The study is mastered, the sabbatical granted or the job quit – and now a longer journey is pending. When travelling it is great to let yourself drift. In the run-up to a long-term trip, however, a little organization is needed.
I lived in India for a longer period in 2010/2011 and spent several months in Sri Lanka from December 2017. Here I recorded all important points that were relevant for me before the start:
Who has been free for so long…
After graduation, it is usually easy to spend a longer period abroad. But what does it look like if you have a permanent job?
Fortunately, sabbaticals are no longer a foreign word for all employers. A sabbatical is a kind of long-term holiday for which you save hours. For example, you work full-time for one year for 50 percent of your salary. After that you are released for one year and get the 50 percent of your salary that you have already worked for.
Another model could be to take unpaid leave. However, with this regulation the income and thus also the social insurances are suspended. You should therefore contact your health insurance company to find out which regulation applies (see health insurance company). Voluntary contributions to the pension fund can be paid until March of the following year. The minimum contribution is currently 83.70 euros, the maximum is 1,209.
Are you looking for a new job because the previous one no longer fits? Or have you found a new job? Then you can use the time between jobs to travel. If the wanderlust is great and the job hasn’t felt right for a long time, you can quit. It is a full risk and should definitely be thought through. But it is also worth it because it is a special time. And there is freedom and the possibility of reorientation – and then see what comes.
Register unemployed – do I have to?
Basically, nobody has to register or deregister with the employment office or the employment agency. In Germany, there is only an obligation to register at the Einwohnermeldeamt. However, if you want to claim unemployment benefit 1, you must register as unemployed. If you register with the Employment Agency before your trip, the claim can be used after the trip. The claim remains valid for a period of four years.
You have resigned and want to claim unemployment benefit 1 after your return? Then it is best to register as a jobseeker on the day of your resignation. On the first day of unemployment at the latest, you must register in person and be unemployed. This is possible without an appointment. If your trip starts after this registration, you must cancel your registration with the Employment Agency because you are not available to the labour market. Of course you won’t get unemployment benefit.
If you return from your trip, you have to register again if you want to use your entitlement. By the way: The Agentur für Arbeit also pays the social insurance (statutory health, nursing and pension insurance). However, you must register yourself with your health insurance company, which the agency does not do for you (it confirms this as soon as your application has been approved). And: You are only entitled to unemployment benefit 1 if you have completed the qualifying period in the past 24 months, i.e. worked for twelve months within the 24 months subject to social insurance contributions. Further information can be found at the Employment Agency.
Health insurance and international travel insurance
As a rule, foreign travel insurance policies – whether taken out by credit card or separately – offer protection for a total of around eight weeks within the contract period. This is not sufficient for long-term travel. You therefore need an international travel insurance for long-term travel. It is important that you take out this before you start your journey. This can usually be done quickly and easily online via the websites of the various providers.
Most foreign travel insurances require a residence in Germany. If you wish to cancel your policy completely, it is therefore essential that you take out the insurance beforehand. An extension of the travel insurance is usually possible without any problems by e-mail. I was insured with Envivas (for those insured by Techniker Krankenkasse) and paid 89 cents a day (excluding the USA and Canada). When I decided to return to Germany one month later than planned, the extension was possible without any problems.
You should definitely take out a foreign travel insurance policy. It doesn’t cost a lot of money in India or Sri Lanka to be treated for an abrasive wound or an infection. But there are countries like the USA where visits to the doctor really cost a lot of money. And an operation or in case of emergency even a return transport for medical reasons to the home country then pays even better the foreign travel insurance.
Your international travel insurance also serves as a substitute insurance for the German statutory health insurance. After I had quit, my membership in the health insurance ended with leaving the company. One reads again and again in travel forums that the health insurances want to sell partial entitlements or travelers partly recommend these.
An entitlement is not necessary for those who are legally compulsorily insured; it looks different for those who are voluntarily legally insured.
The statutory health insurance fund in which you were last compulsorily insured must take you back. However, you must prove that you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy, otherwise you may have to pay additional contributions in Germany.
What happens to the apartment while you’re gone? Are you a condominium owner, great. If not: leave empty and still pay the rent every month? Cancel your contract and then return home without a job and go on a search in a difficult housing market like Stuttgart? Subletting? It was clear to me that I didn’t want to give up my apartment in Stuttgart. After consulting the landlord, I was allowed to sublet it.
First check your tenancy agreement to see whether subletting is excluded. With me it was not the case, but it was referred to the Civil Code (BGB), i.e. after consultation with the landlord ok. So talk to your landlord and get permission in writing.
Have you found a subtenant via the various Internet portals or via the circle of friends and acquaintances? Then it is important to conclude a subletting agreement with the subletor, which is limited in time. You should also think about notice periods. And about how you might find a new tenant from abroad, the current intermediate tenant should cancel. Here you will find a pattern that you can adapt.
It is important that your passport is valid for at least another six months upon entry and that at least two pages in your passport are free. These regulations apply to most countries. If you want to travel longer, make sure your passport is still valid for six months when you enter the last country.
There are countries where you can enter without a visa, some where there are visas on arrival and some where a visa is required. If you are still in Germany and you know your itinerary or part of it, you can apply for the various visas from Germany via the embassies or consulates of the respective countries.
Important: Always use the official pages on which you are forwarded, for example from the embassy pages or from the Federal Foreign Office. If, for example, you google for “Visa Sri Lanka”, countless providers will be suggested who will get you your visa but charge you double or triple. You can easily avoid these unnecessary expenses.