Overland Travel Blogs
19May 2016

Life changing travel: lessons learned from a career break

We often get asked who can take 3-6 months off work to join a big overland tour. Here’s the story of Sue’s life-changing South American career break travel.

Sleeping in a hammock on the 4-day Amazon boat trip

We often get asked who can get 3 to 6 months off work to travel on a big overland tour.  Taking a career break might sound like a scary concept, but there is actually evidence for the fact that a career break can enhance your career, rather than being a detriment.

Sue was one of our group members on a 27-week South America expedition which travelled via Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia & Uruguay.  She did the trip while on a career break, and I asked her to give us a bit more information about why she headed off on a career break and how travelling on her career break was a life-changing experience.

Sue: I’d always enjoyed seeing new places and meeting people from different cultures but never felt I was brave enough to travel alone or thought I would enjoy travelling alone. So, I went straight from school, to university to a series of jobs. In a particularly stressful job in my late thirties, I reflected on my life and didn’t feel I had much to show for it. It wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I was working long hours, not seeing enough of the people I loved, not having enough fun and wasn’t very healthy. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a mess. I was pretty happy but much of what I was doing felt pointless and I was unsatisfied. I felt that a big change was needed. I read somewhere that if you take a big leap, a net will appear and so I resigned from my job, with not much in the form of savings behind me, which was terrifying.  I planned to take lots of small trips as that seemed less scary, then I heard about overlanding, and whilst researching a 2-3 month overlanding trip in Asia, I somehow booked myself on a 6 month trip around South America, starting in 3 months!

The trip was perfect for me. I would never have seen such a huge volume of amazing places in that timescale had I had to plan the trip myself upfront or as I went along. With an itinerary largely built, I could get on with enjoying the slower pace of life and just enjoy everywhere we went. I still think experiences are best when shared so being part of a group was great for me as it meant there was always someone to share a moment with if you wanted to, but I was also able to gain some travelling confidence and would happily pop off on a trip alone now. During my trip, I had true freedom. It was too long a trip to even contemplate looking for a job, for the first 4 months at least, so when I wasn’t doing the fun touristy stuff, I just thought about how I wanted to live my life and I really worked out my priorities. Without a job, I had to reassess my ‘identity’.  Confidence comes from this though, as we are all more than our jobs. Someone once said to me that if you don’t push your boundaries, they close around you, and this has stuck with me.  I have definitely made braver decisions since returning from the trip and can honestly say that I am happier now than I have ever been. My only regret is that I didn’t take the leap earlier so that I could take more overlanding trips before starting the next exciting adventure in my life, with the arrival of my son.

Sleeping in a hammock on the 4-day Amazon boat trip

Sleeping in a hammock on the 4-day Amazon boat trip

Pitching my tent in the dark, and waking up to this view!

Pitching my tent in the dark, and waking up to this view!

Pitching my tent on a beach in Peru

Pitching my tent on a beaching Peru

Career break travel pushes your boundaries - white water rafting

Pushing my boundaries – white water rafting

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 
Mark Twain

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