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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. I have had issues with depression and addiction that I have been treating for many years. Would I be okay away from my usual support systems? 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 learned new health and spiritual 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.

MovingWorlds March Giveaway
Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Enter to win a lifetime membership to a network of free, life-changing volunteer opportunities

Meet Plan Go & MovingWorlds March Giveaway
What is MovingWorlds? If you’re looking to make a real difference on your next trip, and you don’t like the idea of having to pay to “volunteer,” then it’s the perfect time to check out MovingWorlds.org. MovingWorlds connects people who want to travel and volunteer, with social impact organizations around the world. They selectively source and qualify social impact organizations working in the field so you can be confident your skills will make the most impact. “Experteers” have access to MovingWorlds exclusive training, resources, and planning guide to help ensure safe, high-impact engagements.

See our Top 10 Reasons Career Breakers Should Include Experteering in their Itinerary

What is this giveaway? Meet Plan Go has partnered with MovingWorlds.org to share the awesome work they are doing in the volunteering space around the world. They have given us one Full Membership (with unlimited phone support) to giveaway to the Meet Plan Go family. See Terms and Conditions

Explore MovingWorlds.org: If you would like to check out the various opportunities on MovingWorlds, they have provided us a link that allows you to review the complete details on every single opportunity they have available (and if you don’t see the perfect opportunity, they will reach out to their global partners and find one that fits your criteria). Follow this link, http://MovingWorlds.org/MeetPlanGo, click “Join Now” on the top right, and you will have unfettered access to the site, and never be asked to pay a thing until you find the perfect opportunity (and when you do find that perfect opportunity MPG members simply pay an administration fee of $112).

volunteer experteer

How to enter this giveaway:

  • Meet Plan Go will be giving away one full MovingWorlds Membership PLUS additional support to someone who is interested in volunteering in 2016 (value: $300)
  • Everyone who would like to enter should email Mike@MovingWorlds.org with the following:
    – Your First Name, Home Country & the Email you used in your MovingWorlds profile
    – Link to your favorite 1 (or) 2 MovingWorlds “Experteering” opportunities
    – A few sentences telling us why you would like to volunteer for this organization in 2016
    – Confirm that, if you win, you are willing to share your experience with the Meet Plan Go audience via a few blog posts
    The email you send will earn one entry in the contest, and is mandatory for anyone who wishes to enter
  • Optional: If you would like to earn a second entry in this giveaway, post a tweet with a link to the MovingWorlds opportunity you are interested in. You can say whatever you wish, simply include the link to the project and mention @MeetPlanGo & @Experteering in your tweet.
  • Optional: If you would like to earn a third entry in the giveaway, head over to this Facebook Post, and leave a comment that includes a link to your favorite MovingWorlds opportunity, along with a few sentences about why you want to Experteer there.

Deadline: On March 31st 11:59 PM EST . We will add each entry that meets the criteria (including each Twitter & Facebook entries) on their own row in an excel file, and use Random.org to randomly choose the winner. Winner will be notified by email (via the email address that was used to make the first submission) within five (5) days following selection of Winner.  Once the winner accepts, we will mention the winner on social media for both Moving Worlds and Meet Plan Go.

Please read all Terms and Conditions prior to entering.

Questions: If you have any questions about MovingWorlds or this contest please email Mike Howard, Mike@MovingWorlds.org

Valuable Skills to Learn Before Hitting the Road on a Career Break
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Haggling is part of everyday life in some countries, such as India, Vietnam, and Egypt. Vendors are known to inflate prices for tourists and are very skilled in getting foreigners to pay more than they would charge other locals. This goes for everything from backpacks to t-shirts to fruit to tuk tuk rates. Knowing how to successfully negotiate prices will help ensure you aren’t taken advantage of and overcharged.

Creating a backup plan or two before you start haggling is important in case your first strategy doesn’t work. Plan A could be basic price negotiation. Should that fail, you enact plan B, which could be walking away or threatening to go to a competitor. Plan C could be more creative, like having a travel partner step in or offering to buy multiple items at a set price.

You can haggle for a good deal at the Luang Prabang night market.

While walking down a small side street in Fethiye, Turkey, we came across a table set up with bottles of perfume and cologne. There was a wide variety, like you would find in an airport duty free shop. Mike stopped to look at the selection while Tara stood uninterested a few feet away. The Turkish vendor manning the table came up to Mike and offered cologne suggestions and prices. His initial offer started high, as street negotiations do, and Mike showed hesitation upon hearing the price. This caused the vendor to lower the initial price without Mike having to say a word. He landed at 50 lira, which was still too high for Mike since he knew they were knock-off products. Mike counter-offered with 10 lira. Of course that’s a laughably low number, but the key to agreeing on a price you want to pay is to start low to bring the seller’s offer price down (this was plan A: plain negotiation). After a couple minutes, Mike got him down to 25 lira, but it didn’t seem like the seller was willing to drop below that. That’s when plan B kicked in, and Tara stepped in to the conversation and offered to buy two bottles for 30 lira. Sold!

As Americans who never haggle for goods at home, we went through trial and error until we got used to negotiating. It’s a skill we wished we had developed or even researched a little before leaving for our 14-month RTW trip. As we traveled, we discovered many other skills that also fell into the “wish we knew about that” category. It’s easy to overlook or not even consider learning these skills when you’re planning your career break. After all, you become consumed by figuring out how to save more money, sell your possessions, and plan a smooth transition from working 9-to-5 to a life of full-time travel. That’s why we included a whole chapter on these skills in the travel-planning book we just published, called Create Your Escape: A Practical Guide for Planning Long-Term Travel – because you don’t have time to think of everything yourself when you’re planning your big trip.

There are a lot of skills you can and should learn before leaving, but we’ll focus on a few other important ones here.

First Aid

Accidents happen even if you aren’t the clumsy type. You might wipe out on a bicycle or trip and scrape your knee while hiking. Knowing how to properly clean and bandage wounds will help ensure you don’t get an infection. And, just as important, you should know which first-aid items you should pack in the first place. Sure, you can purchase antiseptic and bandages on the road, but it’s a good idea to have a starter kit in case you need it in a remote area or after hours when shops aren’t open.

Drive a Manual Car and Motorbike

learn to drive a motorbike

Tara not really driving a motorbike in Kampot, Cambodia (more like posing). She never learned before the trip so Mike was the driver – just to be safe!

You don’t want your skills (or lack thereof) to hold you back from cool experiences while traveling. You might have an opportunity to rent a car or motorbike for a day trip or coastal drive, and you shouldn’t attempt to drive either vehicle if you don’t know how.

When we were in Southeast Asia, a local said to us, “You see all the foreigners with bandages or casts? Those are likely the result of a motorbike accident.” It’s true that many people underestimate motorbikes and scooters and think they can drive them with ease. Fully automatic motorbikes might be easier to drive, but many rental companies only offer semi-automatic and manual options. You have to be skilled in driving this type of vehicle to be successful, otherwise you risk endangering yourself and others on the road.

Likewise, many rental cars around the world are manual, and it takes practice to understand how to drive these vehicles. You could ruin the engine if you incorrectly use the clutch and don’t know how to properly shift gears, and that might cost you a pretty penny to replace. Plus, stalling out in the middle of a street (at a light or stop sign) could cause a traffic jam or even an accident depending on the flow of traffic.

A new country with different road rules than your own is not where you should learn to drive a motorbike or manual car. Sign up for a class at home so you feel confident using the vehicle and learn how to be a defensive driver. Doing this will not only ensure you don’t have to pass up an opportunity to rent a vehicle, but it may also help you in an emergency situation where you have no choice but to get behind the wheel.

Learn to Swim

Tara swimming in the Mediterranean off the coast of Turkey.

The underwater world is incredibly beautiful with its colorful coral and curious fish. You’ll likely have at least a few opportunities to snorkel or even become SCUBA certified if you want. You could see the majestic Great Barrier Reef or even watch manta rays swim inches below you. Even though you could use a life jacket or inflatable tubes to help you stay afloat, you really should be confident in the water and know basic water safety if you’re going to splash around in it.

Being a skilled swimmer isn’t just important for water-based experiences, but it could also save your life in the event of an emergency. If you’re not comfortable in the water, take lessons before you leave until you feel confident enough to float, tread water, hold your breath under water, and swim to safety.

Be an Exceptional Photographer

Mike taking photographs in Iceland.

You’ve probably perfected your selfies, but leave the selfie stick at home and turn the camera around to capture the incredible and inexplicable moments of your trip. These are images you’ll be showing others and looking at for the rest of your life, so you should know how to take a sharp, well-framed, and interesting shot, as well as edit the files to enhance them even more.

The first step is learning to take great photos, which you can do through an online course or by reading a book and then practicing every chance you get. Then take it one step further and learn the basics of Photoshop or another photo editing program so you can make your images look even better. You’ll want to understand resizing, color correction, and working with shadows, midtones and highlights. Those are very basic concepts, but they’ll help you create a more vibrant image than your camera may have captured if the lighting was poor when you snapped the shot.

To know what else you should learn before hitting the road, check out chapter 6 in Create Your Escape. It’ll give you good ideas of what to expect in foreign countries and make you an even savvier traveler.

About Tara and Mike

Career Break for CouplesTara and Mike 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

How Taking a Career Break Can Boost Your Productivity
Friday, October 23rd, 2015

productivity

Maybe you envision it longingly: the opportunity to step away from your current at-work responsibilities and find joy in something new. Maybe you dream of traveling around the world and changing your routine for a period. Perhaps a new routine might be exactly what you’ve been craving.

These thoughts might seem silly, irresponsible, or counterproductive, but there could be something more to it. Taking a career break now — and finding a new routine and traveling — might actually boost your productivity in the end.

What Is a Career Break?

To be clear, a career break isn’t walking away from a job without planning to ever return to the work force. Instead, a career break is a planned opportunity to break away from your current position, with the hopes of returning to that position or something similar in the future. It’s a break, it’s not forever.

It could be used for travel, to start something new on the side, to take time for family or all of these things at the same time! The goal is to end up back in the work force or working independently at some point in the future.

Career Breaks Help Redefine Focus Areas

productivity

Refocus on a break

Regardless of the reason for the break, many people are apprehensive about the idea of simply stepping away from the work force. This is especially true of women who take a break to raise their families. In fact, 70% of women struggle to step away from their careers because of the fear of what will happen when they try to return. When anyone contemplates a break it brings up fear of falling behind in our career, expertise, and hire-ability.

These fears are unfounded. When you have the opportunity to step away from your position, you have more time to focus on what you want when you return. Whether it’s a new area of employment or something else, when you are out of the work force, you’re able to focus on what matters to you, not what you’re told should matter. This means you will return to something you’re passionate about, not something you question on a daily basis.

Broken Routines Increase Productivity

If you’ve been in the same career for years, you’ve developed a set of routines. Routines not only in your work day of weekly meetings, your industry life cycle, and yearly reviews; but also in your full day from waking up to going to bed. You wake around the same time each day, eat similar foods for breakfast and head off to the office. Maybe you take a break during lunch or after the workday ends to get in some activity. But then, you probably head home, grab dinner and end your day; day after day, year after year. It’s monotonous, and routines make our brains and body’s lazy.

Science has proven that breaking up routines — by taking a career break, for instance — forces the brain to form new synapses. These synapses make it easier to learn new skills, boost problem-solving abilities and lead to more productivity.

Strengthen and Build New Skills

There’s a reason doctorate level professors and those in other professions are granted sabbaticals to travel, to write and to do what they’re passionate about. These breaks help build and harness existing skills while learning new ones along the way.

Perhaps your current level of education limits your ability to move up in the work force. If you were able to focus on your education or on obtaining training in new areas, you could enhance your skill set. This could lead to a career advancement that might not be possible at your current position. A career break could prevent you from remaining stagnant in the work force.

Changes in Scenery Boost Performance and Creativity

Kenai Glacier Lodge 1 (1)

It’s not simply about changing your routine, but consider there are additional advantages to changing your physical view. Studies have shown that spending more time in nature can make you happier, so why not plan a cross-country trip to different state parks or the top-rated relaxing beaches?

In one study, 75% of executives even said that travel boosts job performance, with 68% claiming that it also boosts creativity. Packing your bags for a career break could boost your marketability and perspective after you return to work.

If you’ve been looking for a way to break out of your current rut, but are worried about what a career break could do to your future, your fear is most likely unfounded. By taking a career break you could return to the work force with a higher level of productivity, happiness and more creativity, imagine the possibilities — they could be endless A career break might be exactly what you need to increase your promotability and overall job skills in the future.

Want to learn more? Check out Career Break 30.

Kayla Matthews is a productivity-obsessed blogger who also writes for Afar and ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read her latest posts!

Images by Eddy Klaus and StartupStockPhotos

Get Help Planning your Career Break
Friday, July 10th, 2015

career break petra

Russ career breaking in Petra based on tips from other career break veterans

Starting in 2006, I started taking all of my vacation time in a big chunk from Thanksgiving to New Years. That’s not only what worked in my business, but it was also a wonderful way to travel. When I was on the road, it normally took about 10 days to shed the office and then, about 10 days before heading home, thinking about work started to creep in again. But, that middle part – that was bliss. I wanted to get to that place again, but for longer, so I started to consider taking a career break.

Career Break Hurdles

But this was 2010 and the recession was still in full swing and quitting a job to travel was lunacy. My friends and family all responded the same: “Are you mad? Why would you quit your job when the economy is in the toilet?” No one could understand where I was coming from or what I was feeling.

And then I stumbled across Meet, Plan, Go. There was an event in Boston when I’d be there and I couldn’t wait. There was a panel with half a dozen career break veterans sharing their experience. I soaked it up. It was the first time I’d spoken with anyone about taking a career break and they didn’t think I was crazy. I peppered the career breakers with questions and connected with a number of them after the event was over. It was exactly what I’d needed to pull the trigger and to make sure I got the most out of my trip.  Planning my trip by talking to others who’ve ‘been there, done that’ ending up being the best motivation there was to get me over the hurdles of taking a career break.

Are Guidebooks Dead?

On my career break – I traveled 11 amazing months around the world – I continued to reach out to bloggers, writers and other travelers to get advice and recommendations as I visited each country. I soon ditched the guidebooks and relied on word of mouth recommendations. Frankly, there wasn’t any resource as valuable, and that got me thinking.

Last week, I launched a new startup that’s designed to help you do the same, it’s called Exploring.is.  The idea behind Exploring.is, is to connect travelers directly with professional writers, bloggers and others who are experts on a specific place or an activity.

Travel Tips

If you are in the process of contemplating a career break or sabbatical, there are a number of career break experts that you can chat with about:

  • How to negotiate for a sabbatical or leave of absence
  • What to do if you have a mortgage
  • How to plan and save for an epic round the world trip
  • What to possibly pack for such a trip

Or our experts can help you with:

  • Where to go
  • Budget travel tips
  • Volunteering ideas
  • How to market your travels back into your job hunt

We even have Meet Plan Go Co-Founder, Sherry Ott as part of our expert travel curators.  Whatever it is, you have specific needs and questions about your career break and you don’t want to miss the best of what’s out there.

How it Works

Exploring.is lets you book time (via chat, phone or video) with us so we can give you insider advice, answer your questions and help you plan your ideal vacation. Time can be booked in 15 minute blocks, with most people buying 30 minutes for $50.

My team and I launched our Beta last week and I’m really excited to be able to help out other prospective career breakers since it had such an impact on my life. Sign up today and we’ll make sure to get you scheduled for an appointment.

We’re looking forward to helping you plan your big trip! Start Here!

Blog post image option 1

Russ Brooks is the founder of Urbanful.org and Exploring.is. An avid motorcyclist, scuba diver and photographer, Russ has visited 40 states and 40 countries since taking his first trip to Mexico at age 13. He’s lived in Japan, Costa Rica and Ecuador and is always dreaming of the next place he wants to go.

Attend a Meet Plan Go Half Day Workshop for the Love of Travel
Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Do you love traveling so much that you dream of taking a career break to travel the world? Or maybe you want to break into the travel industry as a writer, photographer, or videographer so that you can live a life of travel. You can learn to do all of these things and more, at the NY Travel Festival April 18 – 19. It’s a full weekend of travel-industry-related talks, networking, happy hours and travel giveaways. AND NY Travel Festival is teaming up with Meet, Plan, Go! to host a four-hour workshop that will reveal wanderlust-inducing information to help get you on our way!

An intimate Meet Plan Go four-hour workshop will take place on Sunday, April 19 and cover crucial topics to the career-break traveler. Become inspired by people who have “been there” and meet and network with others with similar career-break travel goals.

Register-Now-Button_b_smaller

 

Enter promo code “MPG15” to get the $75 MPG workshop/weekend ticket.

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What to expect from the Meet Plan Go half-day Workshop:

• 2 – 3pm ~ Panel discussion
Learn from those who have fulfilled their own dreams of escaping their cube and traveling around the world: what they did and how they did it. Our career break veteran panel includes experts on family travel, couple travel, and solo travel.

• 3 – 4pm ~ Katie Aune
A discussion about the nuts and bolts of career break planning, including: planning your trip; budgeting/financial matters; what to do with your home and possessions; handling health/insurance matters

• 4 – 5pm ~ Sherry Ott
Learn how you can go about working on the road. Topics will include teaching ESL; freelance writing; blogging; photography; and utilizing your career background to find work or become location independent.

• 5 – 6pm ~ Breakout Q&A with all panelists/speakers
Your chance to have an extended opportunity to engage individually with the day’s speakers. Pick their brains about your specific concerns and questions, and get ideas from people who’ve been there at this speed networking hour.

Meet the Speakers & Panelists

These experts will not only provide you with inspiration by sharing their own stories, but also tips on how they did it and useful travel planning resources.

Katie-Aune-150x150Katie Aune quit her job in August 2011 to spend a year volunteering and traveling through all 15 countries of the former Soviet Union.  Her journey included running a marathon in Estonia, riding the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway, teaching English in Russia and Tajikistan, volunteering in Armenia, camping in the desert of Turkmenistan and doing her best to speak Russian on a daily basis. She returned to her hometown of Chicago in the fall of 2012 and was employed again in her previous field by the start of 2013  .She will discuss The Nuts & Bolts of Career-Break Planning.

 

Sherry-Ott-150x150Sherry Ott, a refugee from corporate IT, is a long-term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She has traveled around the world to over 60 countries, primarily solo, and has been living nomadically while traveling and working for over eight years to date. Sherry will share her career-break expertise in solo travel; volunteering; extended travel of a year or longer; teaching ESL; photography; working while on the road; living as an expat; and living out of a suitcase for extended periods of time.

 

rainerjenss-150x150Rainer Jenss, In 2008/2009, Rainer Jenss traveled around the world with his wife and two boys (ages 8 & 11) for 13 months. During that time, they visited 28 different countries and experienced the world in a hands-on, interactive way that never has been possible otherwise. Since his return, Rainer has dedicated himself to inspiring families to travel and advocated that travel be an essential part of every child’s education. As such, he is launching the Family Travel Association, which aims to create a collective and unified industry voice that will help change the way families travel – charting a path for the future generations of travelers the industry needs to cultivate.

 

Jane-Stanfield-150x150 Jane Stanfield has three main passions in life: travel, animals and volunteering. In 2006, after five years of knowing that she needed to do something totally different, she put her three passions together on a yearlong trip around the world. She volunteered on 12 projects in seven countries and took fantastic vacations in five others. For volunteer projects, she worked with orphans, spoke English, catalogued an elementary school library, assisted on an archaeological dig, and worked on scientific and rehabilitation projects with seven species of wildlife.

 

Anne-Mike-Howard-150x150Mike & Anne Howard are a pair of newlyweds who thought a ten-day honeymoon wasn’t nearly enough to celebrate a new life together. With a little bit of savings, no kids, and good health, they figured there was no better time to travel than now. So they quit their jobs, rented their apartment, and set out on a 675-day honeymoon around the world. Using Anne’s background as a magazine editor and Mike’s as a digital media strategist and photographer, they started HoneyTrek.com to share their career break across six continents, 33 countries, and 302 places.

Early-bird tickets are $75 (a 25% discount!) for access to the full weekend of travel industry talks, lunches, giveaways, happy hours AND the MPG workshop. Get your tickets now as space is limited to 30 people for the career break talks!

Register-Now-Button_b_smaller

 

Enter promo code “MPG15” to get the $75 MPG workshop/weekend ticket.

What else do you get from the NYTravelFest weekend?

nytf-logo-200x200Besides the Meet Plan Go half day workshop you’ll also get:

• Traveler-level admission to both Saturday and Sunday’s ($45 value) activities
• A full weekend of panels, speakers, and experiences that are designed for people who love to explore their world. Panel topics include: Affordable Luxury, NYC Travel Hotspots, The best of Locally produced alcohol (including tastings!)
• Discount Pass from NYC & Co., inc. great deals on NYC restaurants and attractions
• Entrance to contest giveaways, before and during the event
• Lunch on Sunday

Learn more at the NYTravFest FAQ’s

 

Beware Boom Doom & Gloom!
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Baby Boomers (Americans 50-68 years young) have embarked on a precarious journey toward retirement. And though you may not care if you’re, say, younger than 50, you should. Because if Boomers can’t pay for their foodstuffs and hip swaps, we all will.

It could get expensive. Already, the U.S. government has a debt problem. Healthcare costs are making us chronically sick. And the 1/99 formula bodes ill for the 99%. All to say: A stinky financial fart may be brewing. And it’s not only going to redefine retirement, it may in turn jeopardize countless career-break dreams. 

Don’t believe me. Oh sure, I boast a few degrees, aced prob and stats, and hold several certifications, including the BISS (Because I Said So) and WMWY (What Me Worry? Yes!). But, hey, you do the research.

In this case, let’s break it down with 3 lowlights from the 2014 annual Insured Retirement Institute report. 

The percentage of Boomers who are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement has dropped to 33%. 

Okay. That means about 2/3 of our current and future retirees don’t have a clue. Apparently, they still believe in Santa Claus, Uncle Sam, or the Grateful Dead, who sing, “I need a miracle every day.”

80% of Boomers report having savings for retirement. Of those, about half have $250,000 or more.

Hmmm. Let’s calculate:

Half of 80% (or 40%) have more than a quarter-mil. So 60% have less.

Any financial advisor worth his fancy glasses suggests you’d like 20 years worth of living expenses to retire smartly. Today, U.S. median income exceeds $50,000. Multiply by 20, and that’s a cool $1,000,000 in savings for most folks to get out of bed comfortably post paycheck.

43% of Boomers expect Social Security to be a major source of retirement income; 46% expect it to be a minor source. 

In other words, Boomers are counting on SS. Bigtime. Now, that’s not all bad, because (one good source says) SS provides about half of the income for 65% of Americans over age 65. And yet, everyone knows SS is at risk of spending too much while taking in too little (sound familiar?). So prudent pensioners-to-be must ask: Will SS still love me tomorrow?

One solution: Make more; work less

 

To be sure, we can’t all develop ulcers worrying about other people’s golden years. But we might want to take their medicine by not getting ourselves into the same sick jam.

That starts by taking money—and planning—seriously. Planning pays because, after all, nobody ever took a career break without earning a master’s in Planning first. And the “work less” subhead above reminds us that sabbaticals take time—as in, time away from work (income).

To this Boomer, retirement is not something you delay until your senior moments. Maybe it starts here, now, with what I dub the Retire Now and Then philosophy. Consider taking 5% of retirement along the way, even if it means working 5% longer at the end. You agree, right? Or else you wouldn’t be on this site. 

How to do that? It’s not so hard. Try to live by these oh-so terse 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness.

For starters, #1 is: “Live within your means, no matter what that means.”

Good luck. We’ll need it. And happy sails…

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

Photo credits: 401(K) 2012, Shutterstock

Camper Van Relocation: Cost Comparison
Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Earlier in the week Amelia Tockston wrote a post about her experience with Camper Van Relocation in Australia. The following is a detailed breakdown and cost comparison for anyone interested in doing the same on their career break trip.

Details and itinerary

  • I had a Britz Hi-Top, 3 person sleeper — all to myself!
  • Van amenities included: stove, fridge, microwave, kettle, utensils, cups/bowls/plates, table, bed, linens/pillows/sleeping bags, sound system, sink, electrical plugs, window screens, storage bins and lights.
  • I could extend my contract for $75 day (max 2 days). But in my case, I could extend for one day only, since paying customers needed the van on Dec 29 in Hobart.
  • My schedule: Depart Melbourne Dec 24, arrive Hobart Dec 28.
  • My US car insurance did not provide coverage for camper vans, nor did my credit card company, so I purchased insurance through the rental company:
    • $12/day to reduce damage expenses to maximum $500 out-of-pocket, in the event of an accident.
    • Important noteIf relocation driver rolls the van, rental insurance does not apply and driver is responsible for full cost of vehicle damage. And since rolling a vehicle generally totals a car, the driver would be responsible for the cost of entire van! Horror story, a tourist from China, with no insurance of her own, rolled her luxury camper van and subsequently owed the rental company $170,000 AUD. Lesson here: DO NOT roll your camper van, take corners cautiously and slowly.
  • Bond requirement: My credit card was charged $1,000 AUD. This would be refunded to my credit card upon arrival to Hobart Airport, but given two contingents:
    • No damage to vehicle and I arrive ON TIME. If vehicle is returned damaged, I would forfeit up to $500 AUD. If I failed to return the van by 3 pm on December 28, I would forfeit the entire $1,000 AUD. Not a good day to be late!
  • I was receiving $350 AUD towards fuel and ferry crossing. The least expensive ticket for a Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania on Christmas Eve is $369 AUD. And this is for a recliner! Part of the pros and cons of traveling over the holidays.

My 4-day camper van itinerary

December 25 – Arrival to Devonport / Drive to Cradle Mountain National Park / Afternoon hike / Christmas dinner in camper van / Overnight at Cradle Mountain Holiday Park

December 26 – Morning hike around Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain National Park / Drive to Ross / Overnight Ross Inn Caravan Park

December 27 – Drive to Freycinet National Park / Hike to Wineglass Bay / Swim at Honeymoon Bay / Drive south to Triabuna / Overnight at Triabuna Caravan Park

December 28 – Drive Richmond / Drive to Hobart Int’l Airport, fill up petrol and clean out van / Return van to Britz office before 3 pm – don’t be late!

Additional Information

  • US driver’s license and passport were sufficient for the rental (I do not have an international license).
  • Relocation driver must be 21+ years of age.
  • Extra Kilometer Charge: $0.55AUD
    • This is the amount charged per kilometre if you exceed the kilometre allowance. This did not apply to me.
  • Imoova.com charges a $25 service fee. To avoid this charge in the future, book directly through rental company, thl (www.thlonline.com).

Cost breakdown

Typical van rental expenses:

  • $770 AUD – Regular daily van rental ($154 AUD/day)*
  • $280 AUD – One-way fee
  • $60 AUD – Van insurance through rental company
  • $369.00 AUD – Ferry Crossing
  • $88.27 AUD – Groceries
  • $57.00 AUD – Caravan Parks
  • $40.50 AUD – National Park Entrance Fees
  • $102.32 AUD – Petrol

Total: $1,767.09

*Over the Christmas period, the minimum hire period is 10 days; so a normal 5-day hire is not possible unless driver is relocating the vehicle. Above $770 AUD quote is based on 5 days; a 10-day trip would be $1,540 AUD just in daily rental fees!

Relocation expenses:

  • $20 AUD – Daily Rental Fee ($5/day)
  • $75 AUD – Extra rental day
  • $60 AUD – Van insurance through rental company
  • $25 AUD – Imoova service fee
  • $32.18 AUD – Ferry Crossing (difference from reimbursement from rental company)
  • $88.27 AUD – Groceries
  • $57.00 AUD – Caravan Parks
  • $40.50 AUD – National Park Entrance Fees
  • $102.32 AUD – Petrol

Total: $500.27 AUD

Total savings: $1,266.82

Amelia Tockston has maintained a longterm love affair with travel. Since beginning her career break in January 2013, she has explored New Zealand’s north and south islands, eastern Australia, Chukotka Russia, Mexico City, Singapore, Palau in the South Pacific, Indonesia, and hopes to reach Nepal and India this coming fall. Prior to taking her career break, she worked for an expedition travel company for nearly eleven years directing the Marketing department. Amelia feels the most alive and present when traveling and has an eye to appreciate the boundless wonders that Mother Nature offers. She’s also realized, particularly while on sabbatical, that the people she’s encountered and their stories are equally as inspiring as the destinations discovered.

Renting a Campervan on a Backpacker’s Budget
Monday, July 7th, 2014

As a world-traveling backpacker, I’m always on the lookout for best value, whether for quality cheap eats, comfortable budget accommodation, or transportation tips. Because I know the more money I save here and there adds up to more time—translating to a longer career break! 

Finding the best value; however, isn’t only about saving money, it’s also about creating more authentic and interesting adventures. Typically, the most obvious, convenient options result in more crowds, more cost, and an overall less personal experience. For example, would you rather sit down at an international restaurant in town center and order an overpriced burger and fries, or walk down an alley and join locals for a plate of traditional fare and spend one fourth the price? You might regret having that extra chilli, but at least it made for a good story, a lesson learned, and cleaned out the sinuses!

Learning the ins-and-outs of a new place can be time-consuming and challenging—and not without surprises—but in the end, rolling up my sleeves and diving in has been far more fun and rewarding. 

Camper van relocation?

While I discover many great finds through trial and error, I also love gathering recommendations from fellow travelers. One such travel tip came from a friend living in Melbourne and led to the highlight of my two and a half months in Australia, not to mention my most memorable Christmas to date: Camper van relocation in Tasmania.

I had heard from several Aussies that Tasmania, similar to New Zealand, is best explored by camper van (or rental car plus camping equipment). I initially shrugged at this idea. As a solo female traveler, I wasn’t keen to tent camp and knew from prior research that camper van rentals in this part of the world can cause serious cash hemorrhages. So the less-than-ideal compromise was to rent a small car and overnight in hostels, but I knew this option would restrict me from staying in remote wilderness areas.

Naturally, when my friend mentioned relocating a camper van for $1 a day my ears perked up like satellite dishes. Could this be true? I had never heard of such a deal! She had heard of a website providing a list of available routes in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA: www.imoova.com.

Sure enough, on the homepage was an advert for relocations, “one way, from $1 a day.”

I honed in on a route over the Christmas holidays: “Dec 24 – Dec 27, Melbourne to Hobart, $5 / day, $350 towards fuel and ferry crossing.” I couldn’t pick up the phone fast enough. By the end of the conversation, I had deposited and confirmed my reservation.

Merry Christmas to me!

At the Melbourne rental office, I was required to watch an instructional video on vehicle operation and features as well as review and sign a stack of paperwork. I’ll admit to my growing apprehension while signing the contract. Somehow, I had to get myself to the opposite end of town to board the Spirit of Tasmania with the following in mind: I had never driven a proper fully-equipped camper van, I was not accustomed to left-hand manually shifting, and it had been nine months since I had driven on the left! Luckily, I had given myself the entire afternoon for pick-up and orientation. Once all questions had been answered and documents reviewed, I had a good idea of what I had signed up for.

Amelia compiled a detailed cost comparison of doing a camper van relocation vs. a normal camper van rental that we’ll be posting on Thursday. Be sure to check back!

My experience

Before heading to the port, I completed several laps around the parking lot to get my bearings, then hit the grocery store to stock my new kitchen. Crossing the city at rush hour caused a few grey hairs, but once safely at the ferry terminal, I smiled at a setting sun and turned up my reggae tunes.

After a nine-hour ferry crossing and nearly no sleep, I stepped out on deck to the soft morning glow of Devonport, Tasmania and felt a sudden rush of adrenaline. It was 6am on Christmas Day. The entire town was still asleep except for the odd early-morning jogger and dog walker. I found a nice park overlooking the sea to enjoy my first camper van breakfast of instant oats, fruit and tea.

Normally, Christmas mornings consist of gift exchanges, mimosas, and my mom’s famous egg casserole, yet here I was sitting in a little house on wheels some 8,000 miles away on a former island penal colony! But, by design, this was no ordinary Christmas. I had intentionally scheduled my trip over the holidays to experience something different, and I couldn’t wait to see what Tasmania had in store for me.

I had nearly four days and three nights ahead of me and knew only where I’d spend my first overnight—Cradle Mountain National Park. The drive from Devonport to Cradle Mountain’s caravan park is about 80 km, but given my vehicle size and Tasmania’s winding roadways on top of getting lost a couple times, I arrived in about three and a half hours. The passing landscapes of cattle and sheep paddocks, poppies and trees were a refreshing change from Melbourne’s concrete and urban bustle. As I made my way towards the mountains, I couldn’t get over the fact that it was just me, my camper van and the open Tassie road. And literally “open road” since most locals were at home celebrating with family and friends.

In front of the caravan park office, I found an envelop with my name on it, inside containing a map and instructions. A modest gravel road led me deeper into the forest, passing secluded camp sites, curious wallabies and finally to site #9. Home sweet home. I clipped the tag from the envelop to my camp post as instructed and prepared for an afternoon hike. My camper van and I were like new best mates by now. I was equally as excited for an epic Christmas hike as I was about preparing a Malaysian curry dinner and glass of Australian Shiraz with my van.

As one of Tasmania’s iconic wilderness areas, Cradle Mountain National Park woos and enchants its visitors, myself being no exception. After bushwalking through stretches of unmaintained trail, the path opened up to golden blankets of button grass, craggy eucalyptus trees, and feeding wombats and wallabies. Dirt gave way to a wooden boardwalk that seemed like my own yellow-brick road. The air was fresh and slightly cooled by a gentle breeze. A trail runner passed me at one point, but other than her, I was alone in the woods—happily. And, it was blissfully quiet. I listened to the sound of my footsteps on the boardwalk and then of a wombat feasting on button grass. Leaving him to enjoy his dinner, I skipped down the wooden planks for several meters humming whatever melody came to mind. Back in the van, I covered the table with my Thai sarong, set my iPhone music to shuffle, poured a glass of wine, and started in on chopping veggies. A curry a never tasted so good.

A couple days later, once mobile reception and the time difference matched up, I phoned my parents back home to wish them a Merry belated Christmas from Freycinet National Park. They had just returned from visiting family in Canada and were exhausted from driving through heavy rains on I-5, our 12-lane interstate. I had just finished a hike to Wineglass Bay and a refreshing dip in Honeymoon Bay.

As I described my Tasmania adventures, I laid reclined on flat granite rocks with my toes dangling in aqua-blue waters. My day had included: breakfast tarts at the bakery in Ross (population approx. 270), rocking out to my music playlist in the van, road-side cheese tasting, an invigorating hike, and an afternoon swim. I now felt comfortable driving the van, plugging into an electrical supply, filling up the water tank, shifting with my left hand, and securing the inside doors and cabinets before driving (as to not have pots and groceries flying about). I felt so at ease in my little home, and I was falling in love with the beauty and energy of Tasmania. Knowing I had only one more night of camper van life was a sad realisation. I could have traveled around Tasmania like this for another month.

Post camper van trip, I stayed in Hobart for four days—just in time for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race—and had a ball exploring the area and meeting new friends.

In the end, there were no fender-benders and no roll-overs. I arrived an hour early to Hobart and was credited the $1,000 bond. Phew!

After comparing what I could have paid as a normal renter, I calculated a savings of $1,266.82 AUD. In a sense, I suppose, it’s unfair to call this a savings, because the regular cost of $1,767.09 AUD is frankly not within a backpacker’s budget.

However, I most definitely would pay $500.27 AUD again for this experience, and I would highly recommend it to other adventurous travellers.

Amelia Tockston has maintained a longterm love affair with travel. Since beginning her career break in January 2013, she has explored New Zealand’s north and south islands, eastern Australia, Chukotka Russia, Mexico City, Singapore, Palau in the South Pacific, Indonesia, and hopes to reach Nepal and India this coming fall. Prior to taking her career break, she worked for an expedition travel company for nearly eleven years directing the Marketing department. Amelia feels the most alive and present when traveling and has an eye to appreciate the boundless wonders that Mother Nature offers. She’s also realized, particularly while on sabbatical, that the people she’s encountered and their stories are equally as inspiring as the destinations discovered.

 

A Career Break One Second At a Time
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Have you ever wondered what’s it really like to be traveling for a year? If you’ve only ever taken a 1 to 2 week vacation up to this point, but you desperately want to take a career break and do longer term travel, it can be hard to imagine.

Imagine no longer!

Career Breakers and Meet Plan Go attendees, Dave and Noelle, took off on a year long career break shortly after they got married.

“As a couple in our late twenties/early thirties, we made the decision to take the ‘now’ route of ‘now or never,’ and we haven’t looked back since!” –Noelle

Over the course of 12 months they visited 26 countries on 6 continents. Like many, they blogged about their experience at Best Kind of Lost, where you can read about their year long adventures.

However, they also went a step further and set out to capture their career break in 1 second video snippets using an app called 1 Second Every Day. It’s a super depiction of what a year of travel is really like – the exciting and the mundane.

Want to do this yourself? Then check out the apps.

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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