A sabbatical, by definition, is an extended leave from one’s career. It is sometimes offered as an employee benefit, especially in the academic world, and occasionally in the corporate world. Sabbaticals can be paid or unpaid time off, and the length of the sabbatical varies.
Going away on sabbatical can be an adventure of its own: living in a new location, possibly surrounded by different cultures or even a new language. The leave can be a quiet time for writing and reflection, a time to conduct research, an opportunity to travel, a chance to do some extended volunteer work, a time to learn a new skill, or just an occasion to enjoy uninterrupted, extended time with friends and family.
Whether for academic, corporate or personal reasons, a sabbatical can be many things but most importantly, it should be a time to refresh and rejuvenate. What it shouldn’t be is a financial and logistical burden.
Airfare, hotel costs, car rentals, eating out…these items can add up quickly, especially if you plan on traveling internationally and/or bringing your family along. For those that own their own house or condo, there is also the cost of maintaining your home while you are away – including security and pet, lawn and plant care. The US dollar does not stretch as far as it used to, which can increase costs and cut into your time away. Consider this: Due to the decline in the U.S. dollar, four years ago a €2000 flat in Paris averaged $2,300 a month. Today, that same flat could cost up to $2,850 a month.
A practical and increasingly popular solution to consider is a home exchange or swap. A concept that has been around for many years and brought to the forefront again with the 2006 movie, The Holiday, home exchanges offer an inexpensive and unique way to travel.
With the obvious benefit of having more living space without incurring rental fees or hotel costs, there are many, subtler, advantages as well. For academics conducting an exchange with a fellow academic, there are the potential benefits of a home library, high-speed internet access, and proximity to a university and its resources. In addition, high car rental fees can be avoided if the use of a vehicle is also included in the exchange. Furthermore, access to a fully or partially stocked kitchen allows for more varied and inexpensive food options. Finally, there is also the opportunity to meet and get to know the locals, who can recommend great restaurants and/or sites that are not part of a traditional tourist’s visit.
For the “first-timer,” the idea of living in someone else’s home and vice versa can be a bit daunting. By working through a reputable home exchange service like SabbaticalHomes.com, which caters to the academic community, concerns often disappear while getting to know potential exchangers, checking references and finalizing contracts.
Home exchange may not work for everyone, but for someone who is open, flexible and has a sense of adventure, it may be an excellent solution to rising travel costs.
by Insight Into Diversity (formerly Affirmative Action Register- AAR)