Basic Training

Tips for Negotiating a Sabbatical vs. Quitting
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Abandon your career? Are you crazy?!

There was nothing scarier for me after the decision to travel around the world than the aspect of leaving my career.” — Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage

This is a frequent comment we hear from people contemplating career breaks.  People take career breaks for different reasons – are you taking a break to change careers or explore new careers – or do you simply need a break? Granted, it’s not necessarily that simple, but you will need to examine deep down whether you want to leave your job behind or try to simply put it on hold while you take a career break.

There are endless possiblities on what can happen with your career when you take a break, but before you leave, you have to normally consider one of two things – quitting your job or trying to negotiate extended time off.  We’ve pulled together some resources on both options and tips on how to handle them.

QUITTING

If you think you want to cut ties with your current job, then go about it carefully. Consider how much notice you need to give, and always keep in mind that burning bridges is never a good solution. We’ve met career breakers who actually quit their jobs to travel for a year and then were actually hired back by the company when they returned.   Even though you may not want to work for your company or your boss again, you may need their assistance when you return in building up your network, contacts, and references when looking for a new job. You know your company culture the best, so really think about how much notice you need to give, and how you will explain to them why you are leaving. Always try to put a positive spin to why you are leaving.

What’s the best way to go about quitting – here’s a few tips from how Warren on how to leave your job gracefully.

  1. When you give notice, provide your boss with recommendations for how you will spend your remaining time. Let them know you will remain motivated to work hard. Talk about helping to recruit your replacement and get them trained and up to speed before you leave.
  2. Make sure to focus the discussion about your desire to explore the world. Do not turn this into your opportunity to explain all the ways they have disappointed you in your career. Remember, you may want to get back together with this partner.
  3. Read your situation – every scenario is different, so be sure to have an idea at how your boss will take the news. Be prepared for the worst case scenario (walked to the parking lot and start your trip earlier than expected), but plan for the best. Provide you employer with reasons why keeping you on is going to be good for them.
  4. Always keep the door open to the future. For most people, this is a “career break”, and as such there is at least a “plan” to return to the corporate world. Keeping your options open and remaining flexible is generally a good strategy. Make sure that you could return to the company if possible.
  5. Not everyone will understand – this is something I faced immediately after giving notice. People simply could not grasp why I would even consider doing “something this stupid”. It is inevitable you will come across this at work and will spend many hours trying to explain. This is normal. What you are doing is odd (sadly), but you are following your dream and your heart. Explain why you came to the decision, and remember why it is so important to you. Your career will likely be there if/when you return.

Read about what happened to Warren a year after being on the road.

Even the best-laid plans of giving notice don’t always go as anticipated and you may have to adapt your plan quickly. Watch what happened to career breaker Val Bromann when she decided to give notice.

Want to see where Val ended up…well…she’s still traveling and now doing freelance work – check out her website here!

SABBATICALS OR UNPAID LEAVE

A sabbatical is simply getting an extended leave from work to pursue a break. The first thing to do if you think you want to take a sabbatical is to do your research. Find out if your company offers any type of sabbatical or leave program. Many times companies offer these, but they aren’t necessarily publicized, so don’t be afraid to dig into your HR manual or sit and have a talk with your HR rep to learn exactly what the options may be.

Granted, your company might not have a formal sabbatical program, but consider the fact that you can lead the way in requesting a sabbatical and having them start such a program. You get nothing if you don’t ask.

Sherry Ott interviewed Barbara Pagano, who wrote the ebook  Negotiating Your Sabbatical, to get some tips on the steps to approaching your employer about taking a break. In addition she shares advice on deciding quit vs. sabbatical, and tips for job hunting when you return.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 1 Runtime – 14:23)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – Barbara took her own sabbatical – what did she learn?– Reset the ‘challenge meter’; found that challenges in business seemed to be less of a challenge any longer.– Improved decision making skills – they are extraordinary now!– Need to have confidence in selling your career break experience.
  • 3:53 – How can you decide whether to quit your job vs. asking for a sabbatical from your job?– You need to look at your long-term career goals.– In this economy it’s the best time to negotiate a sabbatical.
  • 5:55 – Why do some companies offer sabbaticals?– More are ‘getting it’ – Large and small companies are looking at sabbatical programs as a way to develop the talent of their employees.– The company benefits by seeing just what kind of leadership they have in the pipeline and it develops your employers further. More and more companies area looking at it as talent development.
  • 8:03 – What are some tips for negotiating a sabbatical at a company who doesn’t normally offer one?– Understand the pre-work you need to do before you go in and talk to your boss.– Know who else is giving sabbaticals and why they are doing it. It allows you to talk intelligently about sabbatical programs. Arm yourself with knowledge.– Understand what you are good at and what you need to strengthen. Determine this before you decide what you want to do on sabbatical.– Treat it seriously and formulate your business proposition. It’s not about you, it’s about the company and how they can benefit.– You have to educate people! In addition, put it all in writing so that you can talk intelligently about it with your boss.
  • 12:14 – How long of a sabbatical should/can you try to ask for?– The average sabbatical occurs about every 5 years for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. The average sabbatical is 1 to 3 months in length.– It also depends on how long you’ve been with the company. Know that a sabbatical should not be a one shot experience; they should be interspersed throughout your career.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 2 Runtime – 13:45)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – If you are looking for a job change, then look for companies who value the idea of breaks/sabbaticals.– Look on YourSabbatical.com for a list of companies that support sabbaticals.
  • 2:00 – Can anyone ask for a sabbatical no matter what their position? Is it more difficult if you are not a company leader?- Try to link your sabbatical to your company’s values. Alignment is key.– Consider how the current conversation in the company potentially applies to the break you want to take. Find ways to benefit the company – no matter what level you are at.
  • 4:25 – If you do want to actually leave your job and take a break (as opposed to a sabbatical), then you can still use all of the research you’ve done and incorporate it into your resume when looking for a new job.
  • 5:40 – Should you hide the fact that you left your job to take a break? No!
  • 6:05 – Tips for job hunting: Make sure you negotiate a sabbatical into your new job if you are changing jobs.
  • 6:50 – Can you negotiate unpaid sabbaticals or with other perks?– If you are willing to take an unpaid sabbatical, then negotiate benefits and securing your position when you return.– Some companies use unpaid sabbaticals to alleviate costs.
  • 9:52 – Look at your sabbatical as a standard negotiation – start high and know how low you are willing to go.
  • 10:15 – What do you do if it doesn’t work? You have planted the seed and let people know that it’s important to you as an employee.
  • 11:28 – Don’t look at your sabbatical as a gift that the company gives you. Instead look at it as a company developing and keeping talent in a company therefore making the company successful in the future.

What is your plan?  Quit vs. Negotiate Time off?  Have any tips to share?

 

 

Financial Planning for Your Career Break
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

It IS possible to save the $’s to take a career break. Where do you start?  We interviewed a few financial experts about how to go about saving for your break.  Sit back and be inspired!

What’s Your Number? featuring Career Break Vets Warren and Betsy Talbot:

 

We know that MOST Financial Advisors would tell you that you are crazy for wanting to take break from work to travel.  After all, it will cut into your retirement savings; however financial expert, Debbie Whitlock, doesn’t think you are crazy.  In fact – she’ll give you advice on how to go about financially planning for such a big trip.  She understands the desire to take a break and won’t talk you out of it!

Sherry Ott talks with Financial Advisor Debbie Whitlock about how to start saving, tracking your spending, and creating a budget for both your career break and re-entry without dipping into your retirement funds. (Runtime – 14:04)

Transcript Part 1
1:10 – How far out do you have to start financial planning for a career break? Depends on:
- Debt carried
- Current cash reserve
- How much stuff you have
- How long is the break
- Must do your research first!
- Overall range is 9 to 24 months to start saving
4:25 – What are the steps to creating a career break financial plan?
- Budget – you have to know inflow and outflow of your money presently
5:55 – Find the missing money, it can become the key to the kingdom!
6:40 – Track every penny for 30 days
7:55 – Start making changes in spending – alternative ways to socialize
9:00 – Look at your current cash position and what it is allocated for
10:15 – Figure out where you are going to travel and create your daily travel budget
10:55 – Don’t over look the cost of re-entry
12:00 – Don’t go backwards! Once you identify where you can cut back – don’t absorb it back into your life – keep it separate!
13:10 – The planner vs. the non-planner
- There are different types of people who go into career break travel; however both types still need to do a little front-end work when it comes to budget.

FINANCIAL PLANNING – PART 2
Sherry & Debbie discuss some financial myths, how to supplement your income on the road, budgets for different circumstances and working with your financial advisor. (Runtime – 13:39)

Transcript Part 2
00:10 – Do you have to sell everything you own or dip into retirement money? It is an extreme to sell everything you own, and not always necessary.
1:15 – Take a balanced approach which may mean a bit of delayed gratification and more thoughtful planning.
2:40 – You can consider working during the career break to support your travel budget
3:50 – What if you have kids or a spouse/partner – do you need to financially plan differently?
5:00 – Need to consider what the potential additional costs with kids
6:45 – How do you engage your current financial advisor in this career break discussion?
8:10 – What do you do if your advisor doesn’t think it’s a good idea?
9:15 – Meet with your advisor regularly and consider how you will communicate when you are on the road.
10:50 – How do you know that you have the right financial advisor to be your partner in this venture?
12:30 – We are a different generation and therefore we look at things differently – including our finances.

How to Take a Career Break to Travel
Monday, March 26th, 2012

If you attended a Meet, Plan, Go! event, get our newsletter, have followed our Briefcase to Backpack blog, follow our @MeetPlanGo  twitter stream, or follow our Meet, Plan, Go! Facebook page then I’m guessing that this is the question that you are dying to get an answer to.  Right?

So – how do you take a career break and travel?

Believe it or not, I have an answer for you and it’s simple.

Just do it.  (thank you Nike marketing geniuses!)

Okay, I understand that many of you just wrinkled your nose and shook your head and are about ready to close this web page because you don’t believe it’s that simple.

Fine – for those of you who want a more complex answer then my answer is to spend a lot of time scouring through the internet doing searches on Google like these:

How can I travel?”

“What insurance do I need for travel?”

“How do I not hurt my career if I take a break to travel?”

“What should I do on my career break?”

“What are good volunteering opportunities?”

“How can I save money to travel?”

“How do I travel on a budget?”

“How to travel solo?”

“What do I need to do to prep for extended travel?”

“How do I tell my employer I want to take a break?”

“What do I do when my family/friends don’t support my decisions?”

“How do I find a job after a career break?”

Eventually you will find all of your answers you are looking for.  You will realize that taking a career break isn’t rocket science; nor is it only for the well off, or for those people who have traveled their whole life, or for new age hippies, or for the young, or for the single, or for those who are daring.  You will realize that it’s attainable for everyone no matter what your situation.  If you want it bad enough, you can do it.

However all of this searching and research takes time…lots of time.  You will get lost in Google results spending hours and hours down an insurance or round-the-world airfare rabbit hole and you still may not have answers.  Many professionals don’t have the time to do all of this research and work you have other things to do  – like work more hours than you should, and take care of your family.

Wouldn’t it just be easier if all of this information you needed were in once place and there were people there in that place who you could ask questions to and get answers quickly from a human being?

No, you aren’t dreaming…this career break resource and community utopia exists. 

You can get access to all of the resources you need in one place and meet others who have done it or are planning it who will support you and cheer you on in your career break goals.

Learn more about why Career Break Basic Training will help you accomplish your travel and professional goals, who should join, what you get from Basic Training, and read testimonials of people where are now on the road.    

You can even check out a Sneak Peak series to see what kind of information you will get access to in order to help you plan and take your career break travels

And if you sign up before the end of March, you can get it all for a steal – just $99 (a discount of $50!), PLUS coupons you can use towards your travel itineraries and airfare worth $175.

Do the math…you will end up on top AND you will save the time of searching endlessly through the Google “travel” rabbit hole.

See – it’s just that easy.  Now all you have to do is

Just do it.

Preparing for Culture Shock
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The first step is admitting you have a problem. That famous first step isn’t typically related to career breaks and long-term travel. But it is important for you to realize that you will experience culture shock at some point during your career break. It could be day one – it could be day ten – it could be day one hundred thirty seven. But at some point, you will be overwhelmed by your surroundings and face frustrations.

The key is preparing and dealing with it in a positive manner to get over it as quickly as possible and get on with your travels. You may go through different stages during your career break, and you never know when culture shock will strike. It might not necessarily happen right at the very beginning of your trip either, so it’s important to be prepared and know what to do when it happens.

Prepare Yourself Before You Go
There are several things you can do to help prepare yourself for culture shock before leaving. You already know that some things are going to be very different. In some places, everything will seem completely upside down, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered the bizarro world (India, anyone?). While you’ll never be able to replicate what’s going to happen on the road, there are certain things you can do to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.

Learn some of the local language

Wherever you go first, it’s probably a good idea to learn some of the local language. If you start in Latin America, realize that English is still spoken quite a bit, but for the most part, you’re going to need some Spanish to get around. Taking a Spanish class before you leave will help tremendously in your adjustment upon arrival, and there are plenty of places to do it.

Be brave in what you eat

Part of traveling is trying new, interesting, and sometimes really unique food. If you’re a picky eater, it’s time to change your habits. You will have to be open to new things, especially if you don’t want to spend 2-3 times more on food than you have to. Eating in western restaurants are usually much more expensive than eating locally.

Photo Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

Before you leave for your trip, you can start training yourself by going to new restaurants. Eat ethnic food you’ve never eaten before. Order something off the menu that you don’t recognize, and don’t ask the server what it is (the point and smile method of ordering is commonplace for many travelers in different areas of the world). Start getting in the habit of not really knowing what’s going to come out of the kitchen on your plate. It’s sometimes a scary yet exciting thing, and it’s going to be the norm when you’re out on your career break.

Read and research your destination as much as possible

You would think this is a common sense tip, but you’d be amazed at the amount of people who don’t read up on the culture and everyday life of the place they are visiting. You know those beginning parts of a guidebook that talk about the history, customs, and culture of a country or city? Read those! Knowing about the people, the customs, and what they’ve gone through is a huge part of trying to understand their culture. Understanding that putting your feet up in an Asian country can be highly offensive is a very important thing to know. In fact, voicing anything negative about the King in Thailand could land you in jail!

Reading about common scams and tips for not being taken advantage of is also a great idea. Anyone going to Bangkok should already know before touching down that tuk-tuk drivers are notorious scammers. When you want to go to one of the famous sites, the Grand Palace, chances are they will tell you it’s closed today, and they’ll instead take you on a ride (literally) all around Bangkok, seeing some temples but also to their buddies’ jewelry shops, rug shops, and any other shop a friend might own. The scam is mentioned in nearly everything written about Bangkok, yet unsuspecting travelers fall for it every single day. This would never happen if people just read up on a country before visiting.

Talk to people who have been there

It’s never been easier to obtain first-hand information about a place than it is today. With social media sites and blogs, getting instant feedback is the norm. Bloggers in particular are very forthright when it comes to helping people out and answering questions about a place. So if you’re reading a particular post about a country you’re going to and you have some questions, contact that person and ask. Chances are he or she would love to talk with you about your upcoming trip and answer any questions you may have. Getting the lay of the land before leaving, and knowing what to expect in certain situations will help keep you comfortable and will help tremendously so you don’t feel too out of place. And what better way to get that information than from someone who is there now?

Oh $#!+ Moments

There are going to be times when you think “Oh $#!+ – What have I gotten myself into?”. Well you’re not alone. Lillie Marshall recalls the time she was scammed by a taxi driver after arriving late night into Vietnam from Cambodia. (Runtime – 1:32)

On the Road

While on the road, it’s important to continue learning the local languages, even if it’s just a few phrases. Traveling slowly, developing routines, and utilizing the power of a smile are also helpful tips to counteract culture shock. We offer more insight on how to combat culture shock while on the road in our Basic Training Course & Community.

It’s important to know that you will experience culture shock and travel burnout at some point along the journey that is your career break. Even if you follow all these tips, it’s still going to happen. Whenever you take someone out of his or her comfort zones, no matter how much preparation that person has done, it’s inevitable he or she will feel overwhelmed at some point. You simply can’t prepare for every situation. What’s important is recognizing those feelings quickly and doing something about it.

What have been some of your “Oh $#!+ Moments”?

Financial Concerns: Planning Your Budget
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

A lot goes into budgeting for your career break. Where you go, how you travel, how much gear you need, how open you are to eating new types of food, and how much discomfort you’re willing to endure all have a major effect on how much money you will spend. And before you can spend it – you need to save it.

So where to start planning your budget?

Where to Go/How Long to Travel

Where you go and how long your career break is greatly affects your budget. If you want to spend a lot of time in places like Europe, the US, Australia, or New Zealand, then your trip is probably going to be shorter than most. If India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and South America are on your short list, then your money will go much further.

Researching costs in different destinations is key to planning the budget. Budget Your Trip is a great site to see how much it costs to travel in certain cities and countries based on real travelers budgets. RTW Expenses is another great resource

Airfare

Your biggest single expense is going to be your airfare. Buying a RTW plane ticket vs. buying your tickets as you go is also going to be one of the biggest decisions you make. It’s a hot debate when it comes to long-term travel, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Here are a few things to realize off the bat:
• RTW tickets will most likely be cheaper.
• If you choose the RTW ticket option, you won’t be able to be as spontaneous.
• If you chose the “buy as you go option”, you’ll spend a lot of your time researching flights and destinations while on your trip.

Accommodations

Start researching accommodation options now. If you don’t have much international travel experience, you probably have some misconceptions about things like hostels. Many think that hostels are only for young, college-aged travelers looking to party all night and keep you from sleeping. While there are certainly many hostels like this, they aren’t the norm, and there are plenty of hostels out there that cater to people who aren’t in college or on their gap years, and there are many that are great for families.

The best way to go about budgeting for accommodations is to simply go to a budget site like BootsnAll, hostels.com, hostelworld.com, or gomio.com, plug in your city and dates, and start checking average prices. This will give you an idea of what accommodations cost in various places around the world. Remember to factor in which season (high, low, shoulder, rainy, dry) you’ll be traveling in, and keep an eye on holidays, festivals, and big events. Prices can double or more during certain times of the year.

Other accommodation options include Couchsurfing.com and Tripping.com. If you plan on doing slow-travel, staying in places longer, long-term apartment rentals through sites like airbnb.com and vrbo.com are also viable options.

Food

Trying to figure out a budget for food can be a bit difficult. Many websites and guidebooks out there give you a pretty decent breakdown for food costs in the regions you plan on traveling in, but many are a year or more out of date, so always be sure to aim high. Food costs can vary wildly depending on many factors, and while some travelers can easily get buy on less than $5/day for food in many parts of the world, it takes some determination and creativity.

Check out the following money saving tips for food:
• Stay in hostels to take advantage of free breakfasts and kitchens for cooking your own food.
• Eat how the locals eat – this means markets and street food in many areas of the world.
• If you’re leery about street food, don’t be, just use common sense:

  • - Street food is typically amongst the best and cheapest food in the region, especially in places like Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • - When looking for street stalls to eat at, try finding one with the most locals – they know where to find the best food.
  • - Look for crowded stalls with high turnover – this lessens the chance that food can spoil or go bad (refrigeration methods are questionable in some countries).

• Get creative – eat lots of fruit from local markets, pack a sandwich for a day of sightseeing, make sure you bring snacks on long bus rides.

Basic Training

Other areas to factor into your budget include entertainment and activities, overland travel (buses and trains), internal flights, visas, vaccinations, gear, and insurance among others. We cover this more thoroughly in our Career Break Basic Training course.

How to Stay Motivated
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

When contemplating a career break, it is important to first lay a strong foundation in order to move from contemplating to preparation – the first being finding your motivation.

Once you’ve found it – how do you stay motivated?

Crafting Your Environment

When we have big, lofty goals such as a career break it can be a roller coaster of emotions as you move towards achieving that goal. It’s really easy to get de-railed, frustrated, and to give up. How do you combat this in order to insure you hop on that plane, train, or boat and take off? By crafting your environment!

Start by surrounding yourself with like-minded positive influences to achieve your goal and remove yourself from negative influences. You won’t be able to accomplish your goal if you have people or things dragging you down. You need people and resources that will lift you up and inject you with inspiration.

Join An In-Person Community

Online communities are great, but in person relationships are still the most powerful you can have. In just about every city around the world you can find fellow travel lovers. Get out and engage with those people on a similar journey. You will share your goals, dreams, and concerns with them. Verbalizing these things are therapeutic and will keep the dream alive; hearing it come out of your mouth is more powerful then simply writing it or thinking about it. Words bring action.

Meet, Plan, Go! Meetups: Check to see if there is a local meetup in your city. And if there isn’t? Start your own!
Meetup.com: Search for “Travel” in your town/city and see if there are any groups meeting in your area. If you didn’t find one in your city, then you can start your own – it’s simple to hold your own meet-up group.
Travel Massive: A global initiative to connect people in the travel industry locally, bringing together travel bloggers, brands, startups and socially engaged travelers
Tripping: A global community of travelers, expats, and locals. This is your place to connect with travelers and locals for travel tips, shared cups of coffee and homestays in over 135 countries. Tripping is safe, free and good for the world.
Couchsurfing: A worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.

Eliminating Negative Human Influences

Crafting your environment is not only about surrounding yourself with people of similar mindsets and goals, it also means that you may have to change your relationship with people who don’t support your goals. There will be people in your life that don’t understand why you are doing this – then what do you do?

Simple – ditch the haters. OK – maybe it’s not that simple. What if they are friends or family? You don’t have to disown them – but consider not sharing this part of your life/plans with them. As long as you have other supportive people to share with, then you simply can change how and what you engage with the non-supportive people about.

Remember – staying motivated and achieving goals is about surrounding yourself with supportive people. One of the most important things you can do in order to stay motivated and moving towards your goal is to craft your environment to be supportive.

Books

Here are some of our favorite career break and travel-related books.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner
Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
Escape 101 by Dan Clements and Tara Gignac
Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
Reboot Your Life by Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, Jaye Smith

Songs

A road trip isn’t the same without a great playlist to keep you going. So why not create a playlist before your break to keep your travel plans moving forward!

Some songs that get our travel juices going include Weather with You (Crowded House) – Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills & Nash) – Africa (Toto) – Sand in My Shoes (Dido) – and Island in the Sun (Weezer).

World Hum compiled a list of their Top 40 Travel Songs of All Time. And Matador Network lists 30 Songs That Capture the Spirit of Travel.

So fire up your iTunes, start cranking some music, and motivation will be flowing in no time.

Basic Training

We cover more on how you can stay motivated in Career Break Basic Training, which includes interviews, more resources and helpful homework assignments.

Marketing Your Career Break
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

How to market your career break, prepare your resume and incorporate your career break into interviews.

Before You Leave

1. Choose your itinerary with some thought about coming back to the workforce. All of these ideas can be highlighted on a resume or in an interview with a little creative forethought. Travel can be about building skillsets, and soft skills which are valued in the workplace.

• Include volunteering
• Learn how to blog
• Sign up for and learn how to utilize social networks
• Improve a skill such as a foreign language, photography, business through microfinancing, sailing, or cooking.
• Include some countries on your itinerary based on cultures you interact with in the workplace currently. For example, does your company manufacture something in China, or do you outsource resources from India; then these could be great cultures to explore and learn more about on your career break.

2. Update your resume with your most recent work experience! This is crucial to do now before you start traveling and forget the details of what you used to do.

3. Contact your business contacts and let them know that you are leaving to travel and why you have chosen to do so. Let them know the additional skills you expect to gain while traveling and when you expect to return back to connect with them again on a professional level.

While On The Road

1. Periodically stay in contact with colleagues and provide them updates of your travels and experiences. This will keep those networking and communication ties open. This can be as simple as keeping a blog or sending out a monthly email to friends and colleagues recapping your experiences.

2. A few months before returning:

• Take stock of what you have learned and how you have changed. What soft skills have you gained.
• Updating your resume with some of your travel experiences.
• Reach out to your networks and let them know that you’ll be returning shortly and looking for employment.
• Start communicating with recruiters.

When You Return

1. Consider what your goal is:
• Do you want to return to the ‘Briefcase’ on the same career track?
• Do you want to return to the ‘Briefcase’ but on a different career track?
• Do you want to utilize your skills and talents to pursue freelance work?
• Do you want to pick up the ‘Backpack’ and never return to corporate?

This is not a quick, or easy decision to make. It often takes a lot of soul searching and potentially negotiating with a significant other. The main thing is to not force a decision if you don’t have an answer. If the answer isn’t coming to you, then simply dip your toe into all of the options, send out resumes, and see where it lands you.

2. Update Your Resume:
You don’t have to hide your career break, you should address it. You may want a number of versions of how you address it depending on the jobs you are applying for.

3. Prepare for Interviews:
Understand how your travels contribute to who you are. This may take some careful retrospection, however if you kept a blog or journal while traveling it may become a bit easier. Consider what you learned in the various countries and cultures you experienced and how would that apply to doing business internationally.

4. Have a Positive and Confident Attitude about your Career Break Experience:
One of the most important things to possess as you are working your way back into the workforce again is to have confidence in your ability to do so. If you don’t believe that your career break was beneficial and you are simply trying to create a sales pitch, then it won’t be as successful.

Be proud of the experience and include it on your LinkedIn profile and Facebook Timeline.

As you converse with future employers and network with colleagues, you must ooze confidence about your career break. No regrets!

We get more in depth on how to market your career break and prepare for interviews in our Career Break Basic Training.

Financial Concerns: Start Saving
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Deciding to go on a career break is difficult enough, but the tough decisions don’t end once you finally take that plunge and decide to do it. After making the decision to go, the first question most people ask is, “How much is this whole venture going to cost?”

A lot goes into budgeting for your career break. Where you go, how you travel, how much gear you need, how open you are to eating new types of food, and how much discomfort you’re willing to endure all have a major effect on how much money you will spend.

The good news is that you’re going to have plenty of time to practice budgeting. The budget and money-saving doesn’t begin the day you leave. It starts right now. The minute you decide to go on an adventure like this is the minute you need to start focusing on money.

Where to Begin

Sometimes the most overwhelming part of the budget is figuring out where to begin. If you don’t already track your spending, then start now!

– Open an account on Mint.com and start figuring out where your money is going.

– Break down your income vs. your expenses.

– If your expenses exceed your income, then you need to make changes.

  1. Cut back on things like eating out and drinking at bars.
  2. Stop buying new stuff. Chances are high that you are going to want to get rid of a lot of you clutter before leaving, so why buy new items now?
  3. Consider getting a second (or third) job.
  4. Think about selling off a lot of your stuff. You will most likely come home from your career break and realize that you have way too much clutter. Get rid of it now – sell it on ebay, Craig’s List, or have a garage or yard sale.

Start Saving

Once you get to the point where you are bringing in more than you are spending, then it’s time to go into saving mode. Open up a savings account somewhere. Research banks that offer high starting interest rates or specials for the first year. Any extra little bit helps. Then start paying that savings account, otherwise known as your career break travel fund, as you would your normal bills. Figure out how much you can start putting away each month, and pay it as soon you receive a paycheck.

Any little extra bit you earn or save, put it in the travel fund. Start getting into travel mode. Saving for a trip of this magnitude is difficult. You will have to turn down a lot of fun events before leaving on your career break. Going out to bars, dinners with friends, movies, shopping trips with the girls-all are things you are just going to have to say no to much of the time. It’s frustrating, and there will be times you question if what you’re doing is worth it. It is. It’s just all a manner of how you spin it in your mind.

Bypass a night out on the town with your buddies? Congratulations, you just bought yourself four extra days in Thailand. Turn down that shopping trip with your sister? Good job, now you can spend another week in Argentina. It’s all about priorities, and when you make the decision to take a career break and travel the world, it has to be the top priority in your life.

Changing Your Spending Habits

Tracking your expenses and spending habits can seem daunting, but it is the best way to start saving & budgeting for your career break. This is an easy exercise created by Man vs. Debt so you can see where your money is going.

Draft a quick easy budget and start recording your expenses. The toughest thing about the budgeting process is just getting started. People try to spend hours creating their first budget – perfecting every single category or angle. This is a formula for failure. Take 25 minutes and complete as much as you can. Next week, revisit it for another 25 minutes.

1. Estimate your income – Round down whenever possible to convenient numbers. If on an extremely inconsistent income, start by budgeting based on last month’s income.
2. Brainstorm fixed expenses – Brainstorm your fixed, regular expenses. Those bills you pay every month. Round these up to convenient numbers. Don’t worry about being perfect – get as many as you can.
3. Brainstorm irregular expenses – This is the hardest part for most people – and where most budgets fail. Think ahead to any non-regular expenses or bills that are coming up in the next 30 days. Gifts, repairs, holidays, supplies, taxes, etc…
4. Accept that you are going to fail miserably – Do not try to be perfect. Round income down and expenses up. Give yourself fluff room. Next time, at least you’ll have a base with which to start and adapt. Simplify when possible. Take notes when things come that were unplanned.

Basic Training

We cover more on saving and budgeting in Career Break Basic Training, which includes interviews and helpful homework assignments.

What to Expect When You Return
Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Expect culture shock.

Expect struggles.

Expect feeling a bit lost.

Expect to be patient with yourself.

Expect that you will be changed.

Expect to have people not understand.

Expect that you will be happy to see friends and family.

Expect that you will have no regrets.

Coming back home is not always easy. There are a few pieces of advice we can provide you, but until you live it, it’s hard to say how you will feel about returning. Each person’s experience is unique. However there are some things that hold pretty constant for all career breakers.

Reverse Culture Shock

Yes, even though you are returning to your home culture after experiencing many new different cultures, you still will be in some stage of shock. Odds are that the first time you walk back into a grocery store in North America you may be thrilled to be there, but you will also be a bit dazed and confused with all of the choices.

After JoAnna Haugen was gone in the Peace Corps for an extended period of time, she talks about how she combats the shock of being home.

Craft Your Environment Again

It’s important to surround yourself by people who’ve gone through a similar experience and love travel. It’s helpful to stay active in MPG local meetups and the online community – helping others who are planning their breaks provide you an outlet to share all of the knowledge you gained.

And be warned…there will be people who aren’t very interested in hearing stories about your travels. Learn to identify them before you bore them to death and find people who do want to hear them.

Basic Training

We cover more on what to expect when you return in Career Break Basic Training, as well as other topics related to your Re-Entry.

What’s Your Motivation?
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Most of the citizens of North America seem to be motivated by a good education, career, financial stability, home ownership, and a stable, safe life for our children. We want to provide for our families, and providing for our families is now defined by not only having a house and being able to put food on the table, but being able to buy nice cars, televisions, furniture, and plenty of other items that make our lives more comfortable.

Many Americans go down this path that’s laid out before us – this ‘American Dream’ that we’re all told about from a very young age. It’s what we strive for. It is what is engrained in our brains from a very young age. Motivation can be a funny thing though – not everyone is motivated by the same things. And maybe what you were previously motivated by has drastically changed. Or maybe you’re questioning what you’ve been told should motivate your life.

Doubting the ‘American Dream’

Since you are reading this, that means you must have some reservations about this so called ‘American Dream’. Are you right in the middle of your American Dream and asking yourself the following questions or having these doubts and thoughts?

– What if I have it all – the job, the house, the stuff, yet I still don’t feel fulfilled?
– I have done the right things, gone down the right path, worked really hard, yet I’m still not happy.
– I feel like something is missing.
– I’m just not happy with my current life path.
– I feel like everyone around me – my coworkers, my friends, my family – have different motivations and life goals than I do.
– I love to travel and have dreamed of doing it long-term, and I don’t want to wait until I retire.
– I have realized that there is more to life than working and collecting the most stuff.
– I want to spend more quality time with my spouse, significant other, and/or family, and it’s not going to happen within my current lifestyle.
– I hate my job, I hate my boss, and I hate my hours. In short, I’m burned out and need a change.
– I want to learn more, see more, and experience more.
– I’m sick of waiting to make my dreams come true.

If one or more of these thoughts resonate with you, it’s time to look deep and discover the “why”. Why do you feel this way – why are you motivated to make a change – and why are you waiting?

American Dream

Do Something About It!

It’s time to let you in on a little secret. If you wake up every morning with an empty feeling, dreading the workday that lies ahead, it’s probably not going to just change or get better without doing anything. Sometimes when your life just isn’t what you thought it would be, something drastic needs to be done. It’s time to stop waiting and take the bull by the horns. It’s time for you to do something!

Joining Career Break Basic Training course & community is one step in the right direction. Here you will find the motivation to actually go through with what many will deem to be crazy, reckless, and irresponsible. It is a challenge that you’ll have to deal with until you leave on that well deserved career break.

We can also help you tune out the naysayers and connect you with other people who have re-assessed their lives and what they want out of it. Reading other’s stories and the challenges they have dealt with along the way is an extremely helpful way of motivating yourself to take this next step.

Live Without Regrets

Making a life changing decision such as this one is not easy, especially when living in a culture that deems career breaks and long-term travel as unnecessary. If this was a simple decision, then more people would do it.

Though many factors come into play when thinking of whether or not to take a career break, it can really be simplified to one big choice. How do you feel about regret?

If you decide not to do it, and you stay in your current position and current life, do you think you’ll regret it 5, 10, or 20 years down the line? On the flip side, if you give it up, take the plunge, and travel the world, do you think that you will regret that experience down the line?

Basic Training

We cover more on how you can pinpoint your motivation in Career Break Basic Training, which includes interviews and helpful homework assignments.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents