Want a sabbatical? Do these 10 things first

For many working people, the inhibiting factors to taking a sabbatical are the expense and the financial risks, says Madri Jacobs, a senior financial planner at Sanlam.  

Traditionally, a sabbatical is a 12-month career break. It could also mean any significant hiatus from daily routine, such as a gap year or world travel in between jobs.

The thought of quitting your job or taking unpaid leave is daunting, but it is possible to make it work - with the help of a savvy financial adviser.

"A sabbatical can be a pretty life-changing decision and may not be right for everyone. Once you are convinced that you would like to take a sabbatical, you need to think very carefully about the pros and cons, and the short and long-term implications of the decision," says Jacobs.

"Involve your financial advisor to make informed decisions about your finances and insurance."

Tips to make a sabbatical possible:


Plan what you want to do while on a sabbatical, and, based on that, determine the duration of your time off. Then plan your finances accordingly.

Selling household furniture and appliances, even your car, could fund a sabbatical.

Cover up

Have some form of travel insurance to cover large medical expenses.

Have sufficient savings

Have savings for a sabbatical of between 8 to 12 months and for a few extra months after you return home.

"Save enough for unforeseen and emergency expenses. Rework your budget and try to save in a way which has minimal impact on your existing investment planning," says Jacobs.

Medical aid

Keep in mind that some medical aids impose waiting periods and penalties if you're not on the scheme for a certain period. Look for alternatives and ensure your travel insurance is up-to-date.

Alert your short-term insurer of any relevant changes.

Income protection
Make sure you've got income protection and lump sum disability cover.

Consider moving back in with your parents or other family, if this is feasible, in the lead-up to the sabbatical, to save on rent.

Memberships and subscriptions
Cancel or pause any memberships or subscriptions you won't need while away.


Leave plenty of time to apply for a visa and other travel documents. Remember to budget for these.

Power of Attorney

Give a close family member Power of Attorney to act on your behalf, so he or she can deal, among other things, with your banking, insurance and other matters while you're away, should the need arise.

Valid will
Have a valid will in place. Discuss with your next of kin what should happen in an emergency if you need medical assistance, or even if you pass away in another country.

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