Note: Jeff’s Career Break Secrets columns will run every other Monday, starting with this one, July 9.
Where to go. What to do. It’s probably the most exciting part of planning a career break. While you’re still working, everything is a possibility.
People often ask me, where should I go on my career break. The simple answer is, the only must-do location, is the place that YOU must do. It’s your time, there is no right or wrong answer.
Given that the average career break is 3-6 months, it’s no surprise that there are a handful of countries that seem to be on most people’s travel list. Argentina, Turkey, Thailand, India. It’s no accident. They all have an exotic allure and excellent tourism infrastructures. Their popularity is enhanced by the numerous articles that can be found on travel and expat blogs.
But, over the past year or so, I’ve started to see some other countries appear on people’s itineraries. Some are a little more remote, while for others, it’s a matter of them opening up more and more to tourism. Each of these offers the kind of activities that career breakers want:
* Cool ways to explore the country: biking, hiking, horseback riding
* Chance to give back; volunteering is often a top priority for some career breakers
* Learning something new; career breakers have the time to pick up a new skill or focus on an old hobby
So, if you’re looking for something a little different, here are 5 countries for you to consider putting on your itinerary.
- Colombia. The country has seen a resurgence in its tourism sector. Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin get most of the press. But, as the second most biodiverse country in the world, there’s so much more to see and do. You can visit the Amazon by flying into Leticia (or by boat leaving from Manaus, Brazil) and visting the Amacayacu National Park. Other adventure destinations include the Santander region, Colombia’s adventure sports capital. There are numerous volunteer opportunities in the country and English speakers are needed. The coffee region (Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales) gives you a chance to explore Colombia’s most prized export. Make time to hang out in one of the volcanic hot springs in the area. And, for the history and archeology buffs, you can hike to The Lost City (La Ciudad Perdida) in the north, or see the San Agustin in the south, home to the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America. Want to learn how to salsa? Then head to Cali, ground zero for salsatecas.
- Rwanda. A bit more remote, and less explored, than other African destinations, Rwanda’s opened its doors to tourists in a big way. Getting up close and personal with the gorillas at Volcanoes National Park is what initially attracts people to the country. But, while you’re there, there are some great hikes like the Visoke volcano. While it’s landlocked, Lake Kivu will give you a chance to kick back and relax after all your adventure.
- Vietnam. Southeast Asian travel is dominated by Thailand. But, Vietnam is coming into its own with the career break crowd. If you want to teach English, there is a demand for your skills, giving you a chance to pay for your trip while you’re there. I’ve known a few people who have motorbiked up and down the country from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. To get a feel for the countryside, check out Dalat, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the Sapa region in the north. Foodies and non-foodies alike seem to enjoy the wide selection of street food, seafood, fresh vegetables and soups.
- Jordan. Eager to stand out as one of the leading destinations in the Middle East, Jordan has been really aggressive in promoting itself recently. Most people go for Petra and the Dead Sea. But, once there, career breakers are discovering more than they expected. Religous history buffs will enjoy sites mentioned in the Old Testament like Mount Nebo, the old walled city of Umm Ar-Rasas and As-Salt. Many people also make time to volunteer while in the country.
- Mongolia. Yup, it’s remote. Deserts, the steppe, yaks. But, if you want exotic, consider Mongolia. If you’re really adventurous, then the annual Mongol Rally will get there by vehicle from London. Once you’re there, try horseback riding through some of the country’s national parks. There are many hiking trails like Terelj, Bogd Khan or the Darkhan to Amarbayasgalant Khiid trail where you end up at an an ancient monastery. The food will certainly be an adventure from horse meat to mutton to various milk-based drinks. You certainly won’t forget your meals eaten there.
What are some of the unusual and up-and-coming career break destinations you’ve been hearing about?
Jeff Jung is known as The Career Break Travel Guy who hosts the new TV series, The Career Break Travel Show and runs CareerBreakSecrets.com. He left a fantastic but crazy consulting-turned-corporate-marketing career to learn Spanish fluently in South America, see magnificent sunsets and sunrises in far flung places like the Galapagos, Easter Island, Cappadocia, and the Nile River and learn to ski (at the age of 36!).
If you’re thinking about a career break of your own, check out the Gogobot Travel Salon tomorrow night in San Francisco.
For our non-San Franciscan family, we’ll post a video of the panel next week!