In part 1 we shared two secrets to moving abroad without quitting your job.
But we didn’t want to leave you hanging, like a fantastic movie with a terrible ending (ahem The Dark Knight Rises).
You see, we like practicality. And although, I’m a daydreamer by nature (Libra), when it’s all said and done, we want receipts!
Moving abroad isn’t this out of reach, make-believe movie that’s playing in your head. In part 1 we talked about the two ways you can test the waters. Those are taking a sabbatical and taking a mental health leave of absence.
We’ll first show you how to build your case for both, and then we’ll explore the finances behind it. Just because you move abroad doesn’t mean your bills disappear.
So, we get it.
How To Take A Sabbatical From Your Job
As I said, taking a sabbatical is for high valued employees. In other words, if you’re calling out of work on a regular basis, if you’re late every other day, or if you’re not pulling your weight at work, then guess what, asking for a sabbatical might be a bit more difficult.
However, if you’ve been a loyal employee, then there’s hope.
Find out if your employer offers sabbaticals. Don’t start planning a sabbatical only to realize your employer doesn’t provide one. Speak to your manager and human resources to find out.
A sabbatical isn’t something you say, “Hey, I’d like to take a sabbatical next month.” It takes a significant amount of planning and preparation. Some employers provide paid partial or unpaid sabbaticals.
Once you’ve decided to take a sabbatical then immediately figure out where you can reduce costs and cut your spending habits.
It doesn’t mean you live a miserable life, but you’ll need a cushion while you’re traveling or volunteering. Your lifestyle and the country you decide to live in will determine your cushion.
Some questions to ask yourself: what will your monthly budget be and what expenses will you have while you’re on your sabbatical?
Choose a country where the US dollar goes far because you want to be able to pay your bills and enjoy your abroad experience.
Most people who take sabbaticals go to Southeast Asia or Latin America. If you’re frugal, $1,000 (minus your home expenses) can allow you to live in Thailand for at least 3-4 months.
If you’re still concerned about finances, I also mentioned in part 1 that some volunteer programs will pay for your room and board while providing you with three meals per day.
Please be mindful that some of these volunteer programs do require a small fee to cover some administrative costs or help pay the homestay families. Many of these fees can range from as low as a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
Another option is you can exchange your skills for room and board (and meals) through Workaway. This is a cultural exchange program that provides you opportunities to work on farms, retreat centers, schools, etc. You just pay a small membership fee.
One more thing, your flights and visa fees are at your expense (ain’t nothing free).
How To Take A Mental Health Leave Of Absence From Your Job
As I stated in part 1 of this series, some of us are high functioning individuals suffering from extreme cases of depression and anxiety.
And most of the time it’s going untreated until you find yourself on the living room floor of your exes apartment (me) having a tear-filled mental and emotional breakdown. We often wait until the burden is too much to bear, so it’s important to begin practicing preventative care.
However, if you find yourself on the verge of a hostile takeover by your mind and thoughts seek professional help.
Let’s get started on the how to process of obtaining a mental health leave of absence from your job.
Find out if your employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). These programs are specifically designed to help employees connect to counseling services, so utilize them.
Make an appointment with a mental health professional and explain to them what’s going on. Once the therapist assesses the situation you can then request them to write a recommendation for you to take some time off.
But please be mindful, I’ve witnessed people abuse this privilege. And if you’re caught not being honest, well just know the risk isn’t worth it. However, if you’re genuinely a rock stuck in a hard place, then take advantage of this.
Create a specific self-care plan with your therapist and identify your support systems. If you are on medication, then make sure you’re able to request multiple prescriptions because some doctors will deny this request for certain medications.
Schedule a time to meet with your therapist before you leave and during your trip. But do know, most insurance companies don’t cover Skype calls with your therapist, (so you may have to pay out of pocket).
Traveling with a mental illness can be scary, but it can also be healing. There might be periods of isolation. You’re finally at a point in your life where you can genuinely be by yourself without distractions. And that can be scary for a lot of people.
Depending on which country you go to, there might be expat support groups that you can be a part of. I must say, Facebook is great in this regard because there are tons of groups in many countries, so reach out.
It’s Not Easy, But It’s Possible (And Worth It)
So you see, you don’t have to quit your job.
With some careful planning, patience, and faith you can reset your life, heal some old wounds and travel the world. While still having a positive impact on others.
When you downsize and cut your expenses, you find out (while living abroad) how little you can live on and still have a meaningfully riched filled life.
And when you return to your job whether you stay or find another job, the skills you’ve learned and the person you’ve become is priceless.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.––Marcel Proust