How To Take A Sabbatical From Work For The Winter

Welcome to team #boycottwinter

Black woman using a laptop with text How to take a sabbatical from work for the winter

Let’s talk winter travel. And I don’t mean skiing in Aspen or heading to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. Absolutely not! I mean, let’s talk about traveling away from winter. And for a long time.

I write a lot about taking a gap year or a full 12 month career break to work on personal goals and recover from burn out. But I know that for some people a year seems like too much time. I don’t want you to totally write off the idea of taking a break from work because you don’t want to go for a whole year. Some of you even like your jobs.

Well, a season works too. Twelve weeks away from your work commitments can help you de-stress and re-energize in time to tackle 2020 and beyond. So here’s how to take a sabbatical from work for the winter.

Why should I boycott winter?

Let me count the ways…

First there’s the weather. 

I’m from Delaware. Snow and ice look pretty when they’re fresh. But most days snow is just gray lumps all over the place that melt and refreeze until every time you go outside of your house, you’re taking your life into your own hands. It’s not fun. But when it’s winter where you live, it’s NOT winter in some gorgeous places. A winter sabbatical is the perfect time to get to those little pockets of paradise. 

Electricity and gas bills skyrocket in winter.

Back in Delaware, I used to pay around $75/month for electricity in summer and $300 in winter. Boooo! When I house sat for a lady in Guanajuato, Mexico for a month last fall, she left me money to pay her electric bill. When the bill came, it was $13. FOR TWO MONTHS! Could it possibly be cheaper to travel all winter long than to stay home? It could.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is classified by psychiatrists as a type of depression, affects up to 10% of the population.

S.A.D. is triggered by the short days and long nights of winter. People with Seasonal affective disorder report feeling lethargy and difficulty concentrating. It’s a productivity killer at work and a personal life killer at home. One of the strategies to boost your serotonin levels is to take in more sunshine. If that’s not easy in winter where you live, book a trip.   

Winter can be a terrible time to be at work.

I used to be a hospital pharmacy technician, and November through March are THE WORST. Flu season + slip-and-fall season = nightmare shifts. Every. Single. Day. So ditch winter and go back to work in the spring when everyone’s feeling better.

Or maybe you’re a more responsible employee than I was, and you want to take a break in the winter because it’s a particularly slow time for you. Even better! 

Taking extended time off from work is becoming more common.

It’s shocking how little vacation time Americans get every year. But sabbaticals aren’t uncommon in other parts of the world. Europeans and Australians are SERIOUS about taking off blocks of time from work. Their jobs are set up for this kind of life, but you can take their model and make it your own.

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Inspirational quote: You are more than what you achieve or contribute financially. You have value. Tend to your well-being. #normalizefreetime

It takes a little free time away from work to learn that your value isn’t in what you contribute financially. And you are more than the sum of your achievements. Gift yourself some time to live your life on your own terms.

You aren’t the only one who benefits from taking a sabbatical. 

While you’re away, other employees have an opportunity to improve their skillset. And when you return with a fresh perspective and new ideas (and maybe a second language in your toolkit) you’ll contribute much more to the workplace than you would have if you’d just stayed there.

If Lin-Manuel Miranda hadn’t taken time away from work after In The Heights, he wouldn’t have read Alexander Hamilton’s biography, and we wouldn’t have Hamilton in our lives. What shot are you throwing away (lol) because you’re too busy being busy?

When should I take a winter sabbatical? 

This winter. It’s not too late to plan winter travel, even on a budget. 

Does your employer offer a leave of absence or a sabbatical period? Even if they don’t, you can negotiate for one. Pat Katepoo has been featured in Forbes, Essence, Working Mother etc. as an expert who helps career women and men negotiate flexible work arrangements at their current jobs. Her business,, has the exact scripts and proposals that get employers to say “Yes.” Click here to visit WorkOptions and find out how Kate’s resources can get you into a more flexible schedule. 

Remote work is another option. If you’re not able to get the entire period off, but you CAN do your job online, consider that.

Where should I go on sabbatical?

Here are some of my winter favorites.

Not working much during the break? Bali, Costa Rica and South Africa.

They’re beautiful and inexpensive, but the internet’s not the fastest in Bali nor the cheapest in South Africa. Australians flock to Bali at Christmas time, so if you don’t want the crowds, try the beaches in the Philippines (just skip Manila).

Koh Rong Beach, Cambodia

Have to work? Mexico, Malaysia, Portugal

Here you’ll find it easy to travel on a budget. I’ve spent time in each of these countries on less than $1200/month. They also have in common great food, fast, reliable internet and wonderful culture. And Mexico and Portugal made my list of Countries Where Black Travelers Feel Welcome. 

How much will it cost to take a sabbatical from work?

The standard budget travel blogger answer is at least $40/day not including airfare. This is provided that you visit an inexpensive region of the world, don’t move from place to place often, and that you get “medium-long term” rental discounts at Airbnbs and guest houses.

Of course, it can cost much more if you’re looking for a 4 or 5 star experience. Hey, I don’t blame you. You earned a little pampering.

But you could also spend a lot less. Opportunities like work exchanges and house sitting can really make a career break very budget friendly.

Alicia from QuadSquadAbroad travels with her family of 4 in SE Asia for $1600/month.

Watch Zero Savings Sabbaticals

There are SOOO many resources for women wanting to take a sabbatical on a budget in this video that, if you don’t find something here, you should just keep going to work. Just kidding! I really want you to escape winter and give yourself a break. I know you need it.

How long does it take to recover from burn out?

Well, if you usually come home from your 1 or 2 week vacations not feeling very rested, the answer is “longer than that.” Start with one season, and go from there.

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Do you dream of quitting your job to travel for a year? Take these steps first.

About the Author: Hey! I'm Stephanie Perry. I quit my job to travel the world at 41. Now I teach other women to do the same thing. I also house sit around the world and chase the perfect sunset picture.
How to take a winter sabbatical from work. #boycottwinter

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