by Nicola Parker
Career , Recruitment , Candidate , Comany Culture , LifeAtUR , Understanding Recruitment , Culture
One of the many benefits of working at Understanding Recruitment is that you’re entitled to a three-month sabbatical after you’ve been with us for five years.  Our Delivery Manager Nicola and her husband Tom who is our Head of DevOps and Cloud went on Sabbatical before tying the knot in 2018, as our first Understanding Recruitment love story. We caught up with them to reminisce about their three months of exotic travels…

Why did you decide to go travelling? 

We both love visiting new countries and experiencing new cultures, and the sabbatical offered us the opportunity to do this for an extended period. We could comfortably afford to travel how we wanted to during this time with the added security and benefit that our jobs would be there for us to return to.


Which countries did you visit on your sabbatical and why did you choose them?

We travelled to Japan, Australia, Bali, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, and Dubai. We had been to Thailand several times before and were really keen to further explore South East Asia. I have family in Australia on the East Coast, so it was a great excuse to visit them. Tokyo has always been an area of interest and we thought it was a great opportunity to go there too whilst being in that part of the world. Dubai was a stop off on the return to the UK so thought it made sense to stay there for a few days too!


How did you go about planning your sabbatical?

We used specialist travel agents to help us plan most effectively and to advise us on our route. We also contacted family in Australia for advice and did several months of internet-based research, booking most flights and hotels before we went. We also made some bookings whilst we were out there so that we didn’t have to stick to a rigid structure.


How did you fund your travel?

We worked out an average budget per day and then saved our commission earnt at work to build up to it!


What was the most useful thing you packed?

We had smaller bags designed to keep all clothes as one within the backpack making them a lot easier to find each day (i.e. one bag for shorts, another for swimwear)!


Which place was totally different to how you imagined?

Dubai was totally different to what we expected. On the day we arrived there was a storm and the city flooded to the point that we couldn’t get off the plane for an hour when we arrived because it was stuck in a puddle! It is also very cosmopolitan compared to the more rural vibe of Asia where we had just come from.


Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?

Small amounts of money were stolen from our backpacks and rooms where a safe wasn’t available, but this didn’t happen often.


What was your favourite moment?

It’s a tough call between staying with a wider group on a catamaran for three days whilst sailing around the Whitsundays in Australia; which included snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, swimming with giant sea turtles and going to Whitehaven Beach, and seeing the light and water show at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

What has been the best food you have eaten and where was it? 

We went on a Vietnamese street food tour in Hanoi which was amazing.

Did you make friends along the way?

Yes, we met lots of people in most places, particularly Oz and South East Asia.


What, if anything, would you do differently? 

We would potentially go to less places and spend more time at each by doing so.


What destination would you recommend to people?

Hands down it would be El Nido in the Philippines – Las Cabanas Beach!


Where will you go next? 

So far, we’ve got Egypt and New York planned for this year.