Planning Your Time Off
Family Sabbatical


One Year to Six Months Before Departure


  • Decide where you want to go



  • Visit the location, if possible


  • Travel Arrangements – If you are using frequent flyer tickets, book 330 days ahead if possible to get the dates you want. If not, keep on searching for good prices and be flexible on dates of departure (not in July-Aug) for the best prices. Make sure you book a place for the dog or cat if you are bringing them along. Think about using frequent flyer to Canada and fly to Europe on Zoom airlines for reduced fares.


  • Travel documents for International travel. Begin the process of what documents are required, visas, etc. for the location you will be moving to. Check out the embassy websites for specific information and necessary documents



  • Selling your home or Renting your home: Find a good real estate agent and let them know your plans and contingencies if the house does not sell


  • Language lessons – sign the family up for language lessons to be prepared


  • Work Permits – If you want to work, check out ways that you can work legally. In Europe you just have to be a member of the EU. Does someone in your family have a grandfather who is from Europe and you have the birth certificate? If so, try to get dual citizenship. In England you can get a work permit for the Highly Skilled Worker if you have a higher degree, proof of making a certain amount of money, and a few other points.


  • Other types of work: One option, if you desire, is to see if you can continue to work from your new destination; provide consulting on the phone, use the internet or fly periodically to meet with a client. Other options for making some money are to become an ESL instructor. However in most countries work permits are still required unless you provide private lessons.


  • Selling a Business – In the midst of departing for our time off, we also sold our business. This isn’t an extra stressor I would recommend, but it can be done. Planning a year before is critical to develop a business plan, proposal and find perspective buyers. Due diligence takes between 3-6 months depending on the size of the company and buyer. Finding a reputable lawyer who will be available to you is a must as well as someone assigned to focus on selling the business.

Three to Six Months Before Departure

  • Renting your Home: Market the property through local advertisement, Craig’s list,, or chose a rental agency. Note: sometimes people don’t look for a rental before 2 months so don’t fret about not having it rented right away.- Clean up the house and make necessary repairs to rent it out.

    - Buy a rental agreement on the internet or have an attorney draw one up for you
    - Decide who will manage your property (the tenant, a property manager, a friend/family member)
    - Change your home owner insurance to rental insurance and save money to start the day of    departure. Advise them of day of departure.
    - Organize your records (use Quicken) for all rental expenses to write off taxes.
  • Leaving your House empty
    - Check insurance coverage and ask someone to watch the house periodically.
    - Arrange for cleaning, gardening, or other maintenance as necessary.


  • Schooling – Discuss your plans with your child’s school and write to the school your child will be attending to register him/her.
    - Get copies of school reports, vaccinations, and other documents required by the new school.


  • Junk Lists – start to remove your name from all junk lists. This can take forever, but there are organizations that can do it for you for a fee.


Two to Four Months Before Departure


  • Get medical and dental checkups before you leave for everyone; this includes your animals also.

  • Travel Vaccinations – make sure your family is up to date. See your doctor or travel clinics for the necessary vaccinations needed for where you are traveling.

  • Prescription Medicines – Stock up 2 or 3 months, if possible, before you leave. Ask your doctor for a prescription to fill in the new city. If worse comes to worse, a doctor where you are living will write a new prescription after seeing you if you show them the old medicine bottle. Medicines in many other countries are actually much cheaper, however, they may be of a different brand. As a back-up, have a prescription ready at a local pharmacy. Ask a friend /family member to pick it up for you and mail it to you where you are living. (You can send them the money via online banking).

  • Cancel or change your insurance policy. In some cases you may want to cancel your current policy and just live on international insurance. In other cases you might want to reduce the coverage. Check with your broker and save money.



  • Online banking – Make sure all your accounts are online and change all your statements to paperless. Put all logins and passwords in a safe place. Collect all phone numbers that can be accessed from your place of destination.


  • Paying Bills – Enroll in automatic payment for everything that you can and enroll in payment due and alert that you will be notified when a payment has been made. This way you don’t have to worry, but from time to time you can check to make sure all your bills are being paid on time.

  • Receiving Payments – Set up all payments (rental, retirement funds, social security, and investments) to be automatically wired into your account.

  • Wills/ Estates – Make sure your estate and will is in order and a family member or friend has a copy of it. If you don’t have one, create a simple will using a software program found on the web.

  • Finalize your budget for your Change of Place and Pace- As you gather more information on income and expenses for your time off you will be able to revise and finalize your budget and plans. Remember, however, with exchange rates and emergency expenses it will probably cost you 10-20% more than you expect.

  • Taxes – Talk to your accountant and read up on the websites if you need to do anything related to foreign taxes. In most cases, if you aren’t earning income, you don’t need to do anything different.

Moving – packing and storage

  • Car – sell, store, take with you or give to someone to use. All these options depend on where you are going, the age and mileage of your car and if you need the money to travel.


  • Clean your house – get rid of everything you don’t need. Have two garage sales and be scrupulous. If you don’t love something get rid of it. On the way to our storage bin we looked at each other and said, “We don’t even like this stuff. Why are we storing it?” I urge you get rid of as much as you can and you will be happier!


  • Moving – pack what you want to send, mail 6-8 weeks early so it will arrive when you do. Use the post office for cheapest rates and ask what size boxes are standard versus cost more. Decide what you are going to take with you and prepare to move the rest to storage.

    Get quotes for moving on the internet from at least 4 movers. Schedule and recheck their availability a few days before. You can ask them to come out for a pre-moving survey and cost estimate or just tell them how many rooms they have to move.



3 Days to Four Weeks Before Departure

  • If renting: Pack the house – Ask friends to come over and help you pack the kitchen. Bring in pizza, turn on the music, and have some fun. The job will go much faster and a great memory to take with you.


  • Mail – get rid of subscriptions or change the address
    -change your address for mail and, if possible, have it forwarded to your new location, a PO Box where a friend will pick it up for you and send it on, or a family member’s house. For the first year we had a PO Box and someone pick it up, but cutting expenses, we had it changed to my parent’s house and my mom took on the job of part-time bookkeeper with our mail.
    - cancel/ change subscriptions, newspapers, magazines


  • Phone –Decide what you are going to do with your phone. You can turn your number into a virtual number which goes into a mailbox for a fee per month; reduce the plan to save costs, or cancel all together. Do you need to buy a cell phone or set up Skype and get a Skype phone or will you do that in your new location?


  • Visas – Make sure you have all your visas and tickets needed. Check and double-check


  • Utility Companies – If you are leaving your house empty or renting it out, change your name or plan as needed.


  • Important Papers – buy an accordion folder and put in all the important documents you need (i.e. rental agreement, storage agreement, birth certificates, visa papers, copies of passport in case they get lost/ stolen, insurance certificates, medical records, prescriptions).


  • If renting, meet with your Tenant – review all the details of the house and provide a list of repair people you use (i.e. plumber, gardener, electrician, and handyman). Arrange for a handoff on the day of departure (or day before).


  • If you’re leaving the house empty – make a list of necessary things to do before leaving. Include deliveries, plants, garden, gutters, mail, etc.


  • Computers, cameras, cell phones, DVD players – make sure your computers, cameras, portable DVD players, and cell phones are all in working order. If you want, buy a new one and use it the month before you leave to make sure it works easily and well. Make sure you know how to get your email from another country or location. Don’t depend on a foreign DVD player working for your US DVDs. Unlike the internet, DVDs are not universal.


  • Pack your suitcases and make sure they will fit in your rental car. We realized before leaving that the trunk was too small and had to go out and buy 6 duffle bags versus take a suitcase. Make sure the carrying case for your animals is approved by the airline. Set aside a bag to bring along on the voyage for the family; books, toys, important papers, jewelry, computers, tickets, travel documents, pet food and maybe a tranquilizer for the dog.


  • Say Goodbye – Depending, you can have one on one goodbyes or a group of people over. Whichever you do, saying goodbye for now is important for everyone. Give out cards with your email, address, and phone numbers and if you want visitors, tell them to come visit and be clear on how long they are welcome to stay.


  • Arrange for transportation to the airport/train station. Call a taxi, take the airporter bus or shuttle or ask a friend. Give yourself plenty of time to relax at the airport and enjoy the beginning of your sojourn.


Day of Departure

Wake up leisurely, have a cup of coffee, take a walk or run, and prepare the last minute packing. Give yourself plenty of time so if you are leaving bright and early, do all of this the day before.


Take a photo as you leave the house and at the airport. This is the beginning of your fantastic time off