An online interview with me

lifestyle design, Travel Perspectives — By on August 24, 2009 at 7:10 am

If you’re interested in knowing more about my travel experiences or my book, you might want to check out an online interview with me that was just published by Andy Hayes, who is a traveler, writer and photographer himself and who publishes the excellent Sharing Experiences blog. Here are my answers to two of his questions, dealing with our decision to take time off to travel and my view of life sabbaticals:

You started your world-wide travels with (and I quote) “deciding to take a chance in life”. Could you give us a little background into that decision-making process?

Well, my wife and I were both over 30-years-old and entrenched in our work lives when we decided to take our first round-the-world trip. Frankly, we weren’t sure we were ready to stop everything in order to do this and then re-start our lives when the trip was over. We also had to get over the normal doubts over how others would perceive our decision. In the end, though, we also didn’t want to go through life knowing we had passed up an opportunity to have an adventure together and to do some long-term travel.

The way we dealt with it was for my wife to ask for a leave of absence from work. Her employer was gracious in granting her the leave and keeping her job open. Since I was already making a transition to being self-employed, it was easier for me to manage the time off. Of course, by not stopping work completely we didn’t have as much time available to travel as we could have had by simply quitting altogether. Our trips were measured in months, rather than years. I have to say, if Twitter had been around a few years earlier and I’d been introduced to all of these other amazing people who were managing long-term travel between jobs, then our outlook might have been different.

Still, it was a good compromise given where we were in our lives. And it did have an unseen benefit, in that we began looking at our travels in a particular way – not as an open-ended adventure, but rather as a sabbatical that would be limited in time but that would have a lasting influence on our lives.

You also refer to the term “life sabbatical.” What does that phrase mean to you?

As I mentioned earlier, the fact that our trips were not open-ended encouraged us to view the experience as a sabbatical. Academic sabbaticals stem from the notion that there is value in taking time away from the everyday rigors of a job in order to rest, reflect or conduct research. The goal is to return to work with renewed energy and ideas. And the word sabbatical derives from the word Sabbath, with every seventh day meant to be devoted to family time and contemplation.

So I took to calling our trip a “life sabbatical” because it seemed to imbue it with more meaning than if I simply looked at it as a travel adventure. It helped us to view our journey as a way to learn about ourselves and the world, while also recharging our energies for the next phase of our lives. I actually think it would be a great thing if more people were able to schedule these “mini-retirements” periodically through life. Not only can we not bank on being able to fulfill all of our travel dreams during the traditional retirement years, but this time away from work really does give us an opportunity to recharge and even re-evaluate where we are in our lives and careers.

See the entire interview for my answers to a number of other questions. While you’re there you should also browse through his collection of interviews with other travelers and writers.

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    Meet Bob Riel

    Bob Riel is a writer and a traveler. Go here to read more about Bob, his work and the Travels in the Riel World blog.

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