Did you wake up this morning and bounce out of bed ready to start your day?

Or did you stumble on autopilot into the bathroom dreading another soul-crushing day at the office?

You’ve spent the last thirty years working hard, raising a family, paying off a mortgage and generally being an upstanding citizen. The kids are gone and you think “I’m fifty years old. What am I going to do now?”

How about taking a career break abroad?

Turning fifty is the perfect time and it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. You’d be surprised how many people are taking career breaks and sabbaticals to travel the world. More and more people are realising that there’s so much more to life.

Grab it by both hands and discover it for yourself.

Looking over Levoca - career break at fifty

What the heck is a career break?

Simply put a career break is dedicated time away from work. It’s usually for an extended amount of time and can be anything from a few months to a couple of years. If you take a trip abroad it’s sometimes called career break travel or career break abroad. I like the term “breaking free” that’s used by some companies, coz that’s exactly what it feels like!

People often use the term sabbatical interchangeably with career break, but it’s actually a little different. A company may have a sabbatical policy that allows you to take extended leave and still have a job to come back to. Most of the time it’s without pay and things like superannuation are suspended. Some lucky souls may still receive a percentage of their wage but this is rare.

I was able to take twelve months off work without pay. I also had six weeks annual leave up my sleeve to use. Andrew on the other hand has quit his job and will be looking for something new when we return.

So I’m on sabbatical and he’s on a career break.

Temple in the hills of Sri Lanka

Why You Should Take A Career Break Abroad At Fifty

It’s The Perfect Time

Taking a career break abroad at the age of fifty can seem scary. It can feel like you have a lot to lose. Your job, your career, your house, all the things that make us feel secure. But security is an issue at any age. When you’re younger it’s the opposite. Young people generally have less and are busy building a career, buying a house and securing their future.

By the time you reach fifty all the hard work is done. At this stage in life, most people are more financially secure and better able to afford time away from work. Your career is well established and you have years of experience behind you. That doesn’t disappear just because you’ve had a break from work. In fact, you’ll be in high demand by career break organisations especially volunteering ones.

The kids have grown up or are at uni and living their own lives. Woohoo! All the things that have tied you down in the past are going away. Making it the perfect time to break free.

So if not now. When?

Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do – Mark Twain.

It Will Be Good For Your Health

When you’re stuck in a rut that’s repeated day after day, it’s easy to fall into bad habits.

Who wants to cook after a tiring day at work? Or tackle the supermarket? The lure of Macca’s drive thru is darn tempting. As is the greasy, golden deliciousness of fish and chips. And if you’re not eating well chances are you’re not exercising either.

By the time we reach middle age most people are carrying a few extra kilos. If this is you don’t worry you’re not alone. I put on twenty kilos when I was studying and working.

But guess what?

A year of travel just might be the kick start you need to improve your health.

People are more inclined to take care of themselves when they’re in a positive frame of mind. And what could be more positive than taking a year off work to travel the world?

You’ll want to eat well and exercise.

When you travel you can’t help but get fit.  It seems like every church, monastery, castle and temple is set on top of a mountain. Then there’s the hikes in the woods, treks to remote villages and scrambles amongst ancient ruins.

You’ll do so much walking you’ll be lucky if your pedometer doesn’t blow up.

You’ll eat better too.

The delicious local food will be irresistible and you’ll give the fast food joints the flick. And because it’s “real” food that’s full of vitamins and minerals, you’ll look and feel amazing in no time.

All that exercise and healthy eating makes travel good for your health.

Crispy fresh stir fry

Crispy fresh stir fry

It Will Be Good For Your Well-Being

Taking a career break to go travelling, will give you the freedom to relax, rejuvenate and gain some perspective. The person you are today at fifty is not the same as who you were at twenty. With all the demands and distractions of modern life chances are you’ve lost track of who that is.

Now I’m not saying you should “go find yourself.” But taking a break will give you the breathing space to just “be” and get back in touch with the real you. It gives you a moment to think about what you want to do next – the answer might surprise you.

Travel lets you do new things, connect with new people and experience new situations. You’ll feel emotions you might not have felt for a long time. Emotions like joy, amazement and wonder. Even planning and dreaming of your trip will give you a burst of happiness.

And believe it or not studies have shown that travel helps to keep your brain healthy and sharp. This is because new experiences and problem solving, helps increase cognitive flexibility and creativity. Managing these new and unexpected situations builds self-confidence and a sense of achievement.

Travel creates moments that stay with you long after you’ve returned home. Recalling those special moments can fill you with joy and contentment over and over again.

It also gives you a greater appreciation of family and home – things we often take for granted. Being grateful for what we have promotes warmth, happiness and contentment. It makes us feel good. And it’s great for our sense of well-being.

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be – Maya Angelou

It Will Be Good For Your Relationship

If you’re fabulously single, then obviously this section isn’t for you.

But don’t worry!

I didn’t forget you. I found this article  about dating and travel for you.

For those readers who are in a relationship, taking a career break to travel will bring you closer together. It’s a chance to strengthen bonds, to grow, and rediscover each other. You’ll see your partner in a new light away from the humdrum of everyday life.

There’s nothing like spending 24 hours a day together sharing life changing events, to add a new depth to your relationship. This survey found travel has long-term benefits for couples, it helps build and maintain relationships, and gets the romantic juices flowing.

It’s incredibly special to see the world with your loved one by your side. Whether it’s climbing a volcano, trekking the Amazon or drinking tea with the locals, you’ll come back having experienced something amazing together. And those experiences will become memories that only the two of you can share.

But the benefits start long before you go away.

The thrill of making the decision to take a break and see the world will transform your relationship.  Those dreary nights at home are a thing of the past when you have a trip to organise. You can turn the TV off, bring out the world map and start planning!

It will spark new conversations you’ve never had before and you’ll spend hours together researching, budgeting and organising. Working together to make your dream a reality is a wonderful way to bring you closer together.

To see the world with your partner, your soul mate, your best friend is magic.

Us in the courtyard Corvin Castle

Us in the courtyard at Corvin Castle – Romania

It Will Change Your Life!

The last time we took a career break we spent four months travelling with our children.

It changed everything for us.

We returned with a different perspective of the world and a whole new set of values. What we once thought was important no longer held any meaning.  We stopped worrying about what other people think and things like status and expensive cars lost their appeal.

Now we focus on creating experiences and memories instead.

The thrill of adventure that comes from travel is life-altering and you’ll see things that will blow your mind. Overcoming obstacles along the way gives you the confidence and belief that you can face any of life’s hurdles. Things you’ve been too afraid to do won’t seem as daunting anymore and you’ll finally have the nerve to do them.

I’d always regretted not going to university but never did anything about it. After our trip, it didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore and I went back to school and got my nursing degree.

Taking a career break abroad brings out the best version of you. You’ll come back happier, healthier and with a new zest for life.

It will snap you out of your rut and open you up to a whole new set of possibilities.

You just need to make the decision to do it.


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