Last summer I made up my mind that I was going to visit Bali in 2018. I’ve always been intrigued with Asia and had recently discovered the beauty and wonder of Bali. I was determined to make it my business to get there.
Two Thanksgivings ago, my husband and I decided to travel to Hong Kong in order to take advantage of what I call “built in time off.” Our employers give holiday time for Thanksgiving, so we combined this with our regular PTO. It was a great trip, but we were forced to really pack things into our time there, so there was very little time to relax and just “be.” We were running all over the place trying to see everything which was exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Not to mention, the travel time took a day to get there and a day to get back. So when thinking about another trip to Asia, I had a lot to consider.
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore ways to stay for a longer duration. Over and over again I was being reminded that we only have one life to live. I came up with the idea to take a leave of absence from work in order to travel abroad. Here’s how I planned for it:
In order to afford this trip, we decided to move. At the end of our lease in December of 2017, we moved out of our comfy and spacious apartment into what I refer to as a “shoe box” (tiny hole in the wall) and signed a 5 month lease. This meant that we wouldn’t have to worry about paying rent in a space we wouldn’t be for 2 months.
We went from a two bedroom to a one bedroom. Not to mention the apartment spaces were much smaller than we were used to (bathroom, closet, kitchen…etc.) so it required some major adjustments. Because we were only going to be there for a short period of time, we felt that it was unnecessary to move everything in, so we only moved what we needed on a day-to-day basis (no couch, no coffee table, no wall decor). Everything else was moved into storage. By moving into a smaller, much older apartment we were able to save about $400 dollars per month.
In addition, we only have one car which we finished paying on in December ’17, so we now had an extra $300 per month to contribute towards saving.
I’m lucky to work within an organization that supports my love for travel. Because I started planning this so long ago, I presented this to my manager almost a year in advance. First, I casually shared this with him in person, then followed up with a formal written request. It was very specific and outlined exactly when I’d be leaving. I also followed up with my human resources department to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. If you’re going to do this, you have to be ready for either answer- be it a “yes” or a “no.” I was prepared for a “no,” but was confident I would be supported with a “yes.”
If you’re wondering about health insurance, I was too. I made sure to understand how my leave would impact my health insurance plan. Typically, you pay for health insurance a month in advance, for example: May pays for June and June pays for July. In order to take advantage of this, I’ll be working for one day in June (to get coverage for July) and I’ll come back to work on the last day in July (so I can continue to get coverage for August). So if something happens while I’m abroad, I’m covered! In addition, it was important for me to be able to keep my benefits intact because I’ve accumulated a TON of sick time over the years. If my insurance was terminated, I would have lost it all.
Also, I’ve been hoarding my vacation time so that I can continue to be paid as much as possible while I’m abroad. So far, I’ve only used one day this year and don’t anticipate using any more! While I’m away, I’ll continue to be paid for a little over two weeks. It’s not much, but every penny helps!
Now all we have to do is GO! To be honest, I’m a little “nervcited” (a mix of nervous and excited). I’ve never been away from home for so long, and I haven’t a clue as to what I’ll be packing. Did I mention I’ll only be taking a carry-on and personal item?! Wish me luck and look for updates in my IG story for where we end up! 🙂
Update: We started out in the UK (Cardiff), and now we’re exploring Greece! Can you guess where we’re off to next?!