How to take a sabbatical and travel in your 30s and 40s

Written by Radha Vyas

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FOMO, careers and living the dream in your 30s and 40s

Let me guess. You did your A-levels, went straight to uni, and then threw yourself into your career – right?

All through your 20’s, you watched enviously as friends lived out their fantasies abroad, travelling the world, exploring exotic locations, and posting their annoying photos on Facebook.

And you thought you were being sensible, focusing on your career. Who needs a selfie hugging a koala bear, anyway?

 But you just can’t shake that feeling that you’ve missed out.

Now that you’re in your 30s, you want to get out there and discover the world… but you’re scared. And you don’t have anyone to go with. Oh well, best shelve those travel plans again. Or maybe not.

We think travelling alone in your 30s and 40s is as good a time as any, so are keen to debunk some of those myths that seem to come hand in hand with that idea. Here are just a few!

1. Time off work for a career break doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your career

Who said anything about a career break? You could ask for extended holiday and go travelling for a month, or take 5 weeks off over Christmas and New Year. As long as you get out what you want from those 4-5 weeks, they could be all you need to scratch that itch without having to sacrifice your career.

The travelling bug is infectious. If you do want more than 6 months off, you’d be surprised at how many companies now understand the value of work/life balance. Give them enough notice, and you might just find they’ll give you sabbatical. Increase your chances by making a plan to show your boss what you’ll do with your time off to benefit the company, like learning additional skills or a new language. Boom – everybody wins!

If all else fails (5 weeks isn’t enough and you don’t think a sabbatical or gap year will be viewed favorably), with a bit of planning you could organise your travels in between jobs to minimise risk. Trust us – there’s always a way.

Related: 6 career break worries that everyone shares

 Flash Pack group tour having fun in Sri Lanka

 2. Just because you’re travelling alone doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely

Making your own decisions. Being your own boss. Doing whatever the hell you like. Sounds pretty decent, right? This is the freedom that travelling alone in your 30s and 40s allows you. Having your own space and doing whatever you want and going wherever you like is a rare luxury – don’t be scared of it, enjoy it!

That being said, you don’t have to be alone all the time. Admittedly, if you don’t want to stay in hostels it can be a bit harder to meet people – but try booking yourself on day tours, weekend tours and experiences to meet people doing the same thing as you.

Want some peace of mind before you go? Once you’ve reserved your place on a Flash Pack group tour we set you up on a Facebook group with the other solo travellers booked on. See how a Flash Pack adventure works.

Man in Uganda having a snooze on a Singles Holiday

Related: THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO TRAVELLING ALONE

3. You don’t have to backpack everywhere or sleep in an overcrowded hostel

Crumpled clothes + lack of showers + public transport = gross.

Backpacking isn’t for everyone, and you’ve been working your booty off for the last 8-10 years. When you’re travelling alone in your 30s and 40s, you can really enjoy it and splash out on nicer hotels, better experiences and luxury travel – we’re thinking a quick flight instead of that 19 hour bus journey!

Travel the way that feels right for you rather than what you think you should be doing, and you’ll enjoy yourself a hell of a lot more.

Tent in Morocco

Related: ARE YOU A FLASHPACKER?

4. People won’t think you’re having a mid-life crisis if you take some time off work

So many people are now taking a sabbatical at this period of their lives. A recent survey found that in general we now think the best time to take a sabbatical is at age 38.

You can get so much more out of travelling in your 30s. You appreciate things more – the places, the people, the experiences. And the best part? It’s likely you’ve got a bit more cash now than you did aged 20. This gives you the freedom to tick off every last item on that bucket-list instead of scrimping and saving at every turn.

Paragliding in Nepal

Related Post: Why I set up a travel company for 30 – 40 something solo travellers

5. Travelling alone isn’t dangerous if you use a bit of common sense

As we get older we do get slightly more risk averse. We suddenly realise we are not invincible. But being scared of the world never did anyone any favours. Be ruled by your passions, not your fears.

Travelling alone doesn’t have to be any more dangerous in UK than across the world. All you need is research and a good old dose of common sense.

Remember those nights when you drank all night and staggered home with people you barely knew? Well, those were your 20’s. Now you’re in your 30s, you’re wise like Mr. Miyagi. You no longer do all of that stupid stuff that can easily get you into trouble (let it be said that we approve of all safe and stupid stuff, however)!

Bungee jumping in South Africa

6. You can afford to travel if you plan a decent budget – and stick to it

Having to pay a single supplement in hotels is a total pain in the butt, and really unfair. We hate it!

BUT, we’ve got a tip for you: with mass hotel booking sites you can often find amazing discounts on hotels. A lot of the time, it can work out the same price.

Another good idea is to pick a destination that’s right for your budget. It’ll mean you can travel better, for longer, and fit in all of those awesome experiences you don’t want to miss. Asia is obviously a lot cheaper than Australia and NZ. Peru and Bolivia will be a lot cheaper than Chile or Brazil for example. It’s just a case of picking what’s right for you.

Amaya Lake in Sri Lanka

7. What is the meaning of life? Top tip – don’t expect travel to answer that for you

We’ll be blunt: we’re not sure what ‘finding yourself’ actually means. At the end of the day, travel is about anything you want it to be. If you want to head out on some self-discovery quest and enjoy some different perspectives, that’s cool. If you just want to do something a bit unusual for a bit, that’s cool too. It doesn’t have to have a deeper meaning for you.

We can’t guarantee you’ll ‘find yourself’. However, we bet you will have a bloody amazing adventure. You’ll get that much needed time and space to give your brain the chance to shift gear and think more creatively about the problems or situations you may be facing in life.

Hey, at the very least, you’ll come back with a heap of funny stories to regale your dinner party guests with – and we can guarantee that will make you the most attractive person in the room.

People on a group tour in Chile

Are you ready to join a small group tour with Flash Pack? Sign up now!


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