Honeymoons, Babymoons and Jobbymoons?
NY Times, Sarah Firshein
June 8, 2018
Last September, a week after leaving her job, Hirumi Nanayakkara did what any high-achieving and organized unemployed person would do: She woke up, ate breakfast and wrote a checklist. Instead of tasks like “update LinkedIn” or “email recruiters,” though, her to-dos included “eat noodles,” “get a massage” and “go to the beach” — exactly what one does while vacationing in the Balinese town of Padangbai.
Ms. Nanayakkara, 34, had flown to Indonesia a few days after finishing a project at LittleBits, the electronic building blocks company where she had been hired as employee No. 5. Five and a half years later, after helping expand the start-up to more than 100 employees, she felt it was time to move on — but not without taking a break first.
“Part of the reason for getting away was to immerse myself in nontechnology-related things, because I had done that every day at work,” she said. She also wanted to learn to cook Indonesian food, her favorite. “When people asked, ‘Are you doing your ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ trip?’ I said, ‘No, I’m doing my ‘Eat, Eat, Eat’ trip,’” she said.
Honeymoons and babymoons are both culturally anointed trips timed to big life events. But there’s no common name for the trip that follows another milestone: switching jobs. Although these “jobbymoons” (as we might call them) vary, based on employment circumstances, budget and personal passions, they often share one objective: to exorcise the vestiges of the last job before starting the next one.
“Travel is great because people learn a lot about themselves,” said Joy Lin, a career coach on the jobs site The Muse. “But you have to know what you’re hoping to get out of it. You don’t want to use travel as an escape between one job that you don’t like and the next job that you don’t like.”
Ms. Nanayakkara, now the director of experience at Quip, the toothbrush start-up, used her Bali excursion to focus on four goals: “chill out, get rid of my eye twitch, eat as much local cuisine as possible and define what I want next in life.” Eleven days into the two-week trip, she had checked them all off. Because she didn’t already have her next job lined up, she also wrote down a list of what she hoped it would offer; among the items, “collaborative team” and “creative strategy.”
Those who have secured their next opportunities say the chance to disconnect can be just as valuable. In between leaving a full-time position at a public relations and marketing firm and starting work on Ward 6 Marketing, an agency of his own, Heath Fradkoff, 40, traveled with his wife to Ireland. They wanted a vacation where they could traipse around a city — Dublin — for a few days before exploring the countryside.
“Here was a period when I didn’t need to be on the grid and I didn’t need to react to anything,” Mr. Fradkoff said. “We wanted to go as far as we could and make as big a deal of this vacation as possible, since it was the only time when I had absolutely no responsibilities, work-wise.”
Unlike “bleisure” travel or “bizcations,” which blur business and recreation, trips between jobs involve zero business.
“You’re not battling against the friction you might feel if you’re currently employed and you feel you can’t get away. When you do start your new job, it’s better if you’re not rolling into it exhausted, with baggage from the last position,” said Michelle Gielan, a positive psychology expert who, along with her husband, Shawn Anchor, partnered with the U.S. Travel Association on a 2016 vacation study for the organization’s Project: Time Off initiative. The study found that 55 percent of American workers who are employed at least 35 hours a week with paid time off, don’t use all of their vacation. In 2015, Americans took approximately four fewer vacation days than they did in 2000, the study said.
“It used to be that you’d have lifetime employment with one employer, and that you’d never really have breaks,” said John Challenger, the chief executive at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive-outplacement firm. “Now we’re seeing plenty of people who decide to take advantage of the natural gaps that occur in one’s work history.”
Data suggests that job-hopping behavior may be generational; according to LinkedIn, in 2016, millennials switched jobs 2.2 times more than nonmillennials and had a lower median tenure before hopping.
Mr. Challenger said that the chance to take time off can be the silver lining to “no-fault job loss”; say, companywide downsizing.
When she was laid off from Tasting Table last fall, Bertha Chen, 26, dove headfirst into networking, interviewing and freelancing. “With no job, I was worried about where my life was going. I’m someone who has to know my next step before doing anything crazy — like jumping on a plane,” she said.
After six weeks of searching, Ms. Chen got an offer as an account coordinator at Pinterest; the position was to begin in two weeks. Two hours and eight minutes after accepting it, she bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica and departed less than 36 hours later. Although she didn’t love traveling alone and wasn’t wowed by the destination, the five-day vacation impressed upon her one important lesson. “I had zero time to do research, and although the trip wasn’t perfect, I realized that going with the flow also works out,” she said. “I don’t have to plan every minute.”
However unusual it may have felt to her at the time, Ms. Chen’s getaway matches a trend; today more than 50 percent of Google Flights searches are for trips departing less than 30 days out. To counter the premium of 11th-hour airfare, Ms. Chen paid $11 a night for a serviceable, if bare-bones, hostel.
Other life circumstances can make the cost of a trip between jobs easier to bear. By the time she left for Bali, Ms. Nanayakkara, who had gotten married a few months before, was already on her new husband’s health insurance, sparing her hundreds, if not thousands, in would-be Cobra payments. She had also tracked airfare on Kayak and Google Flights before finding a round-trip ticket for $850. Mr. Fradkoff and his wife had saved well and had not taken any big trips in the year leading up to their week in Ireland; he had also lined up his fledgling firm’s first few projects, with kickoff dates scheduled immediately after their return.
“On the one hand, you’ve wrapped up with your former clients — no one is going to email or call you,” Mr. Fradkoff said. “But you also know you’ll be starting a bunch of new stuff when you get back. You’re starting down a new path; you want to mark the occasion, celebrate it and prepare yourself.”