Taking a sabbatical can be scary…

…and probably the most scary part is the fear that your job might not be there where you come back.

But don’t let that put you off!

There are thousands of example of people who’ve requested sabbaticals and returned to the same job at the end of it.

In this post I’ve pulled on the experiences from a number of travel bloggers to help reassure you of what’s possible.

If any of these situations resonate with you, then click through to their websites and ask them exactly how they did it….

Hi, I’m Emma from emmaonline.co.uk

Eight years into my career I took a 10 month sabbatical to backpack around Australia and New Zealand. It’s still one of the best things I have ever done.

I was working for a multinational company in Central London at the time. When my annual review came around I mentioned to my manager that I planned to resign and go travelling – so no objectives for the forthcoming year needed!  She was incredibly supportive and asked if I had considered taking a sabbatical. I hadn’t, I barely knew what one was.

However, my timing was perfect as the company had recently introduced a sabbatical policy and was encouraging employees to take one. With my managers support it was all agreed so everyone was happy, cover was arranged and a few months later I was on the plane. I returned to the same job, 10 months later refreshed, full of enthusiasm and with plenty of stories to share.

Hi I’m Rachel from RachelsRuminations.com.

My sabbatical involved a number of things, but mostly it was an attempt to cure my wanderlust (It didn’t). My first trip was to see my daughter in San Francisco for three weeks. Next, I went home to the Netherlands, but then after the new year I left again for a month to Guadeloupe and Martinique. I stayed home for a couple of months after that to finish my master’s thesis and graduate. When that was done I left again: this time for two months in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

At the time, I was working as a part-time teacher at a teacher-training college in the Netherlands. The school does have a way to save for a sabbatical, but I hadn’t been there long enough to do that, so instead I got special permission to take an unpaid sabbatical. 

The school year before my sabbatical, I stopped all but absolutely essential shopping, saving as much as I could. With the help of my team leader, I was able, by doing the planning far in advance, to shift as much as possible of my teaching load to the first quarter of the following school year. We focused on the classes that I was uniquely qualified to teach. For the other courses – the ones that any of the other teachers could teach just as well –  my hours were shifted to my colleagues. Because I worked so much in the first quarter, I was, on paper, employed and paid through the end of January (the end of second quarter) but could leave in November. 

The school accommodated my wishes, mostly, I think, to keep me happy and keep me working there. It was a good way to arrange it in any case because when I came back after about nine months, it was the beginning of a new school year, making the transition back into the job pretty seamless.

Other posts you might find useful….

How to Ask For a Sabbatical (And Get One!)

How to Take a Sabbatical [Practical Step-by-Step Guide]

30 Life-Changing Sabbatical Ideas

Hello, I’m Ellie and I run the travel blog www.thewanderingquinn.com.

The travel bug bit for me in 2010 and this is actually when I took my first sabbatical. I was 20 years old, I didn’t go to university after college and instead went into full-time work at a Hotel in their Events team. I decided at the start of 2010 that I didn’t want to spend another Summer at home in the UK so I applied for a job to work at a Summer Camp in the USA.
I got offered the position and was willing to leave my full-time job for it because although I liked working there, I was really desperate to go travelling and at the time I didn’t think of asking for a sabbatical as I didn’t know if they had a policy, plus I had only worked there for 18 months in a fairly low-level admin position.

I handed my notice into my manager about 3 months before I was due to leave because I couldn’t keep it a secret until just a month before and I wanted to give them time to employ someone to cover my position. As it happens my manager had recently announced she was pregnant and due to leave in September, the same time as I would be coming back to the UK. They didn’t want me to go but knew there was no way to change my mind and after a week I was offered the opportunity by HR to go on a four month sabbatical returning back at the same time my manager was due to go on maternity leave.

This for me was perfect because it took away all my financial worries and the worry of needing to find a new job when I got home. In fact, I was offered a higher-paid position for when I returned in September with more responsibility.

I later found out it really wasn’t the norm for the company to offer sabbaticals unless it was for a long-standing employee. I was lucky in some ways with the timing of my manager’s pregnancy but I do think HR thought about how long it would take to fully train a new person (about 3 months) and I was only away for 4 months (unpaid) so in the end, it did benefit them too.

I had a fantastic 4 months away working at a Summer Camp for 3 months and travelling around the USA for 1 month. My colleagues were supportive when I left and supportive when I got back which I really appreciated.
One year after returning I left to go to Australia on my working holiday visa because as I said, this sabbatical in 2010 started off what is nearly 10 years of on-off travel for me!

Hi, I’m Gemma Armit from Two Scots Abroad and Make Traffic Happen.

In 2015 I took an 18-month sabbatical to travel the Americas and Europe. We visited 16 countries in 17 months then returned to adopt a four-year-old dog. We eloped in Austin, Texas during our trip (in 2016). Craig proposed in Vancouver under the fake stars of the MacMillan Space Centre (he’s a big space fan) the year before. 

I was a Teacher of Politics and Current Affairs (Modern Studies) at a mainstream Scottish high school in Fife. After three years, Fife Council employees can apply for a sabbatical

Luckily my headteacher supported my application. I initially asked for one year but because I wanted to leave in the March, during term time, he asked me to take 18 months instead. 

My managers thought my decision was great. I’ve always travelled during the summer holidays and brought back experience from my trips into the classroom so they knew how much travel meant to me. 

I returned to the same school and worked full time for one year. I then reduced my hours down to three days per week to turn my blog into a business and test whether it was feasible to go self-employed full time. The calculated risk worked and now I run two online businesses from home. I’m no longer in the high school classroom but I still teach bloggers SEO via ebooks, courses, conferences and workshops. It’s cool because I’m doing a job that didn’t exist when I was at school, all thanks to my sabbatical.  

Left role as a secondary school teacher to travel, but then returned to her job role when she got back.

Hi I’m Annie from OffGoesAnnie.com.

In 2018 I left my job as a secondary school maths teacher in London to spend a year travelling the world. So far, we have adventured through Africa, Asia and Australasia – taking the time to do this has been the best decision I have ever made! 

Leaving teaching was an incredibly difficult decision, yet at the time I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to return to the profession after my time away. I needed to maintain an open mind about my future career plans, so when I was asked to sign a contract to agree to come back to my school the following academic year, I had to say no. My boss was incredibly supportive of my choice, and off I went!

Around 6 months into our incredible adventure, I realised just how much I missed teaching and longed to have some job stability on the horizon when returning to the UK. I got in touch with my headteacher and was offered my old position back very quickly. I’m now so excited to get back in the classroom and feel energised to inspire our students with my tales from around the world. 

My name is Mar from www.onceinalifetimejourney.com.

I was a strategy management consultant when I asked for a sabbatical. After being six years on the job working 12 hour days, 7 days a week I had climbed my way up to Senior Principal (a level below Partner) but found myself nearing burnt out, so I asked for a sabbatical.

At that time, my company had started offering the possibility to take a sabbatical of a duration proportional to the years you had worked for the company but very few people were taking it, mostly because the pace of work was extremely fast and we were all working such long days and weeks that there was little time to pause to consider it. For a senior person in my position, taking a sabbatical was even less common as professional commitment and loyalty were at odds with taking time off.

Organising the sabbatical was quite an effort as I was managing a very large client and the handover took six months. My colleagues were supportive, management less so and my client was very kind and understanding and appreciated that I had been working for long with minimal holidays.

During my sabbatical I decided to travel to the Pacific by myself. I spent most of the time island hopping between Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa and finally a few days in Vietnam before going back to work.

Has taken multiple sabbaticals and each time helped to train a temp to cover his role

I’m Stuart from StuartFahy.com.

Over the last few years I’ve travelled to many countries, each for a few months at a time. My first trip was a month around Europe and the most recent took me to South America for 3 months. In order to travel for so long I’ve had to take a sabbatical from my job.

I was working as a Personal Administrator for a Counselling Psychologist when I first decided I wanted to go travelling. As my employer was blind I was needed to complete all of his paperwork and access the computer. This means we work together very close and have built up a level of trust in our professional relationship.

We discussed the possibility of me going away for a long period and agreed that if I trained a temporary replacement there would be no issues. However, once I returned it became clear that I wanted to do more travelling in the future. Since then I’ve taken long trips once or twice a year, venturing to South-East Asia, North America and other parts of the world. The shortest was a month with the longest being almost four. Each time we hired a temporary replacement and I trained them for the day-to-day tasks they would be doing.

I was lucky to be granted this freedom to travel by my boss and once it became clear that there would be no problems with me going, it was something I had to take advantage of.

Negotiating time off to travel and write

I’m Alex from AlexHarford.uk.

I resigned from my job in February 2016 to travel, initially for four months in Scotland. I followed this up with a course on writing and editing short stories, then what felt like two full-time jobs writing and editing short stories for real.

It wasn’t planned when I left (though one Director had said “You’ll be back”), but I returned to my previous job over a year after I left (with fewer hours overall) while I continued working on my writing, with an agreement I’d give a month’s notice for extended travel. Three years after originally resigning, I’m still at the same company and taking regular breaks for travel. I’ve worked 4 out of the last 11 weeks at the time of writing, with a 3-week trip to the Azores and 4-weeks in Scotland’s Hebrides, including a challenging 6-day wild-camping walk on the Isle of Jura, where I carried all my supplies and didn’t see another person for 5 days!

I feel lucky, but I’ve always worked hard and continue to learn at home as well as in my role as a Technical SEO Manager – helping companies improve their websites.

My advice to anyone who’d like to take a sabbatical and return to the same job would be to make yourself as valuable as possible to your employers. If returning isn’t a possibility – don’t worry. Things have a way of working out. I was made redundant in 2014, and although that only led to a month’s travel, it’s one of the best things that happened to me. Take that sabbatical!

Hey, I’m Rai. Founder of A Rai of Light.

During the beginning of 2015, I took a one-year sabbatical with the intention to simply travel. I had been working as a financial product developer for seven years when I made the decision to take some time off. There was no sabbatical policy at the company so I had to make an individual agreement setting out the terms before leaving. Fortunately, my manager, although initially surprised, was supportive throughout the entire process. This helped tremendously on a smooth return to my position on my return in 2016.

During my sabbatical, I travelled to Europe initially without having a set plan in motion. My travels led me to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, The Middle East, and ending in Asia. I had travelled extensively before, but this time was different. I used the time off to explore without a plan, getting out of my comfort zone and growing in the process.

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One Comment

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