Category Archives: Blog

Visiting and Living on Koh Phi Phi Islands

I’ve been in Thailand for nearly a month now and spent the entire time on Koh Phi Phi Don Island. I love it!

Don’t get any romantic ideas of a quiet, remote village surrounded by beautiful sea, mountains and jungle à la Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach.  It was up until The Beach was filmed here and now it’s a tourism and scuba diving magnet with a big party scene and it’s more expensive than most places in Thailand. It is however surrounded by beautiful sea, mountains and jungle and still has its own soul and vibe. The people that live on Phi Phi tend to be very helpful and smiley. Everything and everyone moves at their own pace and locals still seem genuinely curious about people that come to stay on Phi Phi for a while. I think the place is just on that fine line of being big enough to be able to handle dozens of boat loads of tourists everyday while still maintaining a local community feel and mentality. Oh, and it really is a spectacularly beautiful place.

Loh Dalum Bay
Loh Dalum Bay

The town is built on a sandy beach between two tall limestone ridges and is less than two meters above sea level. On both sides are semicircular bays lined with beaches. Tonsai Bay on the south side of town is crowded with longtail and other water vessels. Nice to look at but generally not great for sunbathing and swimming. On the north side is Loh Dalum Bay and it’s the place to be for swimming, paddling, sunbathing and of course, partying. During the day it’s fairly quiet and chilled while it night it bursts to life with beach bars and clubs.

Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Bay
Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Bay

Since I’m diving almost everyday starting at 7am I haven’t been seeing much of the partying side of Phi Phi. We mostly have a beer at work in the evenings then head to one of the more chilled out places for one or 2 more before bed. If you plan on visiting and you’re looking for chilled out drinks that don’t cost a fortune head to The Sports Bar, Relax Bar or the only rooftop bar on Phi Phi, Banana Bar (also one of the diving communities favourites). If you’re looking for a more lively scene then start at Dojo and Stockholm Syndrome and when they close head to the beach and somewhere like Slinkys.

In less than a month I’ve stayed at 3 different bungalows/rooms. If you’re staying more than a month there’s a huge range of accommodation options and not very much useful information on the internet to help. My first place was towards the back of town (10 minute walk to work) and cost 9000 Baht per month. It was one room, had a private bathroom and a fan but no hot water and toilets that are flushed manually using a bucket of water. Despite being a hot and dark room it was fine until the rain came. Then it turned into a dank, leaking puddle cave with new layers of mold growing daily. Any lengthy exposure to mold can be really really bad for your respitory system. Not cool if you dive very day. Time to move! Next was a 10000 per month place 2 minutes from work. Complete with hot shower, flushing toilet and a little fridge I thought I’d hit jackpot when I inspected the room. It was bright and spacious compared to my previous room but they had used a heavy amount of cleaning products which I didn’t like but I figured at least that meant they had just cleaned the room. Turns out they had just covered up the smell of mold. One nights stay revealed everything was riddled with mold. Even the pillows smelt like mold. Time to move! Only this time the manager refused to give me back my months rent. She wouldn’t move me to a new room either. After hours of arguing I decided my health was more important than 10000 Baht so I moved out anyway. A word of sincere advice if you’re coming to Phi Phi, do not stay at K House! I’m now in a 10000 a month place which is dry and clean. I have a hot shower and flushing toilet but dear god I miss having a fridge. Oh well.. can’t have everything.

If you’re thinking about staying on Phi Phi for a month or more most places will range from about 7000 Baht per month to 25000 per month. For 7000 Baht you’ll get a private room with a fan and shared toilet facilities. Expect no hot Water and toilets that are flushed manually using a bucket of water. Reach the 10000 Baht per month mark and you’ll be looking at private bathroom, hot water, flushing toilet, and maybe aircon and/or a small fridge. 25000 will get you a beautiful new building over looking one of the bays on a quiet location but it’s still likely to be just one room. I haven’t seen or heard of any actual apartments with a kitchen etc… needless to say, everyone eats out all the time. Good thing the food is relativey cheap. A couple of last words on accommodation speaking from some bitter experiences:
1. Book a hotel or dorm room first, come to Phi Phi then start walking around and viewing accommodation
2. Check if bills are or are not included in your monthly rent
3. Try and pay your monthly rent half upfront and half at the end if possible
4. Always check the room for damp. Lots of rooms are really unhealthily damp so if you smell or see it walk away no matter how good the deal is.

If you’re staying for a few days, Trip Advisor is definitely worth a visit to find your accommodation options. If you have any questions please just shout using comments below or use my contact form.

Yep, so I eat out everyday, 3 meals a day. It’s my least favourite thing about living on Phi Phi. I miss being able to make myself a simple sandwich or quickly scramble some eggs the way I like them. Since everyone eats out all the time there is (thankfully!) quite a a lot of variety and options. My personal favourite is Grand PP Arcade. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, the menu is relatively small but the food is perfection, prices are reasonable and the owners are lovely. It’s possible to eat out for less than 60 baht a meal but more realistically you’re looking at between 100 and 200 baht a meal. I’ve started putting together my top 10 restaurants on Phi Phi Island here.

Breakfast at work. I love working next to PP Arcade.  My wallet doesn't!
Breakfast at work. I love working next to PP Arcade. My wallet doesn’t!

The diving on Phi Phi is awesome but my shop doesn’t allow instructors to take cameras with them (for good reason) so I need to come up with another plan to bring you some diving pictures. When I have that I’ll do a full article on the diving here. For now I leave you with some above water shots of the dive sites 🙂

Ciao for now

PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) and the Instructor Exam (IE)

Yesterday was my last day in Mexico for a while so I thought I better get this post out sooner rather than later!

When I started this blog I set out to become a PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor.  Well I made it!  It’s been a lot of work but hugely rewarding and 4 months has blurred past at incredible speed . When I arrived in Mexico I was qualified to Advanced Open Water with Nitrox.  I still had to pass Rescue Diver, Emergency First Response and Dive Master.  The Instructor Development Course (IDC) seemed so very very far away.  6 months on and I have the Open Water Scuba Instructor qualification with Master Scuba Diver Trainer prep completed and Side Mount Instructor.  I don’t regret the change and time invested for a second!

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jo and Angel as Course Directors and mentors.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Jo and Angel as Course Directors and mentors.

To anyone considering going for Rescue Diver I can definitely recommend it.  It has to be the most fun and useful diving course I’ve done so far.  First you learn how to look after yourself if you get into trouble then you learn how to look after others.  For the first time in your diving life you will start to look beyond yourself and become aware of how other divers might be feeling, what that could lead to and how to help them before any really serious issues arise.  You practice the rescue drills often enough for them to reliably kick in when they’re needed. It will give you more confidence and overall resulting in you becoming a better diver.  Included in the Rescue Diver course is Emergency First Response if you don’t already have it. If you are keen my top tips here are:

  1. Anyone can do it.  It’s not just for people looking to go professional.  It’ll take you out of your comfort zone but you’ll never regret it.
  2. Find an instructor that regularly teaches the Rescue Diver course. All instructors are qualified to teach the course but not all instructors have the experience to do it justice and give you value while making it fun.
  3. A group of 4 students is the perfect number to have in a rescue course.  1 or 2 students runs the risk of being very dull while more than 6 will likely equate to many more hours in the water than are comfortable.
Maybe don't try this at home...
Maybe don’t try this at home…
Brought Back to Life and Loving it!
Brought Back to Life and Loving it!

The Dive Master program was a real joy for me and the other guys doing the course at the same time.  We had a lot of skills to master and experience to gain but I’m confident we will all remember that time as one of the most fun diving periods of our lives.  Since experience can only be earned and not taught and experience was what we seriously lacked the most important task was to dive. Diving, diving and more diving.  The program we signed up to allowed us to volunteer for all and every dive going as long as there was room on the boat.  Some of us made the most of this while some preferred to have a little more dive/life balance.  In either case we were given just enough responsibility to push us and keep things interesting while not enough to cause any real havoc.  That said, there was more than one occasion where an instructor debriefed us after the dive in a less than glowing fashion. Some might even go so far as to say we got torn a new one on occasion!  Completely undeserved obviously!  Some things to consider before you go for Dive Master:

  1. Choose between working for free to earn your DM qualification or paying for a DM course.  Working for free will take a lot longer and in most places you’ll work bloody hard but I’ve met many people that did this and not one of them regretted doing it this way.  Paying for the course is quicker and, in my case, was a fantastic 3 months of my life diving as little or as much as I could handle.
  2. Do your homework before choosing a dive center to do your DM course.  There’s Facebook groups such as Dive Jobs Worldwide which are full of people willing to offer opinions and help on which dive outfits are the good ones.  Don’t be afraid to ask.
One of my dive buddies during Dive Master training.
One of my dive buddies during Dive Master training.

The Instructor Development Course (IDC) that leads onto the Instructor Exams (IE) were expected to be by far the hardest diving challenges I had faced to this point.  Later on, it turns out, the biggest challenge is actually doing the job you worked so hard to get qualified to do but hey, that’s for another post!  The IDC and IE are, in reality, just not that difficult if you’ve been trained well as a Dive Master. You do need to be willing to put in a bit of study and preparation time.  There’s already loads of info on the net about what’s involved in an IDC and IE so I’ll leave it you if you want to look it up.

IDC MARCH from TheGoProFamilly on Vimeo.

So where to next?  London for a week and then to Thailand.  I’ll be on Koh Phi Phi starting the 19th of May. For the next couple of months at least I’ll be updating from there.  There’s plenty more I want to write about Playa Del Carmen and the journey so far so stay tuned folks!

Ciao for now Ben

Ever Wondered What it’s Like To Dive in a Cavern or a Cave? (Video)

It’s been said that per attempt, cave diving is the single most dangerous sport in the world.  It’s dark, the spaces are cramped and you can’t easily get to the surface if something goes wrong. Going into a situation for the first time with that in mind is pretty daunting.   Luckily, in terms of personal risk,  there is a big difference between SCUBA diving in a cave and in a cavern and there’s plenty of locations to start gently and work your way up. An experienced local guide and good buoyancy control are an absolute must though! I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do both in one day recently. Thankfully I was diving with good friends among which is a very experienced cave diver.  That said, the large quantities of adrenaline coursing through my veins told me this was still a new, challenging and somewhat scary experience.

Easy to get to but still a remote dive site.  Experience and planning required!
Easy to get to but still a remote dive site. Experience and planning required!

We were diving in 2 different cenotes,  El Pit and Dream Gate.  They’re approximately 45 minutes from Playa Del Carmen along the main highway.  Turning off the highway for Dos Ojos to get to El Pit you quickly realise that although the cenotes are tourist attractions this is still very much a remote location.   Dream Gate even more so.  There is no sign for the turning and you have to drive through private property to get to the dirt track. El Pit is exactly as the name suggests,  a deep circular cavern and a really nice introduction to cavern diving.

Not for the faint of heart
Not for the faint of heart

El Pit Map

El Pit Cenotes.  A beautiful place for cavern and cave diving
El Pit Cenotes. A beautiful place for cavern and cave diving

These places are wild and beautiful, that is if you’re not at the big tourist hot spots where the tour buses go.  El Pit was exactly the picture I had in mind for a cenote and it certainly met my expectations. Facilities are limited though so experience and planning is essential. There are no places to set up your gear so you either assemble everything on the floor or on a rickety bench. The hike to the entrance is mercifully short however there is a long and steep set of stairs to tackle before you jump in. As you dive down through the cold and crystal clear water to approximately 25 to 30 meters you meet a layer of liquid hydrogen sulfide which looks like a surreal and dreamy cloud of chalk approximately 2 – 5 meters thick. It’s difficult to see through and toxic if you spend a lot of time in it. We didn’t stay below the hydrogen sulfide for very long. My dive buddy, Phil, experienced nitrogen narcosis in a big way on the way through and along with near zero visibility, casually descended to a whopping 51 meters! Since we couldn’t see a thing on the way through the cloud we didn’t see the dive leader level out before 40 meters and once visibility returned it became apparent I’d followed my buddy down to 49 meters… Ooops!  Luckily our experienced cave diving leader saw what was happening very quickly, made contact and recovered the situation. With the narcosis fading, we spent the next 45 minutes gradually ascending as we circled the cavern many times. There was an incredible amount of different spaces to explore.  From large cavernous areas with huge stalactites coming from the ceiling to small shelved areas with only 1.5 meters room from floor to ceiling. It was a new and magical experience for me and I couldn’t help but smile every time I caught a glimpse of the open cavern filled with sunlight back-lighting a group of descending divers.  It’s just such an iconic view of cavern diving which I’d recommend it to any diver without claustrophobia 🙂

Next was on to Dream Gate.

Maximum depth is only 7 meters
Maximum depth is only 7 meters
Once you're in the cavern there are 2 routes to follow.
Once you’re in the cavern there are 2 routes to follow.

PANO_20150111_145550WEBWhile still technically a cavern dive it’s right on the boundary of the definition of cavern. In reality it’s about as close to getting to do a cave dive as you can without a cave diving qualification. The diving companies only take experienced divers here and that can been seen in how pristine everything is. This was a truly beautiful experience. The cave formations such as stalactites and stalagmites were amazing. The maximum depth may only be 7 meters but at some points you have less than 1 meter between floor and ceiling which is exhilarating the first time you glide through such tight spaces in the pitch black. We managed to do both routes in one dive, barely saw a single other diver and exited feeling both elated and super relaxed. That said while it was beautiful, exhilarating and relaxing I wouldn’t recommend doing this dive if your buoyancy control isn’t spot on.  You’ll spend your whole dive crashing into the floor and ceiling while surrounded by a cloud of extremely fine sand.

As a thank you for making it this far through my article I’ll leave you with a video mostly filmed in El Pit 🙂

Filmed and edited by Phil Bunyard (In his spare time between episodes of narcosis!)

As always, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and any experiences you’ve had with diving in caverns and caves.

Ciao for now!


p.s. coming up I have an article discussing the pursuit of happiness as I’ve spent a fair bit of time thinking about it recently.  I’ll also be looking for a way to give you more insight into nitrogen narcosis – what it is, how it feels, what happens when you have it etc…

A Quick Update on Playa Del Carmen Since New Years (Video)

It’s been hard work since the beginning of year but incredibly rewarding.  Not much time for blog articles so I thought I’d post a quick update with a small teaser video and attach a promise that there’s more coming 🙂

My Dive Master group are all qualified Emergency First-aid Responders. Yes, folks I can cure what ails you, sort of, well at least keep you alive until the professionals arrive… mostly…

Phil and I have finished 2 weeks of Spanish Lessons.  Our Spanish is a little better but that’s not saying much considering before the lessons it was none existent!  But it’s a start and will help give us a basis to learn more.  They also took the time to share some of the South American traditions over the New Year:

New Years Eve and New Years day was a lot of fun.  We went to dinner at a local place called El Fogon and were home by 21:30.  The plan was to go to one of the Dive Instructors house to see in the New Year.  Unfortunately we fell asleep and woke up at 23:40.  We rushed down to the beach and celebrations started again from there.

Other than that it’s been diving, diving diving.  It’s all about learning, gaining experience and learning some more.  We’ve done a lot of diving in swimming pools (currently nursing an ear infection from said pools), plenty of diving in the ocean and a small amount of diving in cenotes.  I have an awesome blog post on the cenotes dive so stay tuned folks!

For now here’s a small taster of around Playa Del Carmen and some of the diving. The video looks much better if you set it to HD!

Tequila, Panettone and a Slice of Serenity – Feliz Navidad!

I’ve been privileged to have experienced Christmas in many different countries around the globe and can honestly say I have no preference between a summer Christmas with a BBQ around a swimming pool or a winter Christmas with snow and an open fire. They both paint a wonderful picture on the surface with the reality having both pros and cons. In short, bah humbug!

Not knowing many people, having a student budget and lacking motivation, this year in Playa Del Carmen Christmas was looking like a none event for us. That was until one of our fellow diving students, Ricky, invited us to his place on the 24th for an Italian Christmas dinner. Actually, several people ended up inviting us to dinner. The people around us are just incredibly welcoming and giving!

Antonio Banderas in Playa Del Carmen
Me and Antonio Banderas.. I mean Ricky C

Ricky lives with Marco, a very cool diving instructor and Max, the most helpful and welcoming man in Playa who knows everyone! They’re basically a house full of awesome Italians. Arriving unfashionably early at 9pm, we were welcomed in by Max’s parents, ushered out to the bar by the pool and handed a beer.

As the night progressed we were treated to large quantities of lasagna, aubergine parmigiana (I think that’s what it’s called) and other amazing home made Italian dishes (thanks to Marco’s Mum!). The panettone, pandoro and coffee rounded off a night consisting of several toasts of tequila washed down with margaritas and interspersed with beers.

Moral of the story. If you’re ever invited to Christmas by an Italian, say yes please immediately!

We were fairly well behaved on the tequila and margarita side of things as we had this great idea that we might get to go diving with Bull Sharks on Christmas day. Turns out most of Playa had the same idea and the dive boats were too full for us to join the party. Who knew Christmas day was when everyone in Playa wanted to go diving?!?!

Plan B! We took to the streets to explore more of Playa… Turns out, those that weren’t diving were also exploring Playa!

Quinta Avenida, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The Masses…

Wondering down 5th avenue brought as back to a cool little shop we’d seen weeks previous called The Little Teapot. Perfect place to escape the crowds and watch the world go by. Just for fun and because we can here’s a short clip of the adventure. (Phils videography debut!)

With our sanity restored we headed to Mamita’s Beach to walk off the amazing peanut butter cookies. A little stroll north and we discovered a small slice of serenity. A pleasant break from the masses of people everywhere.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
How’s the serenity? Espléndido!

With our legs giving in from a hard days exploring we decided to head home for cervezas and chorizo. As usual, despite my best attempt at imitating Ebenezer Scrooge and although some fairly important people in my life were missing, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Christmas in Mexico.

Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas all 🙂

Sunburn, Bull Sharks and Nitrogen Narcosis!

Through the very short history of this blog you’ve seen me talk about my travelling buddy Phil. Some of you will know him, some will have seen a picture of him:


Since we’re taking this leap at the same time we thought we’d keep the blog interesting and add his point of view from time to time. So without further preamble…

Hola mis amigos!

So one week in and we are burnt, broken and shattered… But life is great!

We are 2 days in to our Rescue Diver course, searching for apartments every night, cooking dinner on what can best be described as a camp cooker and getting more dives thrown our way than we can poke a stick at… it’s exhausting.

Cooking on a Camp Stove
Cooking on a Camp Stove

The diving has been amazing though, stingrays, giant crabs, lion fish, scorpion fish, turtles and eels under every rock not to mention a multitude of little fish.  We’ve been stung by coral, “narced”, attacked by fish that clearly think they’re bigger than they are and fought against currents that were somewhat like being in a washing machine… Never a dull moment!  The highlight however would have to be sitting on the bottom while a 2.5m Bull Shark casually did a few swim bys not more than 10 foot away… AMAZING!  Next we surfaced to do some Rescue Diver drills completely unperturbed by the group of 3 Bull Sharks and 2 baby sharks that were now swimming about below us.  Who woulda thought we’d be so relaxed.

Setting up Dive Gear
Setting up Dive Gear

On top of that, the people we are training with are amazing!  The team is like a big family looking out for one another and our instructor Aitor is full of stories and little pearls of wisdom.  I feel like every conversation we have leaves me as a better Scuba Diver.

Well that’s all for now folks coz this little black ducks gotta go and study…

Actually Studying!
Actually Studying!

Hasta luego!!

First Impressions Of Playa Del Carmen

It’s Far From The UK!

Actually it isn’t really.  The 11 hour flight with Thomas Cook, even filled with screaming children, wasn’t that bad.  There was enough leg room, decent music playlists, a couple of free movies to watch and we smiled smugly at the people that had paid the extra for a meal which looked decidedly grim!  Even the hour transfer from Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen wasn’t that bad.  I’d highly recommend the ADO bus service.  Cheap, efficient and super comfy, which was confirmed by Phil who snoozed the whole way.  Only down side was the baggage guy literally hurling our luggage into the luggage hold of the bus while we stood praying to the gods that everything arrived in one piece… Breakables to be carried on-board!

It’s Commercial as Hell!

But it also isn’t…  The walk from bus station to hostel was straight down Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue).  It was completely commercial with McDonalds, Starbucks and everyone trying to sell you something every 5 steps.  Once in the hostel it was a very laid back, slightly run down and completely chilled.  A later scout around for dinner and supplies led us to a local Taco place… Result!  It was all open next to the street, filled with locals, only Spanish menu, only Spanish speaking staff and the food was being cooked on a grill in the middle of the room. We arbitrarily went for the large, soft tacos and we weren’t disappointed.  They tasted amazing and cost less than £3.00 each.  This gives me hope that there is still some good local life and culture to be found here for those willing to take the time to look.

People are Friendly

The Little Tea Pot, The lady behind the counter was really helpful.
The Little Tea Pot,
The lady behind the counter was really helpful.

Since telling people we’re coming to Mexico there has been no end to the warnings and war stories from friends and colleagues about being ripped off.  Seems to me on the whole, as long as you’re street smart, it’s safe and the people are warm, friendly and helpful.  Security Guards out the front of banks, shops etc.. all smile and say hola.  Even the guys trying to coax you into their stores have friendly and original ways of doing so which if nothing else it gives you a laugh.

The Beach is Amazeballs!!

Clear skies, blue seas and white sand that’s soft as flour.  I need say no more on this really.  God I’ve missed the beach.

First glimpse of the beach
First glimpse of the beach

The Fact We’re Here for 5 Months Hasn’t Sunk in Yet  

It really hasn’t.  I guess it will as we start to get stuck into SCUBA training, finding a more permanent place to live and doing the mundanities of life such as shopping for food.

Until Next Time

As the first full day draws to an end we hear the call of the cerveza shouting our names… Adiós Amigos!

Dos Cervezas
Dos Cervezas

What made you do it?

Last week my boss sent out the email letting everyone know that after 8 long years I had finally decided to hang up my suit and start my big adventure. This sparked a barrage of congrats and questions, the 2 most common of them being “Where are you going?” and “What made you decide to take the leap?”

The Decision

The where is easy, Playa Del Carmen in Mexico but I digress… The how or why I made the decision is a tad harder. Everything I’ve read on taking a sabbatical has shown me that everyone has their own reasons. My original life plan was to save for a deposit on an investment property while working my way up the old corporate ladder until two things happened to make me question that plan:

  1. London property prices rose quicker than I could save
  2. My boss resigned and a colleague asked me if I was going to apply for his job

On one hand the idea of bigger challenges was appealing yet the concept of walking the tightrope of office politics associated with that level was anything but. The realisation that I was unlikely to ever be happy in the direction I was heading was both terrible and wonderful at the same time. Several months later and it’s only wonderful.

Around the same time all this was going on, a good buddy of mine that I’ve spent many years travelling with decided he’d had enough of London and was going to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico to get his SCUBA Diving Instructor qualification.

"You know you could come with me..."
“You know you could come with me…”

Over several pints we discussed what this decision might mean for him and what life might be like during and after the trip… Goddamn it sounded good! Just as I was contemplating just how good it sounded he, casual as you like, suggested that there was no reason why I couldn’t go with him…

I scoffed, laughed and moved the conversation along but the seed was sown.

Having grown up in Oz I’ve spent a lot of time living close to the beach and miss it hugely. Oz is where my love of diving grew from and my fascination with marine life. I’ve also long had a passion for photography so an opportunity to be exposed to all of these things on a daily basis was simply too compelling to ignore, almost…

Ocean Reef Beach W.A.
Ocean Reef Beach W.A. Home! I spent almost every morning and afternoon here for several years.

Excuses Are Not Reasons

I spent months finding reasons why I had to stay. At the time, in my head, they seemed so important however in hindsight they were simply excuses. Luckily I have some fantastic people in my life, not least of which is my girlfriend, who helped me talk through them all.

  1. I can’t go, I have a mortgage – rent the apartment out if necessary
  2. I’ve spent over 10 years building a career – you’re not happy, it’ll be here when you’re back
  3. My girlfriend can’t leave – she’d hate it if I didn’t go because of her
  4. and so on

The core difference between a reason and an excuse comes down to priorities and sometimes we prioritise things to the point where there no longer appears to be a choice. Children, for example, rightly become your priority over hobbies and other passions. Fortunately I have no such responsibilities and thanks to several people and an open mind to get through the fear of drastic change, I was finally relieved of my excuses.

Your Choice

Several people have spoken to me about wanting to take a sabbatical. They worry about asking for time away from the office. I tell them, “What’s the worst that can happen? They say no!” That’s the answer I received. I’ll do a later post on how you can increase your chances of approval but think hard about what you will do and how you will feel if your request is refused.

Being without a proper income is a scary thought! Figure out how long you can afford little or no income. Keep in mind it’s possible to travel for less than your current living expenses.

Losing the job security I had been building for years felt like such a big risk until I took a step back, looked at the market and realised that job security is a complete illusion!

Having a mortgage to pay off without regular income. This one’s a tough one! Each person’s position here is different so my advice to you is get professional advice. I spoke to a Real Estate Agent, checked my Ts & Cs of my mortgage and spoke to my mortgage advisor, several times, before I got comfortable with the plan.

Taking The Leap

To those of you thinking about a sabbatical, be brave! Are your reasons really just excuses? Planning a sabbatical is much easier once excuses are eliminated so find someone you trust that will help you look at why you should rather than why you shouldn’t. As cliché as it sounds, a pros and cons list can also be really useful here.

When I can I’ll share the plans I have made, the tools that helped me prepare and the articles that I read along the way but until then…

Ciao for now!

p.s. A big thanks to Steffi and Phil for your support! 🙂

The Count Down Begins!

4 weeks and counting… the well paid and comfortable job comes to an end, I wave farewell to London and everyone I love that keeps me here and I move to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for 5 months.  The beginning of a journey towards becoming a SCUBA Diving instructor, Spanish speaker and proficient underwater photographer.

I intend this blog to be the telling of that journey.  As well as keeping friends and family updated I hope it will help and inspire people that might be thinking of taking a sabbatical, career break or just thinking about making a change.

I’ll be learning how this blogging malarkey works along the way so must beg your patience.