Tired of the same old routine? Do you feel you haven’t seen enough of the world yet? Do you dream about going on holiday for longer than just a weekend?
If that’s what your inner voice is telling you, then you should consider going on a sabbatical.
Most people find it a little scary to stop working for a while, and that’s perfectly understandable. And before taking time off you are actually supposed to evaluate your current situation: can you afford it? Would you regret doing it? Would there be any risks?
The good news is that most of the time you’ll be fine — taking a sabbatical doesn’t necessarily mean taking big risks, burning bridges, or spending a lot of money. Let’s have a look at the definition of “sabbatical” before we go through the list of ideas.
What is a sabbatical, exactly?
Basically it means taking a break from your current job so you can dedicate your time to other activities, but the great thing about this is you can (and should) create your own sabbatical.
As we’ll see in a moment, there are no rules when it comes to taking time off work — as a matter of fact, some people choose to work part-time during their sabbatical journey, so they can still have a monthly income.
You are free to choose whether you’ll work or not, how long your break will last, where it will be, and what you will do.
You could decide to take a whole year off, or just a couple months; move to a country on the other side of the world, or stay in the same town; finally spend the money you’ve been saving up for a while, or being as frugal as possible.
In this article I am going to share with you eight sabbatical ideas that will spark your curiosity and inspire you to take action. This doesn’t necessarily mean booking a flight — it could be as simple as writing down a plan, which you could then follow as soon as you have the resources.
8 sabbatical ideas
1. Fix your health
When you take a break from work, you’re going to have a lot more time. So there won’t be any excuses to neglect your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Here’s some examples of what you could do once you stop working:
- Fix your posture
- Fix your oral health
- Fast for three days or more
- Exercise more often, and make it a habit
- Meditate daily
- Talk to a therapist
- Lose weight or gain muscle
- Stop smoking (if you’re a smoker)
- Stop eating harmful foods
Most adults have a hard time taking care of their health because they’re always busy. If you are working ten hours a day, then exercising and meditating and cooking all your meals is basically impossible.
You may think doing this isn’t particularly exciting, however do realize that when you are having fun traveling or learning something new you want to be as healthy as possible — you won’t be able to enjoy any activity until your body and your mind are in an optimal state.
Plus, it’s one of the best investments you could ever make: once you reach the level of health that allows you to have more energy and vitality, it will be hard to go back, so you’ll basically be healthier for the rest of your life.
There’s almost two hundred countries on Earth, so why would you spend your whole life in just one?
Your daily routine probably makes it impossible to constantly travel around the world, but when you interrupt such routine you have the freedom to do whatever you want.
When planning a long-term holiday around the world, most people are afraid of two things: having to spend too much money and putting their safety at risk.
Thankfully, there’s many things you can do to save money (such as booking everything in advance, visiting cheaper countries, avoiding touristy places, choosing longer flights) as well as to protect yourself (such as buying insurance and avoiding dangerous destinations).
Also: most of the time, your fear won’t be based on actual numbers and data, but simply on your mindset. If you’re usually afraid to try new things, then chances are traveling somewhere new will feel a bit awkward. But my advice is to just do it.
If you want, you could find out more about the country you’re visiting by simply googling it. Looking at images and videos online will make it less scary and more exciting.
3. Live abroad
“Wait, doesn’t this count as traveling?”
Well, not exactly. Traveling usually involves reaching multiple destinations in a relatively short period of time. Living abroad, on the other hand, means just that: living in a different country for a while.
There’s many reasons why you may prefer this option.
First, it’s significantly cheaper (and easier). Think about it: instead of purchasing multiple flight tickets, you’ll just have to buy one. Moreover, you’ll pay way less on your accommodation — almost all hotels, B&Bs, and apartments will offer huge discounts if you stay for a month or more.
Second, it allows you to live like a local and truly get to know the place you’re visiting. When you are staying somewhere for only a couple days, there’s only so much you can experience. Plus, you’d be drawn toward the tourist spots, or the “coolest attractions”. Conversely, when you live abroad, you live like a local.
And finally, it’s a lot more relaxing. When you know you’ll spend months somewhere, you will take your time to de-stress and relax first, then explore the area — without cramming all your activities.
4. Learn a new hobby
Spending time doing something you love is a powerful mood booster, and if you are trying to find a hobby that could help with anxiety and stress, then I encourage you to check this article.
If so far you have spent ten hours a day working a job, then you probably deserve to take a break and replace some of those hours with activities that spark excitement and make you feel like a kid again.
Depending on the hobby you choose, if you get really good at it it may even turn into a side income, or a full-time profession. Keep in mind, there’s people out there making money selling their drawings, playing card games, or teaching people how to dress better. You could be one of them!
Hobbies are a great way to improve your self-esteem, meet new people and temporarily disconnect from your daily tasks. When you have all the time in the world, why not learn a new one?
5. Change your career path
Despite what people may tell you, it’s never too late to change your career.
Now, the benefit of doing so during a sabbatical is that, obviously, you’ll have more time to network, learn new skills, and identify what career path is best for you.
If you have enough funds available you may even choose to work for free for several months. As long as you’re learning, and building connections, it will probably be a good investment (this is true both if you intend to find work as an employee or start your own business).
Even if you are planning to start a new job once your sabbatical is over, it’s advisable to think of a plan B, or at least have another possible source of income. As I mentioned earlier, some people prefer to keep working during their sabbatical break, even if it’s only a few hours a week.
A plan B takes away a lot of the stress and uncertainty involved in a career shift, so do your homework before doing anything too risky.
6. Live the dream
The sixth sabbatical idea is to temporarily live the life of your dreams. Ask yourself what your ideal lifestyle is, and what you would do if time wasn’t an issue, then find a way to experience that during the sabbatical.
Who doesn’t want to spend their life traveling, eating great food and doing exciting things all the time?
Most people prefer to wait until they are old to experience this, but frankly, it’s usually a terrible idea. Why not live the dream now? You don’t have to wait until you are 70. You don’t need millions, and you don’t need anyone’s permission.
The hardest part of changing your life is to believe it’s actually possible. So by experiencing your dream lifestyle — even if for a short period of time — you show your mind that your goals are achievable.
Once you begin your sabbatical journey, you may find out that you actually don’t need a lot of money to achieve your dreams. Let’s have a look at the seventh idea to learn more about this.
7. Find out how much you need to live
A lot of countries with excellent weather and quality of life are also some of the cheapest. Some examples:
- The Philippines
If you decide to spend your whole sabbatical break (or part of it) in one of these destinations, you may be surprised to discover how cheap it can be to live a great life.
For example, in some areas of Southeast Asia you could live for less than a thousand dollars a month, including accommodation costs, eating out every day, medical insurance, a gym membership, and extras.
Most people assume it’s normal to live paycheck to paycheck and spend a significant part of their salary on rent and commuting, especially if they live in a big city. But perhaps if they were able to work remotely, cut unnecessary expenses, and move to a cheaper country, they would discover it’s possible to live a good life spending less.
In our society, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need the big house, the best clothes, the best everything. Moving to a cheaper country will allow you to identify what you truly need to be happy. Chances are it won’t be as expensive as you thought.
8. Find out who you are
The eight and final sabbatical idea consists in taking the time to discover who you truly are.
As soon as you interrupt your everyday routine and you change your environment, your identity will change too, and you’ll be able to reflect on what you’ve done so far and whether it’s been the right thing for you.
So adopt new habits, see new places, meditate in silence, get to know new people, dress differently. Do this for longer than a month and you’ll be amazed at how much your personality/attitude will change.
Also, not having to work for a while will probably give you that extra motivation required to become a new person. It’s true that some people become depressed when they stop working, but that’s only because they do nothing all day. As soon as you begin your sabbatical journey, you’ll probably be a lot happier and calmer than usual.
It takes about a week to de-stress, and up to a whole month to reach a new level of relaxation, so allow your body and your mind some time to experience the new lifestyle.
If you’ve been thinking about this for a while, you have a realistic plan B, and you have enough money saved up (as I’ve explained, you don’t need millions) — go for it! You won’t regret it.
Life is short, and very unpredictable, so take the leap before it’s too late. Hopefully this list of sabbatical ideas will help you find the courage, or the motivation, to begin a new exciting journey. You may enjoy it so much, you may even decide to do it one more time.
In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.— Lewis Carroll
Have you ever taken a sabbatical in the past, or would you like to take one in the near future? Let me know by leaving a comment below 👇