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How to Travel As a Couple on Career Break
Monday, May 19th, 2014

Warren and Betsy Hiking the Lycian Way in Turkey. Travel is a real test of a relationship!

How will your relationship fare during a career break? It’s easy to romanticize the entire thing, thinking your trip will play out like the couple version of Eat, Pray, Love. Even though reality is not quite as easy or predictable as the movies – thank the travel gods! – our friends and career break veterans, Betsy and Warren, say you can plan on a stronger, healthier relationship by the end of your career break by setting just a few ground rules and expectations.

Betsy and Warren Talbot first began planning their career break in 2008, and in 2010 they set off to travel the world (after hosting the first Seattle Meet Plan Go event!). While on their career break they began writing about their experiences and lessons, and it eventually spawned their own publishing business of books, courses, and a weekly podcast. Their career break actually led them to a brand-new career!  We’ve actually featured a number of their books on Meet Plan Go as they are great resources for career break planning, teaching you how to save money, get rid of your stuff, and overcome fear of making big changes in your life.

Now that they’ve been living, traveling and working together non-stop for four years, we wanted to ask them some specific questions about what they learned, and they sat down on the terrace of their new home in Spain to reveal some of the insights from their new book, Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World

Here’s what we covered:  

  • Travel actually strengthened your relationship – why is that? (0:25)
  • How did you handle the planning stages as a couple?  Did someone take the lead or was it shared responsibility? (1:23)
  • How do you make decisions as a couple when you travel? (2:25)
  • How do you manage when something really goes wrong? (4:25)
  • What one new thing did you learn about each other once you started traveling?  (5:33)
  • What tips do you have for spending 24/7 together as you are traveling? (6:48)

Popup_MWL_FinalWhat’s next for these two? They are taking a 12-city tour of Europe by train to mark the release of their latest book, and they are calling the whole trip An International Love Affair. Follow along at Married with Luggage to see what they uncover about love and romance as they ride the rails this summer.

And if you want an inside peek into the evolution of a marriage on the road, check out their 5-star rated book, Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World.

Boomers Know: Vacations Waste Time!
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Did you know that Americans left 577,212,000 unused vacation days on the table last year? Now THAT’s a stat to be proud of! And since Baby Boomers still comprise 31% of the workforce (despite that the youngest of them is 50), we owe them a big thanks for their outstanding live-to-work ethic! 

It gets better. 49% of Boomers intend not to retire until they’re 66 or older. And 10% say they’ll never retire at all! And to think we’re wasting online ink here trying to promote career breaks? The average employed American takes only 10 days off—and refuses to use the remaining 4. We’ve got 144 million workers; you do the math! 

So let’s stop this balderdash about the beauty of breaks, retirement (temporary or otherwise), and time off. Let’s dispel some myths about this nirvana-utopia that one allegedly lands at when, say, you pack your bags and fly to Vietnam or Cabo or San Fran or wherever.

Myth #1: Vacations offer rest.

This, of course, is poppycock—since vacations stress the already over-stressed routine, require months of planning, days of packing, and hours of travel—and often on jets with bad air, dangerous food (if any at all), not to mention seats the size of one butt cheek. Once “there,” simple but essential acts like procuring Pizza Hut and finding a decent toilet can be a chore. The R&R happens when you finally get home and collapse back into your harried life. 

Myth #2. Vacations are affordable.

You kidding me? You gotta buy gas to drive anywhere, if only to the family cabin. And what about sandals and straw hats and Tommy Bahama shirts for the cruise or beach? Plus airfare and sleeps? Better to save your hard-earned cash for more important things, like big vehicles, Fleetwood Mac reunion tickets, and the newest iPhone.

Myth #3. You meet interesting people.

Nonsense! Vacationers (and the people who serve/sell to them) are unrealistic dweebs who like to set aside sanity for careless silliness. Take this guy. I recently met him while vacationing (gasp!) on St. John. He entertains lazy grinners and diners, makes guitars out of cigar boxes, and has been mastering his own musical style for years. Poor guy. He could have been a banker in North Dakota and gotten rich on the oil boom. 

Myth #4. You bond with family.

Yeah, so what? Who doesn’t get enough family—especially Boomers (who have had to deal with them for decades). Why make sandcastles with your grandkids when you already spent the holidays spoiling them? Stay home and stay tuned in and turned on. Find some Gilligan’s Island reruns and pay close attention to those hemorrhoid-remedy commercials! 

Myth #5. Vacations encourage exploration.

Ya sure, you can leave your comfort zone and go swim with man-stinging rays or climb rocks. But those are slippery slopes—and you could get your eye poked out. Stay on the job, I say, and keep up with your BookFace and Social Security and GetIntoMe accounts (when the boss isn’t looking). There’s SO much to explore in the office and online! 

This topic grows more vital daily—as frozen Americans fly recklessly away for warm “escapes” to potential doom and destruction, and others begin to ponder summer BreakAways. 

But you know better, right? Good! So stop dreaming. Stop scheming. And stop saving your money. Thank you!

Now, get back to work. 

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.

Faith Vs. Fear: Boomers Speak Out at Meet-up
Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Monday night, about 40 travel lovers gathered at Ginger Hop in Minneapolis to swap stories and secrets. A panel of four experienced career breakers took on the topic of “Faith Vs. Fear: The Career Break Face-off.” And Yours Truly served as Mr. M.C. Moderator. A good time was had by all!

After a social-lubrication hour, we had all attendees introduce themselves, tell about their career-break experience (if any), and mention the primary fear standing in the way of their fantasy BreakAway. The fears were mostly familiar, yet the Boomer’s concerns were sometimes surprising. Here are a few, plus my comments…

“I’m afraid that prospective employers will think I’m coming out of retirement.”

This came up more than once, and honestly had never crossed my mind before. But it seems totally legit, right? Picture someone half your age named Ms. H.R. Authority perusing your resume and sniffing, “You turned 62, took a year off to live in Peru, and now you want to go back to work? Really!?!”

“I’m worried about stopping contributions into my retirement savings—and spending money I may need later.”

That’s a smart worry. And we Americans are big spenders (who often forget to save in our early decades). But as we age, most people gradually come to their savings senses. My 2-cent retort remains: Wouldn’t you love to take one year of your retirement now—even if it means working one year longer later?

“I’m concerned that I might have health problems.”

Again, so real. Fortunately, one panelist had recently returned from an ambitious one-year travel-athon—despite having diabetes and needing to carry refrigerated insulin and give himself shots four times a day. Full disclosure: He was in his 20s. Yet his story inspires regardless of your age. And other folks reflected stories of getting good—and often cheap!—care in almost every country.

“What if my family needs me or my parents get sick or die?”

That’s a tough one. And as Boomers are learning en masse, some serious things happen as you age: Responsibility. Caring. Illness. Death. But why not talk to your parents and kinfolk and ask their opinion? They might just insist you go. They may even visit! And remember: If something bad happens, you can go home again. 

“I’m just not sure I have the energy.”

Travel can be exhausting, no doubt. Yet there are as many ways to travel as there are people to get up and go—and the words “slow travel” came up often last night (including by young whippersnappers). A sleepy fishing village may be just the ticket; climb every mountain in your next life. On the other hand, maybe a Big Break would recharge those tired batteries and get you off your Boomer butt!

After all, is there anything more energizing than stepping out of your stale routine, landing in a cool new scene, and jump-starting the rest of your life?

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.

The Naysayers
Thursday, August 8th, 2013

A group of career breakers future and past meet in Seattle at a local meetup

No matter what it is that brought you to the decision to take a career break, it’s important to keep reminding yourself what that motivating force was.  You will meet naysayers along the way, trying to get you off course and doubting yourself and your choices. There will be people telling you that are ruining your life. Telling you that your life will never be the same. They’ll say things like:

  • “You’re going to ruin your career, you know?”
  • “Why don’t you just wait until you retire?”
  • “It’s not safe to travel where you’re going.”
  • “Must be nice to be rich.”
  • “That’s the worst thing you could ever do for your kids. How selfish.”
  • “You’re traveling for a year with your wife? Good luck not killing each other.”

And while the statements above may infuriate you, they are right about one thing. Your life will never be the same. If you decide to take charge of your life and take back your time, things will change. If you decide to truly make your dreams come true, the person you are right now, this second, will change. And it will change for the better.

While the detractors like to think that you’ll end up in a gutter somewhere if you dare veer off the path set forth for you by society, chances are the opposite will happen. You’ll come back from a break like this more open-minded, more willing to try new things, more outgoing, more able to adapt to change, more motivated, and more confident than ever before. Life as you knew it before your career break will be but a distant memory.

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 who 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.

Katie Aune shares how she handled the reaction of unsupportive friends and where she found a new support system to lean on.

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.

Where to find people in your community:

• Meet, Plan, Go! Events: We hold local events in a handful of cities  – check out our calendar and see if you can join in the Career Break conversation with people in your city. You can fill out a traveler profile over at Bootsnall.com and meet other long term, career break, and around the world travelers!

• 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

• Couchsurfing: A worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit.

Non-Human Influences

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

•  The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook by Jeff Jung

• 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

Have you ever come across Naysayers when talking about your career break?  How did you handle it?

 

Are Societal Pressures Stopping You?
Thursday, March 14th, 2013

When pondering the idea of a career break, there are a multitude of hurdles one has to overcome. We have touched on the “career fears” that prevent one from embarking on a career break. Another fear we come across are those that society places on us. Many people can’t relate to taking a career break and veering off the expected path in life – and those people are the ones that can make you question your own decision.

Many of our career break experts for Meet, Plan, Go! share the reactions they received when telling family, friends and colleagues about their decision to take a career break to travel. And you may be surprised by how positive people can be.

Meet, Plan, Go! NYC Panel

So what were some of the reactions our panel received?

Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday)
Co-workers and family were surprised such a career-focused person would up and leave. They didn’t understand my ambition transcended money, it was an ambition for accomplishment and adventure in various forms. But in my experience very, very few people took a negative view of the decision; they were jealous or perhaps confused, they didn’t think it was realistic for them (for a series of dubious reasons) but they thought it was a cool idea.

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Workplaces for Sabbaticals
Monday, November 29th, 2010

Elizabeth Pagano, a partner at yourSABBATICAL and co-host of Meet, Plan, Go! Atlanta shares insight on companies who recognize the power of time off.

Workplaces for SabbaticalsAfter my mother and I returned from our sailing sabbatical and we realized the impact that time away from work had on our business partnership and our individual careers, we wondered: Are companies recognizing the power of time off?

Indeed, some are – and the trend is growing. The company-sponsored sabbatical began in the 1960s with the likes of McDonald’s and Intel. Work for one of these companies, and you’ll get a sizable chunk of time away from the job (often fully paid) every so many years (the average is five) to fulfill a lifelong dream, travel, or do something you’ve been longing to do but couldn’t in a week’s vacation.

Even in an economic downturn, companies like Deloitte and General Mills rolled out sabbatical programs for their employees. And it’s not just an offering at big companies; companies with fewer than 20 employees are also on yourSABBATICAL.com’s list of 100+ companies that regularly offer career breaks to employees. And we continue to add to the “Workplaces for Sabbaticals” list of forward-thinking companies.

Like the folks at Briefcase to Backpack, we’re working hard to impact the way we work and live, believing every career should include meaningful “pauses” along the way. The old model of educating ourselves and then working hard for 45 years BEFORE we can go and do something that we dream of doing no longer makes sense.

The companies that realize this and nurture their workers with holistic approaches, valuing both the professional and personal lives of their contributors, are worthy of recognition. They’re typically great places to work – so check them out, if you’re in the job market.

Supporters: Meet, Plan, Go! Sponsors
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Meet, Plan, Go! SponsorsWhen we first started reaching out to companies to sponsor Meet, Plan, Go!, many didn’t quite get the concept nor see the value in career break and extended travel . But then there were others that got it right away and have been with us from early on in this movement, and we are so grateful to have them on our side.

Thank you to our Premium, National, and Local Sponsors for making last nights events so invaluable by offering great resources as well as amazing prizes for our attendees:

Gap Adventures offers the widest selection of affordable small group adventure tours, safaris, treks and expeditions to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. Offering a range of different trip styles and comfort levels to suit every traveler, their award-winning trips allow you the freedom to explore off the beaten path in an authentic and sustainable way to bring you face-to-face with the world’s most fascinating cultures, customs and natural wildlife.

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In the Career Break Closet
Monday, August 30th, 2010

 

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.

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Supporters: Company Sabbaticals
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Taking a career break doesn’t always mean you need to leave your job or company, especially if you love where you work and what you do. In fact, a career break or sabbatical is a great opportunity to become rejuvenated in your career and environment. And many companies in the US offer some sort of sabbatical program for their employees.

Sabbatical programs are a great way for companies to build employee loyalty and retention. According to a 2008 survey conducted by the Families and Work Institute, 24% of small businesses and 14% of large businesses allow their employees to take sabbaticals (paid or unpaid of six months or more).

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Career Break Guide Table of Contents