What the Heck is a Working Vacation? (Act II)

Now that the last post has introduced you to the what, let’s talk a little about the who–namely, who is the audience for this thing I call a working vacation?

When I started this blog last year I assumed it would be speaking strictly to an academic audience–after all, we are the ones with that wonderful three-month hiatus every summer.  And, it is certainly true that many of the individuals reading these posts are teachers–elementary, high school, vocational, junior college, and university.  However, it is also true that the potential audience for the advice in this blog and my book is far, far wider than that.  Let me elaborate.

1.  Retired Professionals. Your twenty-five, thirty-five, or even forty-five years of work prior to retirement will have generated a thick resume and an impressive skill set, exactly the type of person that overseas institutions are eagerly seeking.  In addition, retirement affords you the scheduling flexibility that those still working do not have.   As long as you are still healthy enough for travel and overseas work, retired professionals are superb candidates for working vacations.

2.  The Self-Employed.  The self-employed are the boss, HR director, and setter of rules for short-term leaves all rolled into one–if you want a break just pick up and go, no questions asked.  Now I understand that when you are a sole employee and take a vacation, your proceeds grind to a screeching halt, but remember this:  1) During a working vacation you receive a salary from the overseas institution, so you will not be bereft of all income, and 2) the restorative properties of a working vacation might be more important to you than a slight decrease in personal wealth.  If work and life are becoming stale and repetitive then a temporary change of scenery may trump net income.   If you don’t believe that, read the post by Mr. Kirk Horsted, a self-employed media specialist and one of my guest bloggers, entitled It’s About the Time, Not Just the Dime.

3.  Those Currently “Between” Jobs. In this lousy economy no one is safe from the dreaded pink slip, including highly skilled professionals.  For those who find themselves in this unenviable situation, you might wish to consider a short-term overseas working vacation.  You could live and work overseas for a few months, enjoying the freedom and flexibility of this unplanned “vacation,” before sending out your resume, scheduling interviews, and settling into your next position.

4.  Anyone Who Can Request and Take Short-Term Leaves.   While it is academics who get that three-month break every summer, many professionals in the public and private sector can apply for and take short-term, unpaid leaves of absence as long as they make the necessary arrangements for customers, clients, or patients.  For example, many of us know doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and therapists who have worked short-term for Doctors Without Borders. While freeing up a two or three-month block will not be as easy for lawyers, software engineers, or concert violinists as it is for teachers, it is certainly not an unrealistic possibility, and something you might wish to consider.

On one of my call-in radio interviews I chatted with a veterinarian who took a one-month paid working vacation every year to participate in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race–an adventure that she said refreshes her spirit and revitalizes her love of veterinary medicine.  While Alaska in February may not be your cup of tea, this example demonstrates the enormous range of skills, most likely including yours, that are in demand all over the globe.

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