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Taking a career break to travel could end up helping you in the long run. (Photo: courtneyk, Getty Images)
A few years ago, a friend of mine quit his job, sold his house, and spent the following 12 months traveling the globe.
At the time, his decision seemed impulsive (he’d been going through a tough run at work), but in reality, he didn’t just pack his bags on a whim. Rather, he planned for his career break and took steps to ensure that he would be able to pull it off financially.
If you’re eager to take time out of the workforce to travel, you should know that with a little forethought, it can be done. Here’s how.
1. Establish your timeline
If you’re looking to take a career break and travel, start by determining when you want that break to begin and end. This will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to pull it off, and when you’ll need to resign at work.
In most cases, you’ll need a little lead time to take a career break without stress. For example, you might decide that you’re going to take that break in six months, which gives you ample opportunity to plan for it.
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2. Save, save, save
Whether you’re planning to travel domestically or internationally, it’s apt to cost money, especially if you’re doing it for an extended period of time. To that end, you’ll really need to boost your savings to ensure that you don’t wind up in debt.
You can pad your savings by cutting some expenses from your budget between now and when you’re planning to stop working. Or you can get yourself a second job on top of your regular one, and stick your earnings from it directly into your savings account. For better results, do both.
3. Conquer logistics
Chances are, you have some ongoing financial responsibilities you’ll need to account for if you’re going to take time off to travel. For example, if you own a home, you’ll still be on the hook for its mortgage, and if you rent, you’ll still need to pay your landlord. Some smart planning, however, will save you from financial stress.
For example, you might choose to sell your home before taking your career break, in which case you’ll no longer have that mortgage. And if you sell your home at a profit, you’ll have more money at your disposal to spend on travel. Or you might find a renter for your home so that you’re able to cover the mortgage during your absence.
If you rent, you can time your travels to start as your lease ends, or you can find a subletter to take over your rent if your lease agreement allows for that. The key, however, is to make sure you’re covered during your extended break.
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4. Set up an income stream
Unless you’ve really saved a bundle, you’ll probably need some ongoing income stream during your travels. You have a couple of options here. First, you can invest your money wisely and hope your portfolio generates enough income to provide you with access to added cash along the way. It’s a somewhat risky endeavor, though, if you’re not a seasoned investor.
A safer option is to find a part-time job you can do remotely, like writing, editing, photography, or web design. This way, you’ll have some guaranteed income coming in to help you cover your costs.
5. Maximize travel rewards
No matter where you’re heading to during your travels, being savvy with credit card rewards can make your adventure more affordable. If you have a travel rewards card, you can generally score extra air miles, free checked bags, and other perks that save you money as you go from destination to destination. And if you’re road-tripping, you can find a credit card that offers extra cash back on fuel purchases.
Many credit cards offer generous sign-up bonuses, too. Use one to charge some of your travel expenses, and you’ll get a lump of cash back for other elements of your trip.
Most people only dream of taking a career break to travel. If you plan and save accordingly, that dream could soon become your personal reality.
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