I had dreamt about taking a career break since I started my A-levels and learnt about gap years, where students took a gap between college or sixth form before going to university to travel the world. The idea of travelling the world sounded amazing and the after a trip to STA Travel I had picked up about 20 brochures and could hardly carry them home. I sat for hours looking at the different countries and what the world had to offer and from that moment, I promised myself that at some point in my life I would travel the world long term.
After I finished my A-levels I got an offer to study Law at university and as I didn't have any savings to travel I decided to get my education out of the way first. I then got caught up in the rat race of studying and working and became focused on trying to qualify as a solicitor, but travelling was always in the back of my mind. The more I worked the more I could save to travel, so that was my motivation every Monday morning.
11 years after learning of gap years, I was a qualified solicitor and settled in the corporate world and was scared I had left travelling too late and if I quit my job I would ruin my career. BUT, I had made myself that promise and I knew there would never be a right time and didn't want to live with the regret of not going.
One Saturday morning in April I did it, I booked a one-way ticket to India leaving in November. I had never felt so alive! The next 7 months were filled with excitement and anticipation and the nerves kicked in when I remembered that I had to hand in my notice at work. My employers seem to understand my reasons for leaving and before I knew it I was sat on the plane and the world was my oyster.
The feeling of leaving the 9-5 and having the freedom to do and see what I wanted to, is one I will never forget. Arriving in India was not only a shock because of the culture difference but because my life had changed, travel was my priority. During the next 9 months I had the most amazing experiences such as eating local street food in India, campervanning around New Zealand, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, visiting the Grand Canyon, eating sushi in Tokyo, swimming with a turtle in Gili Trawangan, drinking with locals in Thailand...the list is endless.
As I reflect on my past year, I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and look forward to travelling in 2019, but just in a different way using annual leave. I have booked to go to South Korea in April and can't wait to get back to Asia! Don't get me wrong there has been ups and downs, as travelling isn't always plain sailing but my past year of travelling the world and learning about new cultures has been my best year without a doubt.
I have no regrets and I was lucky to find a new job within a month of getting home. It was a bit of a culture shock to settle into normality and returning to the working world, but I have the memories of my travels which will stay with me forever.
I actually got a good pay increase and found a job closer to home, so taking the risk of quitting your job could be for the better.
If you are reading this and trying to decide whether to quit your job to take a career break to travel the world, think about how you will feel in 20 years time if you don't go. I didn't want to be sat at the same desk with a successful career but no life experiences. If your career break experience is anything like mine the risk is totally worth it and you will have no regrets at all.
If you are considering taking a career break, here are some helpful posts: