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Hey Happy Travelers!
We've got a great post for you today. Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad are off on an 18th month adventure! They stopped by Happy Travelers to share with you their story about how they took a career break to see the world, and they want to help you do the same.
Gemma and Craig have downed tools as teacher and tradesman to take a sabbatical and travel The Americas, beginning with New Orleans then SXSW Music Festival before exploring South America. You can hop aboard for the ride at Two Scots Abroad and never miss a tweet through Twitter.
Seriously, you should check them out. They are partying across the globe and you're not going to want to miss out on the fun!
Without further ado, here's their story!
Craig and I did it. We talked about it; researched it and implemented it and you can do it too. In the final days before we left for our 18 month career break to travel The Americas (and beyond) so many well wishers patted us on the back with envy filled eyes and a warmth of support but one statement stood out – a colleague said something along the lines of, I’m glad you have taken the career break to travel, so many people talk about it but don’t actually do it. This surprised me; maybe it’s the way I’ve been brought up? My Mum has always told me to travel (and elope!), not because she was a traveller herself but because she sees the value in getting out there, meeting people from other cultures and seeing more than moving pictures on a TV screen. And I thank her for that.
This view, ‘I would love to but...’ has been recurring, so much so I wrote a post about getting over your travel fear and invited experienced and new travel bloggers to help our readers from armchair to airport. The bloggers discussed their fears and how they overcame them. However, I don’t think I really considered what the fears are of non-travellers. So in true Social Policy graduate (that was my degree) style, I did some investigating.
Quite simply, some friends just don’t want to travel and I am not going to argue with that. Living out of a backpack; dealing with itchy mozzie bites and suffering ten hour (and then some) bus rides to get across countries just isn’t appealing to many. Fair play.
The next main reason is family commitments. Yes, we are at ‘that age’. Hitting thirty results in lots of wedding invites and the pitter-patter of tiny feet. And that dreaded word ‘settle’. Fear not! We met a Canadian couple who are travelling around Peru with their nine month old baby (called Hendrix), life does not end with breastfeeding and dirty nappies (hurrah!)
What about my career? Yes, I am lucky to have an employer who supports our career break and my job is safe, I understand many won’t. I was prepared to leave my position if the career break wasn’t going to be possible. Who knows, you may even find new possibilities, I would never have started Two Scots Abroad without the plans for the Big Trip. Look at us now, travelling around Peru and Bolivia; taking tours and sleeping in hostels for ‘free’ (it’s really not for free – time and skill! And we’ve only managed to secure one hostel partnership so I exaggerate slightly.)
Finally, the big issue of money. We pretty much sold everything (need a sofa? £200, email me!) Whilst going through this process (car boot sales; selling crap on Ebay; giving away DVDs for 30p) you ask yourself – why do I buy all of this rubbish in the first place. Depending on where you choose to travel you may find it cheaper than living at home (obviously Australia is out). We are currently living on £45 per day. Taking our rent; bills; gym memberships and car insurance alone (not including our socialising budget) into consideration we pay that (at least) to survive back in Scotland.
Ok, enough of the hard sell. Here is the practical advice.
1. Check your work policies
My employer offers a career break for employees who have worked with them for over three years. I discussed the possibility of the break with my line manager and then the headmaster. He was fully supportive and gave me advice on how to complete the paper work. Within a few days, the break was confirmed and I was excited.
Now this is personal so I can’t tell you the correct answer, that will be down to your circumstances. Obviously don’t tell your employer it’s because you are not happy if that is the case (which it wasn’t for me, I want to travel more and at the grand old age of thirty would like to start a family within the next five years. I’m not saying you can’t travel with children or that I won’t, it’s just that losing two nights of your life to the hot mess that is New Orleans (Hurricanes made me do it) is a lot harder with a three year old). Within the paperwork I completed for my employer there was a section where I had to justify why I was applying for this career break. I discussed my love to travel and how I always integrated the experience into the classroom (Craig and I went to South East Asia in 2013 and the students love to hear about The Cat Man in Vietnam and the Hmong children of Sapa Valley, Vietnam). I also stated my desire to inspire young people to travel when they leave school. Consider – why do I want this, how will it benefit my personal development and my employer?
You got it? Great, a few more things you need to consider. What is the duration? What is the small print (we have a date to return but must contact the council six months before we intend to return)? Can you work whilst you are on your career break (this was a panic moment for me, I just thought surely they know I will need to work at some point unless I have a small but significant lottery win? Turns out I can do casual work in times of ‘financial hardship’ – I foresee that happening at some point. Scan any documentation you receive and save it in case you need evidence (paranoid, me?!)
Unfortunately it might not be the right time for your employer or they may not see the benefits of travelling (what? I know!) Are there other options? Craig is a self-employed gas engineer so it was easy enough for him to take a career break (although a risk, his business has been booming). He was, however, employed when we went to South East Asia for four weeks in 2013, he asked his manager for all of his paid leave at one time and some unpaid leave to make up the rest of the time and he was happy with this. So it’s not all doom and gloom!
Have I convinced you yet? No? Since leaving on the 14th of March 2015, Craig and I have danced to jazz music on Frenchman Street in New Orleans; partied at South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin; sandboarded and sand-skied in Huacachina (Whack-a-china), Peru; trekked the Colca Canyon in Arequipa (Are-eh-keepah) and met ‘chevere’ (cool) friends along the way.
And you can read about it all at Two Scots Abroad!
Gemma and Craig have got it all figured out. It seems like every day they are off on a new adventure, so be sure to stop by Two Scots Abroad to stay up to date on their adventure and learn how you can still take off and see the world no matter your stage in life. You can also find them at their Facebook page and on twitter at @TwoScotsAbroad.
Thanks for stopping by today, and don't forget to Travel Happy!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz