The one thing no one really talks when it comes to taking a sabbatical is all the prep that has to happen before you set foot on the plane.
You will find a lot of sites talking about approaching your employer and asking for time off. We found this Forbes article and this very useful. But after that? Are you moving out of your house? Are you renting your house out? If so are you renting via AirBnB or through an agency? In the last couple of months we’ve had to deal with a lot of that. Here’s what we learned
Have a plan of where you are moving when you come back and what happens to your flat / house / room whilst you are away.
Andy moved out of his house and had to arrange someone to move into his room.
I tried to rent my flat out via AirBnB but Notting Hill is a pretty cut throat area for flat rentals. There’s a lot of flat staging that had to go into the flat which we did not expect or have the time for. Eventually we opted to rent the flat out to a dear friend for 6 months.
This meant however, that we then had to figure out:
- What stuff we wanted to see in 6 months time and what we were throwing away (charity / skip). Andy insisted on keeping the long yellow bike below;
- What stuff we would need to pack with us on the trip;
- List things (mostly items of clothing for me) which will be needed on the trip but which I don’t currently own (aka more shopping in Chile!);
- What stuff needs to stay in the flat (both mine or from Andy’s house) which someone renting a furnished flat would expect.
And once the master plan is complete you need to put it into action. Cue a master list.
Here’s where things got interesting. I let my OCDness get the better of me and created a list on GSheets to outline everything that needed to get done. I also added a RAG status and % complete scorecard at the top. 6 days before launch we are at at 87% complete.
The one thing that surprised us is the amount of life admin that needs to be done in advance. 6 months of life admin because let’s face it the last thing you want to do whilst trekking up Fitz Roy is ensuring that all bills are paid for. Plus all the things that you did not get around to doing but which now need to get done (especially if you are renting your flat out). Our list included:
- The expected stuff: setting up Mail redirects, getting travel insurance and cancelling direct debits for stuff we will not be using (e.g. Gym membership);
- The should-have-done-this-6-months-ago stuff: changing light bulbs, getting a new washing machine in and fitted, organising window cleaning, replacing my broken sofa bed (Geo, Paris, Keu and Ted…. finally) etc. There was A LOT here and at times it felt rather overwhelming;
- The nice-to-haves: downloading audiobooks and playlists for our long drives…
- The surprising stuff: in organising everything else it quickly transpired that passwords needed to be updated, paperwork needed to be cleared up, work pensions were organised. With that came a need to actually list everything and write down passwords before they were quickly forgotten.
There is so much that will come up at the last minute. Dentist appointments, trips to the GP to look into a 2 week long cough… so make time for friends and loved ones that you want to spend time with. This might mean booking in dinner and catch ups with friends weeks (if not months) in advance (Daphne’s modus operandi) or organising a massive open party for everyone you know (Andy).
But make the time. And the effort.
There will never be enough boxes to move and there will always be way too much dust when moving. That is what I have learned in packing and moving about 80 pairs of shoes, 9 bikes, countless books and knick-knacks of immense sentimental value. So in addition to thousands and thousands of boxes you need a good pizza, a beer and obviously a diet coke. No move is complete without that cliche.