Contemplating

Considering a career break can be overwhelming as fears and questions flood your head. You need some inspiration - well, we have it! We will discuss the circumstances that brought you to this point and examine ways that you can take advantage of channeling them into a career break. You can also find out the many benefits of taking a career break (trust us, there are many) and be inspired by hearing others' stories of self-discovery, inner-growth, and re-examining goals.

Check out articles in the following categories:
Circumstances | Benefits | Supporters | Testimonials

Recent Posts

Career Breaks: Not a One-Time Thing
Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Nine months. A lot can happen in nine months. In my case it truly has felt like a rebirth. My time out on my career break from the nine-to-heaven-knows-what-o’clock routine has seen me volunteer, improve my Spanish, travel and write. I not only feel re-energized, but excited by possibilities.

Uncertainty feels a whole lot less scary.

Want planning help?
Want planning help?
Take our free planning e-course

This isn’t the first occasion I’ve left the corporate world temporarily behind.

Back in 2007 my then-partner and I packed our backpacks – he having negotiated a sabbatical from his job, me having left mine – and trundled off on a seven-month around the world adventure.

That break was all about travel and exploring the world.

This time it was all about personal growth.

Both experiences widened my horizons in a way I could only have imagined.

Here I share some of the tips I learned from my first career break, and how I used them to help me plan my second.

Build up your comfort zone

My first career break taught me that my comfort zone is wider than I’d thought. I can live quite happily with just the contents of my backpack. The unfamiliar is exciting, rather than scary. Destinations I hesitated over back in 2006 because I thought they would be a step too far – Laos, Vietnam – I’ve since embraced on two-week vacations.

Stretching your comfort zone can be gradual, but if you never tug on the elastic it won’t ever happen. Albania and Nicaragua helped me expand my comfort zone even further this year. And I loved them both.

Build in some flexibility

If you have several months or more, you don’t have to plan everything to the nth degree. If you’re going to be on the road all that time, do you really want to fix yourself to a flight time nine months away?

On my first career break, all my flights were pre-booked, and my ex and I had also organized our Inca Trail hike (the latter is a wise move, and one I recommend). Whilst this fixed itinerary of flights didn’t leave us with any major problems, we did end up rushing through northern Chile more than we’d have liked to get to our flight from Santiago. And in hindsight we might have organized our time in Australia a little differently.

This time, I kept it simple. My plan was to spend two months in Nicaragua and Colombia, flying out from London via Miami. I booked the return transatlantic flight, and a one-way from Miami to Nicaragua. That was it. As it turned out I couldn’t drag myself away from Nicaragua, so stayed there for the full two months. Colombia has gone on the backburner for another trip.

Having a flexible schedule means you can change plans as you go. I highly recommend it.

Take time to embrace learning

Leon museo amigos
My first career break included a good three months of travel in Latin America. Months in advance I’d bought Michel Thomas’s teach your Spanish CDs and listened to them in my car on my commute to work. On that first trip I didn’t want to “waste” any precious travel time in language school.

Whilst my second career break included a fair dose of travel (one month in SE Europe, two months in Nicaragua); its main focus was on personal growth. Why wouldn’t I use some of that time to improve my Spanish? The two weeks I spent in Spanish language school in Nicaragua is time I don’t regret for a second. Not only did me and the past tense finally get to grips, but I met awesome people and got an insight into Nicaraguan life I would never have otherwise seen. Definitely not time “wasted.”

Budget. And then add a bit

If your career break is focused on travel, you’re going to need money for your accommodation, entertainment, activities, flights, insurance, any ongoing costs at home (eg storage, car insurance), plus some leeway money for when you return, until you get your next paycheck.

On my first career break, there were two things I forgot to money aside for.

The first was souvenirs. Not the $1-$5 dollar variety you might find at markets the world over, but the ones that would be a serious treat. A painting or piece of artwork – of the type you want to bubble wrap home via a reliable air mail service. The kind that might cost a couple of hundred dollars or more.

The second was ad hoc medical expenses and replacement toiletries. Nothing extravagant – sunscreen, contact lens solution, make-up and occasional doctors appointments and prescriptions. $20 here and there soon adds up.

After my second career break, I now own an awesome hammock, and even have a bit of cash left over to buy a stand to hang it from … when the UK weather finally warms up!

Sell it to future employers

In taking a career break, you’ve done something different than a large percentage of the population. That makes you seriously interesting! And interesting makes you stand out from other people up for the same job as you.

You absolutely don’t need to make excuses for having had a career break. It’s a positive decision, so frame it as such. Talk about what you’ve gotten out of it and how those skills can benefit the company.

In seven years, I’ve only ever come across one interviewer who was completely baffled by my choices – even though my CV had 15 years of clear and relevant experience to the role. What that taught me? That I didn’t want to work for him anyway! You’re unique, and you deserve better than “one size fits all” attitudes.

If you love it, make it part of your life

Farndale Yorkshire
A year ago, a friend advised me to write myself a little essay. It’s a “week in the life of Julie”, set 12 months in the future.

The narrative I wrote myself, based on my post career-break life, illustrated in a startling two-page missive of how important flexibility was to me in my work life. I used this second career break to give those options for flexibility a good kick-start.

I started my own travel blog and now earn my living through a mixture of short-term contracting in marketing/communications roles and freelance writing work – both blog and non-blog related.

My tip is this: if something is important to you, look at how you can design your life to give you the chance to make it happen.

For me, I’ve trying to design my work life to give me flexibility and the future option for travel. Not necessarily for the long-term, but more than a typical four-week vacation allowance would normally provide. Colombia, I’m comin’ at ya!

Need help planning your career break trip? Check out the following articles and resources:

SONY DSC
Julie Sykes is a proud Yorkshire gal, travel-aholic and occasional art lover. She loves nothing more than getting (mildly) lost in a strange city. Julie is founder of The Gap Year Edit, which offers tips and ideas about alternative holidays and grown up gap years. Julie’s mission is to hear you say, ‘I’m so glad I did it!’ instead of, “I wish I could, BUT …”

We Can’t Afford It!
Friday, March 27th, 2015

Can you take half a year off from your job?

The vast majority of working people automatically answer by saying that they can’t afford it. Relying on salary and living from one paycheck to the next, the loss of income may be financially devastating. The idea that we can’t afford it gets reinforced as soon as we sign up for a mortgage or bring offspring into the world. These represent semi-permanent, burdensome financial obligations which may not be compromised or even put at risk. Too much is at stake. The severity of the burden is paralyzing, or at least blinding.

I can testify to being blind myself, up until the day I decided to create a financial plan.

But how? I know more or less how much money my family spends on a short sailing vacation in the Mediterranean Sea. But this time we wanted more – a six-month sabbatical in the Caribbean.

Surely we can’t afford that, right?

Playing at the beach Canouan

Many people live under such limiting assumptions, not even pausing to ask themselves: How much does my dream actually cost?

I log into my online banking and export all our expenses for a twelve-month period to an Excel file. I have about 1400 individual expense lines out of my checking account. One by one I sort them into categories: household, cars, vacations, media, kids, food, taxes, etc. I add some subcategories according to where the money was spent: gas stations, department stores, supermarkets, hardware stores, restaurants, hair salons, garden centers, etc. After a few hours of sorting, I discover for the first time our family’s financial profile.

Under the bottom line expenses of each category in the past twelve months, I create two additional lines: one for the next twelve months, and another for a sabbatical sailing trip.

This is our budget plan.

I spend the next few hours trying to estimate future expenses, giving some thoughts to the various categories. Most of our expenses at home would probably stay at the same level in the next twelve months or increase slightly.

During a sailing trip, however, we can expect significant changes:

  • We avoid any expenses for car maintenance, car insurance, and gas stations.
  • We don’t need to buy any furniture or pay for music classes.
  • We don’t worry about heating the house and electricity bills.
  • In any sailing destination we choose, food in supermarkets would most likely be cheaper than it is at home, although we might want to eat out more often.
  • Health insurance requires additional coverage and higher cost. I increase the health category for doctor visits and pharmacies as well, because I can’t rely on the health insurance to refund medical bills promptly while we’re away.
  • I increase our budget for books and communications, just to make sure we would have sufficient reading materials at all times and that we stayed in touch under all circumstances.
  • The category Vacations is certainly unnecessary while sailing, and also prior to it. I replace it with airfare to get to the base marina, as well as marina charges and entrance fees to tourist sites.
  • We can forecast significant savings for taxes due to the loss of income during the trip.
  • For the yacht I reserve a generous amount, to cover either renting or a buy-sell deal.
  • For our variable mortgage I budget extra, for the unlikely event of increasing interest rates.
  • Shall we rent out our home during our absence? I play with this thought, although I don’t count on it and leave an empty line for it in my calculations.

Once satisfied with the estimations, I add a bit of reserve for some of the categories as well as one line for additional unexpected expenses.

When the exercise is completed, I call my wife, Laura: “Look at that! Isn’t it amazing?!”

“What do you see?” she asks, her eyes scan the cloud of numbers on the laptop screen and go blank.

I check the Excel formulas again to verify that all rows are properly accounted for.

“At the bottom line,” I say, “living on a boat is slightly cheaper than living at home.”

“How is that possible?” Laura asks in disbelief.

I show her all the expenses we avoid by not living at home. We laugh at the idea that we can actually save money by sailing on a yacht. It reminds me of the story of an old lady who decided to spend the rest of her life on a fancy cruise ship instead of moving into a home for the aged. She enjoys first class service, first class food, travel and entertainment included, and it’s the cheaper option!

Of course, we don’t want to wait for retirement, so we still need to save enough money to account for the loss of income during our trip. So I open a savings account and do the simple math: a sixth of our income has to be parked there every month for three years in order to compensate for half a year away.

Or even better: a quarter of our income each month for the next two years. I wonder whether we can reduce our running expenses so dramatically. I create a standing order for the savings account to start filling up. At this point in time, the idea of a sabbatical is still vague, and there are no concrete plans to speak of. We have no starting date, no chosen destination, and no confidence that it would actually come true. The financial plan and the savings account stand by just in case we ever decide to go for it.

Our capitalist world is full of temptations: a trendy mobile phone, a fancy restaurant, a fluffy winter jacket…the list is endless. Sometimes we resist, and sometimes we don’t. One of our weaknesses as imperfect human beings is that we tend to opt for the quick, certain reward. As a result, long-term uncertain goals fall behind.

Even with above-average income, our budget is limited and our choices hard. I sometimes have to ask myself: What do I really want to achieve in the next two or three years? Do I want to have a comfortable life? Is my goal to buy food and clothes without thinking twice? Shall I choose the higher hotel category for the weekend in the mountains? OR do I want to fulfill my dreams? I would feel awful if those daily temptations prevented me from realizing the big plans.

Imagining my life in retrospective sometimes helps me clear my thoughts. If an old friend meets me after a “long time no see” and asks me, “How is it going?” would I rather answer:

1. “Great! Check out my new gadget and my wellness package!”

Or would I rather say:

2. “I took my family sailing around the Caribbean.”

Resisting the temptations is easier with a specific goal in mind. New designer shoes or a night out suddenly seem less essential when you realize that the same amount of money can finance a train ticket or accommodations at your dream destination. Frankly, in my own opinion, taking my family sailing for six months is the best thing I can do with my money.

Other ways to save money

Chilling Antigua

Reducing expenses is just one way to save money. Increasing the income is another viable option. For example, our savings account is boosted by additional funds when we decide to auction stuff online and at the same time liberate precious cellar space from the burden of old relics like an empty aquarium, a fitness machine, a baby bed, gardening equipment, and many other items.

When a neighbor tells me about his challenges in keeping up with his fast-growing business, I offer to help him with my expertise as coach and business consultant. Informal conversations soon evolve to a formal engagement and additional income on the side.

The months go by, and our sabbatical savings account grows steadily. By the time we leave home we already know that we have sufficient funds plus reserves. The yacht charter was less expensive than we had anticipated, and Laura found cheap flights to Fort de France, Martinique. We managed to rent out our house for a fair price.

Still, I want to keep track of our spending. Laura and I agree on a weekly budget and aim to keep our total expenses below it. After exiting each island, and at the end of every month, I add up our expenses and brief the family crew: “Tobago is our cheapest island so far. There was nothing to spend money on: no marinas, no car rental, no fancy restaurants, and only basic supermarkets. It compensates for Grenada, where we rented a jeep, purchased deep sea fishing gear, and had dinner out almost every evening.”

As the trip progresses, I notice that we manage without special efforts to keep our expenses below the intended budget:

  • Ground transportation: With time on our hands and the ambition to mingle with local islanders, we take every opportunity to hop on a bus, walk, or hitchhike.
  • We stay away from marinas because we like our peace and our morning swim in pristine waters. Out of 196 nights on the yacht, we only pay for two overnights in marinas.
  • We hardly ever use the diesel engines for more than anchoring maneuvers or navigating dangerous shallows. We log 2840 nautical miles and only fill up the diesel tank three times. Wind power in the Caribbean is quite reliable and costs nothing.
  • The five t-shirts plus two swimming suits we brought in our luggage are sufficient for the entire trip. Buying clothes is limited to birthday presents or a single souvenir. We do our own laundry by hand.
  • With the exception of one Dutch bookstore in Curaçao, we purchase e-books online for a fraction of their shelf prices, or exchange paper books for free with other sailors and at the book corners of yacht clubs.
  • Communications with relatives and friends cost virtually nothing because we find free WiFi almost every day.

By the time we reach the British Virgin Islands, about halfway through our trip, I look at the expenses list and announce: “Going forward, we can afford to eat in restaurants almost every day.”

“Yes! More WiFi!” My daughter cheers.

“If you ask me,” says my Dad, “my favorite restaurant by far and without competition is our own cockpit. It serves delicious food, including the freshest fish, bread and tropical fruit.”

“And we always get the best table at the waterfront,” I add.

“Including romantic views of the sunset,” says Laura.

We also prefer to drop anchor in secluded bays where shopping opportunities are absent. Some yachties look for stylish beach bars or the comfort of docking. We look for serenity, natural beauty and a short swimming range to the coral reef.

The most beautiful things in life come free of charge.

A global citizen, Tomer Lanis has been working and traveling in 78 countries in the past 24 years. Following his six-month sailing sabbatical in the Caribbean, he recently published a book – You Can Take Six Months Off – demonstrating how anyone can, and why everyone should.

Photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

When the Light Bulb Went On
Friday, March 6th, 2015

Little did I know it then, but a letter to my mother my senior year of college has set me on a path that will inevitably change my life. 

It was 1995.  Being a naive college grad, I was eager for what was next in life, yet I was scared to face reality at the same time.  The letter I wrote to my mom that year captured my restlessness, my wanderlust, and my questions about how I was going to live my life now that I had satisfied all the prescribed obligations of early adulthood.  Now that I was free to choose what I wanted to do with my time, traveling and having new adventures was much more appealing than going to work.  Settling down to a cubicle?  Really?  Ugh, boring!  I was no stranger to travel having spent the previous summer studying in Denmark and touring Europe in my spare time.  I just didn’t know how to make my dream of traveling the world happen.

Want to plan your<br />
own career break?
Want to plan your
own career break?

So, I did what any broke 22 year-old would do – I went to graduate school and then got a regular corporate job.   

Jump ahead 13 years through graduation and student loans, a move, a year of volunteering, a career change to the public sector, and numerous awesome vacations where I couldn’t help but want just one more day before coming home.  My trip and the desire to explore the world would always come to mind during those vacations, and I would usually think it was just a crazy dream or that it couldn’t happen now – I had other things to do.

After being downsized early in 2008, I faced a crossroads.  Would I strike out on my own and start the business I’d been thinking about, would I travel, or would I try to find another job?  The economy was going south and I had a mortgage.  Being fiscally responsible was what I thought I should do even though my heart was on the road somewhere in Mongolia.  I made the decision to start the business and look for (and a year later, I ultimately found) a full-time job so I could keep paying the mortgage.

During that year, it felt like I was being slapped in the face every day to know I now had the time and opportunity to travel long term, but felt stuck with my current situation.  I thought I couldn’t spend the money I did have on anything other than necessities to keep myself, and the lifestyle choices I had made, afloat.

Fast forward through another 3 years of cubicle-land and a broken heart after being turned down for the fellowship I desperately wanted.  I remember the exact moment I was on the phone with my mom to tell her the news, tears streaming down my face.  The words came out of my mouth a bit flippantly, but nonetheless, I voiced what I had dreamed about since 1995.

Maybe I should just go on my trip.

Her response?  “Yes, you should.”

And that was it – everything clicked and the light bulb came on.  It wasn’t that I was looking for permission.  It was that I had finally stopped thinking about my trip as an impossibility or a pipe dream.  I had finally decided I could really do it and realized it was more important to me than anything else.

So, the trip I’ve been thinking about taking since writing that letter in 1995 launched in February of 2013.  Two unsolicited job offers were even turned down the year prior to leaving because I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.

The enormity of my trip was an eye-opener and made me reconsider more than once.  But I had already made the one decision that really counts.

I decided to GO.

Beth Fenger took off on her own in February of 2013 for her round the world trip, visiting Patagonia, Cambodia, Mongolia, India, Turkey, Jordan, and Namibia.  She’s also an amateur photographer, zealous wine taster, obsessive trail runner, avid camper, adrenaline junkie, and finds her current career calling in the non-profit sector.  She can be found toting her camera, tent, and corkscrew, while running trails in various US cities and on Twitter and Facebook.

Beware Responsible People – Embrace the Crazy
Friday, January 30th, 2015

Contemplating a career break but others around you think you are crazy? Listen to this advice from Ryan and Jen Fuller, management consultants who up and took a six month career break in Argentina and Chile. Prior to hearing the term ‘career break’ they just called what they were doing ‘rehab.’

“I thought you were crazy when you said you were going on this trip; now [6 months later], I think you’re crazy for coming back”

- A friend talking about our career break


Because the concept of a career break is still quite novel (at least in the US), most of us don’t have very many people in our social groups who have ever taken one. Unfortunately, this often means that all of your excitement over the idea of leaving your job in favor of long-term travel may not engender the kind of enthusiasm you are hoping for amongst your friends/co-workers/family. Even if you are just looking for support rather than advice, you should expect to be assaulted with many, many reasons why it is a bad idea and you are crazy for even contemplating it.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. You’re crazy
  2. Are you kidding, leave your job in this economy?
  3. You’ll never be able to explain this on your resume or in future job interviews – your career will be ruined forever
  4. It’s too expensive
  5. You’re crazy
  6. I once knew someone that went on a trip like this… they died
  7. What if you get kidnapped by drug runners?
  8. I always wished I could do something like that, but then I realized how irresponsible it would be to throw away everything I’d been working toward for so long
  9. You should wait until you get that next promotion; then you’ll have a much better safety net
  10. You’re crazy

So what do you do if you aren’t getting the kind of support that you’d like to actually take the leap?

Option 1) Go fast

Do what we did… make the decision to leave and then go before anyone really has the chance to convince you it’s a bad idea. We were in Argentina 3 weeks after we made the decision to go. Clearly this won’t work for everyone. Option 2 is probably a better route…

(more…)

Try Twisted Resolutions for 2015: Big Boom Road Show
Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Yes, it’s that time of year. The holidays get us all plumped up with feasts and fetes. Then we stumble into a new year. For most—and especially the traditional Boomer—that’s a time of resolution, reflection, and reduction (of pounds and debt dollars).

This year, why not resolve to get one step closer to a big, fat, career break?

While we’re at it, let’s be more specific—and twisted. That is, let’s twist the usual New Year’s Resolution advice to make it more fitting, fun, and hopeful.

Not a Boomer? So what. If your life feels boxed-in or you want to live outside the cube, take note. And take heart.

Save less

Sure, everyone’s always preaching about saving for an education, house, rainy day, or retirement. But retirement is such distant ship-smoke on the horizon, right?

Presently, 35% of people over 65 work. And both those numbers will keep growing as the cost of living ratchets up.

What to do? Retire now and then. The best reward for saving money for your senior years: Instant grat. So you hereby have permission to sneak some straw from your nest egg—when you have one—to practice retiring. Go away, far away, for a week or 13 or so. Then come back and work (and invest) some more.

Repeat every 5-7 years.

Spend more

Time is money, right? Well, yes and no. We sell our time (and sometimes soul) to the boss who pays us with money, true. But if we could value time, we’d dub it priceless. So how about spending less hours on work (and related shtuff), and more time on what makes you tick—like yoga, cooking, hiking, and (naturally) planning your vacations and sabbatical.

Lose the wait

Are you putting something off? Does your travel or simple getaway goals keep getting put off? Resolve here and now to pop that procrastination bubble and do something—anything!—that brings you closer to your desire to experience the world and its cultures, cuisines, and quirks.

Visit oddball museums. Dine in a different ethnicity eatery once a month. Sneak in over-nighters to funky small towns and stately state parks. Use long weekends and vacation time to get outta town and escape your routine. Whatever you do, find ways to bring the BreakAway lifestyle to you—until your lifestyle morphs into making a break for The Big One.

Happy New Year!

2015 is right around the corner. May it be a year of turning the corner on making your dream a reality. And meantime, may the holiday spirit (the kind and generous one—not the greedy and grinchy one) be with you!

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.

Photo credits: mongione, dmitry_islentev

Pulling the Trigger – I’m Doing it!
Friday, November 7th, 2014

leap

Take the leap and do it!

What is it that makes you go from “I want to do that” to “I’m doing it!”? I suppose it’s different for everyone, but after working with people who want to travel through Meet Plan Go for the last 5 years, I know one of the things that makes you pull the trigger is meeting other people who have done (or who are doing) what you want to do.

In September we brought together a group of future career breakers with veteran career breakers and long term travelers and something happened – people started the day with “I want to do that” and ending the day saying “I’m doing it”. Sure, maybe the Belgian beer and waffles  helped, but they weren’t what made people pull the trigger. It was the support and networking with other people with similar goals.

I loved reading this article from one of our attendees the next day – Long Term Travel is for Real – she had some wonderful insights (and you should definitely read the entire article!):

“For me, Meet Plan Go was my first opportunity to meet long term travelers in person, to hear them tell their stories first hand, to learn from them during personal conversations. It was proof that anyone can take a travel break or travel forever without their lives imploding. It was proof that I can too. This is reality.”

Success Stories

In my eyes, the day was a big success. We brought together 8 career break & rtw travel veterans who presented on how to get over hurdles, determining a budget, working on the road, volunteering, preparing to leave, choosing insurance, figuring out complicated airfare routes, and finding working when you return. People feverishly took notes and asked questions. We even had small group discussions where people with like plans could converse and talk about their plans and fears. And then we parted – so that we could start to go DO.

Meeting people with similar goals is key – and fun!

A month after the event I reached out to our private Facebook group of attendees and asked them how they were progressing towards their goal and was overwhelmed with excited responses:

“I leave Tuesday to go to Mexico for two months of scuba diving and then after about a week at home for the holidays I’ll be moving to South Korea to teach for 2015! I had thought about applying for a while but since MPG I have applied, interviewed, been offered multiple positions, and accepted one”

“Since the meeting I went to visit my bank and consolidated all my debts into one loan, freeing up some margin to put money aside each month towards my future trip. I’ve been giving myself a benchmark of 2 years from now.”

“We are busy packing up our house to sell, eliminating as much as we can.”

“Just filled out my application with IFRE to volunteer in Cusco, Peru.“

“We made the leap. Our round the world adventure starts in exactly 12 months. Real estate is on the market, resigned positions, and beginning to detail plans.” 

How You Can Meet Others With Your Same Goals

Even though our main event is completed for 2014, we still have ways that you can meet others in person (and virtually) and work towards your goal.

• We have a meetup in NYC coming up on Dec. 3rd (RSVP here).
• Join our free 30 day online Career Break class that you can start as soon as tomorrow!
Follow us on Facebook and stay up to date with career break travel news and ask questions of the community.
• Check out our Calendar of upcoming local events 
• Search for travel themed meetups in your area on  Meetup.com and EventBrite.com
• Participate in the Around the World Twitter chat (#RTWChat) hosted by Bootsnall.com
• Stay tuned for more ways to get involved and get on the road to your career break in 2015 by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

In the Career Break Closet
Thursday, October 16th, 2014


Are you stuck in the closet – afraid to come out and act like you really want to? I bet you are. In fact – I bet about 90% of you are. You are lurking in the dark, afraid to declare your secret desires, but willing to watch; from a safe place.

You are in the career break closet.

Research shows that about 90% of the people who read online media do not actually participate in the conversation; consumption vs. production. That’s fine, I understand, communicating online isn’t for everyone.

However I’m willing to believe that a percentage of that 90% are not lurking because they want to, but because they feel like they have to. They are staying in the closet because they can’t yet let people know about their career break plans. They must stay in the closet in order to remain at their jobs and while they quietly plan their getaway.

Keith and Amy Sutter from Green Around the Globe share their time in the career break closet:

Keith & Amy Sutter in Jordan In January of 2009 Amy and I made the big decision, to travel the world for a year. And with all of the excitement and anxiety that comes with such a big decision there was one unpleasant aspect that regularly kept us up at night. We now had a huge secret to keep from everyone we knew. There are practical elements to keeping your decision a secret initially. What if you decide not to do it? What happens if something comes up? A family member gets ill, you get ill. There are any number of potential events that could change your plans. So Amy and I went into the “traveler closet” for 6 months. This meant that as we were doing our initial research, reading books, blogs and anything else we could get our hands on, we had to be sure to keep it all under wraps. When friends came over for dinner we had to spend 10 minutes scanning the condo to make sure an incriminating book was not left laying out.

When we did start telling people, starting with close family we had to bring them into our “circle of trust”. We had to make sure we controlled who knew when. Practically it was to make sure we handled giving notice at our respective workplaces on our terms and in a professional manner. We could not afford, either financially or professional, for word of our plans to leak back to our companies before we were ready. The other reason to control the information is so that we would be the ones to personally tell every one of our family and friends. That reason was selfish, we wanted to be there to see or hear their unfiltered initial reactions. One of the best parts of planning the trip is telling the people you are closest to and getting their reactions.

(more…)

Could Bad News Be Your Ticket to Ride? Big Boom Road Show
Thursday, October 9th, 2014

You know the scene: I’m at my desk, avoiding “real” work, and surfing the web. In this case, I’m exploring Boomers and long-term travel. I find an upbeat, popular article with 555 comments, leading off with this one:

“This is crap. As a boomer, I am broke and live paycheck to paycheck, like all the other boomers I know.”

Beware the self-fulfilling legacy

“This is crap?”

What a buzzkill! One must feel sorry for this guy; who’s putting Dire Drops in his water? I don’t mean to go all power-of-positive-thinking here, but really, he’s not likely to escape his quandary or his paucity without a serious attitudinal U-turn.

So let’s help Mr. Boomer Bummer out. Let’s help any of us who are trapped in pessimism about prospects for a dream. Just for yucks, let’s take life’s big bummers and turn them inside-out into opportunities to fly away from, well, hell?

Sometimes, what’s (initially perceived as) bad news could be a prophesy for a BreakAway.

Morphing pitfalls into paradise

You’re fired! Most folks will work at least 7 career jobs. Some will end rudely. Is that tragic? Or could it be the best thing that ever happened to you? Be ready: Sudden freedom could be your chance to shake it up and change your life plan—potentially on a blissful beach somewhere.

I don’t love you any more. That’s bad movies. And possibly heart-breaking, yet rarely out of the blue. Why not have the next laugh, store your stuff, and pack your bags for somewhere far away from Mr. or Ms. Over N. Done? Heck, you may even meet your next love interest.

It’s time to down-size. Boomers are facing this now, by the millions. Yet everybody will—at various ages and stages. When that pad has become too big and the possessions too piled up, consider upsizing your life with a remote pause that refreshes.

Loved ones are passing on. Death happens. Reflection follows, not to mention denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, eventually, acceptance. Maybe a sojourn to somewhere peaceful would help you move on; maybe it’s to a place once shared with the departed beloved.

Your (inheritance) ship comes in. Although our “that’s-crap” commentator lives paycheck to paycheck, Boomers stand to inherit around $12 trillion—and may pass along up to $30 trillion to their offspring. For some, prosperity from heaven will arrive. If your ship comes in, why not set sail for a life-changing voyage?

You’ve paid off a big loan. Could be college—yours or your kids’. Could be house, cars, cabin, or credit cards. Save something first, please. But then a celebration of your new! Improved! Debt-free life might be a brilliant reward!

You survived a health scare. They’re facts of life: Accidents, diseases, conditions that can kill. When your time comes, and the doctor finally says, “You’re cured,” it’s time to party. Dinner and Dom? Sure—in France! (For the record, my own RTW trip was largely a reward for surviving a year-long recovery from falling off of a roof.)

You’re nearing retirement, but… Know what? Most people fear retirement. And many who get there don’t do well; they often experience loss of purpose, depression, and boredom—or just drive their spouse crazy. Recommendation: Try temporary retirement. You’d test-drive a car, right? Retirement is a much longer, more relevant ride.

You’re already broke. Bummer. Or maybe not. If Broke Dude above is convinced he’ll never get ahead at home, why not be broke somewhere else? Maybe he’d thrive in an less pricey country where he could teach English and save some money. Some great travelers buy a one-way ticket, get to work, and make it work.

If you just read this and are thinking, “That’s crap,” the author apologizes—for provoking you so and for your ill-fated predicament. This column was written for the folks willing to open your eyes and minds to the idea that bad news may be inevitable, but need not be the end of the world.

A world of possibilities awaits. Always Godspeed!

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.

Photo credits: Efired, the other photo is courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

10 Reasons Why Boomers (and Beyond) Should Attend NYC MPG: Big Boom Road Show
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

1. You can make it happen soon.

Taking a career break takes time, right? Time to plan; time to be gone; time to wait until the timing is right. But Meet, Plan, Go’s NYC shindig on September 20, 2014 is right around the corner. All aboard!

Want planning help?
Want planning help?
Take our free planning e-course

2. You know you wanna go.

On a career break, I mean, but why not the MPG event too? Harboring dreams is nice, but letting dreams set sail is nicer. If you’ve been fantasizing about extended travel for years (decades?), you’ve got to be getting closer to takeoff. Put away that delay and focus on the desire.

3. You’ll reap from the investment of a whole $99.

$99? That’s pocket change these days—a few minutes with a doctor, a moderately-priced dinner out, or a couple cab fares to nowhere. That $99 even includes beverages, lunch, and drink tickets. Wisely part ways with that Ben Franklin and get closer to parting ways with ennui.

4. You’re not getting younger.

Hey, Boomer: know those sensations like aching joints, weight gain, and lingering lethargy? That’s called aging. It’s normal. A career break will kick your butt at times, true. But nonstop new sights and sounds will also boost your spirits and fill you with newfound vigor. 

5. You’ll face your fears.

At this MPG get-together, the nagging drones of worry will get out-shouted by empathetic cheerleaders who’ve mastered the game. You’ll leave with less fear, more faith, and the strength to put your fears where they belong: In the past. 

6. You’ll hear from some savvy, skilled role models.

Not to worry: The speakers and panel leaders are just folks—not lucky millionaires or trust-fund brats. But they’ve somehow managed to run away for months (or years!). Solo. With family. Or with new friends they’ve met along the way.

How? They’ll show you. 

7. You’ll meet other dreamers and schemers.

Tips and tales are essential, but you’ll also find ample inspiration by simply surrounding yourself with dozens of fellow trekkers. There’s power in numbers—and in sharing your vision with someone who will think you are not nuts, but brilliant.

8. You’ll get answers to YOUR questions.

Will Vietnam have Prilosec (or whatever)? What’s the best way to buy RTW airline tickets? What about bringing my kids or grandkids? Whither my cat? People who’ve been there and done that will talk to you 1-1. Heck, your cat may even find a habitat for his sabbatical.

9. You’ll have some laughs.

Hey, this isn’t brain surgery. And while running away for months is serious business, the goal is a joyful journey. You’ll need to pack your sense of humor to endure snafus. And you’ll definitely hear some hilarious stories about the pratfalls and epiphanies of long-term travel.

10. You’ll learn about re-entry.

All good things must come to an end, it’s the same with a fantasy trip. So you’ll get strategies for returning to work, routine, reality, or retirement. Yes, you can (and probably must) go home again. But that’s the perfect place to rest up and start scheming your next BreakAway.

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.  

Quit Your Job With Confidence
Thursday, August 21st, 2014

How can you just quit your job?

Kind of a tough question right? I think it is easier than some might believe.

Why do we work anyway? Is it to pass the day by and get some income, or is it to challenge ourselves and create ourselves? And if you knew you could leave your job for a year to come back to it, would you do it?

Want planning help?
Want planning help?
Take our free planning e-course

I would think most people would say yes. So why not work towards doing that? If we worked smart enough to create a unique position for ourselves highlighting our strengths, we would create high value for ourselves. Being more valuable in your job will allow you to leave and give you options when you come back.

The decision to quit

My wife and I decided to quit our jobs and travel the world about two and a half years ago. We both graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2008 and found jobs in Oklahoma City. She decided to go to graduate school and take two years to get her nurse practitioner degree in August 2011. At that time I decided to get another job in the Energy industry in Oklahoma City as an Engineer. We both agreed that after Katie finished her masters degree, we would take off. I worked two years with my new company doing well, Katie finished her masters program, and we knew it was time to quit. We quit in May 2014 and have just started our RTW trip.

So far we traveled around the US for two months, went to the World Cup in Brazil, and now are in Portugal. We plan on traveling through Europe, New Zealand, Asia, Central America, and Africa for about a year and a half, hitting warm weather destinations the whole time. We also came up with a rule of for every four countries we spend time in, one of those will be devoted to volunteering for our whole stay.

Passing up the big offer

I had performed well with my company and made a good impression with my engineering role. After being there two years, I created a niche role for myself and started to have options open up for me to move up in the organization. Even though I was leaving to travel, I had the option to be welcomed back if we came back to Oklahoma City after a year of traveling.

However, this wasn’t my only option for re-entry employment. Two months before I was going to quit, another company approached me and asked me to start in five months time with a really good offer. Five months vacation and then a for sure job to come back to. Sounds pretty good and secure right? However, my passion for taking the trip we wanted to take exceeded my passion for traveling for 5 months and committing to something else.

Everything in life is not about money

It was a tough decision, but I believe you should do what you are passionate about. So I decided to go against ALL advice I received and declined the offer.

I decided to travel with open ends, realizing that there could be something I find along the way that could be more meaningful than creating lots of business for a company. In the end it is your life, and you have to live it, not by a company’s plan and standard for you, but by your own. After declining the offer, the company came back and said ok, we will extend this offer for 2015. Take your time and you have something to come back to if you want it.

How did I get all of these opportunities?

I think of work differently. Instead of coasting through work to retire after thirty-five years, I’d like to “retire” every fifth year with the ability to have a job for us when we come back from taking breaks.

Let’s work to be truly valued so that we can demand a career break and get it. You can become more valuable by doing these things in your career:

  • Work smarter to make a big impact with your group
  • Be positive, happy, and enjoyable to be around
  • Do more research on a specialty problem and uncover the unknown
  • Come up with an innovative idea to solve that problem or create another section of business
  • Take charge, execute, and grow your new idea or business section, doing it with no instruction from your boss, just informing your boss of your actions along the way
  • Realize you are now in demand and valued at your company
  • Have the confidence to demand more from your work, and negotiate leave with the ability to be hired back
  • You are in demand, be confident

Some are already in demand at work or valued and just don’t know the power they hold. Your company knows you can do a great job. They know you are doing a good job now, and know that you can do a good job when and if you come back. You are a sure bet to them and not a risky hire.

Telling my boss about quitting to go travel made me realize that if you have ambitions outside of work, whether that is taking care of your dad who has cancer, retiring, taking time off to travel, your company does not see that as a negative or a threat. They can relate with life choices a lot easier than leaving for another job.

Don’t hide your passions, but work them into your life and job and take risks to do so. If you have the passion to quit your job and travel then you also have the passion to stand up to others plans/advice and be happy doing it. Your good at what you do, so be confident about negotiating leave.

Just as much as you are scared to leave your paycheck, your bosses are scared to loose you. It’s not a one way relationship. If you have a good relationship with your company, then through that relationship they will be open to hiring you when you come back. If you can’t talk to your boss and colleagues about these things, then there isn’t much of a relationship, and you might have to depend on your connections outside of your current job. For me, regardless if I go back to my old job or take the other opportunity, the one thing I know is that my number one priority is to travel, and I won’t settle to pursue that dream right now.

Taking the step of quitting is something that seems pretty hard to do, but it all depends on what we want to do in life.  Like most change in life, the hardest part is within your own mind. Once I actually did it, I realized that I can achieve whatever I want to, I just had to go for it. If I can do it, you can do it, too!

Katie and Wes decided to quit their jobs in Oklahaoma City April 2014 and take some time to explore the world and slow down. Their lives were career oriented and too routine. They thrived for a big change that would let them experience actual value in their lives. They plan to travel for about 18 months to South and Central America, Europe, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. They want to travel around one month per country and try and do four countries per continent; volunteering in one country for every four that they travel to. Follow them on their blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents