Photo: Courtesy of Shawna Sharie
After working at a major bank for eight years—first in mergers and acquisitions and later in internal strategy—Shawna was burned out.In late 2008, as the financial markets collapsed, she had watched friends leave banking careers to travel or pursue other dreams. She imagined doing the same and taking a belated “gap year” to travel the world, but it wasn’t until 2012 that she finally took the plunge.
“I sat down with my boss and went through my story—that I had been thinking about it for years, and that the markets and banking in general were taking their toll and I really needed a break to get away from it all,” Shawna told Business Insider.
The bank arranged for Shawna to take a six-month sabbatical, something almost unheard of in the US but more common in the UK (Shawna had previously transferred from the bank’s NYC and Greenwich, Conn. offices to London).
She and her boyfriend Andrew, who was able to take some time off before starting business school, planned a two-month journey through Asia and Asian Pacific. They each budgeted $10,000 for their travels, including airfare, but both wound up running $2,500 over.
“I once heard a quote that said, ‘when preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money, then take half the clothes and twice the money,'” Shawna said. “This couldn’t be any more true.”
She continued travelling after he returned to school—she’s currently in Greece—and plans to travel through the end of the year.
As for banking, Shawna doesn’t plan to go back. “It was hard to make that decision after going to school to do [banking], doing it for eight years and it being what I know best,” she said. “I have more entrepreneurial plans that have been in the back of my head for a while. I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can act on those plans without the fear that I had before I took time off.”
She shared some highlights from the first two months of her travels with us and told us about her experiences, in her own words (or you can read more on her blog, Changed Plans). Click through and you may be inspired to take a sabbatical as well.
Have an amazing travel story and photos to share? Send an email to [email protected] and we could feature your adventure next.
First, a look at the itinerary. One of Shawna's friends made this map of the couple's travel plans. All told, they took 23 flights this summer.
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