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Favorite Destinations For a Sabbatical

Considering taking a sabbatical? Taking a career break can be a great opportunity to explore the world, learn about yourself, develop new skills, and truly discover what you want out of life. 

Picture this: you have the opportunity to take a year off work, and you can do whatever you like with the time. Sounds incredible, right? It might not be as unobtainable as you think. Once you make the decision to do it, it’s truly time to start planning! With a whole world to explore, where do you even start?

When choosing your destination, or destinations (who says you have to stay in one place!), it’s important to consider a few factors like affordability, sights and activities, quality of life, visa requirements, and safety. Are you seeking to completely change your way of living, or are you desiring to still retain some of your home comforts? Knowing what you want, and why, will help you choose the right places for you.

Here we share some of our top destinations, why we love them, and what they have to offer you! 

For the adventure seeker with wifi included

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has long been a haven for many expats and nature-loving travelers. Expect a warm welcome from the locals, serene nature, and an affordable cost of living, including medical care (however, it should be noted that in recent years the cost of living has begun to rise as Costa Rica gains popularity). 

With multiple climate zones, including hundreds of microclimates, there is a place for everyone in Costa Rica. This is a great country for anyone who wants to live close to nature, since Costa Rica is at the heart of Ecotourism. Many people fall in love with the temperate climate in the capital of San Jose, while others are pulled to the beaches or jungle landscapes. 

Costa Rica is a great choice for anyone who wants to disconnect from the bigger world; it’s the total opposite of the corporate fast-paced life you may be used to. If you’re wanting to slow down and enjoy life without the frills, then this could be a destination to add to your list. Wifi speed and connectivity in Costa Rica varies depending on location, but with so many digital nomads flocking here, there are definitely wifi hubs to be found. On the other hand, if you’re planning on exploring the deep jungles, for instance, don’t expect fast wifi to follow you. Be sure to plan ahead depending on your needs!

Portugal

This little country in the southwestern corner of Europe has something for everyone. Vibrant cities, miles of golden sandy beaches, some of the best healthcare in the world, low cost of living, and safety. It’s a brilliant option for anyone looking to get a taste of European living while on their sabbatical. 

English is spoken pretty much everywhere so if you’re reluctant to learn another language, this could be the option for you. Wifi speeds and quality also trump those in South America, so if you need to work while you’re away, heading to Europe is an exciting option. Not to mention you are right next to Spain, which has even more opportunities for exploration. 

For those looking to learn a new language and/or skill

Mexico

Mexico is a country full of vibrancy, color, culture, and delicious food. If you’re looking for some excitement, then this may just be the country for you. More than one million Americans and a half-million Canadians call the country home today, living there either full-time or part of the year (often in winter, to escape cold weather). Mexico has a lot to offer and many are unaware of how large the country actually is. 

Due to its size, Mexico has multiple climates and landscapes to choose from, ranging from small ocean-side villages, jungle getaways, large cities, or towns tucked away in the mountain regions. Mexico is a great choice if you’re not quite ready to fully distance yourself from a ‘Western-style’ life. You can access most of your home comforts if you know where to go! Not to mention you can even be in the same time zone as your loved ones! Mexico is a great choice if you’re planning on working during your sabbatical, but reliable wifi can be tricky to find. So research ahead to ensure your destination has what you need.

Mexico is also the perfect place to brush up on your Spanish. The locals are more than happy to help you and really appreciate the effort. Mexico has many volunteer opportunities available as well where you can practice your language skills. 

For those looking for an inexpensive lifestyle

Malaysia

The affordability factor is a bonus for Malaysia. Its appeal also includes weather that’s a tropical 82 degrees all year round, stunning beaches (postcard-worthy), buzzing cities, jungles, and islands to explore. Not to mention some of the region’s best food and shopping malls. 

It’s a brilliant place to make friends and connect with locals since English is the unofficial first language! Loads of expats and travelers live in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and there are direct flights to over 30 different countries from both cities. Malaysia makes a perfect base to explore the natural, historical and cultural treasures of Southeast Asia.

Taking a sabbatical is about taking stock, it’s about discovering what is meaningful for you and your career without playing the game of comparison. It requires a sense of self-inquiry and inner clarity. And sometimes we have to get off the merry-go-round for a bit to be able to do it.

Everything in life comes with an element of risk, you just have to decide what is truly important for you. Sabbaticals are opportunities to learn something new, to open up to different ways of living, and to create experiences for you to remember even after you retire. An important element in overcoming worry and fear when it comes to sabbatical leave is being able to clearly articulate why you’re going in the first place. Practice telling people why, and be confident in it. This will help you communicate the importance of it to your manager, loved ones, and colleagues beforehand. You may be surprised by how envious everyone else around you is…even your manager!

And when you get back from your time away, you’ll undoubtedly have a new perspective, which is why we believe that taking a sabbatical will not only NOT ruin your career, but it can help GROW it! Learn more here.

A sabbatical is essentially a time for you to just be, well, a better version of you. So your reason for going needs to be important to you personally. It can be easy to allow other people’s thoughts and opinions to influence your own. Spend some time getting clear on what you want and why, and seek support when you are ready. 

Indonesia

Can’t decide between a relaxed beach trip or an adventure-packed experience? Why not do both? From dense rainforests, active volcanoes, white sandy beaches and, well, Bali, Indonesia has it all! Costs are significantly lower in this part of the world. And if you stay clear of popular tourist destinations, your money can get you even further!

Indonesia gives you the opportunity to live well for less, and each island is like its own country so you won’t run out of things to do.

For those looking to learn more about themselves and find their purpose

India

For those seeking more of a soul-searching experience, India offers exactly this. India, while being a large country, offers travelers a unique experience. You can attend meditation programs at an Ashram, find yoga courses to soothe your mind, body, and soul, or try out a homestay program to connect with local culture and traditions. 

India is worth exploring for anyone seeking a more balanced way of life. With bustling cities, mountainous religious and famous cuisine, there is a lot to be discovered. 

Traveling around India by train is an experience to remember. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a Unesco World Heritage site that winds through the narrow streets of Darjeeling, is an obvious highlight, but there are many others too. Not to mention India has stunning tropical islands to explore, such as the Havelock Islands. 

If you’re looking to stay in one country for an extended period of time, India is a great option.

For those wanting to volunteer during their sabbatical

South Africa

Not sure how to make the greatest impact during your sabbatical? Consider volunteering in South Africa. There are numerous programs to consider, such as working in local schools and community centers, volunteering on the big five game reserves, assisting with youth sports coaching programs, and even helping to conduct health awareness workshops with schoolchildren. You also don’t have to pick just one. Why not check out two or three programs to really make the most of your time?

Don’t forget the beauty that South Africa holds. With stunning scenery and a warm climate, this is a great option for anyone wanting to really feel like they want to create a home away from home.

Thailand

Multiple landscapes and climates meet an abundance of opportunities! And the food, oh the food.

If you’re thinking you want to teach English during your sabbatical, this is a country that is incredibly popular with travelers so English is one of the most valuable skills the locals can have. 

 

Wanting a break from civilization? Consider donating your time and energy to support a wildlife rescue center. Conservation work is on the rise in Thailand, as many tourist facilities are being shut down and animals are moved to sanctuaries. It’s great work to be a part of!

Thailand offers stunning island landscapes, gorgeous countryside, and humid mountainous regions. There is a lot to explore!

So… did you find something you like? Or maybe you’ve already taken a sabbatical in one of these destinations? Share your experience with us, we’d love to hear from you!

 

We help our clients plan their extended break from work. With smart financial planning to make sure the trip fits your needs and goals, we’re here to help make your dream a reality! Contact us if you would like to hear more!

If you’re ready to learn more, schedule a discovery call now or send us an email at clientservices@middletonand.co

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