If you’re looking for the best six month sabbatical ideas, here are some to get you going.
From teaching to backpacking, we worked with companies who provide sabbaticals and people who’ve taken them to inspire you with nine ideas for a six-month break.
Backpacking in Europe
Contributed by Laura Grace from Live Adventure Travel.
Europe is an incredible continent, it provides visitors with a unique ability to travel from one country to another in a few short hours. It is a dream long-term travel destination for many and the perfect option for those planning a sabbatical.
I went on a four-month sabbatical across Europe in 2023, visiting a range of different countries. I set myself a budget and tried to stick to it by staying in hostel dorms, taking part in a blend of paid and free activities, and making most of my meals myself. I must admit I did occasionally treat myself to some delicious street food and the odd restaurant meal but for the most part, I kept things on a budget. I preferred walking to most places and chose trains for longer journeys.
Here’s my itinerary:
- Croatia (4 Weeks) Dubrovnik – Hvar – Spilt – Zadar – Plitvice – Zagreb
- Italy (4 Weeks) Trieste – Venice – Lake Como – Cinque Terre – Pisa – Florence – Rome
- City Route (3 Weeks) Vienna – Krakow & Zakopane – Prague – Budapest
- Slovenia (10 days) Ljubanna & Lake Bled
- Germany & Austria (3 Weeks)- Salzburg – Hallstatt – Mayrhofen – Innsbruk – Munich
- Switzerland & France (10 days) – Interlaken – Annecy – Paris
One thing I was not prepared for was how tired I would be from always moving about. So, much, so that I had to take an entire week in Poland just to sleep. So, my tip for you is to be prepared to slow down and take a break. There will be a point in time when you feel exhausted!
Travel Europe is by no means cheap, and before my trip, I found it difficult to find an estimated budget online. That is why I kept careful track of how much I spent backpacking Europe.
Here is a quick breakdown:
Average spend per day: €73
- Accommodation: €30 a night
- Food: €17 a day
- Alcohol: €2 a day (Not a big drinker)
- Activities/Tours: €9 a day
- Transport: €8 a day
- Unexpected/Forgotten Expenses: €6 a day
Hope this helps anyone who is planning on taking a sabbatical in Europe. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one I am certain you will make many memories from!
Teaching English in Thailand
If you wanted to spend your six month sabbatical in Thailand, why not earn an internationally accredited TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at the same time?
Choose from one of two beautiful locations: Hua Hin, a coastal resort based 2-3 hours from Bangkok, or in Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand. Accredited by the Online TESOL and TEFL Standards Agency (OTTSA), the course can be used internationally to teach English to those who do not speak it as their first language. During the 120-hour course, you will get 2-3 days of real experience teaching at a non-profit local English camp.
Prices start at £1,895 ($2,350 USD).
House Sits in UK, Spain and Portugal
Contributed by Rose Ernst from The Autistic Traveler
I’ve taken two 6-month sabbaticals and now live a full-time ‘sabbatical’ lifestyle through house sitting. The 2015 sabbatical in Portugal and Germany was a sabbatical after tenure, combining an unpaid fellowship and pure vacation time. The 2019 sabbatical was after I left my professor position to become a self-employed editor, scholar, and coach.
- 3-week housesit in Wales
- 4-week rental in Cornwall
- 3-week housesit in Nicosia, Cyprus
- 2-month rental on Sao Miguel, Azores
- Lockdown: 3-month rental north of Lisbon
My greatest lesson about planning my sabbaticals is to be clear about (a) whether you will “work” on this sabbatical, and (b) if you do want to work, plan which weeks/months will be devoted to work (even if it’s just an hour in the mornings). It’s easy to let time roll by but not enjoy it fully because of a nagging sense you should be working—even if it’s a passion project.
- Give yourself a budget and track expenses so you can make adjustments.
- Lower your expenses with house sitting (though remember the responsibilities!)
- Use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to take a longer sabbatical if you pay taxes in the US—this can dramatically offset your expenses. For example, you could take 6 months “off” and then work remotely outside the US (this is not tax advice, just a resource to explore).
Rose’s six month sabbatical costs:
Total $8966 total/$747 a month
- Groceries (including household items): $2623 total/$219 a month
- Accommodation (combo house sitting and rentals): $1619 total/$135 a month
- Major Transport: $1410 total/$118 a month
- Health and Health Insurance: $1370 total/$114 a month
- Gifts/Donations: $412 total/$34 a month
- Eating Out: $403 total/$34 a month
- Clothing: $359 total/$30 a month
- Annual Fees: $353 total/$29 a month
- Miscellaneous: $162 total/$14 a month
- Toiletries: $110 total/$9 a month
- Local Transport: $81 total/$7 a month
- Visa fees: $27 total/$2 a month
- Communication: $24 total/$2 a month
- Entertainment: $8 total/$.70 a month
- Tech: $5 total/$.40 a month
Enjoy a sabbatical and be open to magical travel serendipity. It has the power to transform your life.
Becoming a Ski Instructor in Whistler, Canada
Opportunity with Whistler Blackcomb Snow School.
This opportunity runs from mid-November to late-April each year, and opens for applications in the prior December.
The cost is around £5,495 ($6,800USD).
You will spend your first three weeks of this 24 week sabbatical, you will train at the Whistler Blackcomb Ski School University Program. Certified ski pros will help you to gain your CSIA Level 1 qualification. For the rest of the season, you will have a job at Whistler Blackcomb Snow School, teaching children how to ski.
RVing Across Australia
Contributed by Victoria of My Australia Trip.
Australia is the perfect country for a sabbatical, and my six months there wasn’t even enough. The working holiday visa makes visiting this beautiful country easy, especially since you get to make money along the way.
I started my Australia trip off in Sydney, where I bought a campervan. Buying a car is one of the biggest tips I can give to Australia travellers, since you’ll be a lot more flexible and will save money in the long run. Cars can be quite cheap in Australia, but make sure to get a mechanic to check it over before you purchase.
I made my way north to Byron Bay, through Brisbane and up to Agney Water where I worked for a while in a bar before moving on to Townsville. Finding a job was relatively easy in Australia with the help of apps like Gumtree and Facebook groups.
I mostly worked in bars and restaurants, but farm work was also an option.
I ended up driving west into the Outback to Mount Isa and then south towards Bedourie where I worked for another few months in a local pub and hotel. After that job had finished, I drove south to Adelaide and then along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne before heading home.
6 month Australia sabbatical itinerary:
- Sydney (1 month)
- Byron Bay (1 week)
- Brisbane (3 weeks)
- Agnes Water (2 months)
- Townsville (1 week)
- Mount Isa (1 week)
- Bedourie (1 month)
- Adelaide (1 week)
- Melbourne (1 week)
6 month Australia sabbatical costs:
Average Spend per day: €95
- Accommodation: €25 a night
- Food: €25 a day
- Alcohol: €10 a day
- Activities/Tours: €15 a day
- Transport: €10 a day
- Unexpected/Forgotten Expenses: €10 a day
Volunteering at a Wildlife Rescue Centre in Costa Rica
Contributed by Emily Payne of journeybybackpack.com.
After working my ‘dream job’ for almost a decade, it started to become clear that this wasn’t the path I wanted to be on. I searched endlessly for a new job and even a new career, but nothing excited me. In the end, I took the plunge and applied for a sabbatical. It was the best thing I’ve ever done and changed the whole path of my career and life.
For four months, I volunteered at a rescue centre in Costa Rica called Wild Sun. The centre rescues and rehabilitates all sorts of wildlife including monkeys, possums, and birds. Located in Latin America, Costa Rica is surrounded by countries full of nature, history, and culture. While in the area, I also spent some time visiting Ecuador and Guatemala. I enjoyed it so much that I requested a 3-month extension on my sabbatical to explore elsewhere.
6 month sabbatical itinerary for Central America:
- Costa Rica (4 Months) – Cabuya (volunteering) – San Jose – Puerto Viejo – La Fortuna – Monteverde – Manuel Antonio – San José
- Ecuador (3 weeks) – Quito – Cotopaxi – Quilotoa – Banos – Amazon Jungle – Quito
- Galapagos (2 weeks) – cruise
- Guatemala (5 weeks) – Antigua – Flores – Semuc Champey – Antigua – Volcano hiking challenge around the country – Lake Atitlan
Opting for a sabbatical can be a terrifying experience. It’s the exact opposite of what we’re taught. However, I learned more about myself and the world around me in those few months than I did my whole life. I don’t regret it for a second, and encourage anyone who is considering a sabbatical to do it. I’ve now quit my job and travel full time.
Wild Sun Rescue Centre accepts any volunteer for a minimum of 3 weeks, but it’s recommended to stay for at least 12 weeks if you want to get the best experience. The costs are minimal, with shared accommodation priced at $30USD per week. For each month travelling through Latin America, I’d recommended budgeting at least $1200 USD. You can do for less if you’re happy to stay in hostels and budget where you can.
Travelling Through South America
Contributed by Audrey Chalmers from Victoria Uncovered.
After decades of nursing and raising a family, at the age of 50 it was time to take a break! I was lucky enough to be able to take a 6-month sabbatical using a combination of annual leave and leave without pay. This meant I had the security of a job to return to and an immediate income. My husband on the other hand quit his job entirely.
We had always wanted to visit Mexico and Central America but being so far from our home in Australia we had never had the chance to visit. Now was the perfect time to do it. Our children were grown, we had no financial commitments, and we were both in good health.
Our travels took us from Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. It was an adventure of a lifetime. We climbed volcanoes, travelled on local “Chicken” buses, hitchhiked, discovered ancient ruins, hiked through jungles, attended The Day of The Dead, and saw incredible wildlife.
Once it was over, I returned to work as promised, but my heart wasn’t in it. We’re now planning early retirement to travel through South East Asia. There’s more to life than work!
Expand Your Horsemanship in Outback Australia
Opportunity with training farm in Queensland.
If you already love and have experience with horses, this is the six-month sabbatical idea for you.
After spending a week orientating and getting to know the group while sightseeing in Sydney, you’ll be flown out to Queensland, where you’ll expand your knowledge of horses at a professional farm. Once you’ve been signed off, there is a paid job at the end of it, in a specialist area such as polo or racing.
Prices are from £1,860 ($2,300 USD).
Exploring Southeast Asia
Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel.
After I finished my degree, I found myself wanting to go back to South East Asia, which I had explored on shorter trips in the past, but always with a time limit.
With six months to travel, I decided to head to Bali first, where I stayed for longer than expected, because the coworking spaces and general conditions for digital nomads were so good. I finally found time to grow my freelance writing business and managed to work remotely throughout much of this trip.
After leaving Bali behind, I headed to Lombok and then on to Cambodia, where I spent quite some time in Siem Reap. This city is so incredibly cheap and fun for going out in the evenings, so it was the perfect balance between work and fun.
I left Cambodia and went to Thailand by bus. While I was only in BAngkok briefly during this trip, I spent several months exploring the Thai islands, especially Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
Finally, I finished off my six-month exploration of South East Asia in Malaysia where I ended up falling in love with Kuala Lumpur. I almost didn’t want to leave and headed to Langkawi for a final couple of weeks of relaxation by the beach.
6 month Southeast Asia sabbatical route:
- Indonesia (3 months) Bali – Lombok
- Cambodia (4 Weeks) Siem Reap
- Thailand (2 months) Bangkok – Koh Phi Phi – Koh Lanta – Koh Phangan – Koh Tao
- Malaysia (1 month) Kuala Lumpur – Langkawi
6 month Southeast Asia sabbatical costs:
Average Spend per day: €40
- Accommodation: €10 a night
- Food: €12 a day
- Alcohol: €4 a day
- Activities/Tours: €8 a day
- Transport: €2 a day
- Unexpected/Forgotten Expenses: €4 a day
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