1 November 2018
How to justify the cost of your career break

There's no getting around it, a career break can be expensive.

Some can be really REALLY expensive! If you go away for a long time, do a lot of things, or get trained to a high level, it will cost even more.

For example, volunteering or training to be a ski or snowboard instructor can cost several thousand pounds. Even just travelling usually averages out at about £1,000 a month.

And on top of all that, you don't have a salary!

BUT you can justify the cost of the experience - whether that's to yourself or someone else. Here's how.

Remember that you have expenses in "normal" life too

When you talk about how much a career break can cost, people are often surprised at how much it is. But they forget that you are spending that much anyway, you just don't always look at it the same way!

While you're travelling, you still need somewhere to sleep, food to eat, somewhere to wash your clothes and yourself... These are things that you're doing at home as well but you might not itemise them quite as much! And while it is true that some things can be more expensive when you travel, such as guesthouses instead of your rented flat, or eating out instead of making your own food - in many parts of the world, these things are super cheap.

You will no longer have your normal daily expenses

When you're away there are lots of things you are no longer paying for. Your car, for example - this is a big expense and most career breakers sell their car before they go away. The little expenses that add up as well - your daily latte, the sandwich you get from the shop, buying stuff you don't really need because it's on 2-for-1. You won't be spending money on those things while you're away.

And what about your subscriptions and services that you will cancel? Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky, Virgin Media, Spotify Premium, broadband, landline... so much stuff you pay for monthly that you won't need while you're abroad. Speaking of which...

You can reclaim a lot of money

When you cancel your utility services or your insurance, you can normally reclaim a portion that you haven't used. It's really important to do this as it's your money and can add up to quite a bit!

You can also claim tax rebates - council tax and income tax are the most obvious, plus car tax if you sell your car.

In the case of your mortgage, if you own your home, you can often cover this cost by renting your house out, and you should even make a bit extra! If you're renting of course, you can get the security deposit back, assuming you haven't trashed the place.

You can work while you travel to offset the cost

Working while you travel makes sense if money is an issue. You can look at our paid work abroad page or our TEFL section for more, but basically, your work abroad options are a working holiday visa - only for those under 30 - or teaching English. You can also work as an instructor or as yacht crew. Other ways of working abroad are possible but those are the easiest, and therefore the most popular with career breakers.

If you want to work as you travel, you'll need to pay visa costs, and many career breakers opt for a paid work abroad programme to help them settle into their new country and - crucially - help them find a job.

Working while you travel is a great way to justify the cost of your career break as it doesn't put quite as much of a dent in your finances! The work isn't particularly well paid (except on yachts) but most career breakers find the money is enough to fund their onward travel.

Getting training or a qualification means get paid even more

Whether it's an instructor course, yacht crew course or a TEFL qualification, getting trained in a particular area means you are not only more likely to find a job but you can also get paid more. You can find all our courses here.

In many cases, a qualification is a requirement for getting a job, so you have to take the course in order to get work in that field. This does mean an extra upfront cost of course, but it also means you can find work abroad more easily, particularly as many of the course providers give you a lot of help finding a job - and some even guarantee it! It's not just your first job after qualifying that can bring in the money as well - once you've started on that path, you can get higher-paying jobs as you gain more experience.

Another benefit - and justification for the course cost - is that you're getting paid to do what you enjoy!

Volunteer experience can also lead to better paying work

So what if you fancy doing volunteer work on your career break? Volunteer placements can be expensive as you're paying for all your costs - food, equipment, accommodation, sometimes training, and so on - plus a contribution to the project. It's vital to ensure that your presence does not have a negative financial impact on the place where you're supposed to be making a difference.

But what about justifying the cost? Many career breakers find that a volunteer experience, although it costs money, actually leads to a promotion when they return. They find they get new experiences in their volunteering placement that they wouldn't get in their day job - and this can mean a new position, with more money, when they come back.

It's particularly true of volunteers who take a leadership or management role on their project, or do training or education. It's a way of gaining that vital experience - plus employers tend to look favourably on people who have gone out and done something different and brave!

You're sharing your wealth with communities who have little

You might find this a bit bleeding-heart liberal, but for some career breakers, giving back and sharing what they have with those who are disadvantaged, is really important.

If you have enough money to travel and/or volunteer, you are luckier - certainly in terms of material wealth - than most of the locals who you'll meet. You don't have to give your time to a volunteer project to share your wealth either - just travelling through a region responsibly and spending your money in local businesses will help.

It is an investment in yourself

This is the big one. A career break is a massive investment in yourself and an experience like no other. If you spend the same money on other things, would it give you the personal and professional development you need to get where you want?

Would you feel good about yourself? Increase your earning power? Become more confident? Get fitter?! These are all things career breakers tell us happened for them when they took their break. And what other investment allows you to invest in yourself while also sharing your wealth with parts of the world that need it most?

There are very few career breakers who return saying it was anything other than an amazing experience and they are really glad they'd done it.

So if you can't justify the cost of your career break with any of the other reasons above, we really really hope that you consider yourself worth the investment. Because we do.



Ready to set off? Have a look at all the career breaks we have here.