Working While on a Career Break

outdoor office

Yes, you read that title correctly, no need to rub your eyes and refocus. I know what you are thinking – “You told us that we needed to get away from work and take a break in order slow down, clear your mind, and see the world. Why would we consider working during our career break? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?”

Every situation is different and there are many reasons why someone may want to work on a while on a career break:

• Some people don’t have enough time to save the necessary money for their career break so they need to generate income while they travel.
• You want to dabble in and explore a new career while you are taking a break from your old one.
• You want to dig deeper into a culture and learn about what it’s like to stay longer or work in a place.
• You want to keep your expenses down while you travel.
• You want to meet more locals and have local experiences.

The main goal of a career break should be to take a break from your everyday life and your routine. You want to shake things up and get away from the daily grind so that you can free your mind and provide space to think and process things – this is when you start to reap the benefits of a career break. The key is getting away, and what you do when you get away is up to you.

As Jonah Lehrer writes in a piece for the Guardian,

“Several new science papers suggest that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking.”

For those of you who fall into the myriad of situations that cause someone to want to work on a career break, then we have some resources for you as you look for work during your break.

Working for Reduced Expenses

HelpX is a site where people ask for help, and you work in exchange for lodging and sometimes food. In a typical HelpX arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts. Note that a real salary is not really paid typically – but you do cut your travel expenses drastically by not paying for lodging.

The opportunities on HelpX range from handyman/woman work at hostels and guest houses, to social media help for small business, to crewing boats, riding horses, and fruit picking. To get a better idea of what opportunities they list, take a look at a few of their  international listings.

Think good Thoughts

Working for a Salary

If you think you are looking for a real salary and something more permanent then check out this comprehensive article about How to Make a Living on the Road. It provides inspirational stories and detailed information about what kind of careers are good for making money on the road and what you may expect to make in a year. In addition, it provides some stellar advice on how to get over fear in making any big change in your life.

“Fear and taking a leap – fear has a way of fermenting in your mind, the longer you sit and think something over, the more likely you are to allow all of the things that could go wrong pile up in the back of your head until you’re paralyzed by your worst enemy, your own imagination in fear mode.“

Finding Work Via Networking on the Road

Our Meet Plan Go Chicago Host, Lisa Lubin, is a career break veteran who worked her way around the world just using her own personal networks. After all, traveling is about meeting people, and when you can meet local people and expats, then your work opportunities really open up. She found random opportunities from working for Turkey’s largest media conglomerate, to doing research at the University of Cologne, to landing a year-long freelance gig doing publicity for an English Immersion program based in Madrid. The key – you have to make an effort to meet locals and be open to possibilities.

Another resource worth noting is Transitions Abroad – which offers article, resources, and programs for those interested in finding work overseas.

All of this working while on career break just broadens your horizons and increases your experience for your resume when you return.  In fact – you may find that you like it so much that you don’t want to quit!

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