Welcome to The Sabbatical Guide.
Hi, I’m Ben, founder and main content creator for the site.
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!
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.
🌍 Countries Visited
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
Taking A Sabbatical
This site exists to help career-minded people finance, plan and book the sabbatical of their dreams.
I’ve worked hard to build this site into the best resource on the internet for sabbatical and career break information.
It’s broadly split into six categories:
The basic questions and mindset of a sabbatical explained
Sabbatical Ideas and stories from people who’ve already taken a sabbatical that will inspire you to take action.
Financing a Sabbatical
Learn how to make money work harder and put aside the cash for a sabbatical.
A Sabbatical & Your Career
In this section, I cover everything work-related which will reassure you that it is possible to take a sabbatical without ruining your career.
When your sabbatical is signed off there is still a lot of work to do. This section guides you through everything you need to do in the three months before you leave for your sabbatical.
Welcome To The Sabbatical Guide
So, welcome to The Sabbatical Guide I hope you find what you are looking for here.
I hope you find some inspiration to build time and space into your career and to follow your dreams. This site will help you to realise those dreams by giving practical and pragmatic information, and helping you put the foundations in place, such as getting your money saved and clearly planning what you want to do with the time.
My wife and I Becca have been to some amazing places and seen some unforgettable things but we still are both fiercely career-minded. Building these mini-retirements into our careers has allowed us to have the best of both worlds and the aim of this site is to share with you what we’ve learned.
Awards and Honours
- Nitestay.com – 55th in ‘Top 100 Blogs to Follow in 2018’
- The Planet D – Featured in ‘The Best Travel Blogs 2020 Edition’
Places You’ll Find My Work
- BootsnAll Indie Travel Guide – What To Do With Pets When You Take A Sabbatical
- Career Gappers – 9 Ways a Sabbatical Benefits You (and Your Boss)
- Cooperatize Journal – How To Proofread Blog Posts
- Cousin Island Special Reserve – An Unmissable Trip To Seychelles
- Nomadic Matt – An Interview With Ben Of The Sabbatical Guide
- The Culture-Ist – Sabbatical Leave: A Quick Guide To Taking A Break
- The Planet D – 10 Unmissable Things To Do In Seychelles
- Travel Dudes – Going On Sabbatical: Taking Extended Leave To Travel
- World of Away in 365 Days Podcast – Why Sabbaticals Make Sense If You Love Your Career
- Holiday Extras UK – Featured in their Thailand guide
- The Times UK – Featured as part of a sabbatical article (Aug 2019)
- The Times UK – Contributed to ‘Could 2021 be the year of the sabbatical?’ (May 2020)
- Scoot Airlines – Featured in their in-flight magazine (Sept 2019)
Other Places I’ve Been Mentioned
- A Passion And A Passport – The Ultimate Road-Trip Checklist
- Asia Uncovered – 17 Unique Things To Do In Bangkok
- Boomeresque – Travel Book Gift Recommendations
- Brogan Abroad – Why Travel Insurance Is So Important
- Darek and Gosia – Top Warm Places To Visit In Europe (Spring)
- Explore Now Or Never – The Amazing Europe Bucket List
- Free Two Roam – Wildlife Encounters Bucket List
- Globe Trove – March In Asia: Exploring The Continent Bit-By-Bit
- Honeymoon Always – Where To Go Backpacking In Europe
- Karolina Patryk – How To Survive Travelling With Your Partner
- LL World Tour – Great Gifts For Travellers
- Luxury Travel Hacks – Unique AirBNBs From Around The World
- Once In A Lifetime Journey – The Best Beaches In Southeast Asia
- Pack The PJs – Most Incredible Beaches In The World
- Passports and Adventures – Unusual Places To Eat With Kids
- Sofia Adventures – 11 Stunning Places To Visit in Bosnia & Herzegovina
- To Travel Too – Top 25 Memorable Asian Day Tours To Enjoy
- The Career Break Site – Newsletter featured my free finance tool
- The Globe Trotter GP – 18 Of The Best Temples In Thailand
- The Silver Nomad – UNESCO Sites Off The Beaten Track (Asia)
- The Travel Scribes – 21 Iconic Landmarks in Thailand
- The World Was Here First – 28 Best Stops on a London to Edinburgh Drive
- Travels With Talek – 20 Best Travel Apps For Europe, Asia & America
- Two Tall Travellers – The Best Places To Travel In February 2020
- Wales To Wherever – Best Destinations To Visit In 2020
Some Non-Sabbatical Things I Love
- Ryan Adams
- Rugby Union
- Snake documentaries (but not snakes!)
- Blues guitar
- The Simpsons
- Everything French
- The Western Bulldogs
- Pinotage, Malbec, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc wines