Thumbing through my daily devotional book, the April 20 reading caught my attention: “Want to know God’s will for your life? Then answer this question: What ignites your heart?” (from Grace for the Moment)
I knew MY answer.
My heart is “ignited” by opportunities to travel and to make an impact on other peoples’ lives through volunteer/mission work and cultural immersion. Putting those passions together with my God-given gifts was the start of my dream to “Travel with a Purpose.”
There were so many things I wanted to experience while traveling—cultural exchanges, international volunteering, mission work, and even working seasonal jobs. But, I knew I could never do it with 14 vacation days per year. Soon, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t find myself contemplating leaving behind everything I knew in order to have the opportunity travel around the world.
It began to consume all of my thoughts, and so last October, when I heard about the Meet, Plan, Go! event, I knew I had to go.
The purpose of Meet, Plan, Go! is to “encourage and teach others how to travel the world and have it be beneficial to your career.” Last year’s event in Orlando was an opportunity for me to get inspiration, encouragement, and advice for my career break plans and to MEET current/former career breakers, such as Mike & Catrell Cooney of Cooney World Adventure, Jillian Tobias of I Should Logoff (hosting the South Florida event this year!), Shannon O’Donnell of A Little Adrift, Cheryl MacDonald & Lisa Chavis of What Boundaries and Ben Reed of Adventures with Ben.
My ultimate decision to be a “career-breaker” got more serious about 2 years ago but my specific planning didn’t intensify until about 6 months prior to my departure date.
Here’s my planning checklist:
6 months prior
♦ Research visas, vaccinations, gear, insurance, volunteer opportunities, travel plans, etc.
♦ Consider taking up travel blogging (to document your trip).
♦ Apply for/Renew passport if necessary (most countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of your intended stay).
♦ Register your career break with Meet, Plan, Go!
5 months prior
♦ Plan itinerary—to whatever extent you’re comfortable.
♦ Buy gear and supplies so you have time to try it out & break it in.
♦ Set up a Skype account to stay in touch with friends & family back home.
♦ Set up a DropBox account for easy access to your computer files.
♦ Get any required vaccinations.
4 months prior
♦ Book plane tickets and reserve accommodations (especially if traveling during busy season).
♦ Apply for any volunteer programs in which you plan on participating.
3 months prior
♦ Visit a travel doctor.
♦ Begin filling prescriptions (especially if you’re going to need Malaria prophylaxis).
2 months prior
- Apply for international and/or domestic medical insurance.
- Obtain any required visas.
1 month prior
♦ Change address and/or arrange for someone to handle “business things” for you while you’re gone.
♦ Take pictures of credit cards, passports, visas, etc. and email to yourself (if you lose them overseas, at least having a photo will make getting an emergency replacement a lot easier).
♦ Notify credit/debit card companies of travel.
I tend to think, if I could pull THIS off, planning a wedding one day will be a piece of cake!
Last October, inspired by the Meet, Plan, Go! event, I took the first committal steps to GO for my dream—I submitted 3 volunteer applications and got a plane ticket for 90 days in Europe, making it that much harder to turn back. I wanted to use these opportunities to serve God’s purpose for my life and to make use of the gifts, abilities, and passions that He’d given me.
Not surprisingly, as reality began to set in, fear also crept in—fear that I would fail or that I wouldn’t be able to get a job when I returned. And, fear is the enemy of progress. As Max Lucado said, “at the beginning of every act of faith, there is often a seed of fear.”
But, endless possibilities exist when you’re willing to make a change. And, I was confident that if I was doing my best to follow God’s Will, everything would be ok. It may not turn out how I think it should, but it will turn out exactly how God wants it to.
Sarah Schauer began her career break in June 2012 with a domestic seasonal opportunity before heading to Europe, Africa, South America, and New Zealand. She’s a financial analyst by career, but also plays beach volleyball, volunteers with foreign exchange students, and enjoys hiking & the outdoors. She’s a Christian who feels blessed to be able to experience this adventure of a lifetime participating in international volunteer opportunities, all out of the desire to make a difference in the lives of others and experience cultural immersion. You can follow Sarah during her experiences at her website, Travels With a Purpose.