I was interested to read the recent piece about Bali (Eat, hike, swim - love, January 9), which mentioned the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have been made redundant and now have some time on my hands in which to travel. I am not a fan of self-help books and do not feel like spending a lot of money on a self-help holiday, but at the same time I would like to have a break from my normal routine and consider my career options. Do you have any advice?
You are right in thinking that you do not necessarily need to spend a huge amount of money on a structured "self-help" holiday in order to achieve lasting results. However, you will need to spend some time researching and planning your trip and be both disciplined and open-minded about where you visit and how. Travel is an excellent medium through which to consider future plans because changing your environment, the people around you and your daily routine will allow you to see your life in a new perspective and it may even give you ideas you had never considered before.
Above all, the experience of travelling on your own can give you confidence where it may have been lacking and will teach you to think about problems as challenges rather than insurmountable obstacles. The key to success is to set aside a decent amount of time away and do as much mental preparation beforehand as possible. While you may get results in as little as a week, at least a month away will allow you to unwind properly. Three or six months and you can call it a career break, as long as you consider what kind of life changes you would like to see at the end of the trip.
Next, consider the type of trip you will take. Instead of lying on a beach, be active on holiday. Try backpacking, where you will be forced to rely on your own initiative, or take a small-group adventure holiday, where you can be both alone and part of a group, and where you will see different landscapes and meet people with similar interests. For a complete change, visit an unusual destination or country you have not visited before; to get out of your normal routine and thought patterns, do something that involves an element of risk, such as mountain biking or rafting. Notice what excites you - do you thrive on risk and feel stimulated by challenge? If so, you could think about ways of introducing more risk and challenge into your work, or of finding a new career.
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