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Five Modern Sabbatical Ideas

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

The sabbatical is a traditional practice of taking time away from one’s career to explore and ameliorate other aspects of life and learning. At WiFi Artists, we recognize that modern sabbaticals often include travel and take advantage of the “remote era” in which we live. A sabbatical is an excellent time to practice the enriching lifestyle of the digital nomad, here are five suggestions of ways to get the most out of the modern sabbatical:

1. Get certifications and take short courses.

Whether one is hoping to galvanize their creativity, gain a more competitive edge, or simply enrich the mind, there are myriad alternatives to studying for a traditional degree at a standard university – with its lofty price tag.

Institutions from the illustrious and storied Cambridge University to the new and practical Full Sail University offer certifications in dozens of topics and disciplines. These programs typically allow for self-paced online study and can be done “part-time” in a year or less.

Additionally, there are alternatives to traditional institutions – organizations such as MasterClass, Coursera, and even LinkedIn, which offer skill-boosting courses and certifications. This can be anything from the basics of photography or video editing to honing culinary skills, negotiation tactics, or understanding the latest SEO techniques. Whatever is chosen, a global-minded traveller on sabbatical can seek learning in a far-flung location, or simply take the course with them, through online learning, to any destination.

2. Join a Volunteering community

A sense of civic duty, empathy, discovery, or religious zeal might encourage the desire to help through volunteering – and the options are truly innumerable, with countless organizations facilitating aid to suit nearly every possible need. More help will always be wanted.

Orphanages, “old folks’ homes,” schools, hospitals, theatres, soup kitchens, gardens, and on and on. There are organizations (as well as apps) with a long history of matching volunteers with opportunities – and many of them are travel-based, recognizing the desire people have to do good while exploring lands and cultures foreign to their own, or even generally less privileged. Being a part of the solution is admirable and useful, but one can also use volunteering to supplement career advancement – increasing one’s network and experience at the same time as supporting an important cause.

3. Learn a new language – or brush up on a neglected one

Learning a new language was sure to make the list; it is something everyone wants to have done, but few are keen to put in the necessary time and effort, not only of accomplishing the actual language study, but even of sorting through the seemingly endless options of apps, classes, and books to find the optimal method.

Happily for the travel-minded taking a sabbatical, there is this undisputed fact – that by immersing oneself in a region that speaks the language one is learning the inner stage is set for success. A savvy learner can combine any of the most popular (and often free) language apps with a cheap in-person tutoring course and the invaluable experience of getting out among native speakers and letting the brain apply what it has been studying. There is no better method.

And, of course, making an effort opens doors to aspects of culture and place one can otherwise easily miss – and frequently is read as a sign of respect and friendship toward the location one is visiting. It is a way of engaging beyond hotels and beach chairs. As has been wisely written, "Do you know what a foreign accent is? It's a sign of Bravery!"​

4. Take a “Walking Holiday”

The UK has a tradition of “walking holidays,” but what is essentially the same practice has been known by many names: pilgrimage, hiking, trekking, rucking…

One can travel on foot for many reasons, but the practice is one that has been encouraged by poets, spiritual leaders, and philosophers (of course your fitness coach won’t be mad, either). In fact, in Scotland, doctors have been prescribing outdoor walking as a mental health treatment.

The meditative exercise of walking is also a great way to get a grounded sense of place and country. A traveller sees and feels the land as humans have from time out of mind.

Walking Holidays have their challenges, but just how strenuous or comfortable the journey is, is up to the traveller. Some places offer defined trails and inn-to-inn services – this means a traveller only concerns herself with the business of walking; she finds her luggage waiting at an inn at the end of each day’s trek.

Some trails are chosen for their historic or spiritual significance, others for the scenic destination or the bucolic beauty of the way.

5. Make money through creative freelancing

Many creative efforts fall victim to the demands and rush of life. With the internet and more accessible travel, freelance creative industries have blossomed and bloomed like no other time in history. Still, it can be difficult to stick with freelancing if “steadier” work is needed to answer life’s many bills and emergencies. A sabbatical is a perfect time to return focus to these hobbies, ideas, and passions – perhaps it leads to a shift in career, a side gig, or simply a creative outlet; artistic expression can be its own reward.

Many platforms allow potential clients to search for creators. Registering with these sites is easy, whether you offer goods or services. Sometimes a short period of intense focus is all it takes to get an online shop or freelance endeavor started. When creative efforts can bring in a bit of cash, that is all the more motivation to spend time in the satisfying realm of expression and invention.


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