Making the decision to take some serious time out and go on a sabbatical is daunting. I asked myself every question under the sun and to be honest, I was pretty damn scared.
How will I pay my way? Will I be safe as a woman traveling alone? Would I be able to get a job when I got back? Even where will I get my fringe cut?
Was I about to embark on the adventure of my life or had I committed career suicide?
Or would the world forget about me and I’d end up penniless on the street somewhere? Eating out of bins rambling on about how I ‘just needed to get to the ocean’ or something equally cringeworthy.
But I’d always wanted to improve my surfing and this really spurred me on.
We all know that a few impromptu weekends to the South West will only get you so far. I needed proper time in the water if I ever wanted to even attempt to get to the next level.
Driven by my love of the sport, I got lucky and spotted a job advertised on Facebook with the brilliant Soul and Surf crew in Kerala, India as a surf assistant.
But they took a chance on an unknown kid and before I knew it I was frantically packing a small bag – not an easy task for a clothes-loving stylist – and with my 8ft mal wedged under my arm I staggered off to the airport.
What lay ahead was the best three months of my life. A beautiful place, incredible waves and wonderful people – the friendships I made there will last a lifetime.
Surfing everyday in deserted spots, I felt my old life melt away and a new day dawn
I worked hard. Getting up at 5am every day ferrying guests to the sea – driving on Indian roads is an education in itself – being a cheerleader for the beginners and taking more experienced surfers to the stunning secret surf spots that Kerala hides.
Surfing everyday in deserted spots, I felt my old life melt away and a new day dawn, an incredible experience that I will always keep close to my heart.
But there were plenty of tough times, even in paradise. The waves were faster and more challenging than I was used to. Many times I beat myself up, telling myself I was an idiot to even try.
They say ‘everything comes out in the water’ but as time went on I learned to chill the hell out, push on and with that, progress happened – not just in surfing but in many other life challenges.
With my love of the place and the people I met, my journey was slow, but steady.
When I returned with an open heart and a relaxed mind three months later, what surprised me most was how everything was just the same as when I left it.
I had gone away, changed, grown, but London life remained constant – like an old friend that’s always there for you.
I was calmer, stronger, better and life did that brilliant thing it does of just falling back into line. I got a new job and slotted happily into real life again.
Thankfully, I was not forgotten or cowering penniless in a corner – in fact I was far richer than I had ever been.
How do you go about taking sabbatical from work to travel? Here are our tips…
1. Work on your pitch
Your work may offer sabbaticals after a number of years of service, but that doesn’t mean they have to give them to you.
Get your plan together to convince them you need it. How will it benefit you, and in turn them?
If your company doesn’t run a sabbatical scheme, how about pitching it to them anyway? You have nothing to lose.
2. Give notice
Don’t expect your boss to be happy about you flying off into the sunset next week. Make sure you give them notice so they can find adequate cover whilst you’re off.
3. Make it official
Make sure you get all the terms of your sabbatical in writing. That way everyone knows the score.
4. Get a job
Unless you’re extremely fortunate financially, it’s likely you’ll need some kind of work to sustain you while you’re away. It’s not all bad – you may dream of lying on a beach for a year but working away is a great way to make new friends, become part of a community and push your skills.
5. Save up
It sounds obvious but when you put your mind to it you can save plenty. How much do you spend unnecessarily every day? Living without your daily latte, making lunch at home and wearing your clothes a little longer all adds up.
6. Stash your cash
Always save enough money for your return flight. Or, if you’re not to be trusted, make sure someone back home hangs onto your dough for you. Then you’ll never be stranded.
7. Travel affordable
Know your budget and travel somewhere you can afford. In many places you can live on just a few quid a day, to maximise your cash.
8. Go for it
Don’t wait for someone else to make your dreams happen. If you put off the trip because you’re flying solo, you may never get to do it.
9. Be brave
Most of us are really lucky. We have friends and family who would never see us destitute. Think to yourself what’s the worst that could really happen? The time is now.
All the saving up and big decision making will be worth it. On your journey, you’ll also be inspiring others to go do. The adventure starts here.