The Plunge: Deciding to take a career break to backpack the world

I gave my wife a one year trip around the world for her birthday, although she would laugh at that because it isn’t true.  I am just lucky that this trip coincided both with her birthday and our anniversary.  It was actually her idea originally because my wife is awesome.  And I don’t mean awesome in the sense that she is sweet and cooks well.  I’m talking about mountain trekking, backpacking, life saving, wound stitching kind of awesome.  That’s why when last year she mentioned that we should consider taking some time off from our careers to see the world, I was all ears.  This was after another one of her days in the hospital seeing yet another person lose the ability to experience the world due to some sudden traumatic event or terminal diagnosis.  I guess this happens a lot when you work in trauma surgery, but most of us don’t ever grasp the possibility of losing that chance.  We are socialized to think that work is the most important thing to get you from school to retirement, and everything else can wait until afterwards.  The only problem is that afterwards doesn’t always come.  Or people spend their whole lives preparing for retirement but don’t have the health, energy or time when it comes.

Now I don’t mean to get all preachy.  Trading a year of your career and income for travel isn’t for everyone, but we decided that we would never regret spending time together and seeing the world before it was too late.  The need to trek the Himalayas, dive the Great Barrier Reef, camp on the plains in Africa, or walk the Great Wall was too great to let this opportunity pass us by.

Round the World trip beginningThe thing is, we aren’t a fly by night couple.  We have real careers that have taken years of schooling and have led us to several locations.  In fact, if it weren’t for our careers, we wouldn’t have the ability to take this kind of plunge.  So many people do this type of trip before starting their career or after retirement.  This decision was more complicated than if we were taking a year off after college.  We didn’t wake up one day and suddenly decide to drop everything in our lives.  We spent countless hours researching how to choose a trip itinerary, what kind of travel insurance was best, how to pack, but most importantly, how to prepare your life for this type of venture.  I mean technically we are going to be voluntarily homeless and unemployed.  Let that sink in for a second.

What we ran into time and again during our research was that it was easy to find sites which showed the bare essential minimalist packing list, or how to travel on a shoe string budget.  We were eventually able to piece together what we needed to know, but couldn’t find a lot which was tailored to people in OUR stage of life.  The bottom line is that we have worked hard to prepare for a year abroad and now have insights to share with other career minded travelers.

If you are considering time off for travel, did you know that the Affordable Care Act has an exemption for required coverage in some situations?  Yea, we didn’t either.  Had to figure that one out by digging around the ACA and IRS websites, and I promise no one wants to do that again.  Have you set up your Will and Power of Attorney?  Prepared your resumé?  Ever consider that your total loss of income will put you in a great tax bracket to take advantage of Roth conversions?  What about working ahead on your continuing education requirements and credentialing?  These are some things for people to consider when taking a break from their career in exchange for life experience and all items which we came across in our research or when talking with our advisors.  Make sure to check out our post on the career break planning process.

We are looking forward to having you join us as we backpack around the globe in search of adventure!

Megan and Grant

Backpacking round the world

7 thoughts on “The Plunge: Deciding to take a career break to backpack the world

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