I Have Your Answer

By Allison Daskam

It turns out that a travel sabbatical is just as much fun as you think it is.

It was late November when I texted my realtor: "Let's list it." If you're questioning my timing, you're right—the holiday season is not a prime time for home sales—but a sense of certainty had taken hold. I'd been contemplating a move to the mountains, and this was step one.

With showings and negotiations complete, the house sold to a couple who loved it every bit as much as I had. Next on the list was putting in notice at my job. I'd worked in communications shops since 2005, so the thought of trading an office for the open sky was thrilling but also completely foreign to me. I'd never gone more than a couple weeks without a regular commute, time at my desk and department meetings. But I put in notice, tied up loose ends and said goodbye to people who had started out as coworkers and ended up as friends.

My next move was a literal one. I boarded an early morning flight, and by the end of the day, I'd officially moved from a city of 900,000 people to a town of 900. Welcome to Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway is situated at the end of an ocean inlet and surrounded by mountains. The entire town is one mile long (no car), averages 55 degrees in the summer (no shorts) and has groceries delivered once a week (no kale). To say it's picturesque seems almost an insult. I made no attempt to hide my sheer joy of glacial views, wooded hikes and seeing the Northern Lights for the first time.

As for a job, I talked my way into cooking at a restaurant. My pitch was, "I'm a hard worker, a legit home cook and anything I don't know how to do, you'll only have to show me once." The owners agreed, and I spent the summer happily submersed in the world of a professional kitchen.

With my seasonal stint behind me, I'm now back in Austin and have launched Art & Science Communications to focus on my favorite parts of this work—strategy, messaging and writing. (Here's more detail, if you like.)

When I told people I was going to Skagway for the summer, the No. 1 response was, "I want to do that!" So, when it came time to update my LinkedIn profile, it felt fitting to use my travel sabbatical job description as an encouragement: If you've ever thought to yourself, "Maybe I should go live in the mountains for a season," I have your answer: yes.