Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

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Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Chan_va » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:36 pm

Folks,

Would appreciate some advice here, especially from those who may have done this before. The wife and I are considering taking a year off to travel the world with our kid before she has to start school. She will be 4.5 years at the time. This would be about a year or so from now. I am 38 now, wife is 35.

We have comfortable savings, financing the trip shouldn't be a problem. My concern is more around longer term impacts, re entering the workforce etc.

Any tips, suggestions from folks who may have done this before?

Thanks

BC
Last edited by Chan_va on Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Do it

Postby davebarnes » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:50 pm

A friend of mine did it in his 40s and said it was absolutely worth it.

He said the one negative is the stress. Every time you change countries, the "rules" are different and that puts stress on you. Not major things, but little things adding up. Examples: how to pay for parking, how much to tip, who gets tipped, hot/cold faucets, currency, toilets, toilet paper (or not).
Remember when you were first learning to drive how stressful it was because your brain was consciously processing all the data? Then you learned to process it without thinking and it was much easier.

He also said: Don't get sick in Laos.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby VictoriaF » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:57 pm

Much depends on your and your wife's professions. Some professions are in demand and jobs will be readily available when you return, other professions are not so. Another possible concern is that you would want your daughter to be in a good school, and that usually means having enough money to live in a good school district, which may be difficult if you won't have well-paying jobs and will have depleted your savings.

Furthermore, a four-year old would probably enjoy the travel experience, but I doubt she would retain as much of it as a fourteen-year old would.

Also, don't underestimate the addictive qualities of travel. In preparation to your adventure, you are planning for a year. But once you start traveling you may be tempted to make it another year, and another, and another. (I met people who have started with similar plans and became perpetual travelers.)

I usually post on the side of travels, experiences and other challenges. But in your situation, I would rather take long (one-two months) annual vacations than go for a year.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:04 pm

I have one friend who did this, but her circumstances are different (she was young (20), single, and with limited financial resources). She had never been outside the USA before, and had saved up enough for airfares around the world but resorted to "couch surfing" for accommodations.

It completely changed her life. She had always been a bright and courageous young woman, but the travel inspired her to want to make a difference. She became politically interested. She became a photojournalist. She started a successful Kickstarter campaign to document the few remaining survivors of the Rape of Nanking and is finishing up that project. She lives in Cairo, Egypt now and is having her work published in NYT, WSJ, and lesser outlets also. She has gone from being a bright but under-achieving girl to a woman growing her portfolio. I don't know what percentage of that is accounted for by her travels, but I am sure that it is a non-zero amount. I am proud to have been a surrogate uncle to her; she had an unsatisfactory collection of male role models, whereas your daughter is lucky to have you both as parents.

In any case, Bravo! to you for doing this. I would suggest that keeping a "bit aside" for taking shorter travel later in life would be a good idea. My kids have been on numerous trips (to the Galapagos, South Africa, London, Rome, South America, etc.), which is do-able with only a two-week window per trip but expensive. I know that it makes a difference in their outlook, but can't describe it explicitly (not because I haven't thought about it, but because I don't have the writing chops to do it).
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby stan1 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:15 pm

This is a decision you make with your heart, not with your head. If you take considerations like finding a new job when you return into account you'll never do it. If its something you want to experience and learn from for the rest of your life -- take the plunge and never look back. Don't play it safe (avoiding change) -- go to places where people live differently and immerse yourself in the culture.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Chan_va » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:17 pm

Thanks folks,

Victoria, we live in a decent school district now, so she should be ok when we come back. I don't think our employers would allow long yearly vacations.

As for current employment. He: middle management in hot software sector. She: healthcare (Aca) policy consultant.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Random Poster » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:07 pm

I took a year off in my mid-20s to do the around-the-world trip thing. I had worked 2 years at a law firm, didn't particularly like job, and had no real commitments. In all, the travels took 241 or so days, and I visited 17 countries. With an around the world airline ticket through OneWorld, staying in hostels in NZ and Australia, and semi-budget hotels in SE Asia and Europe, the total cost was in the $17K range--this was in 2003-2004. While such a trip is relatively rare for USA'ers, it isn't at all for Brits, Germans, Australians, and so on (although they did seem to do a shockingly high amount of drinking, which isn't my thing and laying on the beach isn't my idea of traveling). But you sure don't see many mid and upper 30 year olds doing it.

The highlights were Laos and Cambodia (when I went, they were still considered off the beaten path; I'm sure that today the experience would be very different), and getting off the backpacker route in Australia. The downsides were getting sick a lot (constant moving means constant exposure to new germs) and always having to adapt to new things and surroundings. I partly did the trip because I'm a rather shy person and though it was a good way to force myself to become more outgoing. It worked in a way, but I still got lonely--traveling with your family would obviously be different.

My two pieces of advice are (1) don't commit yourself too much to a set route in advance (I had pretty much each day planned out in advance of me ever leaving home--while some planning can help reduce the costs, being able to change your plans would clearly open up more possibilities as you find them); and (2) plan to spend some time getting a job upon the return.

When I ended my traveling, it took around 4 months to start working again. The first month back I wasn't looking for a job; without much effort at all (and I admit that I got very lucky), I had 2 job offers (both from law firms, each of a better caliber than what I had left). In both job offers, it was clear that I only got the interview because of my trip--taking the trip is what set me apart from the other candidates, and one partner said that it took some serious guts to take the chance that I did. (Of course, I didn't see it that way, but I wasn't going to argue if it helped me get the job).

Looking back, I'm glad that I took the trip. It undoubtedly changed my life and career trajectory, and where I am now (expat in house attorney) is directly due to stepping on a plane to Auckland years ago. When I returned home, I wanted to go back out and travel again, but as time goes on, the desire for long-term world travel has lessened (RV'ing around the US and Canada does appeal, however). That being said, taking such a trip once, and you look like an adventurer. Taking it twice, and you might look like a bit of a flake.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if, at the end of your trip, you embarked on a totally different career path. Then again, you may decide to never return home too.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby jidina80 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:17 pm

Chan_va wrote:Any tips, suggestions from folks who may have done this before?

Think good and hard about what you're actually planning to do during the travel year. Unless you and your spouse are the kind of people content to just read, drink and/or surf the internet, you'll probably soon be yearning for something more substantial to do.

Consider volunteer work overseas, writing a book, or something constructive related to your hobbies and interests. It's an opportunity to self-actualize.

Doing something constructive will look a lot better on your resume than explaining that you just sat on your hands for a year.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tj » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:30 pm

Random Poster wrote:I took a year off in my mid-20s to do the around-the-world trip thing. I had worked 2 years at a law firm, didn't particularly like job, and had no real commitments. In all, the travels took 241 or so days, and I visited 17 countries. With an around the world airline ticket through OneWorld, staying in hostels in NZ and Australia, and semi-budget hotels in SE Asia and Europe, the total cost was in the $17K range--this was in 2003-2004. While such a trip is relatively rare for USA'ers, it isn't at all for Brits, Germans, Australians, and so on (although they did seem to do a shockingly high amount of drinking, which isn't my thing and laying on the beach isn't my idea of traveling). But you sure don't see many mid and upper 30 year olds doing it.

The highlights were Laos and Cambodia (when I went, they were still considered off the beaten path; I'm sure that today the experience would be very different), and getting off the backpacker route in Australia. The downsides were getting sick a lot (constant moving means constant exposure to new germs) and always having to adapt to new things and surroundings. I partly did the trip because I'm a rather shy person and though it was a good way to force myself to become more outgoing. It worked in a way, but I still got lonely--traveling with your family would obviously be different.

My two pieces of advice are (1) don't commit yourself too much to a set route in advance (I had pretty much each day planned out in advance of me ever leaving home--while some planning can help reduce the costs, being able to change your plans would clearly open up more possibilities as you find them); and (2) plan to spend some time getting a job upon the return.

When I ended my traveling, it took around 4 months to start working again. The first month back I wasn't looking for a job; without much effort at all (and I admit that I got very lucky), I had 2 job offers (both from law firms, each of a better caliber than what I had left). In both job offers, it was clear that I only got the interview because of my trip--taking the trip is what set me apart from the other candidates, and one partner said that it took some serious guts to take the chance that I did. (Of course, I didn't see it that way, but I wasn't going to argue if it helped me get the job).

Looking back, I'm glad that I took the trip. It undoubtedly changed my life and career trajectory, and where I am now (expat in house attorney) is directly due to stepping on a plane to Auckland years ago. When I returned home, I wanted to go back out and travel again, but as time goes on, the desire for long-term world travel has lessened (RV'ing around the US and Canada does appeal, however). That being said, taking such a trip once, and you look like an adventurer. Taking it twice, and you might look like a bit of a flake.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if, at the end of your trip, you embarked on a totally different career path. Then again, you may decide to never return home too.


How did you communicate your trip to the recruiters? Did you put it on your resume?

I took a long trip, but I have never seen a need to bring it up as I felt it would be perceived as a negative rather than a positive.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Random Poster » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:50 pm

tj wrote:
Random Poster wrote:I took a year off in my mid-20s to do the around-the-world trip thing. I had worked 2 years at a law firm, didn't particularly like job, and had no real commitments. In all, the travels took 241 or so days, and I visited 17 countries. With an around the world airline ticket through OneWorld, staying in hostels in NZ and Australia, and semi-budget hotels in SE Asia and Europe, the total cost was in the $17K range--this was in 2003-2004. While such a trip is relatively rare for USA'ers, it isn't at all for Brits, Germans, Australians, and so on (although they did seem to do a shockingly high amount of drinking, which isn't my thing and laying on the beach isn't my idea of traveling). But you sure don't see many mid and upper 30 year olds doing it.

The highlights were Laos and Cambodia (when I went, they were still considered off the beaten path; I'm sure that today the experience would be very different), and getting off the backpacker route in Australia. The downsides were getting sick a lot (constant moving means constant exposure to new germs) and always having to adapt to new things and surroundings. I partly did the trip because I'm a rather shy person and though it was a good way to force myself to become more outgoing. It worked in a way, but I still got lonely--traveling with your family would obviously be different.

My two pieces of advice are (1) don't commit yourself too much to a set route in advance (I had pretty much each day planned out in advance of me ever leaving home--while some planning can help reduce the costs, being able to change your plans would clearly open up more possibilities as you find them); and (2) plan to spend some time getting a job upon the return.

When I ended my traveling, it took around 4 months to start working again. The first month back I wasn't looking for a job; without much effort at all (and I admit that I got very lucky), I had 2 job offers (both from law firms, each of a better caliber than what I had left). In both job offers, it was clear that I only got the interview because of my trip--taking the trip is what set me apart from the other candidates, and one partner said that it took some serious guts to take the chance that I did. (Of course, I didn't see it that way, but I wasn't going to argue if it helped me get the job).

Looking back, I'm glad that I took the trip. It undoubtedly changed my life and career trajectory, and where I am now (expat in house attorney) is directly due to stepping on a plane to Auckland years ago. When I returned home, I wanted to go back out and travel again, but as time goes on, the desire for long-term world travel has lessened (RV'ing around the US and Canada does appeal, however). That being said, taking such a trip once, and you look like an adventurer. Taking it twice, and you might look like a bit of a flake.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if, at the end of your trip, you embarked on a totally different career path. Then again, you may decide to never return home too.


How did you communicate your trip to the recruiters? Did you put it on your resume?

I took a long trip, but I have never seen a need to bring it up as I felt it would be perceived as a negative rather than a positive.


It is a line item on my resume, just like a job would be. The job position is "Independent World Traveler" and the description is along the lines of "experienced the social, political, environmental, and educational aspects of 17 countries". Recruiters haven't ever asked about it in any type of negative light really (admittedly, my experience with them is limited); when I returned, I got the 2 job offers without using a recruiter, and I got head-hunted for my current job. The resume line item is much more of a conversation item than any sort of stumbling block.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby coalcracker » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:41 pm

I also wonder how much your daugher will remember given her age. Another consideration would be to wait until she is older and homeschool her for the year of your travels. Here is the story of a family that did this while riding bicycles from Alaska to southern Argentina:

http://familyonbikes.org/

But I guess it depends if you are doing the trip primarily for the adults or the kid.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Dandy » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:20 pm

The only thing I would caution is that a 4.5 year old might enjoy the trip but only have very vague memories of it and a teen or adult-- supplemented by pictures and stories. So, if a main goal was for your child's experience it might be great while it lasts but not much after that. For some reason lasting memories seem to occur later in childhood for most people. So I have heard and experienced.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tibbitts » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:10 pm

My inclination is that it would be a complete waste of time for a 4.5 yr old.

There's a reasonable possibility that it would end both your careers. You're already at ages where many employers would consider you pretty much used up, and ready for replacement by younger/hungrier/cheaper employees.

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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Chan_va » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:52 pm

Thanks folks. I agree that 4.5 is a little young but I do think that you absorb experiences at that age even if sub consciously.

Financially I guess it's never going to make sense, but I am trying to calculate how much of an impact this will have on my retirement.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby wageoghe » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:53 pm

Call me crazy, but I would have hard time recommending someone take a 4.5 year old to Walt Disney World, much less on a year long trip around the world. I agree with those that say such a young child probably won't retain much memory of the trip. It seems to me that one would be better off traveling with a child that is old enough to contribute on the trip (carry their own bag(s), run an errand, do what they are told hen they are told, etc.

Whatever you choose, good luck!
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tibbitts » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:13 pm

Chan_va wrote:Thanks folks. I agree that 4.5 is a little young but I do think that you absorb experiences at that age even if sub consciously.

Financially I guess it's never going to make sense, but I am trying to calculate how much of an impact this will have on my retirement.

But at 4.5 you're looking at getting 5% of the benefit of the experience.

Regarding finances, you have to honestly evaluate your prospects of finding similar-paying, or at least sufficiently-paying, employment when you return. That can be difficult to do, but we're in an environment where there are a huge number of young, ambitious M-degree grads desperately seeking work, and we'll probably be in that environment for most of the rest of your working lifetime. Employers don't often reprice employees to the market while they're still employed, but that's what will happen if you leave and try to be rehired. At least in some fields, you'll end up making much, much less than you would have if you were first employed in, for example, the late-90s. Obviously if you're truly exceptional at what you do, that doesn't apply to you, but it does apply to the majority of us who are easily replaceable.

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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:43 pm

Chan_va wrote:Folks,

Would appreciate some advice here, especially from those who may have done this before. The wife and I are considering taking a year off to travel the world with our kid before she has to start school. She will be 4.5 years at the time. This would be about a year or so from now. I am 38 now, wife is 35.

We have comfortable savings, financing the trip shouldn't be a problem. My concern is more around longer term impacts, re entering the workforce etc.

Any tips, suggestions from folks who may have done this before?

Thanks

BC


I took the time off to do this with my wife before we had kids and it is certainly one of the best periods of my life. I currently have a 6 and 3 year old and am planning on taking a year off with them but the intent is to spend half the time with a camper van in Australia and half with a land cruiser in Africa. While I still take backpacking trips every year with my wife, I'm not sure that would be the most pleasant or effective way to travel with young kids.

Some questions I would have for you is how much of that kind of travel have you done yourself?
Are you comfortable enough with it to not project worry to the kid when your plans get snagged for any of the myriad of reasons (for me those have included a maoist general strike holding up my overnight bus back to Kathmandu, miscommunication with park guides ending up with me sleeping outside in the Borneo jungle instead of inside a research station, being detained at the Nepal/Chines border for the night while we figured out the right level of bribe to be permitted in, begging a Namibian rancher to let me camp the night on his land after the transmission fell out of my vehicle etc.)?
Is your wife comfortable enough to not project worry? To not blame you when things go wrong?
How big is your daughters bladder and how good i she at holding it in?

Quite apart from those types of issues is the employment concerns when returning - have you considered asking your current employer for a sabbatical? Are you looking to change professions or companies?
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Default User BR » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:49 pm

tj wrote:How did you communicate your trip to the recruiters? Did you put it on your resume?
I took a long trip, but I have never seen a need to bring it up as I felt it would be perceived as a negative rather than a positive.

An unexplained year-long gap in employment at that age would be a major red flag to most prospective employers. If they didn't just reject the application immediately, a likely question in the interview would be concerning that. Might as well just put it in from the get-go.


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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:52 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (lifestyle issues).
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby KyleAAA » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:59 pm

Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby TomatoTomahto » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:05 pm

KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.

And, would you really want to work for a company who didn't "get it?"

I think the one thing that you should make clear is that you didn't just drop everything on the floor at your previous employer when you got the urge. That is a negative. If you give plenty of notice, are constructive and helpful in the transition to someone else doing your role, etc., that makes it a positive or at least neutral.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:07 pm

KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Eh, while I agree it shouldn't be a red flag in the minds of many who are screening those resumes it will be. There is no reason to take that risk.

A resume is a marketing document, not full specs, don't include anything that might keep you from getting in the room and explaining why it is a feature of yours and not a bug.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby KyleAAA » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:10 pm

avalpert wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Eh, while I agree it shouldn't be a red flag in the minds of many who are screening those resumes it will be. There is no reason to take that risk.

A resume is a marketing document, not full specs, don't include anything that might keep you from getting in the room and explaining why it is a feature of yours and not a bug.


I would be willing to bet it will get you far, far more interviews than it would cost you.

But let's think of it from the employer's perspective. Employers lose people all the time for all manner or reasons. What's the average time a person stays at a job these days? For the under 40 crowd, it's a max of 4 or 5 years anyway. As an employer, I know you're going to leave eventually. I'm under no illusion you'll be around a decade for now, and that's fine. I've structured my workflow so that I'm not dependent on you anyway. And if you're going to leave anyway, I'd much rather it be for something cool like traveling the world than going to a competitor. Plus, working with you will give me a good story to tell people, which is as good a reason to hire you as any other I can think of.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tj » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:40 pm

KyleAAA wrote:
avalpert wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Eh, while I agree it shouldn't be a red flag in the minds of many who are screening those resumes it will be. There is no reason to take that risk.

A resume is a marketing document, not full specs, don't include anything that might keep you from getting in the room and explaining why it is a feature of yours and not a bug.


I would be willing to bet it will get you far, far more interviews than it would cost you.

But let's think of it from the employer's perspective. Employers lose people all the time for all manner or reasons. What's the average time a person stays at a job these days? For the under 40 crowd, it's a max of 4 or 5 years anyway. As an employer, I know you're going to leave eventually. I'm under no illusion you'll be around a decade for now, and that's fine. I've structured my workflow so that I'm not dependent on you anyway. And if you're going to leave anyway, I'd much rather it be for something cool like traveling the world than going to a competitor. Plus, working with you will give me a good story to tell people, which is as good a reason to hire you as any other I can think of.


I think it depends on the type of job/company. if its a small business where it's the HR manager looking at resumes, I think that would be easier to get through in that scenario than the large corporations that use a bunch of low-level recruiters and headhunters.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby livesoft » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:49 pm

We lived in Europe for a while, but were working. Upon return to US, the issues were
1. No record of car insurance, so our quoted insurance rates were triple our rates before we left including from USAA.
2. No credit reporting for a while, so it took a bit to get connected back into US credit reporting. This even though we had kept a US address and US bank accounts and credit cards.
3. We left a car with my MIL, so we had a car when we got back.

Other issues: I had to buy health insurance in Europe. It was very expensive. What are you going to do about health insurance? Your spouse should have a great idea about that, so please tell us what she says. Thanks!

Employers could look upon your year-off as a positive: You are a risk-taker and learned things while traveling. You have a travellers mind-set which not many folks do. You should end up having no anxiety about travelling in the future.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:54 pm

tj wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:
avalpert wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Eh, while I agree it shouldn't be a red flag in the minds of many who are screening those resumes it will be. There is no reason to take that risk.

A resume is a marketing document, not full specs, don't include anything that might keep you from getting in the room and explaining why it is a feature of yours and not a bug.


I would be willing to bet it will get you far, far more interviews than it would cost you.

But let's think of it from the employer's perspective. Employers lose people all the time for all manner or reasons. What's the average time a person stays at a job these days? For the under 40 crowd, it's a max of 4 or 5 years anyway. As an employer, I know you're going to leave eventually. I'm under no illusion you'll be around a decade for now, and that's fine. I've structured my workflow so that I'm not dependent on you anyway. And if you're going to leave anyway, I'd much rather it be for something cool like traveling the world than going to a competitor. Plus, working with you will give me a good story to tell people, which is as good a reason to hire you as any other I can think of.


I think it depends on the type of job/company. if its a small business where it's the HR manager looking at resumes, I think that would be easier to get through in that scenario than the large corporations that use a bunch of low-level recruiters and headhunters.


It also depends if people in hiring organizations know you. I have some friends who immediately upon retirement were actively sought by companies and dictated their own terms such as working part-year, part-time, or even at will.

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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby momar » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:00 pm

My understanding was that the trip wasn't for the benefit of the 4.5 year old. If they do it when the child is older, it is more difficult.

Anyways, that is the age when you start remembering things. I can remember only snippets of preschool experiences, but kindergarten is more clear. And even if you don't remember it, I'm sure it will leave a lasting effect on the kid.

I mean, we all accept that we need to actively raise our kids and that the years from birth to 6 are critical. No one says, "oh, just leave junior in the closet, he won't remember it anyways!"

I say do it. If this is something you really want to do and have always wanted to do, you will regret it if you don't. And every year you delay it will be more difficult. Yeah, you won't have as much cash in the bank when you are 60. Who gives a [darn --admin LadyGeek]?
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:18 pm

KyleAAA wrote:
avalpert wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Eh, while I agree it shouldn't be a red flag in the minds of many who are screening those resumes it will be. There is no reason to take that risk.

A resume is a marketing document, not full specs, don't include anything that might keep you from getting in the room and explaining why it is a feature of yours and not a bug.


I would be willing to bet it will get you far, far more interviews than it would cost you.


I'd take that bet in an instant - even give you 3 to 1 odds on it.

But let's think of it from the employer's perspective. Employers lose people all the time for all manner or reasons. What's the average time a person stays at a job these days? For the under 40 crowd, it's a max of 4 or 5 years anyway. As an employer, I know you're going to leave eventually. I'm under no illusion you'll be around a decade for now, and that's fine. I've structured my workflow so that I'm not dependent on you anyway. And if you're going to leave anyway, I'd much rather it be for something cool like traveling the world than going to a competitor. Plus, working with you will give me a good story to tell people, which is as good a reason to hire you as any other I can think of.


Or, from the employers perspective he sees someone took a year out of the workforce - hmm, maybe he was laid off, maybe he had a breakdown, maybe he is unreliable, maybe he is flaky, I have 50 applicants for every position should I bother spending my time with this one? With a year away has he kept up with his craft? has he lost his ambition? is he committed to the profession?

Seriously, as someone who has taken that time off multiple times I empathize with the perspective you have - but having worked with enough HR departments and recruiters to know how they think I will reiterate that the risk of putting it on your resume isn't worth the small potential of it getting you an interview because they really want to spend an hour talking to someone who has traveled. The resume is a marketing document that needs to explicitly connect what you offer to what they need for the role - unless you can make that tie in to a year of with travel in a way that is clear to an HR director who is reading it it is detracting from the point of the resume not adding to it.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby KyleAAA » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:24 pm

avalpert wrote:I'd take that bet in an instant - even give you 3 to 1 odds on it.


Deal! Going to go think of all the ways I'll spend my winnings.

avalpert wrote:Or, from the employers perspective he sees someone took a year out of the workforce - hmm, maybe he was laid off, maybe he had a breakdown, maybe he is unreliable, maybe he is flaky, I have 50 applicants for every position should I bother spending my time with this one? With a year away has he kept up with his craft? has he lost his ambition? is he committed to the profession?

Seriously, as someone who has taken that time off multiple times I empathize with the perspective you have - but having worked with enough HR departments and recruiters to know how they think I will reiterate that the risk of putting it on your resume isn't worth the small potential of it getting you an interview because they really want to spend an hour talking to someone who has traveled. The resume is a marketing document that needs to explicitly connect what you offer to what they need for the role - unless you can make that tie in to a year of with travel in a way that is clear to an HR director who is reading it it is detracting from the point of the resume not adding to it.


Even if true, none of that is going to keep you from getting an interview.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:28 pm

KyleAAA wrote:
avalpert wrote:I'd take that bet in an instant - even give you 3 to 1 odds on it.


Deal! Going to go think of all the ways I'll spend my winnings.

avalpert wrote:Or, from the employers perspective he sees someone took a year out of the workforce - hmm, maybe he was laid off, maybe he had a breakdown, maybe he is unreliable, maybe he is flaky, I have 50 applicants for every position should I bother spending my time with this one? With a year away has he kept up with his craft? has he lost his ambition? is he committed to the profession?

Seriously, as someone who has taken that time off multiple times I empathize with the perspective you have - but having worked with enough HR departments and recruiters to know how they think I will reiterate that the risk of putting it on your resume isn't worth the small potential of it getting you an interview because they really want to spend an hour talking to someone who has traveled. The resume is a marketing document that needs to explicitly connect what you offer to what they need for the role - unless you can make that tie in to a year of with travel in a way that is clear to an HR director who is reading it it is detracting from the point of the resume not adding to it.


Even if true, none of that is going to keep you from getting an interview.


No, that is exactly what keeps you from getting interviews - there are too many applicants for each open position (in most cases) and they are looking for reasons to trim the pile of resumes down.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Chan_va » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:41 pm

Thanks for the replies all.

As for health insurance, a policy that covers both international and US for a year prices out to about $10k. Don't think ACA will help here since that will cover only Us geographies.

As for cost of the trip, I guess it will work out to about $75k for the trip + 1.5 years of lost earnings (assuming it will take about 6 months to find a job when back). Plus potentially lower incomes down the road. Bit scary when you add the numbers up.

The deal I am making with myself is that if I can pay off the house and be totally debt free, I will take the plunge. Currently have about 250k on the mortgage.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby KyleAAA » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:42 pm

avalpert wrote:
KyleAAA wrote:
avalpert wrote:I'd take that bet in an instant - even give you 3 to 1 odds on it.


Deal! Going to go think of all the ways I'll spend my winnings.

avalpert wrote:Or, from the employers perspective he sees someone took a year out of the workforce - hmm, maybe he was laid off, maybe he had a breakdown, maybe he is unreliable, maybe he is flaky, I have 50 applicants for every position should I bother spending my time with this one? With a year away has he kept up with his craft? has he lost his ambition? is he committed to the profession?

Seriously, as someone who has taken that time off multiple times I empathize with the perspective you have - but having worked with enough HR departments and recruiters to know how they think I will reiterate that the risk of putting it on your resume isn't worth the small potential of it getting you an interview because they really want to spend an hour talking to someone who has traveled. The resume is a marketing document that needs to explicitly connect what you offer to what they need for the role - unless you can make that tie in to a year of with travel in a way that is clear to an HR director who is reading it it is detracting from the point of the resume not adding to it.


Even if true, none of that is going to keep you from getting an interview.


No, that is exactly what keeps you from getting interviews - there are too many applicants for each open position (in most cases) and they are looking for reasons to trim the pile of resumes down.


I've been involved with a ton of hiring decisions and that just isn't my experience at all. I've never seen that issue even come up even though I've seen a few long-term travelers come through. People are going to notice the gap in experience on your resume anyway, so you can't hide it. Better to tackle it head-on in a positive way than leave it up to their imagination. If you DON'T put it on your resume people will wonder the things you listed. A layoff would be the most likely conclusion. If you address it upfront, they almost certainly won't think those things because you've already explained what happened: you took a trip. Sabbaticals aren't so uncommon that people won't understand your motivations.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby 2stepsbehind » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:55 pm

If the trip is primarily for your child, I'd wait until 8th or 9th grade to do something like this. She'll be able to both retain the memories and it may give her perspective on her life's work.

On budget, $75k seems high. Are you building up your mile war-chest to reduce travel expenses?
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Default User BR » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:04 pm

KyleAAA wrote:I've been involved with a ton of hiring decisions and that just isn't my experience at all. I've never seen that issue even come up even though I've seen a few long-term travelers come through. People are going to notice the gap in experience on your resume anyway, so you can't hide it.

Right. Unless you lie and cover up the gap (bad idea), it's going to be sitting there wanting explanation. Frankly a year off to travel with the family is a lot better than a year-long failure to find a job, major medical issues, or jail.


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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:08 pm

Chan_va wrote:Thanks for the replies all.

As for health insurance, a policy that covers both international and US for a year prices out to about $10k. Don't think ACA will help here since that will cover only Us geographies.


If you can forgo the US coverage until you get back (and with the new rules in effect having a gap shouldn't be a problem as it is today I believe) it is much cheaper to get traveler's health coverage that doesn't include the US (look at places like Travel Guard and HTH).
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:15 pm

KyleAAA wrote:
I've been involved with a ton of hiring decisions and that just isn't my experience at all. I've never seen that issue even come up even though I've seen a few long-term travelers come through. People are going to notice the gap in experience on your resume anyway, so you can't hide it. Better to tackle it head-on in a positive way than leave it up to their imagination. If you DON'T put it on your resume people will wonder the things you listed. A layoff would be the most likely conclusion. If you address it upfront, they almost certainly won't think those things because you've already explained what happened: you took a trip. Sabbaticals aren't so uncommon that people won't understand your motivations.


Are you involved with the initial resume screen or just the interviewing and hiring decision? In any case, we can agree to disagree here. While you will need to have a good response to how the time off makes you a better fit for them I would still suggest that there is no need to put it out front before they even let you in the door.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby travelnut11 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:58 pm

I would say do it. I really hope to do the same when I have kids though my plan would be when they were 10/11/12. To me that is the sweet spot between childhood and adolescence. They're still kids that want to hang out with their parents but are starting to form their own ideas and will definitely remember it. Plus, I would want to make sure they're back in school for middle and high school. Pulling them out of elementary school for a year seems like much less of a big deal to me academically and socially.

At any rate, I did a trip of my own like this for my 30th birthday though I focused on South America rather than around the world. I was able to negotiate a leave of absence with my company and returned back to work and the same position I'd always had. It was great though I would've quit if they'd turned down my LOA request. I own a duplex and had regular tenants on one side and then rented out my side (furnished) to someone willing to watch my cat too. It worked out great...the lady took a new job in my city but wanted to be sure that she liked it before doing the permanent move. I ended up having to cover about $200 per month but that was nominal and totally worth it.

I too think $75K sounds like a lot if you're planning to go in the next couple of years. I spent about $10K in South America for 6 months 5 years ago and a good chunk of that was for my Galapagos trip. Of course there are three of you and with a family you might want a bit better accommodations but still there are ways to make things less expensive. My typical advice is the less you move around, the less the cost is. Maybe break up the constant traveling with renting an apartment/house for a month at a time. That will give the kid some routine/stability for a while because traveling non-stop can get exhausting. Sometimes having a place to unpack your bags for a while is a relief rather than moving around every few days.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby jon-nyc » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:28 pm

I took a year off to travel mid career. I was 34.

Interviewing my way back to the workforce I found that people's response to it correlated greatly with their age. The over 50 crowd (roughly) looked at it really suspiciously, the younger crowd tended to think it was cool and were more than a tad jealous. In the end, I didn't find it to be much of a barrier to finding work.

Rejoining the workforce felt strange for about a day, then it felt like I had never left...
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby cbeck » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:11 pm

Chan_va wrote:Thanks for the replies all.

As for cost of the trip, I guess it will work out to about $75k for the trip + 1.5 years of lost earnings (assuming it will take about 6 months to find a job when back). Plus potentially lower incomes down the road. Bit scary when you add the numbers up.


But putting the cost in dollars understates it. How much would the cost be expressed in years of savings?
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby zaboomafoozarg » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:35 pm

jon-nyc wrote:I took a year off to travel mid career. I was 34.

Interviewing my way back to the workforce I found that people's response to it correlated greatly with their age. The over 50 crowd (roughly) looked at it really suspiciously, the younger crowd tended to think it was cool and were more than a tad jealous. In the end, I didn't find it to be much of a barrier to finding work.

Rejoining the workforce felt strange for about a day, then it felt like I had never left...


Looking back, do you think it was worth it?

If things line up right, I might consider this in a few years when I'm in my mid 30's. Maybe only take a few months instead of a year. I love traveling and seeing new things, but have never gotten the chance to go more than a couple weeks at a time every few years. I could wait until I'm 60-something and retired... but having already had a pretty big medical issue before I'm 30, who knows if I'll be around in 30 years?
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby avalpert » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:51 pm

zaboomafoozarg wrote:
jon-nyc wrote:I took a year off to travel mid career. I was 34.

Interviewing my way back to the workforce I found that people's response to it correlated greatly with their age. The over 50 crowd (roughly) looked at it really suspiciously, the younger crowd tended to think it was cool and were more than a tad jealous. In the end, I didn't find it to be much of a barrier to finding work.

Rejoining the workforce felt strange for about a day, then it felt like I had never left...


Looking back, do you think it was worth it?

If things line up right, I might consider this in a few years when I'm in my mid 30's. Maybe only take a few months instead of a year. I love traveling and seeing new things, but have never gotten the chance to go more than a couple weeks at a time every few years. I could wait until I'm 60-something and retired... but having already had a pretty big medical issue before I'm 30, who knows if I'll be around in 30 years?


My long term travels have been among the best times in my life and I highly recommend it. I'm 35 and have taken 3 trips of 3 to 12 months (as well as living abroad) - I see no reason that between now and 60 I won't take a couple more.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby steve roy » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:05 pm

Historical perspective of a Year of Travel:

In 1956, my artist father and home-maker mother leased out the family house and went to Europe for a year. My father's motivation was to paint. my mother's was to see Europe. I was seven years old and my brother was five.

My parents had the times of their lives. The went ALL over Europe, spent a while headquartered in Lausanne Switzerland at a boarding house, and took a myriad of side trips from that location. My dad sketched water color landscapes and and filled sketch books (he was a professional) that served him well for years thereafter. My mother haunted castles, country homes, and the continent's famous museums. When my brother and I turned out to be terrible travelers ("Are we there yet?"), Mom and Dad put us in a boarding school in the Swiss alps. (We liked it.)

Long story short: The year on the continent became one of the signature events in our family's life. Even though I was seven, I still have vivid memories of that year. I would say spending twelve months (or more) traveling is likely one of the BEST things you can do. You'll remember it the rest of your days.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tibbitts » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:55 pm

steve roy wrote:Historical perspective of a Year of Travel:

In 1956, my artist father and home-maker mother leased out the family house and went to Europe for a year. My father's motivation was to paint. my mother's was to see Europe. I was seven years old and my brother was five.

My parents had the times of their lives. The went ALL over Europe, spent a while headquartered in Lausanne Switzerland at a boarding house, and took a myriad of side trips from that location. My dad sketched water color landscapes and and filled sketch books (he was a professional) that served him well for years thereafter. My mother haunted castles, country homes, and the continent's famous museums. When my brother and I turned out to be terrible travelers ("Are we there yet?"), Mom and Dad put us in a boarding school in the Swiss alps. (We liked it.)

Long story short: The year on the continent became one of the signature events in our family's life. Even though I was seven, I still have vivid memories of that year. I would say spending twelve months (or more) traveling is likely one of the BEST things you can do. You'll remember it the rest of your days.

This is the opposite of the OP's situation: this seems to have been travel mostly for work; the OP's situation is travel entirely for pleasure. Also it sounds like there wasn't the issue of needing to seek employment upon return. The employment upon return issue is probably the biggest issue here.

Paul
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby fmhealth » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:01 pm

This website may prove extremely enlightening. http://homefreeadventures.com/

Be Well,
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby Watty » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:19 pm

Chan_va wrote:As for current employment. He: middle management in hot software sector. She: healthcare (Aca) policy consultant.

......

As for cost of the trip, I guess it will work out to about $75k for the trip + 1.5 years of lost earnings (assuming it will take about 6 months to find a job when back). Plus potentially lower incomes down the road. Bit scary when you add the numbers up.




I would guess that puts the total at well over a quarter of a million of after tax dollars when you all it all up. When you do find new jobs even if it goes well there is a high likelihood that your future earnings will be less than if you had worked continuously so it would not be unreasonable to expect to be earning at least a couple of a percent less each year for the rest of your career.

One way of looking at the tradeoffs is that taking the year off now will delay when you can retire by a number of years. You are in your mid 30's now so if that money was invested instead you might be able to retire ten or more years earlier.

To me that tradeoff is too high, it might be better to look at working overseas for a while or seeing if you could get a couple of months leave of absence from your current jobs to take a shorter trip.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby waiter9999 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:49 pm

In 2003 the girlfriend and I quit our jobs, she sold her condo, we put everything we owned in a storage unit and took one-year traveling on a circle-the-world ticket. Some comments:
1. Absolutely worth it. One of the best years of our lives. The world is changing fast and if you enjoy getting off the beaten track, go soon as these places are fewer and fewer.
2. I was concerned about re-entry to the working world and how the trip would be perceived by prospective employers. I live/work in Silicon Valley and the most common response from interviewers was "boy, I wish I had done that!" Lucky for us the job market was strong when we returned in 2004 and we each returned to work within a few months.
3. It was such a positive experience that I took a 5-month sabbatical in 2010 from my current employer. There was no pay (they continued to provide medical insurance) and no guarantee of a job upon return, but as with the first time, I was able to get a position again. Don't be afraid to ask for something as long as you have a good reason even if the rules don't allow what you want.
4. On both the extended trips we came across other travelers (mostly Europeans) with small children in developing countries and we were constantly amazed by their fortitude and willingness to put-up with the added demands of toddlers. And from our experience, the children tended to be much more patient and well-mannered than the typical kids we encounter in the US. I've observed local children enduring hot, overcrowded buses and trains for hours on end without making any fuss and I think some of this rubs off on Western kids who are put in the same situations.
5. I wholeheartedly agree with the comment about not overplanning. Some of the best experiences we had were impromptu opportunities. Having the time to stay longer in a wonderful place (or depart early from a lousy one) is a godsend. And you can take advantage of last-minute deals when you're not already pre-booked.
6. There are many more good people in the world than bad. I have been astounded by the lengths people in developing countries will go to help a visitor in need.
7. Pack light. There is an old adage: take half the stuff and twice the money as you originally plan.

Most of all, just do it and I wish you well.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby steve roy » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:09 am

tibbitts wrote:
steve roy wrote:Historical perspective of a Year of Travel:

In 1956, my artist father and home-maker mother leased out the family house and went to Europe for a year. My father's motivation was to paint. my mother's was to see Europe. I was seven years old and my brother was five.

My parents had the times of their lives. The went ALL over Europe, spent a while headquartered in Lausanne Switzerland at a boarding house, and took a myriad of side trips from that location. My dad sketched water color landscapes and and filled sketch books (he was a professional) that served him well for years thereafter. My mother haunted castles, country homes, and the continent's famous museums. When my brother and I turned out to be terrible travelers ("Are we there yet?"), Mom and Dad put us in a boarding school in the Swiss alps. (We liked it.)

Long story short: The year on the continent became one of the signature events in our family's life. Even though I was seven, I still have vivid memories of that year. I would say spending twelve months (or more) traveling is likely one of the BEST things you can do. You'll remember it the rest of your days.

This is the opposite of the OP's situation: this seems to have been travel mostly for work; the OP's situation is travel entirely for pleasure. Also it sounds like there wasn't the issue of needing to seek employment upon return. The employment upon return issue is probably the biggest issue here.

Paul


I didn't make this clear above, but at the time of the Europe trip, Dad had a full-time position at a Hollywood studio, which he left during the middle of a major production. Studio didn't want him to go, but he departed anyway. (He had a side career as a landscape artist, and he wanted to do that for awhile. The studio accepted him back with open arms a year later.)

So. He gave up a paid gig for a non-paid gig. The parents covered their year away by leasing the family residence and living frugally overseas.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby tj » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:40 am

zaboomafoozarg wrote:
jon-nyc wrote:I took a year off to travel mid career. I was 34.

Interviewing my way back to the workforce I found that people's response to it correlated greatly with their age. The over 50 crowd (roughly) looked at it really suspiciously, the younger crowd tended to think it was cool and were more than a tad jealous. In the end, I didn't find it to be much of a barrier to finding work.

Rejoining the workforce felt strange for about a day, then it felt like I had never left...


Looking back, do you think it was worth it?

If things line up right, I might consider this in a few years when I'm in my mid 30's. Maybe only take a few months instead of a year. I love traveling and seeing new things, but have never gotten the chance to go more than a couple weeks at a time every few years. I could wait until I'm 60-something and retired... but having already had a pretty big medical issue before I'm 30, who knows if I'll be around in 30 years?


Hi zaboom,

I'm not Jon - but I would say that YES it is worth it AND NO it was not worth it.

The reason I was motivated to do this so early, and not to be morbid, is that a family member had a pretty serious medical problem a few years back. She has pretty significant annual medical costs. It was a wake up call that these things can happen to anyone at any time.

The yes part is that it's an incredibly rare opportunity in the American career path (it is very common for Australians and Europeans to take long holidays).

The no is that it might have a large effect on your human capital, but that probably depends on your existing career.

I loved being able to travel, but I also really hate the lack of productivity that comes with being not employed. What bugs me is that if i knew I was going to be sitting around at home for 3 months, I could have just gone on another trip.
Last edited by tj on Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby lawman3966 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:41 am

KyleAAA wrote:Do it! Put it on your resume. It's not a red flag. As the gentleman above put it, you'll likely get just interviews just BECAUSE you took time off to travel.


Upon seeing the differing opinions on this point, I'd suggest asking people in your industry what they think of this, now - before you commit yourself to the trip.

One law school professor I had, who was a partner in a medium-sized firm, told a group us one day that any unexplained gap in a resume was indeed a red flag, which they assumed arose from a stay in prison or a mental hospital! That shocked me. Now, that was for an unexplained gap. Adventure/cultural travel isn't unexplained; but it could be a no-no for some employers. Some may wonder if you'll do it again, perhaps in the middle of an important project.

No doubt, different employers will view this type of thing differently. For this reason, it may be worth soliciting the opinion of people in your future profession (if you know what it is) regarding this adventure.
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Re: Need advice: Taking a year off to travel

Postby rjbraun » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:30 pm

I left my job to teach in China for about seven months. In all, I took off about a year, if you include the travel before and after my teaching position. (I'm not a teacher by profession so it didn't really count as "working".) I feel it was a very worthwhile and enlightening experience. No regrets about doing it. I was 37 years old when I returned and reentered the workforce. I guess my search took about four months, but this was in the 1990s, a very different economic environment than now.

As for the debate about whether to include a year's travel on your resume, I'm somewhat surprised by the comments about how HR or a recruiter will evaluate things. These days, I think most people find jobs through "networking"; market research supports the case. In that regard, I would imagine / hope that when you return you would be reaching out to your network, many of whom will presumably give you at least a courtesy meeting. Once you get your foot in the door, then it's incumbent on you to demonstrate why you are a more desirable candidate than the competition.

Good luck with your decision.
rjbraun
 
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