By Vanessa Papas
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, decided to ditch going to university straight after school and spent months living in India and meditating in the mountains. Matthew McConaughey spent a gap year in Australia, travelling. At age 19 Prince Harry travelled to Australia to learn how to be a cattle-hand, and Lesotho where he helped build local infrastructure including a health clinic and a road bridge, while Prince William took a gap year in Belize, training with the Welsh Guards, teaching English in Chile, travelling in Africa, and working on a dairy farm in the United Kingdom.
For many, the inhibiting factor to taking a sabbatical (traditionally, a 12-month career break, or more untraditionally, any significant hiatus from daily routine, such as a gap year or world travel in between jobs) is the expense and the financial risks. The thought of quitting your job or taking unpaid leave is daunting. But Madri Jacobs, a senior financial planner at Sanlam, says it is possible to make it work, with the help of a savvy financial adviser.
Weigh Up The Pros And Cons: A sabbatical can be a pretty life-changing decision and may not be right for everyone. Once you are convinced that you would like to take a sabbatical, you need to think very carefully about the pros and cons, and the short and long-term implications of the decision. Involve your financial advisor to make informed decisions about your finances and insurance.
Plan Ahead: Make sure you save sufficiently for a sabbatical of eight to 12 months, and for a few extra months after you return home. Save enough for unforeseen and emergency expenses. Rework your budget and try to save in a way which has minimal impact on your existing investment planning.
Get Your Affairs In Order: Keep in mind that some medical aids impose waiting periods and penalties if you’re not on the scheme for a certain period. Look for alternatives and ensure your travel insurance is up-to-date. Alert your short-term insurer of any relevant changes. Make sure you’ve got income protection and lump sum disability cover. Cancel or pause any memberships or subscriptions you won’t need while away. Leave plenty of time to apply for a visa and other travel documents. Remember to budget for these. Give a close family member power of attorney to act on your behalf, so he or she can deal, inter alia, with your banking, insurance and other matters while you’re away, should the need arise. Have a valid will in place. Discuss with your next of kin what should happen in an emergency if you need medical assistance, or even if you pass away in another country.
Try Keep Your Job: Your employment situation will probably be the biggest point of friction when it comes to taking a work sabbatical. If you want to try to return to the same job when you come back, you’ll need to talk to your boss and explain your reasoning and what you want. Don’t complain about being burnt out; instead, spell out the reasons why a sabbatical will benefit both you and your employer.
If you are unable to negotiate allowed time off from your current job, then you may just have to go it alone and hand in your resignation.
Try to leave the door open for a return and remain loyal to your employer when you do so.
Leaving On A Jet Plane
By Vanessa Papas