Telling your boss you want to take a sabbatical to travel

Have you been day dreaming of travel at your desk? and secretly pinning photos to your ‘dream travel’ pinterest board? Do you think about taking a sabbatical from your work to travel? Don’t worry, because you’re not alone in wanting to take a break from work and certainly not in this decade where it’s almost considered normal.

Taking a break from work to go traveling is pretty much always a good idea. You’ll hardly ever hear someone say that they have regrets about traveling. In fact, last year I left my secure position as a graphic designer, to travel on a “leave of absence” for 8 months. Hey, If you said to me tomorrow that I could do it all again, I totally would! After my trip, I ended up coming back to an even bigger, more well paid and better located job. Slotting back into life a little too easily for my liking!


You’ve done the research and have started planning your dream sabbatical trip, but now it’s time to finally tell your boss or manager at work!

This part is always going to be uncomfortable and confronting, however it will be especially nerve wrecking if you are hoping to return to that job position after your trip . You’ll be wanting to leave on good terms, so that the door is open for you when you return.

In this post, we will go through some of the best tips on how to tell your boss that you want to take a sabbatical to travel.

Pick Your Time Carefully

Choosing the right time to discuss your wants and needs with your manager is critical. The time for having a serious discussion with a manager is usually on the less busy days of the week. These days can be towards the end of the week and often in the afternoon. This is when meetings tend to die down for the day. Schedule the meeting in with your manager for a Thursday or Friday afternoon and let me them know you would like to have a chat about something important.

  • Choose a less busy day of the week
  • Afternoons are usually better for discussions
  • Schedule the meeting in the calendar
  • Tell your boss the chat is important

By letting them know it’s important, they won’t push the meeting aside thinking it is a casual chat. By having a scheduled time, it also allows you to prepare what you are going to say and how you want to conduct yourself.


Practice What You Are Going To Say

Any meeting with your manager that involves discussing your future should be well prepared. It is a good idea to plan out some key points that you want to cover in the meeting. Think about the answers to the below questions and be prepared to answer them.

  • Why do you want to take a sabbatical?
  • What length of time do you plan to take?
  • What you hope to gain and learn from your break?
  • How might this be relevant to your role in the company?
  • Would you like to return to the company?
  • Would you be willing to come back into a different role or team?
  • Do you know your required notice period?

Prepare yourself for questions that your manager might ask and let your initial information sink in before continuing on to discuss all of your points.

Try to make sure you are aware of the notice period time you must give your employer when asking to leave or resign. You don’t want to leave telling your boss until the last minute. If they don’t grant you a leave of absence and you are required to resign, it is likely that you will need to work for another 2-4 weeks after your notice is given. This could potentially impact flight bookings and plans you have already made for the trip.

Have a Suggested Solution

Before you go to tell your boss that you want to ditch the desk and travel, brainstorm some solutions that you could make their life easier.

  • Do you know someone skilled who could fill your vacant position?
  • Allow plenty of notice time (4-8 weeks) for your manager to find a replacement.
  • Make sure in your last few weeks, you work on projects that are helpful to the team.
  • Leaving a good lasting impression is important if you want to offered your position back after traveling.
Hiking in Noosa // Queensland, Australia

Let Them in on Your Future Plans

Open up in the meeting to your manager about your future travel and career dreams. It sounds like the opposite of what you should be doing, however this will give your manager an idea of what your future path might become at the company once you have been re-inspired. They may also relate to your situation, as many have taken travel breaks themselves over the years.

  • Make sure you strongly state that you would love to come back
  • What do you envision your career path might look like once you return?
  • Share some visions on how your travel can positively impact the work you do.

Respect their Opinion and Duties

In the worst case scenario, you may not have the option to take a sabbatical. If the only option is to resign to travel for an extended period, you must respect your manager’s and the companies decision, even though it didn’t go the way you had hoped.

  • A manager has many responsibilities and duties that they must uphold, and there may be a reason that is not personal as to why they cannot grant the leave of absence.

A common worry for manager’s is that they do give you flexibility and that you don’t come back, creating a larger gap for them to fill. Hiring for short-term contracts is not always easy, (depending on the role) so your manager may be looking at how committed and effective your replacement is likely to be, if he/she knows that they are only sticking around for 6 months.

Traveling Solo to the Grand Canyon, USA

Be prepared for all the outcomes

  • What will you do if your sabbatical is not accepted by your work place?
  • Will you resign and continue with your travel plans?
  • Will you have to compromise on your original travel length?

Prepare yourself for all responses both positive and negative, before going into the meeting with your manager. Your manager might also need time to think about their decision, so you may have to wait for a final answer.

You Won’t Regret Traveling

Whatever decision is made in the end, just remember this quote:

“You often regret the things you didn’t do, over the things that you have done”

I hope that you now feel prepared to talk to your manager about taking a sabbatical from your career to travel. Travel is the only thing that can make you richer!

If you need some more inspiration to take the leap to travel, read my article on ’15 Things I learnt While Traveling Solo’, after I took an 8-month break from graphic design career at 28 years old.

Good luck and keep wandering XO

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