25 February 2017

A career break is an amazing experience – travelling the world, learning a language, doing a spot of volunteering... But it doesn't come cheap.

Depending on what you do and where you go, it could cost several thousand pounds.

Here's how you can afford to do it.

Start saving – like mad!

Becky was 27 when she decided she wanted a career break – but she didn't have enough savings. She spent the next year cutting back – packing her own lunch for work, buying fewer things, and not going on holiday (after all, there was going to be plenty of travelling coming up!). She used lots of tips and tricks to help her, like only carrying cash, so she wasn't tempted to spend loads of money.

And it worked too – she saved for a decent, 6-month trip that included some amazing experiences!

There are loads of ways you can save money. There's the big stuff, like giving up drinking or smoking, switching your energy supplier and even selling your car, to the little things, like taking your own coffee on your commute instead of stopping at the Costa in the station.

Plan your trip with care

If you're going on a round-the-world trip, have a chat with the travel agent (yes, they still exist!) about when flights might be cheaper (by the way, a RTW ticket is a lot cheaper than individual ones).

Don't make assumptions about what options are more expensive – for example, sometimes joining an adventure tour group is cheaper than going it alone, because they can get group discounts.

Look at guidebooks for your destination for a suggested daily budget – this will help you plan how much you'll be spending per week. It's a lot cheaper to live in a developing country than it is here so you might be surprised at how well you can live for so much less.

Make the most out of not being home

There's no point keeping a car, TV licence or your broadband while you're away. Make sure you cancel all your payments – and get a rebate for anything you're owed. When you tot up things like council tax, electricity overpayments, etc, you can sometimes claim back a few hundred quid so it's really worth doing.

What about your house? Obviously, if you rent, you'll get your security deposit back which is a bit of extra cash for your trip. Most career breakers who own their houses rent them out while they're away and this at least will cover the mortgage (make sure you tell your mortgage provider and insurance company).

One of the biggest chunks of cash you're likely to receive is an income tax refund – you can do it online and you could be several hundred or even thousands better off, depending on how much you earn and how long your career break is.

Work while you're away

The easiest way to fund a career break is work while you're on it! Your options are:

  1. Train as an instructor (for example, in skiing or surfing) and work around the world

  2. Get qualified in watersports (eg yachtmaster) so you can work on board ship

  3. Do a TEFL course and teach English abroad (make sure your qualification is internationally recognised)

  4. Work in resorts or children's camps in Europe, the USA or Canada

  5. Get a working holiday visa for the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia or New Zealand (there are restrictions on these, mostly age)

Most of these won't make you rich any time soon – but working on a career break will usually earn you enough for the next bit of your journey.

Just remember, if you're on sabbatical from your current employer, they may require that you don't do paid work while you're away. Check your sabbatical agreement.

Leave the princess at home – and enjoy it!

Often, budget travel can be more fun than luxury travel. Where else might you share a boat with a chicken, meet an interesting local doctor on a train, or share a dorm room with 6 mental shrieking Australian girls?! Don't think of budget travel as slumming it, but as getting up close and personal with a country – you'll have better experiences as a result, and some wonderful stories to tell!