Taking a career break to go backpacking around the world can be pretty daunting. But there are a few myths out there that make it seem much harder than it really is. Here are our top ones – and why you don’t have to be worried.
1. Backpacking will ruin my career
A career break doesn’t have to be a career killer. If you are taking a sabbatical from your job, talk to your boss about what will happen when you return to work and your expectations for the future.
If you are quitting your current job, don’t burn your bridges! You may be lucky enough to be rehired when you return. If you have to apply for a new job when you get home, don’t hide your career break. Instead, highlight in your resume all of the great skills your travels taught you – conflict resolution, communication skills, problem solving, organisational skills, and so on.
A benefit to the Gen Y work era is that people are changing jobs and careers more often than they used to. Perhaps your next job change could involve an extended holiday in the middle?
2. Backpacking is expensive
Backpacking is a lot cheaper than you may expect. Once you don’t have to pay rent, utility bills, gym memberships, car registration and all the other stuff that comes with living at home, you will be surprised by how little it costs to live on the road.
Of course you have to budget and save money in the lead up to your trip. But for most of us it’s actually pretty achievable. It means going without a few luxuries like eating out, all night benders, concerts and new fancy gadgets. When you take the plunge to travel it’s crucial to sit down and plan your budget! Know how much money you need, how you will save it and how long it will take.
Travel budgets will differ from person to person depending on the standard of travel you are looking for and where in the world you are travelling – for example, $140 a day will get you nowhere in Sweden but in Bolivia you can live like a king. If you are working, volunteering or house sitting you can travel for even less! If you manage your travel budget properly, you are very unlikely to run out of funds!
3. I will miss home
Travelling long term means you inevitably miss out on things happening at home like weddings, birthdays and funerals. While it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends online, sometimes it just won’t make up for not being there in person.
Everyone is different, and some people will feel the pull to stay at home more than others. Postponing your trip until after a big event is always an option, but sometimes this can just be an excuse for putting off your trip. Commit to calling home a few times a week, and keep busy by meeting new friends on the road. You will never really be alone! If the worst happens while you are away, you can always fly home. Often your travel insurance will cover additional expenses and pay for you to resume your trip if a close relative becomes ill or passes away.
4. I have too many responsibilities to go backpacking
Admittedly, we have chosen not to have children or pets yet, or to buy a family home with a big mortgage. These choices have made it easier for us to travel, but just because you have these responsibilities doesn’t mean you can’t hit the road.
Kids – Ok this is a little out of our area of expertise. However, there are some great blogs like World Travel Family that give tips on travelling long term with kids. It is possible!
Pets – Long term boarding kennels are an option, but probably not the preferred one. See if a friend or family member is able to help out or look into to pet-sitting websites like Trusted Housesitters.
Mortgages – We have a small unit in Adelaide that we rent out, and thankfully the rent covers the mortgage. If renting out your home won’t cover the mortgage, another option is to save extra cash to cover the difference. If this is impossible, then perhaps look at selling all or part of your property. This is a pretty big step but it has been done before! Obviously get financial advice on this before making any rash decisions though.
5. Backpacking is a bit gross
Many people think budget travel means 14 bed dorms, bed bugs, shit food and party hostels full of testosterone-filled, singlet-wearing drongos. Understandably, this appeals to very few of us. While there are certainly establishments out there that fit this bill, you don’t have to stay there.
Boutique hostels and guesthouses are easy to find now. In places like India, Nepal and Southeast Asia you can usually get a private room in a lovely guesthouse for the same price as a dorm. Booking websites such as Booking.com and HostelWorld.com also make it easy to find highly rated, cheap beds. You don’t have to live in squalor!
Yay for transparency! This page contains some affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through a link on this page, we get paid a small commission. Don’t worry – you don’t pay anything extra! And we promise that we only recommend places that we have truly enjoyed staying at.