Sabbatical Calculator: Discover Your Long-Term Travel Budget

Can You Afford to Take a Sabbatical?

This post is based around my sabbatical calculator, a simple spreadsheet you can download for free using the forms below.

It is a quick way to work out exactly how much long-term travel will cost and how much you need to budget.

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!

How to Budget for Long-Term Travel: Outline

In this post we are going to work through three steps that will allow you to work out an approximate cost for you sabbatical and how much you might need to save before you head away.

The three sections we are going to review are:

  1. Monthly bills that will continue whilst you are away
  2. One-off travel booking costs
  3. The daily cost of living whilst you travel

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.

If you want an easy way to do this, I have then download the sabbatical calculator which I have mentioned a few times in this post.

Right, let’s start running the numbers….

1) Monthly Bills That Continue 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 whilst you are travelling.

An an ideal world you will be able to completely stop all your recurring costs while you’re away, reality just doesn’t make things that simple!

For example, we weren’t able to take a mortgage holiday whilst we were away, and because we had someone looking after the house for us we continued to pay all our regular bills such as gas, electricity and internet. We also had to maintain the house insurance payments in case something went wrong.

If you’re renting, things may be a little easier, but there may still be other costs such as life insurance, healthcare or mobile phone pays that you will need to budget for whilst you are away.

The kind of costs you need to take note of are:

  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Life insurance
  • House insurance
  • Utility bills such as gas, electricity and water
  • Other insurance (such as pet)
  • Services bills such as cable, mobile phones and broadband

READ NEXT: 9 Ways to Make Money While Travelling

2) One-off Travel Booking Costs

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 tool to be useful.

Budget Your Trip Travel Calculator

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 section 1 and multiply by the months you are away.
  2. Add up the one-off costs from section 2.
  3. Take the daily costs from point three and multiply by the days you are away.

There you have it.

In front of you now will be a number.

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

But at the very least, 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, these broadly fit into two categories.

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!

See all my posts about TRAVEL & SABBATICAL FINANCES

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How Long Did You Take For A Sabbatical or Career Break?

If you have taken a sabbatical or career break (unpaid time off from work) how long did you take?