I stood triumphantly on top of massive sand dunes in the Gobi Desert as the sun rose over the sandy horizon. All I could see for miles was desert and our tiny little camp of ger tents and camels down below. It was one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve had to date, and one of the highlights of our yearlong around the world trip. This view and this experience made all the planning and headaches worth it. (That is a real picture above – not a screensaver)
Just days before that serene sunrise, I was REALLY second guessing myself and the decision to take a yearlong career break with my husband, Jan. It hit me when we were officially moved out of our apartment, all our worldly possessions were in a 10 x 12 storage unit a few blocks away, except what was in our backpacks that we’d travel with. That was when shit. got. real.
Closing the door to our apartment and its beloved southern views of the Chicago skyline for the last time, we headed to my sister’s house in the suburbs of Chicago after a long moving day. That now meant taking the train because we sold our car a few weeks prior…that was another “oh crap, this is really happening” moment.
As we departed with our way-too-heavy backpacks to the train station, the skies opened up and there was a torrential downpour. We hopped in a cab but still got pretty drenched from our short run into the station. Then all the trains were delayed almost an hour due to rain. Clearly, things were not going to plan, but it was a good trial run and preview of life on the road.
The process of leaving Chicago and hitting the road was a rollercoaster of emotions, but man, it sure made us feel alive.
Isn’t that what life is about? To take it by the reigns and create the life you want?
Does your ideal life involve travel in some way?
I’m not talking about the one or two week vacation a year type of travel – I’m all for vacations, but that’s likely something you’re already doing and love, so it’s not a big life change to do those trips.
However, there are so many possibilities to weave travel into your life in a more impactful way.
Have you ever thought about traveling long-term?
If you are an American reading this, it’s very likely you have not met or possibly even heard of someone that travels more than a few weeks every year, at least before they retire. Other countries, like Australia and the UK, have a long history of people taking “gap years” before or during college or taking sabbaticals in the middle of their careers prior to retirement.
To clarify, when I say “long-term travel,” I’m not only talking about traveling for a year like I did with Jan, but I also include trips that are one or more months because that’s still enough time to totally disconnect from your routines and explore a place in much more depth than you can with just a 1-2 weeks.
The sabbatical seed was planted for me when I was traveling in my early to mid 20s and staying in hostels. I would strike up conversations with fellow travelers and when I started to see that traveling for months, or years, at a time was not uncommon. Some people would think it was downright tragic that I ONLY had 2 weeks to explore incredible places like Australia or Argentina.
I really liked the idea of taking a sabbatical, or career break (I use those terms interchangeably), but it was not something that I really thought I would do. I just didn’t connect the dots to see how that could be a reality for me in my life.
I was a busy IT consultant working at an enormous global management consulting firm…a sabbatical just didn’t seem in the cards for me. I wasn’t a woo-woo hippie with no bills to pay or cares in the world. I was a dedicated employee looking to get promotions and “grow my career” and “expand my skill set.”
Taking a break just seemed like it would be a bad career move, so I pushed that little sabbatical seed into the back of my mind where it sat for a good 5 years.
What held me back from living out those dreams of life on the road for more than a couple weeks at a time was a path to seeing how I could make a career break a reality and knowledge that it isn’t a detriment to your career, in fact it could improve or even change the course of your career, like it did for both me and my husband.
The wheels may be turning in your brain with visions of traveling long-term, but let me guess, you have a million questions about the process or excuses about how it won’t work for you, like these:
It’s too much money!
What will I do with my job?
It will take me off track for a promotion/retirement!
What will I do with my kids for school?
Don’t worry, I’m here to help!
I’ll be creating a ton of content to help answer all of these questions/objections and more to assist you along your journey. I strongly believe that with the right planning you can achieve your dream of long-term travel.
If you have even an inkling that you may want to travel long-term, your first step is to answer these 2 questions:
- What could do with your life if you took time to travel long-term?
- What concerns do you have with traveling long-term?
I call it a Pros and Con(cern)s list 🙂
To make things even easier for you, I’ve created a FREE worksheet to step you through the process that you can get HERE.
This worksheet includes some thought-starters / things to consider as you do this brainstorming session along with has space to capture your answers. Printing this is especially good if you think best with a pen and paper!
Comment Below: What did you discover by doing this exercise? Did you uncover a goal or purpose for your trip? What is your biggest concern you need to overcome to make this dream a reality?