Part-time travel,  Travel Lifestyle,  Travel Tips

How to ask for a sabbatical (it’ll be the best thing you ever do)

I think we’ve all been there. We’ve all wondered about how to ask for a sabbatical.

Half-staring at our screens wondering what on earth we’re doing at a desk 9-5 whilst simultaneously scrolling through Instagram and being made to feel a tad ‘green’ by those travelling the world around us.

In our heart of hearts, knowing that we’ve wanted a break for just a little while – whether that be to ‘go find ourselves’ or just to take a break from the grind to feel re-energised again, ‘anti-adulting’ if you will.

 I know I’ve been there.

Not so long ago, I was feeling exhausted, close to being medically signed off and down-right emotional – the digital nature of today’s world had got on top of me and all I wanted was to escape to some far-flung paradise. At that time, I was looking for *all* of the advice on how to ask your boss for a sabbatical – it was one of the things holding me back from just going for it.

So if you’re feeling a little like I was, I’ve saved you some time and I’m sharing my top 11 tips for negotiating your sabbatical and satisfying your wanderlust (as well as your boss!):

  1. Do your research.

Consult your employee handbook for anything related to sabbaticals – there could be a scheme in place or you may need to be proactive. It’s always best to know the company’s stance before bringing it up – it makes you look more professional and ‘in-the-know’.

  1. Map the details.

Have a plan in mind; when you want it to start, when you want it to end, duration, what you’ll be doing and what will need doing in your place. This helps your boss with everything they need to know, if they need to raise this request to a senior stakeholder. If you know what you want, then it makes your boss’ job easier when negotiating, which can only bode in your favour.

  1. Give them notice.

Never ask for a sabbatical with a week to spare – it’s not going to get signed off. Give your boss at least three months so they can plan for whilst you’re away and get sign off from any other stakeholders, plus it always helps to be courteous in this instance. Prepare to offer your assistance with the aforementioned points – plot out what needs doing, make sure there’s nothing time-sensitive and see if you can assist HR in any way.

  1. Who to talk to.

Work out who you need to talk to once you have your plan together. Each company has their own hierarchy, know who you need to discuss sabbaticals with. We’d suggest it’d be your boss primarily but this could include HR and any other senior stakeholders too.

  1. Schedule a chat.

Book a meeting room with the people you need to talk to and give yourself enough time to go over your request. The last thing you’ll want to do is rush this – it’s a vital meeting.

  1. Don’t ambush.

Tell those attending what you wish to discuss i.e. a sabbatical. You don’t want to shock anyone and you want to give your boss enough time to gather their thoughts and perhaps look into it so they come informed.

  1. Start on a positive.

Start with a casual chat with your boss, don’t run headfirst into the topic in hand – this meeting has to come across as a win-win situation. Begin with a massage of the company and your boss’ ego, not in a manipulative way but hopefully in a genuine way. Explicitly say how much you value your career and its progression – if the company can see you’re dedicated then they’ll attempt to be loyal to you.

  1. Define the why.

Now, break down your reason for calling the meeting and your reason/s for wanting a sabbatical in a rational way. Highlight why it’s important to you, what you want from it and why it’s now and not in a few years time. Bring a sense of your personality to the meeting, so your boss can better understand your intentions.

  1. What’s in it for them?

Now, this is where you need to be crystal clear. You’ve outlined what’s in it for you and now you must highlight what’s in it for the company and your boss – this is the most important part of your meeting, so come prepared. Tie your request back to your career, how it could grow more-so with a break and how you’ll come back more motivated than ever before to fulfil yours and their goals. If you need more reasons, then there are plenty of articles to help you out online with a quick search.

  1. Be flexible.

Don’t walk into your meeting expecting to get 100 per cebt of your request, it rarely works out this way – if it does, then consider it a bonus. Ask for feedback promptly from your boss and company, they’ll appreciate it and you’ll need it to commence your planning.

  1. Be confident.

You’ve done your planning and you’ve acted professionally, so be confident about the process and stick to your convictions. This should go a long way with your boss.

And there you have it, 11 top tips for securing that much-needed sabbatical!

Let us know how you get on in the comments below…


Louise works as a Senior Strategist in the digital marketing industry and loves to see as much of the world as often as she can. She had her wedding and honeymoon in Iceland and dreams of going back. She also loves a European city break, as well as Asian adventures. Japan, Norway and LA are next on her wish list.


  • Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles

    I always think taking a sabbatical is a good idea and all these are very good tips. Although I’m not at the stage where I need to take a sabbatical right now, it’s something that I will want to do in my future so that I can have a change of scenery but also develop skills that will help my career in the process.

    • Keri

      Yeah it’s not just an excuse for a break from work is it Emma – you come back with lots of great skills and experience that employers should love!

  • Jennifer (aka Dr J)

    Great advice! I’m on the first half (6 weeks) of a 2 part 12 week sabbatical and this is exactly how I went about asking for it. I also made sure to come up with a very clear ‘Who does what’ plan while I’m out of action. I also gave my contact details to one or two trusted colleagues in case they need to reach me in an emergency. This helped everyone get comfortable with the idea of me being away.

    We’re having an amazing time traveling in Southeast Asia and China right now. So often it comes down to a trade-off between time and money. A sabbatical gives you time while still leaving a safety net of a full time job to go back too.

    I’m chronicling our adventures and tagging so my posts #DrJSabbatical This has been a nice way for my friends and colleagues to follow along.

    • Keri

      Thanks Dr J, and yes so true, sometimes a sabbatical is the perfect balance. Hope you’re having a wonderful time on your travels – I adore SE Asia!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: