Benefits

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.

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.

Breaks are Necessary
Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The word “break” often has a negative connotation. A break up, break down, break in, break the law, break a leg. And the term ‘career break’ is no different – people of think of it as a bad thing.

However , a growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity.

“Americans and their brains are preoccupied with work much of the time. Throughout history people have intuited that such puritanical devotion to perpetual busyness does not in fact translate to greater productivity and is not particularly healthy. What if the brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas? “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times. “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” –via ScientificAmerican.com 

Taking a break from your typical routine, your career, or demands of life can be the best thing you can do for yourself. However, I didn’t need a scientific stufy to tell me this, I already knew. Taking a break from my work was the best thing for me.

No, I’m not talking about my career break I took in 2006 where I left my corporate IT career behind to travel around the world for a year. That break certainly was successful as it ultimately was the motivator for launching Meet Plan Go.

I’m talking about my break from career breaks in 2013.

Some of you may have noticed that the last big Meet Plan Go event we held was in 2012. It was a big success and contributed to putting many of you on the road to your own career break. However, after the event, I needed a break. I had been working so hard on getting others to take a break I had burned myself out. However, the year I took off from career break event planning was just what I needed. I used the time away to get out of my normal Meet Plan Go work routine and regroup. I focused on other projects on my personal travel website and as expected my creativeness and energy for Meet Plan Go returned.

I can finally say that I’m ready to get back to Meet Plan Go events!

We are changing up the format for 2014 in order to really focus on those who are serious about going and are looking for inspiration and advice on how to go about it. We are holding a full one-day conference in New York City so that attendees can have ample time to learn everything they’ll need to know and get all of their questions answered in person!

Get access to experts and connect to others on the same path.

This full day event will provide you with ample time to get your planning questions answered personally, and more importantly build relationships with others with your similar career break travel goals. There will be presentations and experts there to discuss:

• Getting over your fears
• Planning your break (budgeting, itinerary, volunteering, insurance, packing, working on the road, getting local, lodging, airfare, and more)
• How to market your travels into your job search when you return
Plus, in our break out groups you will be able to talk to travel experts and walk away with resources on specific areas of travel planning, travel modes, and travel options.

If you are tired of two weeks of vacation time and want to break away from the cube to explore the world, we will teach you how on September 20th.

Space is limited to 150 people. Reserve your spot now and spend a weekend in New York City!

A break might just be what the doctor ordered – I know it was for me.

Sherry Ott is the Co-Founder of Meet Plan Go and a career break evangelist.  She believes that every single person should have a career break on their resume!  Since her original Career Break in 2006 she has been traveling the world, living nomadically while running her own travel and lifestyle website Ottsworld.com.  @Ottsworld on Twitter

Travel: Finding a New Future
Thursday, April 25th, 2013

As former workaholics it had taken decades for us to find ourselves in a fairly unique position. We were financially quite well-off, we both enjoyed successful and rewarding careers with the free added bonus of exhaustion and stress. We weren’t millionaires, but as quite a frugal couple, we’d never squandered our hard earned cash on opulent apparel, but we did splash out on vacations and new cars now and again.

 

We’d paid off the mortgage on our main home, purchased a vacation property overseas, we dined out most evenings of the week, and had all the latest gadgets and gizmos.  We had everything that the world associates with a happy, successful couple. There was one big problem; it really didn’t satisfy us.

We wanted to travel the world, and we were in our late 30s and early 40s, so the clock was ticking.  We were far too young to afford to retire for life, but could we turn our back on everything we’d worked so hard to accumulate and give it a go for a while?

Planning to take a Career Break Took Too Long

We spent over three years researching and looking into the possibility of how to make this a reality. Logically (that’s the logic of our past consumer world) said it just didn’t make sense for us to walk away from our high income jobs. The economy was in freefall, and getting back into the market after the trip would be near impossible. Then a whole series of further doubts and reasons not to make the jump came.

What about family and friends? Could we leave them for so long would we miss them too much?

What if we couldn’t live out of a backpack for months on end?

Would we miss our home comforts?

What if we get ill?

What if we get robbed?

These are just a small sample of the endless questions and doubts we wrestled with while holding firmly on to our dream of traveling long term.  In the end we found answers to all of these questions on sites like this and from other travel bloggers who had already made the leap and were sharing their experiences.

Travel Risks Vs Rewards

So we took the risk, quit our jobs in 2011, and started de-cluttering of our lives.

Clearing the house and our lives of possessions was liberating and at times a little sad. After 20 years together, some of the things we had to say farewell triggered fond memories. But in a way we now know we were just making lots of room for the countless new memories that would replace them on our trip.

We sold the cars and other things that we no longer needed, sorted all our files and paperwork, and made them available on-line so that we could access everything on the road.  We rented our home out and finally wrote a will (just in case).  We then said an emotional goodbye to family, friends, and work colleagues.  There was no turning back now, and we were excited (and also a little apprehensive) as we departed, in December 2011, to catch a flight to Australia.

We’ve been traveling ever since, and the trip has been the most amazing and fulfilling experience we have had together.  Experiencing so much each week, it’s difficult to express everything we’ve learned about us as a couple and individually, as we are still learning and changing.

Freedom to Travel Long-Term

Currently we’re living off our savings and rental income from our home, and plan to do so for a good while yet as we travel on a low-cost ‘flashpacking’ budget.  We will begin to think about working to fund our travels in the future, though not just yet.

We no longer measure success in terms of monetary wealth. We appreciate that there are few certainties in life (other than birth and death), so we are doing the best we can to fill the space between these with new experiences.  We have no regrets about what we have done. There are things and comforts from home we miss occasionally, but those emotions are fleeting as another experience smacks us in the face and reminds us how truly lucky we are.

Regrets About Leaving Our Home Behind?

We wish we’d started this journey sooner and not spent so many years trying to analyze the consequences. We initially intended to spend just a couple of years traveling around the world; however, our long-term plan is now to live a location independent life, picking up work when and where we can find it. Do we know how we are going to do that?  Not yet, but we have plenty of ideas, and we will look at them in more detail soon.

There is so much more we want to explore that we no longer want to return to the lives we once had, and also realize that you don’t need to win the lottery to do this. We’ve met many people of all ages and backgrounds who have very little in either savings or income, yet they still manage to fulfill their desire to travel by working temporarily in all manner of jobs around the world, and then using this cash to pay for their next adventure.

We have learned as the trip has progressed that things often work out better if you don’t rush them. The future comes every day, so if you miss today’s opportunity, another will be along tomorrow.

To find out more about people who left their jobs to travel, check out the following articles:

In 2011 Craig and John sold off most of their belongings, quit their jobs, and set off around the world.  They bought a one way ticket to Australia and have been heading west across the globe ever since. Their blog features destination travel advice and tips for the older long term traveler.  They travel in what they call the flashpacking style, avoiding shared dorms and bathrooms at all costs.  Their posts are accompanied with some great travel photography featuring the architecture, cultural treats, and people they meet on their travels.  They blog about their journey at flashpackatforty, or you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Meet, Plan, Go! Has Arrived
Monday, September 13th, 2010

Meet, Plan, Go! It’s hard to believe that what’s been months in the making is finally here – Meet, Plan, Go!

When we started talking about the concept of Meet, Plan, Go! we had no idea how many people would embrace the concept of career break and extended travel. And we have been pleasantly surprised by the response to this night of events with nearly 1,400 people registered and another 700+ on our wait lists! And of course we couldn’t have done it without our stellar team of hosts.

What we love about our hosts is that they all come from different backgrounds and have very different career break experiences to share. Like our Washington DC host, Sonia Zamborsky, said in Letting Go: Making Other Plans: “There is no ‘right’ way to travel, and there is no ‘right’ way to do a career break. All sorts of people are doing it their way, a million different ways.”

And Jeff Jung, our Austin co-host, really encapsulated our diverse experiences in his post ‘The Many Faces of Long-Term and Career Break Travel’. “What I want to convey is that the long-term traveler is not one type of person but a diverse group of people all passionate about the potential that long-term travel has to enrich one’s life in a way that no other activity can.”

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Be Present
Monday, July 5th, 2010

The team behind Briefcase to Backpack, Sherry Ott & Michaela Potter, recently attended the Travel Blog Exchange conference (TBEX10) where we were able to meet many of the people we network with online in the flesh. The experience of having our virtual worlds collide with our physical lives impressed upon us the importance of old school networking.

Meet, Plan, Go! Hosts The digital world is king. Most of our interactions are done digitally now; just think about your average week of texting, social networking, and emailing. Even for people who don’t live online as I do, the digital world has crept into the heart of our days. When was the last time you mailed a letter, or called someone’s land line? Do you even have a land line? We read our news digitally, we date digitally, we even manage to purchase our gas without ever having to see or talk to another person. Physical interaction is old fashioned.

In the world of digital connections sometimes I forget the power of simply being physically present. So when the panel of travel writers and editors sat down in front of the audience and actually started talking I was a bit startled; they were real people talking to me. Their wise voices emoted rise and fall in pitch, and there were pauses for emphasis. I could read their facial expressions and most importantly understand their tone. All little things I have come to take for granted in the flat world of reading text online.

The panel was impressive. Even though I had met some of them before in social settings, it felt different this time. I was here to hear them speak about there craft – in person; I was present.

The expert panel of writers and editors talked about the importance of story telling as opposed to simply describing the situation. They discussed the importance of arc in a story, and writing using all of the senses. As I sat and listened to them it hit me; none of what they were saying was rocket science. In fact – I’m pretty sure that in my digital world of Google searches I could have found these exact pieces of information if I had googled “how to write a good travel story”. But listening to them speak the words and see their expressions and body movement gave it all a different impact.

It inspired me.

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Benefits of Using a Career or Sabbatical Coach
Monday, March 1st, 2010

Tara Russell Deciding to change your career or take time off from your current job can be very challenging on the mind and soul. Add travel plans on top of that and you may get discouraged enough to abandon your career break dreams. Tara Russell, a certified life & career coach through her company Three Month Visa, shares with us the benefits of using a coach to help guide you through this life-changing experience.

What are the benefits of a travel sabbatical and what types of activities do you recommend to your clients?
I think the greatest benefit of travel sabbaticals can be summed up by one of my favorite quotes from travel writer Pico Iyer: “Travel is like love: It cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.” When we are home, we can begin to define ourselves by our routines and labels (i.e. our careers, our consumer habits, etc.) For example, I’ve had clients come to me and say “I’m a top-level executive consultant with 15 years delivering Six Sigma expertise to tech firms in Silicon Valley” or “I’m an eco-conscious soy-latte-drinking, Prius-driving reusable-grocery-bag-toting Yoga nut!” All good stuff, to be sure…but not who these people really are at their core.

Machu Picchu, Peru Travel removes us from our habits and routines and lets us rediscover ourselves anew. It expands our horizons, gives us fresh and new perspectives, strengthens our sense of adventure, pushes us to challenge ourselves and feeds an appreciation of our own courage and abilities. By the time those same clients came home, they were able to say “I am someone who survived and thrived during 15 months of solo travel…who watched the sun rise over Machu Picchu and set over the steppes of Mongolia, who learned new languages and opened up to new cultures…who made life-long friendships out of chance acquaintances, etc.” Those are gifts that come home with you and last a lifetime.

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Benefits of Taking a Break Before Changing Jobs
Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Pamela Skillings - Escape from Corporate America Ready to change jobs or careers? Pamela Skillings, a successful entrepreneur, certified career coach, and the author of Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams, explains why you should consider a break before doing so.

1. What are some benefits of taking a break before changing jobs?
Ovid wrote, “A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Often, people who are burned out at work simply need to step away to see the bigger picture.

They usually return from a career break with renewed energy and creativity, new perspectives on life and work, and clearer priorities. Your career break can not only help you restore balance, but can also provide needed inspiration for success in the next phase of your career — a “bountiful crop” of ideas and achievements.

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How Sabbaticals Benefit Companies and Individuals
Sunday, April 5th, 2009

If you are fortunate enough to love your job AND work for a company that offers a sabbatical program, it would be wasteful for you not to take advantage of the opportunity to take a sabbatical.

yourSABBATICAL is a firm that partners with businesses to deploy programs that attract, retain and accelerate top talent through the use of highly planned and structured leaves of absences. Having worked with many Fortune 500 companies and their employees, they are experts in the area of creating sabbatical programs with defined goals and measurable results. Here they discuss the benefits to both you and your employer. (more…)

Benefits: A New Era of “Retirement”
Thursday, January 15th, 2009

esl.jpg There are numerous benefits of taking a career break – most of which can only be measured by you. Whether you are looking for an opportunity to reexamine your life goals or time for self-discovery and inner growth, cultural career breaks give you the chance to get out of your element, which greatly helps in the process. By visiting other cultures and opening yourself to new experiences, you can learn so much about yourself – thus giving you insight you might not have gained from remaining at home.

When Sherry Ott grew tired of her corporate life, she decided to pack her bags and hit the road for 16 months. At the end of that journey, she learned new things about herself, which helped her in developing new life goals – which included saying goodbye to corporate life as she knew it. Among her goals listed were taking ESL classes and staying in the US no more than 6 months out of the year. And within months of her return, she was on her way to Vietnam to live and teach English.

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Career Break Guide Table of Contents