun/train or tour bus she can find!
Travelling as a couple is not always easy, being in such close company can push people to their limits, but somehow we’ve found a way. We’re both pretty easy going, which helps, but normally a quick sugar fix picks up whoever is the most grumpy!
All I know is that I wouldn’t have seen half of what I have without her by my side. We’re not the bravest travellers in the world, and we like our home comforts, but we are the living proof that if you put your mind to it, you can find a way to incorporate travel into your life.
And that the world doubles in excitement when you share it with someone.
I love a list, and I love a map, which is why things like this are dangerous for me! Travel is not all about ticking things off, but it is interesting to see where I’ve been in the world, and I love setting myself targets.
Here is my current list of countries visited:
Green = Visited & articles available
Blue = Visited but no content yet written
Red dots = Small islands or countries not on the map
The list below may look a bit different from the normal list of 195 countries that are currently in the world. I use a list from a book called ‘The World‘ by Lonely Planet. It has a list of 231 countries and territories.
If you want to see how and why I came to the decision to use this list, then have a read of my post ‘How Many Countries are There to Visit?‘.
To count as an official visit in my book, two things need to have happened:
- Leaving the airport.
- Staying overnight.
And if I haven’t been there, you won’t find it on the list. I’m not one of those travel blogs that just collates information, I have to have been there for it to make it on here.
<<< My Current Total 28/231 >>>
Central America (0/7)
🇳🇱 The Netherlands
🇨🇿 Czech Republic
🇻🇦 Vatican City
🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina
Middle East (0/10)
North America (0/4)
South America (1/14)
🇱🇨 St Lucia
Some Non-Sabbatical Things I Love
The Sabbatical Guide contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. For more information, see our disclosure policy.