While writing this I am sitting in a quiet cafe in beautiful Cuzco, Peru. I’m not Peruvian though, I am German and I live in Berlin, Germany. A few weeks ago I arrived in Peru to chase my dream of improving my Spanish, doing volunteer work and enjoying the beautiful landscapes of Peru, especially Cuzco – I am a sucker for mountains and Inca history! But how did I end up here?
It was in this past winter when I realized I wasn’t happy with my job at all for several reasons. I guess most of us know that feeling and the reasons can range from A to Z. I tried holding on for a while, hoping it would get better. But it didn’t.
The step to quit wasn’t easy for me to make. My CV so far doesn’t have any gaps, and if I took the risk the chances would be big that I ended up not having a job once I return to Germany. I talked to my family, to my boyfriend and to my friends about it. They could see how unhappy I was in this job and encouraged me to bring my Peruvian dream to life. I had saved up enough money, so why not? I don’t have children, the timing was just right. And so I jumped.
I jumped, taking the risk of being unemployed but trading that in for the greatest adventure of a lifetime.
I quit my job and I don’t regret it for one second!
That’s when the planning started. I decided that 2 months off was just what I needed (and how long my money would last). If you, for any reason, feel somehow related to my situation and want to consider doing something similar, here is some advice for you.
Do your research
I spent many evenings researching the web for an organization that offers volunteer work with Spanish classes in Cuzco. There are many! It is really necessary that you compare several agencies, check out their reviews and make sure they offer what you are looking for.
My plan was 2 weeks of Spanish class, followed by 4 weeks of volunteer work in Cuzco and I definitely wanted to stay with a host family instead of a volunteer house so I could learn more about the Peruvian culture. I found a German agency called “Auszeit weltweit” that offered exactly what I was looking for. They were very supportive beforehand and still are during my stay here.
It’s all about the budget
Money is essential when planning a sabbatical, especially if you do it independently. That means: make sure you will be able to pay your bills when you return from your journey and don’t have a job yet! This is really important!
While traveling and being abroad you can always cut back on things like food, activities and accommodation. But your rent, electricity bills, phone bills and other stuff needs to be covered both while you are gone and when you return! So make sure your budget covers all that and exceeds your stay abroad.
To save money for while you are not earning any you could for example sublet your apartment or cancel your gym contract and your phone plan for the time you are gone (I did that and only rely on wifi).
Insurances & Credit Cards
This is the not-so-fun part, but super important when going abroad. Get your insurance business straight! Definitely get a travel insurance that has you covered in case you get sick, need to see a doctor or end up in the hospital. I also had to get a private insurance for Germany. By law, every citizen in Germany needs health insurance which is normally covered for by the state, unless you are self employed. When unemployed you usually get support from the government. I don’t get any, because I am not available to the German job market while I’m gone. So I had to make sure I cover for myself. Once I return the government will take over again. Check out how things are in your country and take care of all this before going on your adventure!
The other inevitable issue is credit cards: make sure you are able to access your money wherever you are and that you are, for example, able to afford a flight back home in case of an emergency. Just be prepared for everything. I took two credit cards with me and always leave one at my host parents’ house so I have a backup if one gets stolen or I lose it.
Like with many other things it’s important you compare different credit cards and see which ones offer the conditions you need. I found one from Advanzia Bank with which i can withdraw money and pay with no charge. If you pay your first month’s bill in time they also bump up your limit from 900€ to 1.900€!
Make a backup of your documents and passwords
I wanted to travel light, without a laptop and without any printed documents. So I only brought printed copies of my passport and made a backup of all my documents (flight and project confirmation etc.) and secured them with a password on GoogleDrive, that I gave to my parents and my boyfriend and that I am also able to access if I need to. It’s also helpful to take pictures of your important documents and to store them on your iCloud. Both options have been proven to be super helpful to me.
And last but not least: don’t make such a decision head over heels! Besides money you need confidence and belief in your abilities! I was well prepared for my trip in any possible matter.
I’m not prepared yet for what’s to come when I return home in October. But I have made my peace with it.
I’m on an adventure and it has just started.
When does yours?
This is a guest post by Anni Jakobs.
Anni (28) works in PR. She recently quit her job to fulfil her dream of 2 months in Peru. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @mohawk_explores.