The ultimate guide to sabbatical travel

In recent years, the notion of taking sabbatical travel leave or a career break has become increasingly common, with many businesses now adopting sabbatical travel leave policies to accommodate. 

In a world where connectivity is higher than ever before, the ability to ‘switch off’ is becoming more and more difficult. It’s increasingly rare for people to be fully ‘logged off’ from work; especially with the proliferation of mobile phones making it easier to check and respond to emails, catch up with news via social media and keep up to date with the latest professional natter through services like Slack. While this level of technological connection does have its benefits from a professional perspective, it can often result in an overstepping of boundaries, resulting in burn out.

Taking a sabbatical provides you with a unique opportunity to take a break from your busy day-to-day life for an extended period of time, allowing you to de-stress and re-energise. While sabbatical travel is becoming more common, knowing how to navigate and plan the in’s and out’s of a career break can be an overwhelming task. 

If you’ve been considering taking leave for an extended period and have no idea where to start, this sabbatical travel guide is the perfect starting point for you!

What is a sabbatical?

Traditionally, the notion of a sabbatical has roots in the academic world, where one year of leave (also known as a gap year) is granted for every seven years worked.

However, nowadays, a more common characteristic of a sabbatical is that the individual will return to the same job after the period of leave. Therefore, a sabbatical is a period of time away from work, which is typically agreed upon with the workplace.

The duration of a sabbatical depends on your workplace, however, most sabbatical travel contracts range from one month up to one year, sometimes even longer.

Important to note, while taking time to travel while on a sabbatical is common, sabbatical leave is not a holiday. Well, not quite anyway. The aim of taking sabbatical leave isn’t to rest (although that can be part of it), rather, sabbaticals tend to be taken with a certain objective in mind – this could range from long-term travel, to spending time with family, learning something new or even writing a book!

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What are the Benefits of Taking a Sabbatical?

There’s good reason why more and more people and businesses alike are embracing sabbatical travel. Taking a break and removing yourself from the daily grind to embark on an ‘adult gap year’, can bring many benefits to both your life and career, allowing you the opportunity to explore new directions in life, both personal and professional.

Furthermore, scientific research has shown that these benefits are real. A study comparing 129 employees who had taken sabbatical leave and 129 employees who did not, found that those who did take time off measured higher in a self-scoring assessment on life satisfaction, stress and other well-being measurements.

In a recent survey by Opodo, 71% of respondents said that they would take a sabbatical if they had the opportunity. Fortunately, businesses and organisations are now more willing than ever to consider extended leave for employees, as the measurable returns of sabbaticals for business is being recognised. It’s becoming almost a common belief that taking a break from the 9-5 lifestyle improves personal health and morale, resulting in an increase in employee motivation and problem solving skills, amongst other things. Sabbatical travel has revealed that taking a career break can lead to a higher overall workplace satisfaction and performance.

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Where to travel for a sabbatical?

A sabbatical should be used as a time to focus on things that we don’t typically have sufficient time for. Naturally, the first thing that springs to mind for us is travel. Although knowing where to travel for a sabbatical can very easily become a tricky task!

What we do know is that discovering new countries and experiencing new cultures expands your horizon and allows you to learn more about the world that we live in. Being physically distant from the everyday environment creates space for reflection and recouping. Therefore, setting clear intentions for where to travel for a sabbatical and choosing a destination with purpose will help you to make the most out of your time away.

Still stuck on ideas on where to go? Here’s a short list of destinations that are worth considering for sabbatical travel:


Dive head-first into South American culture in the most cosmopolitan city on the continent, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Spend your mornings in Spanish language classes, exhaust your days with wine tastings and learn to tango by night. Learning to dance is such a great way to train your mind and body into learning a new skill; you’re listening to new music, while moving your body and meeting new people (which is great if you’ve chosen to travel solo on sabbatical!). Being the birthplace of the Argentine tango, there are many professional dance schools in Buenos Aires – however, you can also learn to dance at a milonga dance hall in the afternoons, where classes are free, before the expert dancers heat up the dance floor in the evenings.

South Africa

If you’re wanting to spend your sabbatical making an impact, spending some time volunteering somewhere like South Africa is great, as it helps you in learning new skills that can be used in both life and career. Choosing to spend time volunteering is a rewarding experience for you and the community with which you are giving back to.


If your sabbatical falls within the Northern Hemisphere’s cold winter months and you’re seeking an antidote, Australia is the perfect answer. Being both a country and a continent, Australia is a great place to spend your sabbatical travel. Whether you’re a city slicker, adventure seeker or simply just want to spend time in a tropical location, Australia offers everything you need to have a great sabbatical.


Thailand has absolutely everything you could possibly imagine in a single country; from the most visited city on Earth – Bangkok – to isolated jungles. Whatever it is you’re seeking during your sabbatical travel, you should find it in the ‘Land of Smiles’. However, for those wanting to immerse themselves into a new culture, whilst still reflecting on your own, there are many great English teaching programs available in Thailand.

Are you ready to start planning your sabbatical travel? Let us know in the comments below!

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