Career Break Travel

With ‘Eat Pray Love’ opening in cinemas across the globe, the career break travel bug has hit once again. And really, who can blame us?

This movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s travel memoir is a jet-setting inspiration if ever there was one. And, while not all of us can pull off the tourist-chic quite like Julia Roberts, we’re starting to think a career break may indeed be on the cards…

After all, with winter once again rearing its ugly head, a sabbatical to the tropics does sound rather appealing.

So, if you do want an out from the 9-5 stupor, we’ve put together a list of our top three career break ideas to motivate and encourage you into action.

1. Teach English in a foreign country

Teaching English abroad is a great opportunity to inspire and educate others while simultaneously immersing yourself in a foreign culture. The beauty of this career break choice is that you will find English on the curriculum in schools across the globe, from Tanzania to Tuscany or the Czech Republic.

Don’t forget! One crucial thing to remember before you jet off overseas is that, in order to teach English abroad, you will need to gain a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to invest in an online TEFL course.

Once qualified, your next step will be in deciding where exactly to visit. Remember that country requirements can vary significantly – certain regions such as the Middle East make it hard for English teachers to get a position without a Bachelors degree, while other countries such as Thailand are much more lenient.

Where to go? Having trouble deciding where to settle? Our top pick is South Korea, where teaching opportunities are abundant, salaries are high and many positions include benefits such as a completion bonus, paid airfare and free housing. Here, it’s a good idea to become involved with EPIK (English Program in Korea), which has been instituted by the South Korean Ministry of Education. In order to be eligible, you must be a citizen of a primarily English-speaking country, be under 55 years of age and have a Bachelors degree from an accredited university. Salaries here range from a respectable €1300 – €1600 per month depending on experience, with other benefits including free furnished housing, medical insurance, cultural orientation, severance pay and a settlement, entrance and renewal allowance.

For those who want to experience local culture before starting your program, check out our wide range of hostels in South Korea.

2. Raise environmental awareness

For those who are environmentally inclined, taking a career break may be a great opportunity to campaign for the natural world – whether it be in promoting biodiversity, helping to preserve coast lands or contributing to the fight against climate change.

Where to go? If you’re keen on getting involved in some environmental volunteer work, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is a great place to start. Your base here will most likely be on San Cristobal Island, working with a company such as Outreach International in the main town of Puerto Baquerizo. In terms of the work itself, you have a variety of options, from teaching staff English and educating groups of tourists, to partaking in direct conservation work at a biological station. The latter option will include such activities as building fences, maintaining nature trails and conducting surveys, and is hence perfect for lovers of the great outdoors…particularly those not quite so familiar with the Spanish language. Speaking of which…

Don’t forget! As Spanish is the primary language spoken on the Galapagos Islands, volunteers will need a basic understanding in order to be successful. You will hence likely be required to attend a two-week intensive language course in Quito prior to arriving at San Cristobal. While this period will generally be spent with a host family, it’s always a good idea to arrive a week or two prior to the start of the course in order to both familiarise yourself with a diverse culture, and experience some of the unique tourist attractions Ecuador’s capital has to offer. Check out our range of hostels in Quito for some quality budget accommodation options.

3. Gain spiritual awareness

What better way to relieve that work and study strain than to get in touch with your inner psyche? Indian Ashrams have been gaining increasing popularity with gappers and breakers over the past few decades, providing the ultimate alluring locale for those in need of self-enlightenment.

Where to go? As the birthplace of Buddhism and Hinduism, India is the perfect place to indulge in some career break soul searching. Your hardest task will hence be in choosing exactly which Indian ashram or spiritual centre will meet your individual needs. Location and price should here be key considerations, keeping in mind that much of the Indian Himalayas have become tourist centres for spirituality, and hence significantly upped their prices. In this respect, it may be best to steer clear of the tourist map – ask around friends, research on the internet and check out what is popular with the locals. What’s more, it’s always a good idea to spend a few weeks adjusting to local culture before you embark on a retreat. During this time you can conduct some background research on Ashrams while staying at a hostel in India. As a starting point, check out the programs available at Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari, Shree Vithal Ashram and Parmarth Niketan.

Don’t forget! When travelling to India, particularly if you are in it for the long haul, be prepared for just about any weather. Blazing heats can give way to freezing nightly temperatures without the slightest warning. For women, also remember to pack a head scarf and to dress conservatively in long pants or skirts and long-sleeved tops.

Can’t decide which career break option to choose? Why not divide your year into four-month periods and have a taste of all three!

Thanks to muha, James Seith Photography, US Army Korea – IMKOM and dmd for the images off flickr.

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