Frequently Asked Questions
This page aims to answer as many questions about taking a career break as possible as well as outline the amazing range of possibilities open to you on your career break or gap trip. Our team of travel advisers have all travelled or taken career breaks themselves so if you have any questions that are not answered on this page or you just want some advice about planning your own career break, please contact our team.
Click on the questions below to view the answers:
How do I get started?
If you're itching to travel but need some inspiration regarding which trip to choose, you can:
If some of our programmes have caught your eye, give us a call - our friendly travel advisers can provide you with expert advice to help you make your decision. They are all experienced travellers and understand any concerns you may have. They will be able to point you in the right direction and you may even learn about opportunities that you never knew existed!
Once you have decided on a programme (or two) and we have booked you on, you will need to arrange flights, visas and travel insurance - don't panic, we can help with all this too! Pre-departure information is all part of the comprehensive service that Inspired Breaks provides, meaning you can check at every stage to ensure you have got everything you need before jetting off!
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What can I do on a career break?
Inspired Breaks career break programmes cover more than 20 countries providing exciting opportunities to travel, learn new skills and take part in volunteer work.
The below is a small portion of what Inspired Breaks has to offer. Take time to look around the website for full details of all of our career break placements.
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Where can I go on a career break?
Have a look at our destinations page to see a list of the countries where we currently have programmes running.
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What kit do I need on my career break or gap year?
The equipment you'll need to take with you on your travels depends on a variety of factors, including the weather, activities you're likely to participate in, and how long you're going for.
Here's a general kit list to give you some idea of useful items to bring with you:
- Passport and other important documents
- Clothes that are suitable for the project, country and weather
- A lightweight waterproof jacket
- Warm jumper/fleece
- Something smart (if you feel you'll need it)
- Suitable shoes - walking boots, sandals, flip flops etc
- Swim wear
- A towel
- A torch (always handy just in case)
- First Aid Kit (from bandages to paracetamol)
- Insect repellent / mosquito net (mainly Africa/ Asia projects)
- Sun hat/glasses/lotion
- Travel wash
- Camera (plus batteries and charger)
- Day pack/small rucksack
- Ear plugs
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How can I stay in touch with family and friends?
Internet cafes are plentiful and most provide international calling facilities. If this is a big concern for you, simply mention it to our travel advisers and they will let you know what facilities are available on the programmes that you are interested in.
International phone cards for landlines
International phone cards make calling from a landline relatively cheap - you can buy them in the UK or abroad, and we also have our own competitively priced card. Your Inspired Breaks travel adviser can give you more information about rates for specific countries.
Arrange for people to call you
If people at home want to be able to contact you, suggest they look into deals for calling mobiles and landlines abroad - there are plenty available.
Take your mobile phone
A mobile phone is good to have on you in case of emergencies and texts are a relatively cheap way of keeping in touch. Our own SIM card, which you simply put into your current mobile phone, offers good rates - speak to your Inspired Breaks travel adviser for advice about your destination.
Check with your service provider that you can make and receive calls abroad. It might be that the phone needs ‘unlocking' - a simple process that can be done at high street shops.
Online communication: Emailing, Instant messenger services, blogging and Skype
There are internet cafés all over the world, most of which will charge by the hour or half hour. Skype is a free "telephony" service that is easy to download and install and allows you to make extremely cheap phone calls using the internet. So if your friends or family have Skype installed, it's well worth looking out for internet cafes that offer Skype services on your travels.
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Can I travel by myself?
Absolutely. By travelling alone you will find it easier to meet fellow travellers, and it also means you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.
Prior to travelling we will provide you with a ‘buddy list' of other travellers who will be on the same programme as you, so you will have the chance of saying hi and introducing yourself before the start of the programme.
When you reach your destination, we're sure you will find the programmes to be welcoming, friendly and sociable. Most people on the programmes form bonds quickly with fellow travelers, particularly if they are volunteering, as there is a common goal that everyone is passionate about.
Another benefit of travelling with Inspired Breaks if you are going by yourself is that we do not charge the single supplement fees that many other travel companies do. We welcome solo travellers because so many our Inspired Breaks gappers are travelling by themselves.
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Can I travel with my partner?
Yes you can! Travelling with your husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, is a great way to take some time out of your usual hectic lives and enjoy a new experience together. Inspired Breaks offers you the exciting opportunity to do something totally new and to go on a real adventure together!
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Can I volunteer on the same project as my partner?
It's usually not a problem, as all of the projects with which we work require the help and assistance of many volunteers. However, volunteer duties will depend upon the needs of the project, which can vary from week to week. It is best to chat to our travel advisors about the programmes that you are interested in so that they can let you know how closely you will be able to work with your partner.
You may find that you and your partner have different skills and interests, in whch case, you may choose to take part in slightly different volunteer activities during the day, but you will of course still be in the same accommodation and are able to spend your free time together.
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How can I save money for a career break?
Consider switching your mortgage provider. Choose carefully and take time to research and plan where you may get a better deal. This could include switching to an interest only mortgage, or, if you are going rent your house out whilst you are away, a buy-to let mortgage.
Keep a close eye on your bills - gas, electricity, phone, broadband, car insurance - you could save money by switching providers or combining.
Reduce your bills further by making small adjustments to your way of life - buy energy efficient light bulbs, turn your heating down, use your washing machine and dryer more economically and turn your lights off when you can!
Cutting out everyday ‘luxuries' such as your daily latte could save you about £300 over the course of six months! Along the same lines, try and avoid buying lunch everyday (that's another £400) and having that large glass of wine ever Friday night (racking up £200). These things will become a real treat when you do have them! You may also want to consider doing the following:
- Buying things that are on special offer or buy own brands in supermarkets.
- Shopping for perishables every few days to avoid wastage.
- Talking to your GP or pharmacist or researching online how to give up smoking.
Open a savings account or ISA
Make sure your savings are in a high interest account. Before opening a new one, check the restrictions with regards to when you can access your money - although you should all ready have a fairly good idea as to when you will need it. You might even want to consider setting up a direct debit so that a proportion of your earnings go straight into your savings account.
Earn extra money
- You may like to consider earning money through a second income source. Second jobs can be fun, as you will experience working in different places and meet new people, however, be aware that; you pay a higher rate of tax on second jobs, your current contract may include clauses preventing your from taking other employment, and you should carefully consider whether you can manage the extra hours.
- If you own your own house, then why not get a lodger, even if it's just for six months before you go? Think what you could do with the extra cash whilst you are away!
- Depending on your job and skills, research whether there is a freelance market. Advertise online for business.
- Have a boot fair or sell some of your belongings on eBay. Take a look at other similar items that are already for sale to get a realistic idea of how much you could earn.
Other great ways to save
- Rather than buying new books, swap with friends and family or borrow from the library.
- Rent games and DVD's rather than purchasing them.
- Avoid the shops - you'll be going away soon anyway so do you really need that ‘so-this-season' top?!
- Have friends round to your house rather than going out.
- Eat out once a month rather than once a week - this could save you £600 in six months!
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What safety measures do I need to take when travelling?
With a little basic travel safety tuition, many misfortunes can be avoided. Participants of our organised Travel Safety Course will receive the same level of training given to journalists and professionals working in war zones. Click here to find out more.
Here are a few additional safety tips:
- Avoid flaunting money or any expensive looking items such as camcorders as much as possible. Don't make yourself a prime target for would-be thieves!
- Always keep a close eye on your possessions, particularly in crowded areas such as markets where you might get distracted.
- Never leave your baggage unattended, even for a minute, or with someone you don't know or trust - and ideally lock it up with a padlock.
- Keep copies of all your important documents in a separate place from the originals.
- Make sure you keep in regular touch with friends and family at home.
An excellent source of career break safety advice and information is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website - www.fco.gov.uk. The FCO's website contains all of the latest safety advice listed by each individual country and is well worth checking out before you travel.
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Who takes a career break?
There is no average Inspired Breaks gapper. We have helped a wide variety of travellers across all demographics with their travelling ambitions.
Travellers with Inspired breaks include:
- Those wanting time out from the daily rat race.
- People who find themselves at a crossroad in their life and want a complete change.
- People who have worked hard all their lives and want to see the world while they are still fit enough to enjoy it.
- Young professionals who may not have taken a ‘gap year' after school or university and are now ready for a break.
- Parents of children who have left home, now finding themselves with fewer responsibilities and more ‘me time'.
- People who are about to take extended leave or those who are in-between jobs.
- Those wanting to do something exciting and meaningful with their annual leave.
- Parents who have heard all about their children's travels and want to experience it for themselves or even want to meet up with their children during their gap year!
The common desire that all our travellers share is to do something worthwhile, give something back to the destinations they are travelling to, explore the world and have a great time!
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How do I go about taking time off for a career break?
The first thing to do is find out whether your company has a career break or sabbatical policy - the HR department should be able to tell you. Career breaks are usually unpaid and you may be required to have been an employee for at least two years, however, every company varies.
If your company does not have an official career break policy, it may be that they have never been asked about career breaks before. In this case you may want to ask your manager whether you can arrange a period of extended leave in order to take a career break.
Before you approach your manager, look at it from their point of view. Make a list of the ways in which they will benefit and present your ideas to them in a positive and enthusiastic way. Bear in mind that by allowing you to take a career break, they are more likely to retain your skills and experience in the long term. Recruitment and training is costly, so it will usually be in your company's best interest to allow you to take some time off.
Taking a career break overseas will boost your confidence and help you to become better at problem solving, overcoming challenges, budgeting, leadership, adaptability and negotiation - all skills that can be put to good use in your career.
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Can I leave my current job to take a career break?
If you decide to leave your current job altogether to travel, it pays to ensure that you leave your company in a good light. Keep in mind that you may need them for references or as useful contacts upon returning from your travels. Many people end up getting jobs from old contacts when they return so stay in touch with as many work-related people as you can!
When you get home, make sure you update your CV with an account of where you have been and what you have been doing. Be sure to include any new skills you have learnt and challenges you overcame.
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Why go travelling or take a career break?
Taking a career break will offer you the chance to:
- See spectacular sights and immerse yourself in new experiences around the world
- Experience diverse cultures and lifestyles
- Gain perspective
- Evaluate your life
- Enjoy your annual leave or retirement in an unforgettable and life-changing way
- Learn new skills and languages
- Make a useful contribution to the lives of other people, animals or the environment through one of our wide range of volunteer programmes
- Meet new people who share your spirit for adventure
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Am I eligible for Inspired Breaks projects?
Listed below are the criteria that we have set out to make sure that we are sending the right kind of people to our hundreds of wonderful projects.
We send a wide range of age groups out to our projects and programmes from 18 years upwards.
Inspired Breaks welcomes people of all nationalities, but you must be aware that a number of countries in which we run projects do have visa restrictions. If you are not a resident of the UK, then it will be you own responsibility to sort out any visas that you are required to have, as we are currently only able to arrange visas for UK residents.
All participants who select to take part in a volunteer project that involves working with children and vulnerable adults must be willing to submit their details for an enhanced check by the Criminal Records Bureau. If you do have a conviction that is in any way relevant to the volunteer work that you wish to carry out, Inspired Breaks reserves the right to terminate your booking with us. At the present time we are only able to offer CRB checks for UK residents.
Health, fitness and disabilities
Due to the nature of some of our programmes, we must ask that participants are of good health and are of a reasonable fitness to take part. If you have a disability, please discuss your project options with our travel experts, as they will be able to give you detailed information about the project work, accessibility, accommodation etc. We will ask you to advise us of any medical conditions and/or allergies at the time of booking.
We request that all Inspired Breaks participants are open-minded and tolerant towards the cultures that they are entering by participating in our projects. This includes traditions, beliefs and ways of life. With this in mind, we encourage everyone to research the country that they will be visiting, to make sure that there is an awareness of the sort of behaviour that is unacceptable in particular cultures and therefore should be avoided.
Some of our projects forbid alcohol anywhere on their premises - you will be informed of this in your pre-departure information. Drugs are forbidden on all of our projects. If you are found to contravene either of these, you will be asked to leave the project with immediate effect.
You must abide by the rules and guidelines laid down by each individual project.
It is your own responsibility to make sure that you have any appropriate vaccinations and have made any necessary medical preparations for the trip before leaving the UK. At Inspired Breaks, we are not able to give you advice on which vaccinations to have, although we do recommend that you pay a visit to your GP a minimum of 6 weeks before your date of departure. We have a number of projects that are considered to be within malarial zones - so you will need to sort out any prophylactics, mosquito nets and so on before departure.
Yellow Fever is a viral disease carried by mosquitoes, which is endemic to Central South America and Equatorial Africa. You may be required to produce a certificate of proof that you have had the vaccination to enter some countries or certain regions of some countries. You may also be required to show a certificate only if you are entering them from a country where Yellow Fever is endemic. For more information on this talk to your GP, do some research on the Internet and check/get in touch with the countries embassy.
Don't forget it, you won't get out of the country and also always check to see if you need any visas. If you do need to apply for any visas, leave plenty of time to get it sorted out before your date of departure. It is required by some nations that foreign visitors have at least 6 months remaining on their passport from the date that you return from your trip. For example, if you leave the UK on the 7th Jan and return on the 7th Feb, you must have 6 months remaining from 7th Feb. This 6 month rule can also apply to visas.
Before you are able to depart on your trip, you must give us the details of your insurance policy. We are not able to send you out to any of our projects without the appropriate insurance. You must have insurance that covers you for repatriation and emergency are evacuation. Inspired Breaks has a number of gap trip insurance options: please ask if you would like more information.
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Why pay to volunteer?
Gap year travellers and career breakers looking for life changing, challenging, and cultural travel experiences are increasingly making voluntary work overseas part of their adventure plans. Not only is volunteering a brilliant way to get some valuable life experience, develop skills, and make new friends, it's also the ideal opportunity to combine all of these things with doing something worthwhile.
The concept of paying to give up your time volunteering abroad can seem a little strange, but is in fact a vital part of keeping volunteer projects around the world going. Getting volunteers to projects takes a lot of organisation, providing volunteers with in-country support requires a dedicated team and giving projects the help they need takes money.
Maintaining the quality of our programmes and helping you to get ready
Inspired Breaks uses a portion of funds to visit our projects, carry out risk-assessments and ensure that all aspects of our projects are running as intended and in the best possible shape. This enables us to see exactly what sort of help is needed, check that things are running as smoothly as possible and to make sure projects are suitable for volunteers.
Doing research on our destinations also means that we can provide our travellers with handy pre-departure packs. Pre-departure packs are a traveller's bible, taking the hassle out of planning we make sure they full of useful travel information, from local customs to visa and currency information!
Volunteering isn't your typical tourist trip, there won't be a tour rep holding your hand every step of the way, but going through a company like us will provide you with an invaluable global and in-country support network. Though boldly setting off and making a difference all on a one-person crusade does have a certain appeal, knowing that there will be someone there to help if anything goes wrong is always reassuring.
In-country most of our projects offer an airport pickup and a local project coordinator who will give you full country orientation, take you through your paces and stick around to make sure your adventure is a fantastic experience. Not only a comforting presence, the programme coordinator will be able to give you a singular insight into local life and show you the sights that the tourists miss.
When you travel with Inspired Breaks, you will also have 24-hour access to a dedicated emergency back-up team, who are experts in dealing with emergencies like missed flights or worst-case scenarios like ill health. It's easy to feel invincible before you leave but you can never over-estimate the importance of knowing there's someone there if you need them.
Security and peace of mind
Turning up on the doorstop of a local school in Southern Thailand without booking through a company, may seem like a cheaper idea, but what will you do if the school has closed down? You might not begrudge your fee as much when you consider the security that booking through a company brings.
Inspired Breaks ensure that all of our travellers have IPP insurance (International Passenger Protection); this basically means that you are fully protected for the balance of all monies paid to us, including repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements in the unlikely event of our insolvency. Plus, if your flights were included as part of the package they'll be ATOL protected, so you will be able to get home and advanced bookings will be refunded too.
Helping local communities
Inspired Breaks aim to make sure that we only work with pre-established local projects and local project coordinators. This means that our travellers can rest assured that the help they're giving is genuinely needed and it will make a lasting difference.
Part of your fee covers the cost of your accommodation, food and expenses in-country, which we will normally arrange for you. When travelling with responsible volunteer providers like us you will be staying in locally owned accommodation, eat local food and use local resources; this means that you will be making a substantial financial investment in the local community just by being there.
Our job is satisfying because our volunteers really do make a significant difference, but it would be no good if we had hundreds of projects crying out for help and no one knew about them. Advertising and marketing may not seem like a worthy cause, but it is a massively important part of recruiting more volunteers and making sure that the good work you've started keeps going.
Spreading the word will make more people aware, gain more helping hands, and ultimately give projects a much-needed helping hand. This is why a part of your fee goes towards recruiting more volunteers. Offices full of staff in the UK may not seem like a necessity to everyone, but they're there to give our volunteers support when they need it, and play a huge part in keeping vital programmes going.
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