Things associated with recession are typically bad, but there are the occasional silver linings. Over recent years, employers have been much more open to the idea of sabbaticals, and they’re a winner from both sides: the company gets cost savings, and you have a well-earned break. If you’ve been slogging away at your career for years and you’re in a position to be able to take a sabbatical, it’s a great chance to refocus. But the time is precious; you don’t want to while away the hours watching daytime TV. Here are a few ideas on what to do that will add value to body and mind.
Renovate your house
Your free time is precious when you work a 9 – 5, and the last thing you want to do is spend your weekends re-tiling the bathroom. But with the distractions of work a distant past on a sabbatical, you can put all your energy into making your house a home and helping to add to its value. Get a valuation from a few local estate agents before you start to gauge if it will help a future sale or increase the value to your four walls.
Lots of us would like to volunteer, but few of us do it because we don’t have enough time. But now is the time to volunteer, be that for a national charity, local hospice or just helping an elderly neighbor walk their dog. There are also plenty of opportunities overseas, from contributing to building new schools in Africa, to contribute to rehabilitating wildlife in South Africa or teaching in China. Whatever you choose to do, volunteering is immensely rewarding and often leads to new friendship circles – and sometimes new careers.
If you’ve been dreaming of changing track in your career or perhaps completely requalifying, a sabbatical is an ideal time to do it – or at least put the steps in place to kick-start a new career path. Check out opportunities locally and do your research into how you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. Depending on what you want to do, it might take a day’s course or a seven-year degree, but now is the time to do some proper research and speak to people who will be able to help.
With a clear calendar, what better time to book a long holiday? You’ve time to spare so you could quite feasibly tackle the biggies: Australia and America – maybe even an entire continent. Tours across America and Australia will do the hard work for you, packing each day’s itinerary with all the must-see sights, so you don’t need to worry about missing out as it’s easy to do when you travel independently. Group tours are also a brilliant way to connect with other travelers and make new friends. These are experiences that will stay with you for life so grab the world by the horns and get the most out of it. Remember that when you return to work, you’ll no doubt sit daydreaming about that time you went hiking in the jungle foothills of Vietnam.
Train for a race
If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, or put in the hours to get into triathlon seriously, now is an excellent time to put in the hours to train. Why not sign up for a race at the end of your sabbatical and spend the next few months gearing up for it? Marathon training plans typically last 16 weeks, which is the typical length of a leave so that you could turn into a lean, mean fighting machine – colleagues will do a double take when you return to work!
Katie is a freelance travel writer. Her dream sabbatical would be a volunteering holiday teaching along the beaches of Vietnam.