I’d always planned to take a few months off between graduating from university and starting my career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I had full-time employment to jump into and with a great company to boot, but that niggling wanderlust wasn’t going away. In October 2013, I bit the bullet and asked my manager for a three-month leave of absence to travel Southeast Asia with my husband. My manager agreed right away (phew!) and planning in earnest began.
Today, I’m proud to launch my ebook How to Take a Leave of Absence to Travel as a quick guide for those considering taking this brave step. Taking a leave of absence to travel is not like any other leave of absence. It’s not like you’re asking your employer to go back to school, or taking a maternity leave or even quitting work to travel full-time. A travel-related leave of absence is for those who enjoy their jobs, want to return, but need to fulfill that burning desire to see more of the world than a two-week vacation period allows.
What did a leave of absence do for me?
I Reconnected With My Husband
David and I were in a long distance relationship (and marriage!) for a total of three years. Three excruciatingly long years. When you spend that much time apart, you do start to wonder if you’re going to fit together when you finally live in the same place. David arrived in Canada in August of 2013, found a job, went back to school and away we went. That first year, as we planned for our leave of absence, was filled with both of us working steadily (David doing shift work or studying), moving apartments and just catching up.
What the three months together non-stop gave us was the opportunity to get back much needed time. I won’t say that we know everything about one another, but travel with a partner brings you a greater appreciation for their strengths, weaknesses and their personality as a whole. You’re thrown into completely bizarre situations together and have to figure it out. Yes, we squabbled about who booked that awful hotel with the trail of ants running along the wall (him) or whose idea it had been to go to a picturesque island only to have monkeys in our room and to come down with salmonella (my bad idea), but we also had moments of profound appreciation and understanding of one another.
I Lost 13 Lbs!
Disclaimer: salmonella helped.
That said, I’m an emotional eater. When I’m stressed or happy, lonely or bored, I eat. On the plus side, it’s not drugs, booze or cigarettes, but stress eating has it’s own issues, and is one of the more visible addictions.
We filled our days with so much adventure, learning and exploration that I was filled in a way that food couldn’t fill me. Did I indulge in foreign food? Abso-friggin-lutely. We took cooking classes in Chiang Mai and in Vietnam, did a foodie tour of Saigon and indulged in cocktails at the SkyBar in Saigon, hundreds of feet in the air. We ate well, but I didn’t eat to fill a void.
Lugging around a 30lb backpack every few days, climbing temple stairs and simply walking everywhere didn’t hurt either. I came home having lost that weight that had been so hard to shift for two years, and it hadn’t felt like work at all. Best of all, in the three months I’d been gone, how many times had I weighed myself? Um… three? As opposed to the daily hop on the scale, it was much better for my sanity.
I Fulfilled a Dream
How many of us say “one day” but never take that day? So many of us, and I understand why, I really do. I had co-workers say to me when I returned, “if only I could do what you did.” I stared at them in disbelief, because they could and they can. We worked for the same company that offered the same opportunities, but I realized it comes down to the person. How badly do you want to travel? How important is it to your life? What are your priorities?
Whether you want to write a book, travel to India, learn to cook in Argentina or work on a farm in Australia… you can. I know you can. If you’re like me, you wanted the best of both worlds. The ability to travel and fulfill that dream, but also the stability of coming home to work, friends, family, an apartment and cats (insert pet or other hobby here…) that you love. You can have your cake and eat it too.
I believe in you.
It’s not going to be easy. There are so many factors to consider. This is why I wanted to take the time to capture my learnings from my leave of absence to help you make yours as seamless as possible. Whether it be budget, kids in school, how to ask your boss, etc. I’ve covered it in this book.
How to Take a Leave of Absence to Travel
If you sign up for my new monthly newsletter, you’ll get the entire book for free. Just use the sign up form at the bottom of this post. Maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s for your kids, maybe it’s for a friend, but I hope that it helps you fulfill your dreams the way I fulfilled mine.
What can you expect from the monthly newsletter? A quick round up of posts from the month and the archives, some motivation to help you reach your goals and some other fun tidbits. Those newsletters will only come out once a month, the first of every month, so they won’t be clogging up your inbox. My hope is that they help provide some real value and motivation for you.
Do you want to take a leave of absence to travel? Or have you already done so? Where to? What’s stopping you? I believe in you. If you’ve got someone in your life that you think might connect with this, I’d appreciate you sharing it with them.