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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Why Taking a Break to Travel Won’t Ruin Your Career

Posted on June 4th, 2017

travelIf I had a dollar for every time I heard, “I want to take time off to go traveling but I’m worried it will hurt my career,” I’d be one rich blogger instead of one who spends a decent amount of her time scribbling back emails that say, “No no no, just go do it, you’ll be fine and here’s why.”

 

A bit of my story: Last year I stepped away from a job I loved to take a break, thinking I’d spend four months on the road, rejuvenate a bit, and go right back to work. A year and a half later, I had circumnavigated the globe, crash-landed on the west coast, and found myself applying to jobs in San Francisco with an enormous, unapologetic gap at the top of my CV. As luck would have it, I was offered a spot on the international operations team at an infamous Silicon Valley company and was off to Mexico for my first assignment — within two weeks.

 

So that went a little more smoothly than usual, but in my experience and in watching globe-trotting friends of mine, taking a break to travel is pretty normal these days and not a serious interruption to a solid career-in-the-making. You just want to keep a few things in mind before and after you go.

Real Talk About Travel Breaks

The impact a travel break will have on your career depends on what kind of career you have before you leave. I don’t recommend taking an extended break until you have at least three years of professional experience to fall back on. I had four years in two separate serious jobs before I took my year off. You barely notice the gap on my resume because there’s so much else going on.

 

So that’s the first thing: don’t leave until you’ve got a pretty good footing in some industry before you go. Friends I have that traveled extensively straight out of university had a very hard time getting a good job after that because they didn’t have any professional experience to whip out out of their back pocket. The people I know who worked for 2-3 years and then took a break did not have any problems. In the majority of cases it took them a couple months or less to find something and at the very worst went back into an entry-level job and had to work their way back up. That was the worst case scenario.

 

Step two: try to do something worthwhile during your time away. It makes the travel more meaningful for you and gives you something to mention on your resume and in job interviews. Volunteer for a period of time, take on a challenge (hitchhike across India, travel only by land from Indonesia to Russia, fundraise for a cause), study a new language, start a small side business while you’re on the road, anything that’s both enriching to you and keeps you a bit switched on while you’re away. In my experience, pure backpacking is not meaningful unless it’s the very first time you’re doing something like that, and in that case, 2-3 months is the optimal length of time to get any value out of that kind of trip. I’m a huge advocate for immersive, experience-focused travel in a smaller number of locations for longer periods of time.

 

Then, when you come back, there’s a few tactical ways you can approach it. Unless I did a long-term project of some kind in one place (3+ months and something substantial: research, volunteer work, language study) then it does not go on my resume. I have a gap and that’s that, it’s not the end of the world and if someone doesn’t like that, then please don’t hire me because I wouldn’t want to work there.

So you did it. Practical Strategies for Your Resume

You took a break to travel, so there’s no way around it and none of what I’m about to share will change that, it’ll just make it a little less obvious on paper until you get an interview and can address it in person (if they bring it up). To disguise the gap a little bit, here's a few tricks I recommend:

 

  • On your resume, change the “professional experience” section to “relevant experience.” Recruiters may think the gap just means something not relevant to the job took place in that space. In any case, you shouldn’t be listing everything you’ve ever done on your resume, just what’s relevant to the job you’re applying for.

  • Most people put the dates they worked every job to the far right side of the resume on the same line at the job title. On my resume, I put the locations I've worked along the far right side and the dates underneath my title so what I want to stand out (the countries where I’ve worked, emphasizing my international experience), stand out, not the exact timeline of when these things were done.

  • Since you should have plenty of other work experience, I recommend keeping the travel off your resume. What I do is, at the very bottom I have an “additional information” section where I list language skills, honors I’ve received, and other skills, I list “independent travel to X countries” and the dates. That’s it.

  • In interviews, don’t bring it up unless they do. Just refer to your last work experience as the last thing you were doing because it’s the last thing you were doing that was relevant to the job you’re applying for. If they ask about it, keep it short, enthusiastic, and bring it back to the job you’re applying for. (Remember, your tone sets the tone for how they’ll view it.) Saying something like this is good: “Yes, I just got back from a year traveling through Asia. I studied yoga in Burma, worked on a solar energy project in India, and trekked solo through the Himalayas in Nepal. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about that part of the world hands-on, gain new skills, recharge my batteries, and come away with a well-hashed plan for my next career steps, which brings me to your organization and this job that I know is exactly what I should be doing now.”

 

I often get asked if I think it matters how long you go away for. My two cents is: if you’re going to take a break anyway, take your time. I really recommend at least six months, but a year or more is better. In any case, you saved the money, left your job, packed everything up, and made all the logistical arrangements to step away from your life for awhile, so go big and don’t go home. If you have some experience to come back to, it really won’t matter how long you were away for.

Life is More Than a Series of Career Moves

If you’re still unsure about whether or not taking an extended break is right for you, I’ll repeat what I’ve said countless times before: you need to make a living, but don’t confuse making a living with living your life. If you’re going to go through life and only do things that fit into a neat little box with a neat little story about your career that fits on a single piece of paper, you need a wake-up call. Life is more than a series of career moves. Be smart about your future, but please don’t pass up opportunities to explore other interests, wander in beautiful places, and do things just for the sake of doing them.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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