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How to take a year off and travel

Morgan Thacker

How to take a year off and travel

By Megan Marsden Christensen | Posted - Aug. 20, 2015 at 10:26 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — For some people, traveling the world is just a pipe dream. But for others, it's important enough for them to pack up and take up to a year off of work.

Taking a gap year may seem inconceivable, but with appropriate planning, it is possible.

Career strategist Lynden Kidd* said a gap period can make the returning traveler valuable because they can later travel for work easily and become part of the company's international division, if it has one.

Those taking time off from work should consider the challenges they may face upon their return back into the workforce, however, Kidd said.

If an employee is not returning to the same job from before their time off, they should save enough money to pay six months' worth of bills in the event that it takes them a while to find employment.

"If we're talking about looking for a job after taking a year off, part of what an employer is going to be listening for is the story," Kidd said. "They're going to want to hear why the gap, because any good hiring authority is going to be looking at a resume … and the first assumption is going to be that something happened associated with work."

Employees can use their gap year to grow their career if they gain knowledge in their function or industry and how it is best practiced in the countries they are visiting.

Two recent Brigham Young University graduates are departing Aug. 20 to travel the world for a year, proving that even some young couples can afford a trip like this.

For more than two years, Taylor and Shazia Chiu have been saving money for the trip that will help them learn languages, provide service and have an educational experience.


... What I'm really hoping to emphasize is that I don't consider us to be wealthy. I'm sure there are plenty of other young couples who are making more money than we are, but it really comes down, I think, to priorities and just how you save.

–Shazia Chiu


Shazia Chiu said she hopes to inspire young couples, especially those who wish they did something like this before settling down.

"... What I'm really hoping to emphasize is that I don't consider us to be wealthy," Shazia Chiu said. "I'm sure there are plenty of other young couples who are making more money than we are, but it really comes down, I think, to priorities and just how you save."

The two plan to blog about their travels, something Kidd said is beneficial, because, rather than having a gap in a resume, those who keep a blog can fill in that gap with "writer."

A natural question that arises when talking about the Chiu's gap year is how they will afford taking time off work and all the expenses that come with travel.

More than two years ago, the couple automated their savings account so that between $300 and $500 is pulled out of their main account each month. Over time, they have saved around $9,000 for the trip.

Though it's a lot of money, it's only a small portion of the $1,200 to $1,500 they will need each month on their trip. To make up for the rest, the Chius are going to be doing "workaways," working in exchange for room and board in the countries they visit.

Taylor Chiu's work is also letting him do some work remotely while they are away.

"When people think of travel, they often envision these sandy beaches, resorts, kind of these far-flown beautiful destinations," Shazia Chiu said. "For us, those things are very important, but we're also OK with sleeping in the $6 a night hostel in Southeast Asia or being in a bunk room with dormitory style arrangements just so we can save a little here and there."

For college students wishing to take time off for a similar endeavor, Marilyn Hoffman, assistant director of University College at the University of Utah, said it's important to meet with an academic adviser to learn what impact the time off may have.

Students can learn things like how many consecutive semesters they can defer before having to reapply.

"I'm a big fan of traveling outside the United States, particularly just to gain that additional world perspective, which I think you gain experience and perspectives that you don't just in academic study on campus," Hoffman said.

Hoffman added that students might first look into study abroad opportunities through their school so they can obtain college credit toward their degree.

*Lynden Kidd is on the team of coaches of KSL.com contributor Kim Giles' Claritypoint Coaching Program. She is the team's career expert.

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Megan Marsden Christensen

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