Featured

5 Reasons to Incorporate a Group Tour into Your Career Break
Monday, October 3rd, 2016

small group tour career break

Take a break from your career break and try a small group tour

Taking a career break to explore the world is a tremendously freeing experience, during which you’ll have the chance to learn much about other cultures – and yourself!  However, planning a long-term trip can be a daunting process. Solo travel is rewarding, but also nerve-wracking, and while on your travels you may find yourself needing to take a break (from taking a break!).  This is where a group tour can provide some relief. Guided tours provide an opportunity to let someone else take care of all those pesky logistics: like accommodation, transportation, and daily itineraries.

You may be wondering “but group tours are so limiting! Will I get to see everything I want?”

The short answer is: “yes!” Group tours are often different than people expect. Particularly those who tend to travel independently. You may be surprised by how much independence you actually have during your tour! Sherry Ott, who took a solo career break in 2006 notes of her own experience: “If you choose the right companies, small group tours can be some of the most rewarding travel you do on your career break – it was for me. The group tours I did arranged all of the logistics (transportation and hotels), but the rest was really up to me. I could eat with the group or go alone, do the tour or explore on my own. But the best part was that you always had a local guide with your group that traveled with you, ready to answer questions. It was a way to get much closer to the culture of the country than I could have on my own.”

Here’s 5 reasons to consider a group tour during your extended travels:

1. Easily Socialize with Others

You’ve been on the road for a while. You’ve met people along the way, but everyone is transient, on their own adventures around the world. It starts to wear on you a bit. Though it’s still exciting, you begin to wish you had more than a few hours here and there with new friends, to really get to know your fellow traveler.

On a group tour, you’ll have a lot of time to meet and get to know like-minded travelers. And some tour companies even provide ways to pre-meet each other in forums or local city meet-ups! While you might not be life-long friends with everyone on your trip, you will likely find a few people that you automatically click with.

small group tour

A group dines in Morocco together on a small group tour of the country

2. Cultural Immersion

Though some may argue that true cultural immersion only comes from striking out on your own, many tour operators give you the opportunity to venture deeper into local life. This is especially true of more dangerous destinations, where solo tourists are advised to stay in very specific areas.

But with a tour, oftentimes your guide will have connections in the area. And you are granted the unforgettable experience of dining in a small local restaurant, meeting local families, and getting a true glimpse into a new culture. This is especially true if you join a small-group tour, where group sizes are usually 10-16 travelers maximum.

3. Some destinations require you to be on a tour

Then of course, there are some places where you simply cannot visit on your own. Interested in seeing the diverse wildlife of Africa? A safari will get you up close and personal with the animal residents of the Savannah.

Although tourism regulations to Cuba have been greatly relaxed, a tour is still a good idea – it will help guarantee accommodation, and you’ll be able to explore the farther reaches of the island.

Want to check that 7th continent off your list? Antarctica is only accessible by tour (unless you’re a scientist!).

Antarctica group tour

Go with a group to Antarctica

4. Local Expertise

Getting to know a destination through the eyes of an expert is an incredible way to have a deeper travel experience. They bring the boring plaque next to the landmark to life, provide context to a famous building, and introduce a new way to think about cultures and customs. Many tour companies employ only local guides, so it’s sort of like traveling with a friend who knows the best places to eat and find that perfect gift for a loved one back home.

5. Maximum bang for your buck

Busy days, covering long distances, checking off famous sites. On a guided tour, you will have the opportunity to see a lot more in a condensed period of time. This can be helpful for those wanting to take a break from the “slow wander” and pick up the pace, participate in activities, watch demonstrations, and get special access to landmarks and attractions. Often times, tours will save you money over solo travel since operators get deep discounts on things like accommodation.

When considering group tours, there are so many options you’re sure to find the perfect one suited to your personality. Let your sabbatical be enhanced and made easier by incorporating a fun guided trip into the experience!

About Samantha Scott

samantha2Samantha Scott is the Content Manager for Stride Travel, a marketplace where you can search among thousands of trips, read reviews, and find the perfect guided travel experience for you.

Saving for a Life of Travel
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Kayaking Milford Sound“Are you guys millionaires or something?” That’s often the response when we tell people we’ve been traveling the world for the past four years on our HoneyTrek. We aren’t rich, but we are diligent savers and big dreamers. After working in New York for ten years and putting away as much money as possible, we decided life was short, the world is big, and there would never be a better time to travel than now. Averaging under $40 per person per day, we’ve explored 44 countries (and counting) across 7 continents. Here is our strategy and a few tips you can employ when saving and planning for your own lifetime of unforgettable travel.

Outline Your Itinerary

Determining where you’d like to go and for how long will largely determine your budget. Remember, there are plenty of extremely beautiful and affordable regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe, etc), and you don’t need to visit them all in one shot. Laying a linear path from one place to the next will reduce your transportation costs and stress level. To help figure out your required budget, based on your travel speed and destinations, check out this handy RTW Country-Cost Calculator we built.

Evaluate Your Funds

Now that you have a ballpark cost for your dream RTW, you need to compare that number to the balance in your savings. If your bank account is a bit light you can swap out some of those expensive countries, travel slower, and start an intense savings plan until you reach your goal. Follow our small-dose savings strategy in the next section and you’ll be on the road in no time.

1-3how do we budget

Small-dose Saving

If you save just $10 a day for two years you will have enough money for a 6-month RTW. Save $13 a day for three years and you can globe-trot for an entire year. To help yourself stay on track and keep your hand out of the cookie jar, open a separate travel savings account ASAP. If you don’t have a steady paycheck and financial flow, check out DigIt.co which will automatically fill your travel savings account when you have extra cash, and scale back your contributions when times are tight. And if you have complex questions on saving, you can always reach out to the financial planning pros for some advice.

Ways to Cut Expenses

First, you will need some basic self-restraint, like going out less and avoiding impulse buys (yes, that cappuccino counts). Go through your monthly expenses and see where you can cut or switch to cheaper services. Swap your $150 cable bill for a $0/month digital antenna, switch to a cheaper phone plan (ours went from $100 to $40 a month with AT&T’s Go Phone Plan), and find more ways to trim your bills.

Make Extra Cash

Make money using the skills and the things you already have. AirBnB the extra room in your home, sell excess stuff on Ebay, rent your car on a peer-to-peer sharing site like GetAround, pick up part-time gigs like babysitting, dog walking, or driving for Uber and LYFT. Check out CompareAndShare.com for more opportunities in the sharing economy. Be diligent and get creative!

Budgeting on the Road

Prices vary greatly between countries so you will have to adjust your daily budget accordingly. Just because a place is cheaper, doesn’t mean you should splash out. Be as frugal as possible on expenses (food, lodging, transportation) so you are able to splurge on the things that are unique to the region (a base camp trek, scuba trip, safari, cultural outting, etc.) and the occasional treat. Always bargain. Before you start negotiating, learn the local prices on typical goods and services so that you have a benchmark to work from. Vendors in developing countries usually start 2-3 times higher than the price they are willing to accept. Remember to save where you can and spend when it counts.

Mike & Anne from HoneyTrek

Becoming a Life-Long Saver

Managing a finite amount of money for an extended period of time is similar to that of retirement. Getting this practice earlier in life, teaches you to be creative, resourceful, and prioritize your spending for unforgettable experiences. We realized we didn’t need a million dollars to explore the world and that we won’t need a fortune to retire…travel has taught us how to live a simpler and richer life and that you don’t need much to be happy.
By Mike & Anne Howard, Founders of HoneyTrek & RTW Packing List
Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

Disclosure:  This post was brought to you via Fisher Investments, however all opinions expressed here are the author’s own.

Top 10 Reasons to Try Experteering
Monday, February 22nd, 2016

When you look back on your life will you regale your friends and grandchildren with “that month you were slightly more productive at your corporate job”…or that time you “helped a Brazilian non-profit save a virgin rainforest from a logging company”?

Are you an engineer, lawyer, graphical designer, or IT professional thinking about taking a Career Break? Now you can finally volunteer in your area of expertise around the world!  Experteering allows you to make the most of your career skills by volunteering for causes that matter to you, while exploring exotic places in ways most travelers could only dream.

Enter our Experteering Contest
Enter our Experteering Contest
Use your professional skills on your career break! Sign up to win a MovingWorlds.org membership in partnership with Meet Plan Go, and Experteer around the world for FREE. Make your career break count.

Here are ten of the many reasons you should seriously consider Experteering for your next adventure.

1. Travel the world

experteering volunteering

See Experteering Opportunities around the world.

Finding a project in one of your bucket list countries will allow you to combine two of the best experiences: travel and making a difference in the world. Experteering gives you the reason and road to get the places you’ve dreamt of exploring.

2. No donation required

While volunteer opportunities like building a house or volunteering at an orphanage can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, Experteering rarely costs any money at all, and some even provide travel stipends. MovingWorlds’ organizations desire your skills and passion much more than your money and connects you to immersive local experiences in exchange for your skills.

3. You will make lasting change

No matter what your skill set, from accounting to graphic design to finance to copywriting to social media to engineering to blogging, you can help make an organization stronger than you found it. MovingWorlds has a multi-pronged approach to help you make the most of your Experteering opportunity, and removes any unnecessary stress from the process.

4. Cultural immersion

experteering volunteering

Integrate with the local community! Photo by MovingWorlds.org

Unlike a traditional vacation or even a backpacking trip, you will be fully immersed in your destination. You will get to know your local grocer, barista, bus driver, and co-workers and undoubtedly be welcomed into the community. It’s the fast track to truly “live like a local!”

5. Build your resume

Anyone who has been on a job interview in the last 10 years knows that it’s all about differentiating yourself from the other candidates. Come to the table with a unique and memorable story…and what better story than your experience Experteering half-way around the world, making a positive change while honing your various skills.

6. Make wonderful friends

Experteering and volunteering are naturally self selecting, so you will be interacting with like-minded folks who love travel, altruism, and thinking outside of the traditional social confines.

7. Change things up at work/life

Sometimes a little stir of the pot will bring out a bunch of new flavors, and life is no different. If you are going to work thinking “what am I really achieving here, am I making anyone’s life better selling more X, Y or Z?” then maybe it’s time to try something fresh and fulfilling.

8. The gift that keeps on giving

experteering volunteering

Work with business peers in other countries. Photo by MovingWorlds.org

When you realize that your skills can make a supremely positive change on an organization, and you get to explore a fascinating region of the world, you will want to repeat the experience. The good news is MovingWorlds allows you to sign up for unlimited future projects, without any extra admin fees.

9. Learn a language

You will have the opportunity to practice the region’s language as much or as little as you wish, and undoubtedly come away with improved communication skills.

10. Life is short. Carpe Diem. You only live once. Follow your dreams.

The list of clichés could go on and on…and you could share them all on your Facebook wall, pin them to your Pinterest inspiration board…or you could put a plan in motion to make your dreams your reality.

 

*CONTEST* Meet Plan Go is giving away a MovingWorlds membership to someone who would like to try Experteering in 2016. If you are interested you can enter the contest here.
Meet Plan Go & MovingWorlds March Giveaway

If you would like to learn about the opportunities available for career breakers, simply visit the MovingWorlds website, enter your skills and the regions of your world you would like to visit. There is no cost to browse the website and review the numerous opportunities, and the projects do not require any monetary donation. The only cost is a one-time administration fee when you decide to start an application so that the MovingWorlds team can guide you through the Experteering process and provide you personal support as you need it (and even that is discounted for MPG members at checkout). If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!

– Mike Howard, Mike@MovingWorlds.org
Ambassador, MovingWorlds.org
Founder, HoneyTrek & RTW Packing List

 

Need help planning your career break trip? Check out the following articles and resources:

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

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.

Want planning help?
Want planning help?
Take our free planning e-course

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

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.

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.

Want planning help?
Want planning help?
Take our free planning e-course

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 …”

How to Set a Travel Budget and Stick to it
Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Earlier this month was my first-ever travel-related speaking gig at the first Meet, Plan, Go! New York City meetup of 2015, and the topic was how to set a travel budget and stick to it when you’re on the road.

Here are the questions I was asked, along with my answers – most focus on the lessons I learned while planning my fall 2014 trip to Southeast Asia.

1) What was your original budget? What were your final expenditures? And how long were you traveling?

My goal was to keep my total trip under $4,000 for two months in Southeast Asia – approx. $2,000 in hard costs (including trip insurance, flights, a tour and visas) and $2,000 in spending money (including lodging, food and activities). I know that sounds high for the destination, but that included all of my prep expenses – including a new iPad and camera, shots/medication at a travel clinic, and even getting copies of keys and documents made. And I actually used only a little more than $1,000 of my spending money, so – fortunately – there were no real surprises, and I stuck to my budget.

2) What determined/influenced your initial budget thought-processes?

I’ve traveled extensively, and always on a tight budget, so I know many tricks to making my travel dollars stretch pretty far. I knew, of course, that Southeast Asia is pretty cheap, so I was even able to jump on an Intrepid Tour for the Cambodia leg (which was definitely worth it!), since it still fell within my budget. I also ended up taking flights within Vietnam, instead of long-haul buses or trains, because they were only a few dollars more and saved a lot of time. Sometimes I decide to pay for convenience and then make up the cost elsewhere (usually by limiting food/alcohol and choosing cheaper lodging).

Visas are also an important consideration – I eliminated China as a destination because of the $150 fee.

IMG_3063 - Version 2

Local dishes are often just a fraction of the cost of Western dishes, and often push you out of your comfort zone (This is fish amok in Cambodia).

3) What tools did you use to help determine your budget?

I consulted various blog posts for suggestions and searched various sites for average costs for hotels/hostels, food, transportation, etc.

4) What were some of your unique budget “line items”?

I decided to purchase a refurbished iPad2 before traveling, and I also upgraded my camera, which I found on eBay for around $300 (a savings of about $700). I also visited a travel clinic, and that was way more expensive than I thought it would be – it came to $230 for the visit and the shots/medication (Insurance didn’t cover anything).

5) What is the most important piece of advice you would give in determining a budget for a large goal such as career-break travel?

Location, location, location! Also – an important learning for me – you need to factor in how much time you will be traveling solo vs. with a friend or significant other vs. in a group. I discovered that meeting up with friends at different points during my trip killed my budget. I did WAY more eating and drinking!

6) Once your budget was determined, how did you go about saving?

I cancelled my gym membership and Netflix, downgraded my cable and my cell phone plan, and discovered I could actually freeze my cell phone plan while overseas (saving about $200!). These were all pretty easy/painless decisions, although more challenging now upon re-entry (I miss cable!). I also opened a new checking account with no ATM fees and a new credit card with a chip and no foreign transaction fees. (See my Tips page for more details.)

IMG_3390

Public transportation is a great way to save money while interacting with locals (Here is the “lady car” I rode to Batu Caves in Malaysia).

7) Did you simply cut back or take on another job?

I took on an extra freelance project that provided some extra cash, and I rented my condo out on AirBnB for five weekends leading up to my departure. I also found a renter to cover a portion of my mortgage.

8) Was it a drastic undertaking? Minimal?

As my financial planner says, I “run a really tight ship,” so budgeting and saving is a way of life for me. Traveling always has been how I choose to spend my disposable income, so I maintain a very simple lifestyle and have worked hard (taking on second jobs) over the years to pay off school loans and my car loan, so my only overhead is my mortgage. Also, I started early – I had known I had wanted to take this trip for about two years – so it did not seem like a drastic undertaking.

9) What tools did you use to assist in saving?

I use the Mint app to regularly track my overall financial picture. I also maintained a very detailed spreadsheet with every expense incurred during the planning process, as well as estimated expenses for the trip.

IMG_3231

I did splurge on a one-night cruise of Halong Bay during my time in Vietnam, which was definitely worth it.

10) Did you build in a cushion for emergencies?

Not really, but I did purchase emergency medical insurance for the first time (which really made me feel like an adult).

11) What is the most important piece of advice you would give re: saving for a large goal such as career-break travel?

Start early and start small – every little bit helps! If travel is important to you, you need to make investing in your passion a priority and sacrifice, if necessary, to make it happen. It really all boils down to choices – I have always equated every purchase I make to how much travel it could buy me (i.e., that new coat is ¼ of a ticket to Europe).

BioBrianne’s first trip overseas was to China at the age of 13, and in the years since, she has been to 40+ countries – mostly solo. She recently returned to her home base of Boston from five months on the road – first traveling throughout Southeast Asia and then working in India for an adventure travel company, The Travel Scientists. She coordinates Meet, Plan, Go! Boston meet ups, and enjoys sharing travel tips, photos and stories on her website, A Traveling Life. Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go