By: Nick Callos
Considering taking a sabbatical from work?
A work sabbatical offers you time to explore, learn, and think more about what you want from life. It’s an extended and unstructured time-off to focus on what matters: family, health, personal interests and aspirations, and professional goals.
>> Read our guide on work sabbaticals here.
For many, a work sabbatical involves traveling to exciting destinations, from Asia and Europe to Africa and South America. To help you choose a work sabbatical destination, we’ve compiled this list of the 8 best locations.
For this list, we’ve focused on destinations with the right combination of:
- Sights and activities
- Quality of life
- Visa offerings
- COVID-19 precautions and availability of socially distant activities
Dreaming of the Mediterranean? Then make your way to Croatia, a country full of history, coastline, and great food. From the magic of Plitviče Lakes National Park to the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia provides all sorts of activities. Famous for their hospitality, Croatia will call you to the table and inspire you to laugh and live. Few destinations compare when it comes to traveling during your work sabbatical.
Important visa info: EU citizens can travel freely to Croatia. For many non-EU citizens, Croatia still has visa-free stays for up to 90 days. For instance, US citizens can stay visa-free in Croatia for up to three months. You need a negative COVID-19 test within two days of arrival.
Maldives has long been a top choice for a memorable holiday. With arguably the best beaches in the world, Maldives, originally a resort destination in the Indian Ocean, has begun to attract backpackers and digital nomads in recent years. Go snorkeling, diving, island-hop, and relax beneath palm trees. Maldives is a place meant for taking it easy, and that’s why it’s one of the best destinations for your work sabbatical.
Important visa info: Maldives issues a no-cost visitor visa on arrival. It’s good for 30 days. This visa can be extended for an additional 60 days. You must have a negative COVID-19 test within 96 hours of arrival. See the Ministry of Tourism site for details.
3. Costa Rica
Also on our list of countries with digital nomad visas, Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise. From untouched rainforests to misty volcanic peaks to pristine beaches, Costa Rica sweeps you off your feet. You can lay low in the jungle, chill beachside, or enjoy the atmosphere and culture of the city of San Jose. The country has great infrastructure for digital nomads too, with exceptional Wi-Fi and quality healthcare.
Important visa info: Costa Rica offers visa-free entry to citizens from certain countries. For instance, US citizens can stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days. See their embassy webpage for full details. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you also must complete a health pass form that shows a negative COVID-19 test
4. United States of America
Even if you live in the USA, the country is a great destination for a work sabbatical. America is a large, diverse nation with plenty to do and see while taking a sabbatical from work. You can take a classic American road trip and see all the great national parks. You can visit large cities, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. From the epic scenes at Glacier National Park to the happening beaches of Miami, America amazes and entertains every step of the way.
Note: The Coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the USA. However, the country still has plenty of nature and socially distant activities to enjoy during the pandemic. Moreover, if you take extra precautions, you can make your travels much safer. Please read over our guide on how to travel safely during COVID-19.
Important visa info: The USA has a visa waiver program for travelers from certain countries (click the link to check your country). You can stay for up to 90 days.
5. The Bahamas
Is the beach calling your name? Then look no further than the Bahamas, a country made up of more than 700 beautiful islands. Have fun in Nassau, a buzzing city known for its beaches, snorkeling, and diving, as well as their nightlife scene. Explore Andros, a wild island full of mangroves and pine forests. And spend your days relaxing and making friends with welcoming locals.
Important visa info: Many folks can enter the Bahamas for up to 90 without the need for a visa. Check this document for details. During the Coronavirus pandemic, you must have tested negative for COVID-19 within five days of arriving in the Bahamas.
With stirring landscapes, proud peoples, abundant wildlife, and the best safaris on earth, it’s easy to see why Kenya makes for a great work sabbatical destination. The city of Nairobi, with its bustling entrepreneurial scene, cultural activities, easy access to nature, and ample amenities, offers you a wonderful spot to call home while taking a sabbatical.
Important visa info: Kenya offers visas on arrival that are good for a max duration of 90 days for citizens of many countries. During the pandemic, you must show a negative COVID-19 test within 96 hours of arrival.
Once a backpacker secret, Georgia has become a mainstream tourist destination. That’s because the country is full of gems, from the old churches to the mountain scenery to the coolness of Tbilisi. There’s also a lot of good wine, as Georgia proclaims to be the birthplace of wine. With hospitable people and access to all the amenities you need, Georgia is a wonderful destination while taking a work sabbatical. The country’s visa programs are among the best for international travelers and remote workers too.
Important visa info: You don’t need a visa for stays under 365 days if you’re from certain countries, such as the United States, Singapore, Australia, and Canada (check the list here). In an effort to attract remote workers, Georgia introduced a one-year digital nomad visa (which requires proof of employment). You must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re having a good bowl of noodles in Bangkok, exploring the jungles around Chiang Mai, or hanging out on the sands of Koh Samui, Thailand delights. The country is filled with friendly people and is incredibly welcoming to international travelers. Anyone taking a sabbatical from work should consider the Land of Smiles.
Important visa info: Traditionally, Thailand has offered a 30-day visa-on-arrival for travelers from many countries. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve implemented a long-stay tourist visa. It’s good for 90 days and you can renew it two times.
Making the most of your work sabbatical
We hope this list of the best work sabbatical destinations has inspired you to start planning a break from the daily grind. If you do it right, a work sabbatical can rejuvenate your mind and body, and get you ready for the next part of your life.
For more information on work and travel, read our other guides:
- If you still need cash flow during your work sabbatical, check out our guide on the best semi-retirement jobs. You could work 10-15 hours to ensure you have enough money to fund your adventures.
- If you’re thinking about becoming a full-time digital nomad, check out all our digital nomad resources.
- If you want to take steps to retire earlier, read our guide on semi-retirement.
- Looking for housing while traveling abroad? Read our digital nomad housing guide.
Need help with planning your work sabbatical? Join our community and start the conversation.
About the Author
Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.