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Midlife sabbaticals: 4 reasons you need to take one


22nd Feb 2020 Travel

Midlife sabbaticals: 4 reasons you need to take one

We asked the travel experts at HolidayPirates to share their thoughts on why we should consider taking a midlife sabbatical and to shed light on some of the more unique destinations to consider visiting.

1. You're itching to learn a new skill

group of volunteers on sabbatical

You might know what, for example, makes you good at your job or makes you a loving partner, parent, and/or friend, but do you know what other skills lie within you?

Exploring the world will introduce you to things you never knew existed. By opening yourself up to new experiences, you will not only come home with a range of new and unique skills but also a better understanding of what you want to see and do more of in your career, relationships, and personal development. 


2. You want to connect (with yourself and others)

enjoying the sunrise on a midlife sabbatical

You don’t need to meditate with monks in Thailand to reconnect with yourself: a change of pace, new scenery, and a break from daily habits and tasks is sometimes all you need.

Perhaps you’ve always thought you were a night owl but, as you travel and allow your body to readjust to its natural clock, rather than the alarm clock, you realise that waking up with the sunrise is much more your beat.

Alternatively, you might be feeling a little lost with your children now at university, so perhaps spending some time alone with other adults on a group trip will help you readjust to this new dynamic.    


3. You want to be inspired

inspiring sabbatical meeting children

Exploring the world will expose you to new cultures, people, landscapes, and routines, and something is bound to inspire you.

For example, Jane Shepherdson used to be CEO of Whistles but in 2016 she left her career to enjoy a year-long road trip with her husband, during which she became more minimalistic and, upon her return, founded My Wardrobe HQ—a high-end clothes rental service.


4. You want to make a contribution

volunteer with elephants while on sabbatical

You can join a volunteer programme abroad to take direct action on issues that you feel passionate about, and contribute your skills and expertise to helping others. Volunteering can offer a more meaningful experience than simply donating to charity. Getting involved on the ground will give you the chance to learn about international development, meet like-minded people from around the world, and experience a local perspective on global issues.

Depending on the type of programme you choose, volunteering opportunities can be extremely affordable, providing you with food and accommodation in exchange for offering services to the host community.


Where to start? Revisit your bucket list

write your bucket list

Start by writing down all the places around the world—specific monuments and activities, or cities and towns—that you’ve always wanted to visit.

With your twenties and thirties behind you, you’re likely to have a greater amount of financial stability, meaning you have greater freedom of choice.

You may also feel more comfortable about taking a break from work, having already hit your desired career milestone. When you reach this point, you will likely feel more comfortable taking an extended leave or working remotely.


What to Do


1. Learn Kung Fu in China

kung fu

Explore the mountains in East China and learn an unusual new skill while you are there. The birthplace of Taoism, located in the Quan Zhen Region, will provide you with tranquil and picturesque views of the mountains, fresh air, and the rare opportunity to learn Kung Fu first-hand from the Shaolin monks.

Book into the Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Academy, where classes range from beginner to advanced and courses can last anywhere from a couple of days to a year.


2. Teach English in Mozambique

children in Mozambique

If your dream is to spend a couple of months relaxing in the sun, consider spending your sabbatical in Mozambique. An off-the-beaten-track destination (for now), Mozambique is a great place where you can teach English in local schools, with volunteer slots lasting from as little as a few weeks to a full twelve months.

If teaching isn’t your thing, you can become part of the research and conservation teams. This can involve everything from swimming with whale sharks to researching manta rays to monitoring the coral reef.


3. Work alongside the monks in Thailand

teach english to monks

If you always wanted to go to Thailand but didn’t want to do the usual backpacking journey, volunteering with Buddhist monks could be a perfect solution. Located in Luang Prabang, about 900km from Bangkok, the temple is a UNESCO Heritage Site, where you can teach English to the Novice Buddhist monks and local children, allowing them to further their education and improve their quality of life.

If you do not want to teach English, you can instead volunteer in the monastery, learning first-hand the spiritual beliefs, traditions, and practices of Buddhism. When not volunteering, you can explore the stunning waterfalls, the Mekong River, and the mountains surrounding the temple.


4. Give back to Mother Earth in Mexico

pacific coast

If you would like to spend a couple of weeks or months giving back to Mother Earth and helping the people who need it the most, then there is a community on the Pacific coast of Mexico you might want to visit. The locals search through rubbish dumps and collect materials that they use to make art or simply help with the recycling process.

As a volunteer you will be able to help the local children learn English, assist with food distribution, and be fully exposed to a new and unique culture.


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