Can You Afford to Take a Sabbatical?

Can You Afford to Take a Sabbatical?

If I were a betting man, I’d day one of your fears about taking a sabbatical was money.

I get it….

Even if you’ve done alot of saving, there is no-one who wants to see their hard earned money go to waste.

So where to start?

Well it’s time for a dose of reality. Let’s start talking numbers!

Can You Afford to Take a Sabbatical?

Time to take some action

To make a prediction as to how much a sabbatical is going to cost, we need to look at three things.

  1. Monthly bills that will continue whilst you are away
  2. One off costs associated with the sabbatical
  3. The daily cost of living whilst you are on sabbatical

Once you have got these three pieces of information, you will then be able to work out exactly how much money you will need to save before you head off.

This might be the point in the process that you tap out. Do not put yourself at risk financially by taking a sabbatical. If the facts say you can’t afford it, you need to go back and save until you can.

Right, let’s start running the numbers….

If you want an easy way to do this, I have set up a full SABBATICAL BUDGETING SPREADSHEET, in which you put in your intended sabbatical length, daily costs, all expenses and savings and it will give you the numbers you need. You can see a screenshot of part of it above.

1) Monthly costs while you are away

Can You Afford a Sabbatical? Monthly Costs

In this section, open up your latest monthly bank statement.

Write down every recurring monthly cost THAT YOU ARE NOT going to be able to cancel when you take a sabbatical.

If you are a homeowner, there might be alot of costs that will continue, such as your mortgage (if you can’t take a break), house insurance, council tax etc.

2) One off costs associated with the sabbatical

Next write down any one off costs that are to be associated with the sabbatical

You might not have them all yet, but start to make some predictions.

Estimate the cost of flights, travel insurance, visas and new gear. There might also be other one off costs specific to your situation, such as putting your dog in kennels.

The good news about these costs is some can be paid in advance when you are still earning, so by the time you leave you have already absorbed the cost, but we are looking at worse case scenario here.

3) Estimated Daily Cost of Living

Next is to estimate your daily costs whilst on the road.

This is a tough one, and will be very dependant on your travel style and how many excursions you plan to take when on the road.

As a starting point, I have found this article to be really useful.

Daily Budget for 35 Countries

Add it all up….

Right, you should now be getting to a ballpark figure of what the cost is going to be for your sabbatical.

  1. Take the monthly cost from point 1 and multiply by the months you are away.
  2. Take the one off costs from point 2.
  3. Take the daily costs from point three and multiply by the days you are away.

And there you have it. In front of you now will be a number.

It might scare the life out of you, it might be better than you expected.

But it is now real!

This is the number you ideally need to have in savings before you go.

If you don’t you have a number of options:

  • Wait a bit longer and save more.
  • Cut down the time of the sabbatical (more of this in the next step).
  • Earn money whilst you are travelling.
  • Cut out more monthly costs whilst you are away (cancelling cable, mobile phones etc).
  • Rent out your house.
  • Look into ways to reduce your daily costs whilst away.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s essentially two things.

Cut costs or find more money


Whilst this post might have been a scary wake-up call for you, I’ve said from the beginning this was about pragmatic advice.

And now you have the cost in front of you in black and white!

Actions from today:

  • Write down all your current monthly costs that cannot be cancelled whilst you are on sabbatical.
  • Estimate your own-off costs associated with the sabbatical.
  • Estimate your daily costs whilst you are away.
  • Use the calculations in the post above to work out exactly how much money you need to make this sabbatical happen.


if you didn’t see it earlier in the post, download your free


by clicking the link.

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1 month ago

Hello! Great website! I can’t seem to download the SABBATICAL BUDGETING SPREADSHEET

Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical


I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets. 

If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.


When booking accommodation I always start with as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).


Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used  World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.


Using local guides is one of my favourite travel tips. The easiest way to find a local guide is to use Get Your Guide who offer tours with local guides all over the world.


Check out my gear page for my favourite travel gear, here for a detailed 3-month packing list for men and women and here to find 38 great travel gifts.


Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.

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