Here are 15 ways you can make your dream sabbatical year abroad a reality.
Not only do you not need to be rich to take a 1-year sabbatical, but you can also take a career break or sabbatical to do something enriching- including learning a new skill to advance your career for when you return.
1- Ask your employer if you can take a year off (ask for a sabbatical year).
Insurance can get expensive in the US if you’re footing the bill yourself. It might be a long shot but it’s worth asking your HR department if you can take leave of absence. If they agree, a lot of the stress of returning back home will be removed because you have your job waiting for you after your one-year sabbatical. While you’re in HR’s office, see what your options are for health insurance abroad. They may have an option for you that will cover you while you are living abroad saving you loads of money.
2- Can you do your current job part-time and or remotely?
Technically, if you are working remotely, you are not really on a sabbatical year. But if working remotely is your only option then take it. You can always work remotely from some beach. Our first year living abroad in France, I did not work but now I do and I am fine with that. I actually like working remotely because I make my own hours and get to work in my pyjamas.
3- Cut back on your expenses and save
Before we ever started packing or applied for visas, our family cut thousands of dollars from our annual expenses by simply cutting the fat out of our lives. We ate out less, we got rid of cable T.V. and opted for internet TV instead. We stopped buying things unless we absolutely needed it and we even shopped at thrift stores once in a while. Yes, it was hard at first, especially if you’re used to eating sushi once a week or buying new shoes every month but if you really want to make that 1-year sabbatical a reality, then you need to do it especially if money is tight. Once you start seeing how much money you’re saving it turns into a game and gets easier and easier.
4- Sell Your Unwanted Stuff
It’s amazing how much crap you can accumulate over the course of a lifetime especially if you have kids. Instead of trashing all that crap, try selling it to help fund your 1-year sabbatical abroad. My advice is to first do a big garage sale. Anything of value left over, you can sell on eBay.com or craigslist. Don’t forget to announce your garage sale either. If you’re in Canada, try Kijiji.
5- Volunteer Abroad/ Trade For Lodging and Food
If you would rather volunteer or work in exchange for lodging and food while abroad, there are volunteer programs over the world. You should know that most of these places you find online will charge you money to match you up with a volunteer program. And they aren’t cheap. I have seen some programs charge a few thousand dollars for less than 6 months. Don’t be discouraged because there are some volunteer programs where you don’t have to pay but they are hard to find.
The ones that my sons have both used to find work in exchange for food and lodging is called Workaway.info. They have volunteer opportunities all over the world. You apply and if accepted, it’s usually up to you to arrange for visa and transportation.
6- Home Exchange
If you live in a highly desirable place like San Francisco, New York or another popular destination then you could try exchanging your house with someone who lives abroad in an equally desirable location. Check craigslist and do a search on Google using keywords house swap or house exchange. Here’s one that looked pretty good, it’s called Home exchange
7- Rent Your Home To Offset Costs.
Consider renting your home or subletting your apartment. Renting our your place is a good way to offset your costs while also ensuring you have a place to stay when you get back from your sabbatical. If you rent your home fully furnished, you can rent it for even more. Look at sites like SabbaticalHomes.com or Airbnb
8- Go Somewhere Where The Cost Of Living Is Lower
Your money will last longer and go further if you live someplace where the cost of living is lower. Popular and cheap destinations are South East Asia, South America, Mexico, Portugal and more. If your dream is to go to Paris for a year, make sure you have enough money to support yourself because it’s notoriously expensive to live in the city of lights.
9- Start your own consulting business
If you have some skill that you can do over the phone or video or over email than consider starting a consulting business that you run completely online. I know lots of people who travel full time with kids for years on end because they work as consultants, web designers, copywriters etc. All jobs that can be done from anywhere in the world.
10- Teach English or Music over Skype
This falls under number 9 but I thought it was a good idea to call this one out because so many people just don’t know what business to do remotely. If you speak English or play an instrument, for example, you already have a skill that you can teach others. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, a video sharing software such as Skype and maybe a simple 2-page website to start. Here’s a little more information about teaching English online.
11- Become a virtual assistant and do administrative jobs remotely for various companies and people
The web is full of entrepreneurs and businesses looking for other people to do small odd jobs, administrative tasks or higher level duties like Data entry, freelance writing, designing logos etc. go and check out Upwork or freelancer.com. They have thousands of one-off jobs posted by people and companies looking for your help. Some people make a living this way. Flexjobs is another site I’ve used in the past to find remote work.
12- Sell your photography
If you have an eye for photography, and you love taking pictures you can sell your photos on stock photography sites like Istockphoto. People go there and pay you the rights to use your photo. There’s a lot of competition and it doesn’t pay much but if you love doing it then not get paid for your hobby.
13- Live simply while on sabbatical
Maybe you won’t be able to live it up in a posh area of Paris but there are lots of affordable places or things you can do on a sabbatical. Some ideas are to buy a used RV and drive across the continent visiting famous landmarks. There are whole families doing this so why not you? If you have your heart set on France, consider living in a very rural area where you can rent a home for less than 500 euros a month.
14- Use your savings, retirement fund or sell stocks
Do this at your own discretion. When and if you return back to your homeland, can you start over? You’ll have to do a lot of soul searching for this one I suspect.
15-Sell Your Home
I know, I know…. this seems over the top but people actually do sell their homes and use the funds for travel. Many of the families I know who have done this, are able to work remotely and live much more cheaply than when they owned a home. Only you can know whether or not this is the right option for you to take. Were you planning to sell anyway? Is the market up?
Every situation is different
There are so many more ways you can pay for and afford to take a sabbatical to travel. You will need to pick and choose the ones that best suit your situation, your comfort level and your goals. Just remember, there will always be an excuse why you CAN’T take a sabbatical. The truth of the matter is, many of your obstacles are mainly fears. If you really want to make it happen then make it a priority and do it