How To Plan For A Year Abroad

Updated: 7 days ago

Contributor: Carla Vianna

Girl laying on beach chair with Vietnamese hat
© Jordan Opel/Unsplash

Whether you’ve always dreamt of traveling the world or you’ve decided to switch career paths, taking a year of sabbatical to travel is one of the best decisions you can make. Take it from someone who has already done it. The sabbatical I took from my 9-to-5 journalism job in 2017 helped shape the rest of my career. It helped me find my passion for travel writing and photography, and after I returned, I wholeheartedly dedicated myself to both.

Everyone has their own reasons for taking a year's sabbatical — yet many people don’t know how to start planning. If you’re wondering how to take a sabbatical or where to go, follow these six steps to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Choose Your Destination

photo of globe
© Clay Banks/Unsplash

This might be the most exciting part of planning a year of sabbatical travel. With so many beautiful places to see around the world, it can be pretty hard to choose. I like to break it down by continent. Consider whether you wish to spend a long time exploring countries in a single continent, or if you want to visit several continents around the world.

Next, it’s time to make a list of all the destinations you wish to visit. Feel free to go crazy on this one! List every single place. Now use this list to start building a feasible itinerary.

Think about the number of days you’d like to spend in each destination and how you’d get from one to the other. Some things to keep in mind during this phase are transportation costs and the route you’re following. Keep in mind that long-haul plane rides will cost you a lot more than land travel.

Pro Tip: You never want to backtrack on your sabbatical because that would mean spending money on transportation to get back to a place you’ve already passed through.

Identify Your Budget

The next step is to think about your budget. If you’re taking a year's sabbatical to travel, you’re most likely leaving your job behind. You should figure out how you plan to fund your travels. Will you be working abroad, or living off your savings? Either way, it’s time to do some research on how much a sabbatical will cost you.

The best way to do this is to identify a daily budget. Most long-term travelers can live on an average of $50 to $80 a day. Take a look at the itinerary you built and see what kind of daily budget you’d need across those destinations. Note that some destinations are more expensive than others.

It’s also important to think about the kind of traveler you are. Will you be roughing it on public transportation and hostel dorms, or do you prefer more luxurious experiences? All of this will factor into the best daily budget for you.

Start Saving Money

Now that you know how much money you need to make your trip happen, it’s time to start saving. Even if you plan to work abroad while traveling, it’s always a good idea to save some extra cash while you’re still employed.

The best way to save money for travel is to live a more frugal lifestyle. Skip the pricey coffee, stop dining out as much, don’t buy things you don’t need, and research free activities to do in your city. Another great way to save up money for your sabbatical is with a side hustle, such as freelancing.

Inform Your Employer

When your sabbatical plans are nearly finalized, it’s time to inform your employer. Ideally, you’d give them at least a few weeks' notice of your end date. It’s best to make a smooth departure so that you don’t burn any bridges. Your manager could be a good contact to have when you return.

Some employers actually offer sabbatical options for their employees. That’s certainly an option worth exploring if your employer supports it.

Pack Your Bags

I know, packing for a yearlong sabbatical can feel very overwhelming. Here are five sabbatical packing tips to make things easier:

  • Pack about a week’s worth of clothing, no matter the length of your trip.

  • Packing light will help you avoid extra baggage fees, and it’ll also show you that you really don’t need many material goods to be content.

Man backpacking on mountain
© Lucas Favre/Unsplash
  • Think about the fact that you’ll be doing laundry every few days, so a week’s worth of clothing is perfect.

  • Neutral and plain-colored clothing is ideal to mix and match outfits throughout your trip.

  • It helps to visit warm destinations since warm weather clothing is lighter and easier to pack.

Buy That Plane Ticket!

The very last step is to purchase your plane tickets and enjoy every minute of your sabbatical trip!

Have you done a sabbatical or looking to do one soon? At Eternal, we encourage travel exploration. Be sure to share your travel pics with Eternal. Tag us in your photos using #EternalTravel. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for posts of more travel inspiration, photos, and travel essentials.

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