Testimonials

Ready or Not? Pulling the Trigger on a Career Break
Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I have been connected to Meet Plan Go since what I think were its earliest days. And by that I do not mean that I was one of the founders. Somehow, someway, in one of countless travel-related Internet searches, I read about it. I vaguely remember thinking, “You can do that?” and something got sparked in me. I got on the MPG web site, then called Briefcase to Backpack, and eventually found my way to what I think was the first big MPG event in New York City in the fall of 2010.

Travel in My Youth

Me (second from right) and my twin sister (second from left) with school friends in Paris, age 7

Me (second from right) and my twin sister (second from left) with school friends in Paris, age 7

I have been drawn to travel and exploration my entire life. As a young girl, our family moved to Paris for six months. I lived in Glasgow, Scotland, for a year of college. I had traveled in parts of Europe and Asia and made a trip to southern Africa. I had explored many parts of the U.S. and Canada. My mind often swam in what or where the next adventure would be. But other than the many moves I made in the U.S. when I was in my 20s, my explorations were usually at the most two and a half week vacations from work. I had never traveled for much longer than that or seriously considered it. It soon became something that floated often in my mind.

As an Adult I took Small Steps

After attending the first big MPG event, I continued to go to smaller meet-up groups. I listened to people talk about budgeting, planning, volunteering and their favorite gear. On my own, I found travel blogs I liked and read them regularly. I was inspired and always curious to learn more, but I was never sure I would do it myself. Somewhere along the way, though, I started taking small actions. One Friday after work, I went to my bank and set up a separate savings account to automatically deduct a certain amount from my primary account on the first of each month. I figured it could never hurt to have savings. I researched the places I was interested in going.

The two areas that came up the most were Africa and the Middle East. At one MPG event they had us write on our name tags the places we most wanted to travel. I think I was the only person who had written down Africa and the Middle East.

Surrounded by travelers at Meet Plan Go events

Surrounded by travelers at Meet Plan Go events

So I researched. And considered. And talked on and on with my friends about all the reasons why I should leave New York and my job. Yet, I did not go. Why? Many reasons.

Some of them were practical–I needed to save more money. And many of them simply came down to fear. As much as my mind was awash in travel dreams, it was also awash in constant doubt.

In particular, for me, I worried about how I would handle being alone on the road. Would I be too lonely? I had talked about wanting to leave my job and New York City for a long time, but was I giving both enough of a chance, or would I simply find that I was not happy on the road either?

While I listened at MPG gatherings to others’ stories of going to an MPG event and quitting their job the next day, I worried these questions inside out. Occasionally, well-meaning fellow travelers would tell me to “just do it,” but every time I thought about it I would get this tick under my eye that happens when I am very tired or stressed. While some may get their own version of the “tick” and need to move ahead anyway, I know for me it is a sign that I need to wait. It was not time for me yet.

Attend our MPG Workshop April 17th
Attend our MPG Workshop April 17th
Two weeks of vacation is not enough! Learn how you can take a career break & plan a big trip - we'll teach you how 4/17 at our NYC Meet Plan Go career break workshop.

It Took 5 Years to Book a Ticket

 Namibia has the most beautiful skies of any place I have been. This photo was taken on the dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia, one of the highlights of my time there.


Namibia has the most beautiful skies of any place I have been. This photo was taken on the dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia, one of the highlights of my time there.

It was about five years after first learning about MPG that I finally booked my ticket to leave. Five years of saving (I have needed every penny!). Five years of researching. Five years of considering. You often hear that there is no perfect time to go, so you just need to do it. There is truth in that. I wonder sometimes if I should have gone sooner, that maybe I made things harder on myself by waiting. I cannot say for sure, but I needed to get to a place where I felt in my gut that it was time.

In the meantime, I made the most of those years, and the experiences I had helped me to grow and feel more confident about the idea of traveling on my own. I had special time with my father while he was sick and gave myself time to go through the initial grief of losing him–the love of my life. I cared for my sick cat and eventually said goodbye to her. I considered other work possibilities within my company. I moved into Manhattan, something I had wanted to experience before I left New York City. I went through a yoga teacher training process for nine months. I developed daily practices that I use on the road to help anchor me no matter where I am in the world. Meanwhile, my work and other parts of my life in New York continued to feel stagnant, and it got clearer that those pieces were not going to change “someday.”

When I finally booked a one-way flight from Washington, D.C. to Windhoek, Namibia, I cried. Some of the tears were sadness–I would miss my family–but most of them were something else. I had done it! After all this time. And I had done it for myself. I had already told my boss that I would be leaving. I gave six months’ notice, knowing I needed to commit to the plan and also wanting to be able to talk freely about it at work. That helped me be able to leave on excellent terms.

Crossing Over to Career Breaker

I went to the annual MPG event that fall. This time, when they asked who was going to take a career break to travel, I was one of the people who raised my hand. It was exciting to finally know inside myself that it was time. There was no tick under my eye. I was confident and ready. I left the event that day on a high. In listening to others talk about their experiences, I felt like I had seen the world, and it felt limitless.

I went to one last MPG meet-up shortly before I left. People asked me about my plans, hugged me and said they wanted to hear about my travels as I went along. It was a wonderful feeling to have so much support. And it was an interesting feeling–suddenly I was one of “them.” I had listened to people talk about their career breaks and always saw them as different from me. Somehow, I thought they were more able to do the things I wanted to do. I realized that night that the only difference between me and them was that they had done it. I had not done it yet, but I was on the verge, and suddenly “they” included me.

Traveling with Confidence

Iran is a fascinating and rich culture that I still want to explore more. As anyone will tell you, the warm and welcoming people are a huge part of what makes it so special.

Iran is a fascinating and rich culture that I still want to explore more. As anyone will tell you, the warm and welcoming people are a huge part of what makes it so special.

What I see now as I write this is that my mind often has to question everything. Doubt seems to be a constant companion, always alerting me to every possibility. I have to laugh at how earnest and serious it is. Funnily enough, the doubts often do not extend to the places I choose to travel. And one of the things I love about travel is the confidence I gain as I move through the world. I have been on the road more than one year now. I spent the first 4-1/2 months traveling solo through various countries in Africa, followed by six weeks in France and five months in the Middle East. When people ask whether I have had any problems, I love being able to tell them about all the help I have gotten along the way and to let people know that the world is a friendly place.

I have good days and bad days on the road, times where I feel light and times where I feel lonely or question my direction. I sometimes need to recalibrate to find ways of travel that work best for my body and my spirit. Still, this huge life change has been the right move for me. I love exploring new places. I love being around people from other cultures. I have gotten more comfortable with talking to strangers, as well as more comfortable in my own skin. I am sharing more of myself with others and sharing more of what I have with others–talents and stories. I continue to grow in listening to myself and what is best for me. I am using the travel as a vehicle for creative pursuits I could not seem to make time for before I left. And I see more and more how much of travel for me is about the people and having a sensory experience of life. I connect both to people and to that sensory experience when I move slowly. It seems to be my rhythm.

 

About Bridget DeMouy

bridget headshotBridget DeMouy left her corporate job and home in New York City more than one year ago to explore the world and its people. She loves trekking enough to carry her heavy boots with her wherever she goes and is deeply loyal to any restaurant with friendly people and tasty, flavorful food. You can follow her travel adventures on her blog called Out of This World or on Instagram at @bdemouy.

How to Convince Your Partner to Take a Traveling Career Break Too
Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Career Break for Couples

Mike and Tara on a beach near Mokoliʻi on Oahu, Hawaii.

When you’re in a relationship, you probably expect (or at least hope) that your significant other would support your sane and harebrained ideas equally. But when it comes to a decision as life-changing as a career break, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you might receive pushback when pitching the plan. During the time when you’ve been envisioning an exciting global trek, your better half may have been focused on climbing the corporate ladder. This is one reason why you should prep both yourself and your partner before bringing up the idea of a career break.

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Start by gauging your better half’s interest during dinner conversations and weekend outings. Do this by discussing the reasons behind why you want to take a career break, but without going into the details of your plan and ultimate goal. This may take the form of, “I’m feeling unfulfilled at work,” which intimates that you’re interested in a change, or “Wouldn’t it be fun to just quit our jobs and travel the world?” The conversation that builds from this playful question should tell you where your partner falls on the spectrum of an easy to hard sell. The reactions you elicit from these prompts will also give you a sense of potential concerns that you’ll need to address when you’re ready to reveal your plan.

Whether or not it ends up being easy to convince your partner, you’ll likely be up against the following common questions and pushback points:

  • This isn’t a good time. What about our responsibilities (kids, pets, possessions, and property)?
  • It sounds like a lot of work.
  • We can’t afford it, and what would we do for an income on the road and when we return?
  • What about our jobs and the employment gap on our resumes?
Career Break for Couples

Mike and Tara just return from a heart-pounding gorge swing over the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

These are all valid concerns that you will definitely need to discuss as a couple, so take some time to think about how you would respond, and then write down your ideas. Create a loose script with potential questions and answers to help you prepare for this important conversation. Then read what you’ve written and ask yourself if your reasoning is logical and if your partner will understand where you’re coming from. Adjust where needed and then study the script so you’re more than familiar with the questions and answers. You shouldn’t read from it when you’re having the conversation, so practicing is crucial to build confidence. If you show doubt or indecision, your partner will feel the same way.

Additionally, show your commitment by being prepared with key information like where you might travel; a savings goal, how you will achieve it, and how long it will take to get there; options for what you can do with your possessions and property; and an overview of the biggest tasks to complete between now and your potential departure date.

Before we first started planning our round-the-world trip (RTW) in 2011, we had a similar conversation as Tara pitched the idea to Mike. We know it can be difficult to put your feelings about a career break into words, so here’s a little help with answers to the above pushback points:

  • There won’t ever be a “perfect time” to take a trip like this. Life is what you make it. Consider what obligations you have now – like kids, pets, and property – and how you would take care of them prior to leaving. You could rent or sell your property, ask family or friends to look after your pets, and bring your kids with you – what an excellent global education for them! Part of your pitch can include the allure of reducing your possessions and the ability to continue living as minimalists when your trip wraps up.
  • Sure, there’s a lot to do, but the reward is worth the work. And some of it will be fun too, like drafting your dream itinerary! The most difficult part for us was figuring out where to begin and in what order to complete tasks. Since there wasn’t a comprehensive guide for planning long-term travel, we wrote the book we wish we had access to when we were planning our RTW. It’s called Create Your Escape: A Practical Guide for Planning Long-Term Travel. It will help you plan your own career break, from saving money to reducing your possessions to executing even the smallest of details that will ultimately help make your trip carefree.
  • Your financial savings may either make you feel at ease or worry you about whether you could pull this off. To achieve your financial goals, it’s important to have a detailed plan for how to get there, which can include a monthly savings goal, paying off your debts, and adding a second income. In Create Your Escape, we provide an easy method for calculating your savings goal and a supplemental spreadsheet to help you track your spending on the road.
  • Experienced career breakers like ourselves know that a grown-up gap year won’t kill your career path, but we also know how difficult it is to trust that everything will turn out well. Ultimately, this requires trust in yourself and your abilities. Finding an employer who respects this personal decision won’t be difficult, as there will always be companies and hiring managers who value risk takers and want them on their team. Do whatever you can between now and the time you leave to ensure that your careers are moving forward in a positive direction. That will give you the confidence to sell yourself later on – just like you would now if you were looking for a new job.
Career Break for Couples

Religious site in Hpa-an, Myanmar.

Don’t feel disheartened if you two aren’t completely in sync at first, as it can take some time to get on board with such a big decision. One of the best ways you can build your potential travel partner’s confidence is to prove that the two of you, as a team, can pull it off – financially and otherwise. While a pitch displays your commitment, asking for the other person’s help shows you want them to be a part of the process. This works even better if you can tell your partner concrete ways he or she can contribute. For example, if your better half is great with numbers, he or she can be your trip CFO and handle your budget, which is critical to planning and executing a career break.

Career Break for Couples

Mike and Tara riding a donkey at the ksar of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.

Most importantly, don’t forget that this is supposed to be fun! You two could probably spend hours on end talking about your route, bucket list activities, festivals you want to attend, and friends you want to visit around the globe. You shouldn’t stress about planning an in-depth itinerary, but visualizing your end goal will be important for keeping both your head and heart in the game. If you maintain a high level of excitement when you talk about where you could go and what you could do, it will likely be difficult to resist the idea, especially if the back-end logistics are well thought out. Make it tough to say no to you!

Career Break for CouplesTara and Mike Shubbuck are the original Two Travelaholics. In 2012, they quit their jobs to travel the world on their extended honeymoon, racking up 40,000+ miles in their first year and a half of marriage. When they aren’t traveling, they’re on the lookout for pugs, craft beer, and great bands. They are the authors of Create Your Escape: A Practical Guide for Planning Long-Term Travel, which teaches other travelaholics how to prepare for extended travel. Check it out at http://createyourescape.today

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

Overcoming Fear and Mental Hurdles
Monday, April 21st, 2014

Each person’s situation and fears are different, but most often our fears of career break and sabbatical travel fall into four main areas:
Financial: I don’t have enough money – you have to be rich to travel

Societal: What will others think if I leave my job to travel – my family, friends and peers won’t be supportive

Career: I will ruin my career with a gap on my resume

Safety: fear of travel in general (health, safety, theft)
You may relate to one or all of these fears to varying degrees. But an important first step is to recognize that these hurdles and thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences.

Best Case Scenario and Positive Thinking

We usually default to assuming the worst-case scenario will come true. But we challenge you to think about “What if everything goes right?” for a change. That’s right – just close your eyes and think about those perceived hurdles as opportunities.
Financial: I can learn how to better save money & budget which will benefit me/my family in the long run. I will also realize that I don’t need as much money as I think to be happy.

Societal: Others will love hearing my story of following my passions and I will inspire others to do the same.

Career: By taking this career break I will be more knowledgeable of the world and it’s cultures, a better communicator, able to work in a variety of environments, and demonstrate great flexibility that will make me stand out in interviews and cover letters.

Safety: I will learn ways to remain safe no matter where I am in the world and will see that how people & places are perceived in the media is not necessarily true for entire countries.
There is always a way to over get hurdles – always. Positive thinking is just a start.

Time is On Your Side

Keeping your fears all bottled up inside makes them turn into irrational monsters. Simply confronting and talking about your fears over time is another way to climb over the hurdles. Just listen to Kim Dinan, a future career breaker, speak about how her and her husband have been working through their obstacles over time:

Research the Fear

Another way to overcome hurdles is to educate yourself. It’s easy to jump to conclusions; it’s hard to do research. Instead of letting the fears spiral out of control, stay calm, do some research, and see if your fears are real or not. Adam Seper’s initial fear was that they didn’t have enough money to take a career break and travel, however once he started researching it and reading about others who have done it, he realized the fears were unfounded.

Through this course, we will help you confront these hurdles and leap over them. Most importantly we will introduce you to and surround you with people who have overcome these perceived hurdles. People who have done it and whose lives are better because of their breaks. It may not be an easy process, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Of all the risks you can take in your life, the one that stands out the most is the risk never taken at all.

 

A simple exercise to overcoming your fears;

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEARS

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing, which you think you cannot do. “ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Writing down your fears creates awareness and choice. Make a list of all of your fears you have about taking a career break or sabbatical and traveling.  Write as fast as you can in a brainstorming format. Include EVERY fear, however small or irrational. Then read them aloud, suspending judgment. Allow yourself to feel the fear without letting it spiral you into negativity. Notice that being afraid does not have to mean being pulled off center and losing ground.

If it feels comfortable, share your list with a friend. Before sharing your list, explain that you simply want a witness, that you are playing with how it is to acknowledge your fears without being pulled off center by them. Be clear that you are not asking for help and that you do not need advice. You do not need to be ‘fixed’. Ask your friend to simply listen, and to acknowledge you for being conscious of your fears.


 

Don’t Be Too Scared to Follow Your Dream
Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I am often asked what the impetus was for my sailing journey.

Truth be told, I’ve always been drawn to water, from my youth growing up on Lake Michigan to my travels along the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I started taking sailing lessons in my early adulthood, but something ‘more important’ always diverted my attention away from sailing (e.g. work, more work, relationships, shiny silver things, etc). It wasn’t until the last dream I was living (moving to New York City and establishing a career) had long since become a reality and had left me feeling stuck, that I began craving a new adventure.

I seriously began considering the possibility of a global circumnavigation in 2008. I had been chartering sailboats with a childhood friend, Mary Davenport Cook, who was ‘living her bucket list’ after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Mary taught me to enjoy the moments and pursue a dream while I was able.

I enjoyed traveling and taking in the great outdoors in the comfort of my temporary ‘sailing home’. I welcomed the simplicity of sailing, needing only to take along the essentials, leaving everything superfluous behind. I felt a meditative sense of calm and connectedness while on passage. Time would stop. Life was clarified. Everything seemed to make sense. I wanted more of this experience, and thus my new dream was formed.

At first, I was too fearful to follow my dream

I thought that I would jeopardize the career that I loved and had taken so long to build and that I could not afford to undertake such an adventure. I thought that my friends, colleagues and family would think I was crazy and irresponsible, and that I would fall flat on my face. It was only when the fear of not following my dream became greater than all of my other fears that I decided to ‘lift anchor’.

None of my fears materialized. In fact, quite the opposite occurred.

In 2011, I resigned my position (and was subsequently offered an 8-month leave of absence) to earn my RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certification and cross the Atlantic Ocean as crew in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers).

I returned to work in 2012 to successfully deliver the biggest project of my career.

In 2013, I started my second ‘sailbatical’ to cross the Pacific. I am currently in Hawaii having sailed here from Isla Mujeres, Mexico via Florida, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, The Galapagos, and French Polynesia (Gambier, Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands) – over 11,000 nautical miles in ten months.

2014 promises more adventure as I head to New Zealand from Hawaii via the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga. I will return to New York for work in 2015 unless the ‘wind’ takes me in another direction.

There is much more to this story than I can include here, but to summarize, I am amazed how everything came together once I decided to go for it. Even apparent glitches (failed relationships, health issues) along the way turned out to be blessings in disguise and actually supported me on the journey.

Living my dream is not always unicorns and rainbows – sometimes it can be a real nightmare. However, even at its worst, it is much better than sitting around wishing I was living my dream.

If you want to incorporate sailing into your career break, you may want to take one or more of the steps that I did:

Aloha and Bon Voyage

Lisa Dorenfest has an unquenchable passion for sailing and a dream to circumnavigate the globe on a sailboat. She has taken a series of breaks from her career as a Project Manager to realize her dream one ocean at a time. Having now sailed over 20,000 + nautical miles in 14 countries, Lisa has learned to enjoy life’s moments and believe in the possibilities. You can read more about Lisa’s sailing adventures on her website and follow her on Twitter.

5 Steps to Getting Over the Hurdle and Making BIG Changes in Your Life
Friday, January 17th, 2014

“You deserve to be happy,” I kept (and keep) telling myself.

“You are worth it!”

This was my mantra during the time I was making a significant change in my life and decided to take a big break. In late 2012 I quit my job after 6 years of hard work and long hours dedicated to product marketing and began a 10 month journey of self-discovery through Southeast Asia, India and parts of Europe. The process from acknowledging I needed a change to actually getting over the hurdle and hopping on a plane to Bangkok took time, understanding and a bunch of support. The good news is if I can do it, so can you.

Here are five steps I experienced in creating change and manifesting a life that felt more…like me.

Acknowledge a change is needed

 

Whether it is making the decision to quit your job, postpone grad school, or take a break from a certain kind of life you’ve been leading, knowing you need a change is the first step in making what you truly want to actually happen. However, making the decision to stop what you’re doing right where you are and say, “No, I don’t want this,” and move in a new direction isn’t easy. You might have an inkling, a feeling deep in your stomach that’s telling you, “This isn’t quite right”. There might not only be a yearning for more, but a knowing that there is more to this life than what you are currently experiencing. By honoring and listening to that inner voice, our deepest desires, we naturally begin the process of cultivating change.

Want to learn the practicalities of taking a Career Break Trip? Sign up for our free e-course, Plan Your Career Break in 30 Days

Knowing you are worth it

It takes more than listening to your gut to make big decisions like taking a career break. I knew I needed to make a change, but it took a good 3 years to feel “worthy” enough to act on it. In my case, I was living a life of fear. I was afraid to disappoint those around me: my family, employer, colleagues and friends. I made others’ happiness more important than my own. This only made me feel more stuck, more unsatisfied, less productive in my work, and just unpleasant to be around. I was sick of hearing myself complain. Gradually, through therapy, self-help books, TedTalks, yoga and an introduction to meditation, my self-worth grew and grew. I started practicing putting myself first, setting boundaries, saying “no.” Little by little I could feel my courage and inner strength brewing. I was getting ready to act on making an even bigger change in my life.

Letting go of attachments

As humans we generally cling to comfort. If given the option of choosing between something you know and something unknown, we tend to stick with “the usual.” We carry a soft spot for what we know, this life we’ve worked so hard to build. Even though I knew I needed a change and was beginning to feel worthy enough to experience this happiness, I was still greatly attached to my life in the Bay Area, California. But if I truly wanted an alternative, I needed to make room for it. I began to analyze my relationship and identity with my work, my friends and community. Would the company survive without me? Could I survive this journey without my friends? Would I risk losing a friend to experience something new? How could I create community in the places I hoped to visit? Making a change and taking a break definitely comes with a bit of letting go, which is probably one of the hardest steps along the way. And it’s the letting go process that requires support.

Create a support network

So began the search to find people and communities that would support me, because God knows I was not going to pull the plug all on my own. I tried focusing less on my mother’s concerns and more on who could help me make my desire a reality. Friends connected me to other friends who knew people who traveled for long periods of time. I made tea-dates with yoga teachers who had practiced in India, and Skyped with current travelers wandering abroad.

In my outreach I discovered my friend from college, Anne and her new husband Mike were getting ready to leave for a year-long honeymoon around the world. On a trip to New York, I popped over to Hoboken and had an uplifting pow-wow with my around the world bound friends at Honeytrek. Almost in unison, Mike and Anne said, “Have you heard of Meet Plan Go?”

They had recently attended a meet-up and said they met tons of like-minded people eager to take career breaks and received loads of inspiration and support on how to make it happen. Lucky for me the national meet-up was scheduled in just a few weeks. In October, 2012 I attended the San Francisco gathering. Filled with helpful information and more importantly, encouraging pats on the back, I quit my job by the end of the month.

If you’re in the New York City or San Francisco areas , Meet, Plan, Go! is hosting meetups in both (Ashley, the author of this article, will be at the San Francisco meetup). Both are free, but you do need tickets. Visit the sites below to get your free ticket and for more info:

Embracing the unknown

Going against the grain is uncomfortable and is not without risking a splinter or two. While the world around you is cruising in one direction, it can feel quite daunting to wave goodbye and take the next exit. If you get off the known highway of life and take an alternate route, well, there’s no telling what sort of potholes and unpaved streets lie ahead. The fact is, you will never know. You can be as prepared as you can be with your maps and all-weather gear, but you really don’t know where this amazing journey of life is going to take you. Getting comfortable with this “not knowing” is the key to experiencing great happiness. In my experience, when you have trust in the unknown, acting from the heart and not out of obligation, there is only room for a positive outcome.

If any of this is resonating, I encourage you to put your blinker on and take the road less traveled. Listen to your inner voice and trust you know what you truly want and can make your deepest desires a reality. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with people who lift you up. There is no question making a big decision is difficult, but I can guarantee you, it will be one of the most liberating experiences you will feel in your life.

I’ll leave you with the words of Mark Twain (which also inspired me to shave my head in Dharamsala, India)
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Ashley Garver made the switch from an under stimulated, disconnected work-a-holic into a joyously free-spirited world-class wanderer. With a full backpack and a sublet apartment, she spent ten introspective months traveling alone throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Europe. She studied yoga, eastern healing modalities, meditation, and — most importantly — herself. Ashley detoxed her body, shaved her head, biked through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, and volunteered at a yoga retreat in Portugal for a month. During her journey of self-discovery, Ashley realized that, with love and honesty, she is capable of just about anything. You can read more about Ashley on her website I See Ashley and follow her on Twitter.

Getting Over Your Fears
Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Long-term travel isn’t usually a decision that is made overnight. There is often a deep, long-lasting desire within a person to tread on dirt roads, watch sunsets from other horizons, see new colors woven together by diverse histories and traditions, share unique moments, appreciate differences, learn to be self-sufficient and free, enjoy simplicity, and to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. For some, the dream to leave a life behind to follow an uncertain road seems impossible or too scary to attempt. But when the desire to go surpasses the desire to stay, one should prepare for the waves of emotions that follow. As a single mom with two young children, there were almost too many emotions to sort through.

The decision that it was possible

Marriage and kids kept me in one place, and my travel dreams were reduced to pictures on a Pinterest board. In 2011, I was divorced and broke. I had a small, empty apartment in Austin, two children (then ages 2 and 4), no job, no car, and a blank canvas with which to create a brand new life. I began an online marketing business that allowed me the flexibility to be at home with my children and to travel when we wanted to.

After a year of running my business, making sure it was successful and profitable, I envisioned what my life would look like in 6 months. I saw turquoise blue waters, warm weather, and knitted hammocks. So on Christmas morning of 2012, new luggage, passports, swimsuits, and beach toys were wrapped beneath our tree. My gift to my children and myself was a long trip to Cozumel, Mexico, which seemed like the perfect introduction to traveling outside of the US. I sold, gave away, and packed our belongings, and anticipated our departure date in May. I was overwhelmed with excitement until one late night 6 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, I wanted to cancel the whole trip.

Fears set in during the planning stages

I had been spending my evenings reading travel articles, travel blogs, travel tips, cultural differences in Cozumel, Mexican laws, and other books. I mapped out a detailed plan that exhausted me to look at, but I felt secure that everything in Austin would be taken care of when I left. I hired staff to take care of tasks that I couldn’t be present for, and on paper, my plans for my exciting journey seemed thorough. But exciting journeys aren’t about a plan on paper.

About 6 weeks before leaving, I began to feel displaced. My thoughts and energy had been focused on Cozumel, and it pained me to feel uprooted from my comfortable life in Austin. I felt adrift- some place between Austin and Cozumel. Knowing I wouldn’t be with my friends in a month, I stopped making plans with them, and I was sure I would be forgotten. I feared that there would be nothing to come back to, that friends would move on, and that I would no longer have a place.

I questioned whether this was best for the kids- to uproot them when we had made a comfortable spot for ourselves in Austin. I was content there to a degree, so maybe I could be okay. Maybe life abroad isn’t really what I had imagined, and maybe I was setting myself up for disappointment. I was sure of my life in Austin. I knew what was coming, and I knew what to expect. But in another country, I didn’t know what to expect. Was the excitement of the unknown worth the risk of having no permanent home?

I questioned everything. I began to panic and started holding on to any reason to stay in Austin. Talking about my trip made me cry. I couldn’t sleep, and I cried more in that last month than I did in the past year. I wrote out how much it would cost to cancel my trip, get a new place (since I had given notice at my apartment), put the kids in a new pre-school, and continue living just like I always had. I was so disappointed in myself- I claimed to be a free spirit, but I was terrified of venturing out with only a couple of pieces of luggage, my two children, and my little dog.

So did we go?

I thought I needed comfort and roots, but what I really needed was resolution and wings. I began having long chats with a seasoned world traveler friend of mine. He assured me that these feelings were normal, but that I needed to find a way to put them in their place. I could cancel the trip and go on living the way I was, or I could take this chance, and get a glimpse of something that could be incredible. If I didn’t like it, I could always return to Austin, but my friend assured me that if I would just get on the plane, I wouldn’t regret it. I was allowing fear to ruin the possibility of a deeply-rooted dream, of a free vagabond lifestyle that I had designed in my head for years. But I wanted this adventure enough that I had rid myself of all material things, structured a business around a travel lifestyle, and prepared my children to be little world explorers.

I had been blindsided by the waves of emotions I felt from day to day and even hour to hour (sometimes minute to minute). Finally, a couple of weeks before leaving, I found ways to manage my fear and move forward. If I failed, I could still have a good life in Austin, but if there was even a glimmer of hope that I could pull this off, I was going to find out.

I began envisioning myself in my new life, free in my spirit, but grounded in who I was. My stability would be within myself. My children would find their safety in my own stability. My comfort would be in knowing that the world was an exciting place, and that my children and I had the privilege of living in it- all of it if we wanted! My fears would not be passed on to them, and they would feel free and open to wander and discover, while I watched them in amazement. I realized that I could have roots, but also be fluid and mobile.

I ran, I meditated, I drank hot tea, I listened to soothing music, I took bubble baths, and I began to surround myself with only positive, calming energy and people. I reflected on all the amazing memories I had in Austin, but looked forward to new ones. I read books written by other wanderers and vagabonds who discovered things they were looking for and found even more that they weren’t. I studied maps, and beautiful cultures, and revived my excitement for seeing them myself. I recognized my fears, and then released them, as I began to expect the best from our trip. I spent time with people who had been traveling, I saw their appetite for life and exploration, and I regained my own enthusiasm for my journey. There were moments of fear, but I had resolved that we were going to do this. On May 23, 2012, the kids and I boarded a plane together, each of us with a stuffed animal in our hands.

What about now?

Questioning this move was a really helpful part of the process, now that I reflect on it. It helped me realize how strong my desire was to travel to new places. Had there been no struggle in my decision, in the end, I may not have been so resolved and focused to release myself from my own boundaries. My children and I have been in Cozumel for 3 months now, and we have all adjusted well. We have extended our trip through the school year, and we plan to live in Costa Rica next.

Sometimes, I wonder what I’m doing here, or I fall into habitual fears and mindsets. I worry that we may lose everything, that my business will fail, and that I won’t have the ability to pay for our home here.

But I guess even in a worst case scenario, I could just tie a couple of hammocks between two palm trees on a beach, and really, that doesn’t sound too bad at all.

Autumn la Bohème is a single mother of 2 who left her home in Austin Texas to disprove the word “impossible”. Always labeled a gypsy soul, she had a dream to live absolutely free, to travel with no geographical ties, to roam, to explore, and to make the world more real to her than the pictures she saw in books and magazines. She is a writer and online marketing manager for Bodhi Leaf Media, a business that she started to fund her travels. She also documents life and travel on her blog It’s All About a Journey. She loves daydreaming, open skies, and listening to tales of other nomads and vagabonds on their journeys. Her children’s adventurous spirits have added to the excitement of their journey, and now they have their own list of areas to visit as they slowly explore Central and South America.

Photo credits: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha, all other photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go