Taking a sabbatical is a concept that is quite common in many parts of the world. Thousands of people take a year off between life stages to travel to destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Asia for a few months at a leisurely pace.
A sabbatical or gap year comes under many guises – a backpacking trip, a break from work or an extended graduation trip before you step into the working world. There’s no fixed definition for a sabbatical; it can last a few months or more than a year. You could be volunteering in Cambodia, teaching English in Japan or go on a cycling trip that takes you from Singapore to China. In a way, a gap year really is whatever you want it to be.
Whether you are a student or a working adult, a gap year typically requires extensive planning. Getting excited about the idea but not sure where to start? Here’s help!
While planning your gap year itinerary is crucial, you need to realise that no matter how much you plan for the trip, there will be instances where things don’t go according to plan. Weather, transportation delays or even an unfortunate sickness can derail your well-planned itinerary. However, there are certain things you should watch out and plan for:
- Visa – check out the Visa requirement months before your trip. Depending on where you go, a Visa may take some time to get approved. Remember to also check their validity since you might be in that country for a longer period than allowed.
- Itinerary – even if it will be hard to plan everything for a long trip, you should have a rough outline of the route you’ll take, how long you intend to stay in each area and your transportation option. Not only is this important for you, it will also serve to give your family members peace of mind to know where you are.
- Budget – travelling can be an expensive affair, but it is also up to you to manage your budget. If you intend to travel for a year without salary, you’d likely need to save up quite a bit before you go.
- Transportation – knowing the transportation options you have not only helps you plan out your itinerary properly, it can also give you an idea of the budget you need for travelling. You might want to take note of any advanced bookings required, plan your transits and consider the cheaper/more expensive options versus the time needed to travel.
- Insurance – it cannot be emphasised how important it is to get the right travel insurance while going on a long trip. When it comes to choosing a suitable travel insurance, you’d need to consider the following factors:
- Length of travel
- Destination – Asia or worldwide
- Group or individual plan
- Coverage limits
- Optional benefits that cover extreme sports and your sports equipment if you plan to engage in them while travelling
Choosing the right options for your travel insurance can ensure you get enough coverage where you need it and even help you save money! For instance, if your trip only includes travelling in the Asia region, you could pay as little as $149 instead of $209 for an annual worldwide plan. Also, if you are planning to go on the trip with at least 3 other friends, you’ll be entitled to an additional 10% discount as well.
So let’s say Emma decided to do a gap year after getting her diploma to decide on what she wants to pursue in University. While she’ll like to travel a little, she does not want to go on a long stretch at one go, opting to take on some part-time work while taking short vacations. She decided to take an annual travel plan for herself so that she does not need to search for one each time she leaves the country. In this way, she can be more flexible with her plans. Without any extras, her travel insurance is estimated to be around $209 per policy year for a worldwide plan.
She chose the DA200 annual travel plan which pays a coverage she felt was sufficient for her. Some highlights of the plan include:
- Medical expenses- $200,000 limit while overseas
- Medical Evacuation and Repatriation- $1,500,000
- Personal possessions, money and travel documents – $3,000
- Trip cancellation and disruption per person – $10,000
Taking a sabbatical can be a wonderful way to shape you as a person and grant you an experience you’ll not find later in life. Many who have gone on a gap year reported on positive experiences that helped shaped their study/career options, picked up skills they’d otherwise not have the chance to and that it taught them to be self-reliant.
Thinking of going for one soon? Ask for your travel insurance quote here before you leave!