Posts Tagged ‘personal experience’

Who Takes a Career Break to Travel?
Thursday, November 20th, 2014

One of the goals of Meet, Plan, Go! is to show you that career break travel is a very real possibility – for everyone! There is no “typical” career breaker. You can be in your mid-twenties or early fifties. You can hit the road solo, as a couple or bring along your whole family. Want to use your career break to transition into a new career or start your own business? Great idea! Just want a break and then return to your old career? That’s fine, too!

Want to plan your<br />
own career break?
Want to plan your
own career break?

There is no right or wrong way to take a career break. Anyone can do it – it’s just a matter of setting your mind to it and making it work. 

Just ask these folks:

Teachers

It’s not just cubicle-dwellers in the corporate world who feel the call of travel. Boston Meet, Plan, Go host and panel members Lillie Marshall and Catherine Cannon Francis and Chicago’s Christine Benson all left teaching careers to travel,  while San Francisco’s Molly Last hit the road after being awarded a paid sabbatical from her school district. Marshall’s break re-energized her and inspired her to return to the profession with a new found passion.

Solo Women

No one to travel with? No worries! Just ask our hosts and panelists who traveled the world on their own, but rarely feeling alone. Traveling solo as a female doesn’t have to be daunting and women like Chicago’s Lisa Lubin and Val Bromann, Minneapolis’ Katie Aune and Jill Pearson, New York’s Jannell Howell, Toronto’s Kailey Lockhart, Ayngelina Brogan and Janice Waugh and San Francisco’s Kelly Wetherington prove it.

Accidental Career Breakers

Being laid off from your job may seem like a worst-case scenario, but why not make the most of it and hit the road? That’s exactly what San Francisco’s Spencer Spellman, Boston’s Brian E. Peters, Chicago’s Leora Krause and New York’s Sheryl Neutuch did after unexpectedly losing their jobs. For all, a seemingly bad situation ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Career changers

Many career breakers return to their old careers after a break with a new energy and sense of direction. Others use their career break to change careers altogether, often ditching the corporate world for new lives as entrepreneurs, consultants, writers or permanent travelers. This was the case for New York’s Sherry Ott and Lisa Brignoni, Austin’s Keith Hajovsky and Shelley Seale, South Florida’s Matthew Goudreau and San Diego’s Kristin Zibell.

kristin zibell

Later in Life Breakers

Career breaks aren’t just for twenty- and thirty-somethings. Seattle’s Rhonda and Jim Delamater hit the road in their forties, New York’s Larissa and Michael Milne turned 50 and decided to breakaway and travel for a year and Boston’s Ellen Martyn spent her career break bicycling across the country with a group of women all over age 50!

Families

Think having children means you can’t see the world? Think again! Our group of hosts and panelists have included a lot of traveling families – like Austin’s Tiffany and Bill Toomey, Boston’s John and Susan Battye, Chicago’s Nancy Sayre-Vogel and Minneapolis’ Dan Woychick and Jody Halsted.

All believe that travel can be the best education!

Career Breaks: They’re Not Just for Backpackers
Thursday, November 13th, 2014

When we first started telling people about planning our round-the-world trip, we often got the comment: “You two are going to backpack?

The short (and literal) answer was “no.” We’re in our fifties, so this didn’t seem like a good time to start teaching our old spines new tricks. Yet this is often the image of a round-the-world journey: people with overloaded backpacks trudging through airports and train stations. But there are alternatives.

Consider Your Itinerary:  Indoor or Outdoor?

Think about the types of places you’ll visit during your career break. Where will you be hauling your luggage? Through built-up areas or through the woods? Unless you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, it’s probably easier to take a wheeled suitcase. Our itinerary includes visits to major cities, with a few road trips in between. We won’t be camping, so backpacking is not an issue for us.

We each took one 22” wheeled suitcase along with a tote bag, plus one small carry-on bag to share. Each of our smaller bags has a sleeve to slide it onto the handle of the wheelie. Whenever we have long walks we are actually carrying very little, just pulling our belongings beside us. Most airports, train stations and buildings have ramps and elevators, so we’ve rarely had to carry our bags.

Expand Your Lodging Horizons: Beyond Hotels and Hostels

Anyone traveling long-term needs to alter their concept of lodging.  What works on a one or two-week vacation is not going to cut it for months on the road. Hotels and hostels each have their advantages, but when staying for more than a week, they feel cramped, and hotels in particular can get expensive.  We crave privacy and space to stretch out. A place to call “home,” even if it’s just for a week or so.

We chronicled our journey for The Philadelphia Inquirer as well as our own blog, so we spend many hours writing. Wherever we stay is also our workplace, so it’s nice to have more space to write.

The best option for us has been vacation rentals.

Short-term rentals are well equipped and cost-effective. In major cities they’re often cheaper for two people than staying in a hostel. As a rule, $30-$50 per person per night will get you a one bedroom flat with a fully equipped kitchen, wi-fi and sometimes even a washer and dryer. Having our own kitchen means we save money on meals, especially since we can stock up on a few staples to use over the week. Since we both love to cook, it’s fun to visit the local food markets and buy fresh ingredients.  Imagine visiting the spice market in Istanbul and going back to your flat to whip up some couscous.  Or picking up fresh shrimp and cilantro in Saigon to make a rice vermicelli dish . . . delicious!

There are many sites that offer properties with photos, pricing and online booking. Some have global reach, such as Airbnb and Homeaway; others are more regional, such as Stayz in Australia and Holiday Lettings in the UK and Europe.  For longer-term rentals (usually a month or more) we’ve been happy with Sabbatical Homes.  Regardless of where you’re going, simply start with a search using the terms “vacation rentals,” “holiday rentals” or “self-catering” and your destination.  Plenty of options will come up, and you can create your own list of favorite sites.

Most of these sites are listing services. You contact the property’s owner through the site and discuss any booking questions such as dates, facilities, etc. with them directly.  Pricing structures vary by site and country. Airbnb, for example, quotes prices on a per night basis plus a 10% service charge for booking.  In the United States, it’s common for owners to add a one-time cleaning charge to the cost of the rental. In Europe these fees are usually included, but VAT might be extra. Be sure to calculate your total cost so you can make an informed decision.

Since you are dealing directly with the owner, it is possible to negotiate pricing.  Often they will quote prices on a nightly basis, then offer discounts for weekly or monthly stays.  Off-season rates will be cheaper, and booking last-minute might get you a discount if an owner doesn’t want their property to go empty.

The best aspect of renting a flat (or cottage or cabin) is that we can immerse ourselves in our surroundings. Rentals are typically located in “real” neighborhoods, not in the “tourist ghettos” full of hotels and souvenir shops. We love buying our food in the local markets and getting to know some of the nearby residents, who are often our landlords. In the bush country of Australia, our host took us in his pickup truck for an impromptu kangaroo-viewing safari on his 3,000-acre ranch; we played ball with the neighborhood kids in Bali, and the owner of our flat in Malta gave us a homemade figolla, the traditional Maltese Easter cake. These are experiences we probably wouldn’t have had in a hotel or hostel.

When we started out on our career break, we wanted to feel like we were living in, not just passing through, our various destinations. We’ve rented places in Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, and Europe, have had great experiences everywhere, and met some fantastic people. And it’s convenient to simply wheel a suitcase through the door.

Larissa & Michael Milne turned 50, sold everything and embarked on a 1+ year round-the-world trip in August 2011. They have been writing about their experiences for The Philadelphia Inquirer and have been chronicling their journey on their own site, Changes in Longitude. They also participated in the national Meet, Plan, Go! event in New York City on October 16, 2012.

In the Career Break Closet
Thursday, October 16th, 2014


Are you stuck in the closet – afraid to come out and act like you really want to? I bet you are. In fact – I bet about 90% of you are. You are lurking in the dark, afraid to declare your secret desires, but willing to watch; from a safe place.

You are in the career break closet.

Research shows that about 90% of the people who read online media do not actually participate in the conversation; consumption vs. production. That’s fine, I understand, communicating online isn’t for everyone.

However I’m willing to believe that a percentage of that 90% are not lurking because they want to, but because they feel like they have to. They are staying in the closet because they can’t yet let people know about their career break plans. They must stay in the closet in order to remain at their jobs and while they quietly plan their getaway.

Keith and Amy Sutter from Green Around the Globe share their time in the career break closet:

Keith & Amy Sutter in Jordan In January of 2009 Amy and I made the big decision, to travel the world for a year. And with all of the excitement and anxiety that comes with such a big decision there was one unpleasant aspect that regularly kept us up at night. We now had a huge secret to keep from everyone we knew. There are practical elements to keeping your decision a secret initially. What if you decide not to do it? What happens if something comes up? A family member gets ill, you get ill. There are any number of potential events that could change your plans. So Amy and I went into the “traveler closet” for 6 months. This meant that as we were doing our initial research, reading books, blogs and anything else we could get our hands on, we had to be sure to keep it all under wraps. When friends came over for dinner we had to spend 10 minutes scanning the condo to make sure an incriminating book was not left laying out.

When we did start telling people, starting with close family we had to bring them into our “circle of trust”. We had to make sure we controlled who knew when. Practically it was to make sure we handled giving notice at our respective workplaces on our terms and in a professional manner. We could not afford, either financially or professional, for word of our plans to leak back to our companies before we were ready. The other reason to control the information is so that we would be the ones to personally tell every one of our family and friends. That reason was selfish, we wanted to be there to see or hear their unfiltered initial reactions. One of the best parts of planning the trip is telling the people you are closest to and getting their reactions.

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Taking a Break From Your Career Break
Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Many of us leave our jobs to go travel the world thinking it will be the best thing ever. What could be better than not having to go into work every day AND having the freedom to experience foreign countries? I was one of those people too. I wanted to take a round the world trip for so long, and when I finally found a way to make it happen, I couldn’t have been more excited (ok, maybe a little nervous too).

My situation was a little different in that I quit my job in Atlanta in order to move to Germany after getting married. I decided this was the perfect time for my career break trip, even though my new husband Andy couldn’t come with me. I planned out a five month itinerary, used miles for a round the world ticket, and hit the road a few months after moving to Germany. Andy even booked a flight to travel with me through New Zealand for two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s.

I stayed in touch with friends and family back in the United States, and I Skyped with Andy as often as possible. I missed him, but that was to be expected. What I didn’t expect was to be so overwhelmed after a month in Southeast Asia by homesickness that I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Andy and I had spent the entire first year of our relationship long distance, why was this so much harder? I had dreamed of this adventure for years, why wasn’t I enjoying it more? I tried to brush it off as just your average culture shock, but after a couple weeks, I knew this dark cloud wasn’t leaving me anytime soon.

Finally, I decided the best thing I could do was take a break and go home to Germany to see Andy. It was a hard decision, and even though I knew I’d be back on the road two weeks later, I felt like I was giving up on my dream trip. But I also knew that I was missing sights and experiences due to my homesickness, and trying to keep going when I was feeling that way wasn’t fulfilling my dream either. So I booked a ticket to Germany and spent two weeks mentally patching myself together.

I spent three more months traveling after that break. My husband joined me for two weeks in New Zealand as planned, and I still missed him when I was on my own again. But I felt refreshed and better able to handle the rest of my round the world trip. My expectations were more realistic, and I was having fun again. Taking a break from my trip was the best decision I could’ve made.

Most round the world travelers don’t plan on going home until it’s all over, and sometimes that works just fine. But I learned that my travel dreams didn’t look the way I hoped they would, and that it’s hard to be away from those who are most important to me. And that it’s ok to feel that way. Maybe being with your family for the holidays is something you want to go home for, or maybe your sister is having a baby while you’re gone. Maybe you just need a little down time with your friends. Flying back home for a week or two doesn’t mean you’re giving up or doing it wrong.

It might just be the thing you need to keep going and enjoy your career break even more.

Ali Garland is an American expat living in Germany. Her travel addiction led her to visit all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She recently returned from a round the world trip and is now fumbling her way through life in Germany. She is currently searching for the perfect salsa recipe. Ali writes at Ali’s Adventures, and you can follow her on Twitter, @aliadventures7. She also just launched a new travel-related website, Travel Made Simple.

Preparing for Long-Term Travel with Your Partner
Friday, July 19th, 2013

Adam Seper and his wife Megan have embraced travel throughout their decade long relationship. And after getting married, they decided that instead of pursuing the “American Dream” of buying a house and starting a family, they wanted to travel the world instead. So in October of 2008 they set off on a 358-day adventure, visiting 4 continents, 11 countries, and nearly 90 cities. Since they’ve returned, Megan is back being an attorney and Adam has switched careers – from a high school English teacher prior to the trip to editor of BootsnAll.

For other couples preparing for an adventure of their own, here are some important insights and tips they learned.

If you’ve never taken an extended trip before, you’re bound to have tons of questions. How do we begin planning for something like this? Do we just up and quit our jobs? Is a sabbatical possible? How do we choose where to go? What do we pack? What about visas? Certainly all important questions. But what some fail to think about is what it will actually be like out on the road, especially in regards to traveling with your partner.

THE JUDGEMENT AND QUESTIONS

“Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourselves into?”

“Aren’t you afraid you’re going to hate one another after an entire year together?”

“Oh my God! We could never do that! We’d literally kill each other!”

We heard all the above statements when telling people our plan to take a year-long trip around the world together. We initially dismissed those questions as ludicrous, having confidence in our relationship and previous travels that this whole venture would be a walk in the park.

Our trip did indeed include many walks in many parks, but it was hardly the same as the metaphorical meaning of that statement. Something so many people fail to realize about extended travel is that it is really hard work at times. It’s not all puppies, rainbows, and unicorns.

Adam and Megan in Mumbai

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRIP AND A VACATION

We all love vacations. They’re great. Whether it’s lounging on the beach, taking a road trip, or renting a cabin in the woods, vacations give us a chance to get away from the daily grind of life, to forget about our worries for a while, and just relax and unwind. When on vacation, we feel as though we could stay forever.

Let’s set the record straight before we delve any further. A career break, RTW (round the world) trip, or taking off on an open-ended adventure is NOT the same as a vacation. We learned quickly that there is a HUGE discrepancy between a vacation and a trip. There are so many things to know, learn, and consider, particularly if you are traveling with your significant other.

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Mourning the Loss of the Journey
Thursday, July 11th, 2013

I walk through the arrivals gate at the airport late one evening, a practice I have completed time and again over the past year, but this time it’s entirely different.  This time there isn’t another destination close in my future or a hostel to find in the middle of the night.  This time the airport is entirely familiar:  the art installations, the signage, the advertisements showing off familiar products with new labels and updated logos…  After 15 months, there should be some elation that comes with my re-entry. I should feel excited to be home.  I feel jittery and nervous… oddly lost.  Everything feels comfortably familiar and alarmingly foreign at once.  Welcome back.  This is home.  I live here.

Fifteen months ago I left on an extended trip with my husband.   We had a rough idea of the direction we were going to travel and an even rougher timeline. We had estimated our trip solely on the size of our savings account, with the help of an online travel calculator.  We’d been planning to give this a go for years, never knowing if we’d be able to save enough or be willing to take the plunge and actually go for it.  But against all the adversity that arises in a monolithic adventure like this, we were able to pull it together.  The easiest part was jumping on that first plane.

Perhaps the hardest part was coming home.

Nevertheless, our trip was the single best thing I could have done. Now that we’re home, things are a bit confusing and we haven’t quite pulled our lives back together.  It takes more time than I anticipated.  We’re living with family, working side jobs while seeking more permanent employment, and catching up with old friends.  We laugh, we adjust, and we worry sometimes.  But nothing can take away what we’ve accomplished.  You won’t find us regretting a thing about our decision to travel.

Our travels through 22 countries, including a boat ride over the Atlantic, were extraordinary.  People at home thought we were crazy.  The feelings of freedom, self-discovery and empowerment were astounding.  We discovered new foods in Cambodia, dove the barrier reefs in Australia and Belize, stayed in tiny thatched huts in Malaysia, and learned native dance in Guatemala.  We worked at an Italian cooking school in New Zealand, surfed the infamous waves in Bali, and tasted prosciutto in Spain.

Every day was about new experiences, brilliant colors, and laughable moments. Now that I’m back, sometimes life just feels like everything went to beige after a year in a rainbow. My experiences abroad broke down both personal and cultural barriers for me.  I learned how to communicate without using language, how to let go of my need to control things, how to quickly adapt, and how to thrive in unfamiliar territory.  In many ways it was the perfect preparation for coming home; I am stronger, more willing to adapt, and seem to take things as they come.  I worry, but not all that much.  We know ourselves well enough now to know that we’ll land on our feet.  More than anything, I just miss being out in the world.  I miss the adventure, the confusion, the uncertainty, the mind-boggling views and the tiny villages… In a way I feel more at home out in the midst of it than when sitting in a familiar living room.  That realization is weird to me.

My initial re-entry was so much less shocking than I had thought it would be.  That first night at home didn’t bring on the stress of reverse culture shock in the way many had warned me about.  Things felt almost normal, oddly normal.  It started out with general observations more than anything else. We scooped up magazines we hadn’t seen in a year, ate citrus from the farmer’s market, and drank coffee from the little place on a corner we use to frequent.  The sidewalks seemed impeccably clean, a 6-lane freeway looked enormous, drinking water from the tap was a luxury, and finding that every house and business had plumbing came as a shock.  Grocery stores were a maze of new products and old standbys.  We were thrilled at seeing our favorite local cheese, and we devoured tacos from the best cart in downtown. Throughout our first few weeks back, it was the little things that got us the most: no food was spicy enough; public transportation ran on an actual schedule, ice cream flavors were so ‘normal’… These insights are comedy; they offer little smiles throughout the day, they are mementos from our travels that sneak up on us daily.

The knowledge I come away from this trip with personifies everything I wish for humanity—everything I wish we understood about each other and everything I strive to understand myself.  Lately I feel like I have been mourning the loss of my journey.  Many people will say that to travel long term is to become desensitized to what you see or what you experience, but for me this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I was aware of the sanctity of every hour of my trip—the long bus rides, the frustrating travel days, the language confusion and the angered border crossings—even in the most aggressive of situations I was still elated to be in that moment. I now harbor experiences that few can completely comprehend and fewer make effort to understand.  It is something I strain to find the words for, but my soul has grown wiser because of it.

Seeing the world has become my muse, and the brilliance is that no matter how much I try, I will never run out of it.  The world is too big, to dense, and too varied to ever be fully discovered.  For us, there is peace-of-mind in that, because no matter how life changes here, there will always be an adventure out there waiting.

To learn more about re-entry, check out the following articles:

 

Stacey Rapp and Dave Roberts love hiking, scuba diving, cooking, and of course, traveling.  They decided to take a career break after years of planning imaginary trips on a world map taped up on their living room wall. Now back in the US, they have relocated to San Jose, California from Portland, Oregon for work.  They are busy unpacking boxes and getting reacquainted with their cat, Baja.  The couple documented their travels on their blog, Breakfast on Earth, and they look forward to adding more posts whenever the next adventure comes around.

Quality of Life Priority Number One
Friday, June 7th, 2013

After his five month career break with his now wife, Matt Goudreau sees how that time helped them set both their life and work priorities.

Matt Goudreau

It all started on New Years Day 2009. After two months of dating, my ladyfriend Shara and I made an impromptu decision to celebrate our upcoming birthdays in London and Paris, which would be my first big international trip.

So, one month later, we went. We ate, drank, saw the sights – loving every second of it. You could say we caught the “travel bug.” At that point we had a similar revelation: we were merely content with our jobs; the word “happy” was never used. She being 29, me 31, and both kid-free, we thought it was the ideal time to take a leap. Like many other dreamers, we wanted to leave our jobs and travel the world. Easy decision, tougher reality.

We spent March and April figuring out how we could actually do this (i.e. budget), where we would potentially go, length of trip, and what would we do when we returned. After much research, we decided with great excitement to make the leap; however, we figured we’d need the next 8 months to work the details out.

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Travel: Finding a New Future
Thursday, April 25th, 2013

As former workaholics it had taken decades for us to find ourselves in a fairly unique position. We were financially quite well-off, we both enjoyed successful and rewarding careers with the free added bonus of exhaustion and stress. We weren’t millionaires, but as quite a frugal couple, we’d never squandered our hard earned cash on opulent apparel, but we did splash out on vacations and new cars now and again.

 

We’d paid off the mortgage on our main home, purchased a vacation property overseas, we dined out most evenings of the week, and had all the latest gadgets and gizmos.  We had everything that the world associates with a happy, successful couple. There was one big problem; it really didn’t satisfy us.

We wanted to travel the world, and we were in our late 30s and early 40s, so the clock was ticking.  We were far too young to afford to retire for life, but could we turn our back on everything we’d worked so hard to accumulate and give it a go for a while?

Planning to take a Career Break Took Too Long

We spent over three years researching and looking into the possibility of how to make this a reality. Logically (that’s the logic of our past consumer world) said it just didn’t make sense for us to walk away from our high income jobs. The economy was in freefall, and getting back into the market after the trip would be near impossible. Then a whole series of further doubts and reasons not to make the jump came.

What about family and friends? Could we leave them for so long would we miss them too much?

What if we couldn’t live out of a backpack for months on end?

Would we miss our home comforts?

What if we get ill?

What if we get robbed?

These are just a small sample of the endless questions and doubts we wrestled with while holding firmly on to our dream of traveling long term.  In the end we found answers to all of these questions on sites like this and from other travel bloggers who had already made the leap and were sharing their experiences.

Travel Risks Vs Rewards

So we took the risk, quit our jobs in 2011, and started de-cluttering of our lives.

Clearing the house and our lives of possessions was liberating and at times a little sad. After 20 years together, some of the things we had to say farewell triggered fond memories. But in a way we now know we were just making lots of room for the countless new memories that would replace them on our trip.

We sold the cars and other things that we no longer needed, sorted all our files and paperwork, and made them available on-line so that we could access everything on the road.  We rented our home out and finally wrote a will (just in case).  We then said an emotional goodbye to family, friends, and work colleagues.  There was no turning back now, and we were excited (and also a little apprehensive) as we departed, in December 2011, to catch a flight to Australia.

We’ve been traveling ever since, and the trip has been the most amazing and fulfilling experience we have had together.  Experiencing so much each week, it’s difficult to express everything we’ve learned about us as a couple and individually, as we are still learning and changing.

Freedom to Travel Long-Term

Currently we’re living off our savings and rental income from our home, and plan to do so for a good while yet as we travel on a low-cost ‘flashpacking’ budget.  We will begin to think about working to fund our travels in the future, though not just yet.

We no longer measure success in terms of monetary wealth. We appreciate that there are few certainties in life (other than birth and death), so we are doing the best we can to fill the space between these with new experiences.  We have no regrets about what we have done. There are things and comforts from home we miss occasionally, but those emotions are fleeting as another experience smacks us in the face and reminds us how truly lucky we are.

Regrets About Leaving Our Home Behind?

We wish we’d started this journey sooner and not spent so many years trying to analyze the consequences. We initially intended to spend just a couple of years traveling around the world; however, our long-term plan is now to live a location independent life, picking up work when and where we can find it. Do we know how we are going to do that?  Not yet, but we have plenty of ideas, and we will look at them in more detail soon.

There is so much more we want to explore that we no longer want to return to the lives we once had, and also realize that you don’t need to win the lottery to do this. We’ve met many people of all ages and backgrounds who have very little in either savings or income, yet they still manage to fulfill their desire to travel by working temporarily in all manner of jobs around the world, and then using this cash to pay for their next adventure.

We have learned as the trip has progressed that things often work out better if you don’t rush them. The future comes every day, so if you miss today’s opportunity, another will be along tomorrow.

To find out more about people who left their jobs to travel, check out the following articles:

In 2011 Craig and John sold off most of their belongings, quit their jobs, and set off around the world.  They bought a one way ticket to Australia and have been heading west across the globe ever since. Their blog features destination travel advice and tips for the older long term traveler.  They travel in what they call the flashpacking style, avoiding shared dorms and bathrooms at all costs.  Their posts are accompanied with some great travel photography featuring the architecture, cultural treats, and people they meet on their travels.  They blog about their journey at flashpackatforty, or you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter

3 Women, 3 Trips Inspired by Meet, Plan, Go
Monday, February 25th, 2013

Back in the fall of 2010, three future career breakers’ lives converged.  Shortly after attending Meet, Plan, Go! events in September 2010, Katie Aune, Val Bromann and Jannell Howell signed up for our Career Break Basic Training course and set the gears in motion for nearly simultaneous trips around the world.

Each woman’s trip was sparked by a strong desire to travel and see more of the world than they had in the past, with major birthday milestones factoring in as well: Val bought her one way ticket on her 30th birthday, Katie hopped a one-way flight to Helsinki on her 35th birthday and Jannell wanted to travel as a way to celebrate turning 40.

Val departed in July 2011 and traveled for 15 months before heading back home to Chicago in October 2012. Starting in Berlin, she stopped in Poland, Belgium, Spain and Turkey before moving on to Southeast Asia, where she spent the bulk of her trip exploring Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The highlight of her trip was learning to surf in Bali. “I fell every single time, banged my knee, and could hardly even stand up on the board,” says Val. “But at the same time, I was having an amazing time. Surfing was something I had always wanted to do, and it was so much fun…even when I was falling.

Jannell traveled from January to November 2012, making a few stops in the United States before heading to Tokyo, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Dubai, London, Rome, Spain and then back to the U.S. She counts among her trip highlights walking around the Taj Mahal at dawn, riding a camel in the desert, eating Momos made with buffalo meat, looking out from the world’s tallest building and finding complete bliss in the English countryside.

Katie took an unusual route on her trip, focusing on the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union. Departing in August 2011, she spent the next 13 months visiting Finland, Russia, the Baltics, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, the Caucasus, Italy, Turkey, Central Asia and Spain, before finally returning to the United States at the end of September 2012. Her favorite moments included running a marathon in Estonia, hiking in Siberia, teaching English in Tajikistan, camping among Silk Road ruins in Turkmenistan and joining a pilgrimage to an underground mosque in Kazakhstan.

None of the three trips was without its struggles, although most were limited to fleeting feelings of homesickness or exhaustion from being on the move too quickly. Jannell explains, “[a]fter being on the go for about two months, with no stay longer than 4 nights and often being in transit overnight, I felt exhausted. I was able to rejuvenate by staying put for a while, being alone with sightseeing kept to a minimum.”  For Katie, her lowest point may have been at the beginning of her trip when she started a volunteer homestay program in Russia, living in difficult conditions with a family that didn’t seem to care she was there.  Val’s low point came when her hostel in the Philippines was robbed:

All of mine that was taken was the charger to my laptop (luckily the computer itself was locked up, I had just neglected the chord), but some new friends had lost phones or their laptops. It made me feel so vulnerable and unsafe. For the next few days none of us could shake it. Luckily, with the help of some tracking software he’d installed, one of my friends was able to track down the thief and got his stuff back.

All three women credit Meet, Plan, Go! with making their trips possible.  “Before attending Meet, Plan, Go, I didn’t know anyone who had traveled long-term,” says Katie. “All of a sudden here were all these people who had done it and it became so much more real. Within six months of attending that first event, I had set my departure date.

Likewise, Jannell says “Meet, Plan, Go introduced me to many different travelers – both those in the planning stages of their first journey and those that had been traveling for years.  Before making those connections, I felt alone in my travel goals and less confident about my plans.

For Val, Meet, Plan, Go! provided both inspiration and resources, inspiring her to expand her original Europe-focused itinerary to include Asia and offering much-needed information on tricky topics like health insurance.

So what’s next for these world travelers?

Katie has settled back in Chicago, working in her previous field of alumni relations and development and enjoying the opportunity to rediscover a city she loves. She continues to write about her trip and re-entry experience at Katie Going Global. Val also landed back in Chicago, but only temporarily. She will hit the road again in mid-March, this time heading to Central America to learn Spanish and continue her career break for at least another six months. You can follow her adventures on ValBromann.com. Jannell has relocated to New York City, where she is working on launching a new business, Your Digital Marketer, pursuing a location independent lifestyle and continuing to blog at Travel Junkie’s World Tour.

On the Road Recap 2012
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

From the thrill of fulfilling a life-long dream to work with elephants to the dismay of a disappointing homestay to the joys of traveling as a family, our career breakers have experienced a lot this year! As 2012 winds down, we wanted to recap some of our favorite posts about life on the road.

Crewing in the South Pacific

Kelly Wetherington has been traveling since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. Last spring, she shared the story of landing her first crewing job:

As I knock, knock, knocked on the window of a sleek catamaran with a shiny teak deck, I wondered, is this appropriate behavior? Had I been visiting a house, I would have knocked on the front door, but climbing aboard seemed intrusive. No one emerged from below deck. Maybe they were out, or sleeping, or simply don’t open the door for strangers?

I scribbled the boat’s name, Summer Sol, in my notebook, under the column “try again later,” next to growing list of boats that did not need crew. Surrounded by hundreds of masts from around the world, Thomas and I were hopeful we could find a Captain to take us with them to the South Pacific. Continue…

Homestay Hits & Misses

Katie Aune spent her 13-month career break traveling through the former Soviet Union. Along the way, she stayed with several host families and shared her thoughts on the ups and downs, as well as advice on what to consider if you’re planning to do a homestay.

As I prepared for my career break and considered the different things I would do along the way, staying in a home stay was high on my list. Everything I read indicated that homestays would be a great way to connect with locals and immerse myself in a different culture – exactly what I was hoping to do on my travels. I imagined a homestay as being a true cultural exchange.

I did my first homestay almost right off the bat, just two weeks into my journey through the former Soviet Union. It was part of a volunteer program that had me living with a family in St. Petersburg, Russia and tutoring the children in English. Unfortunately, the situation was a huge disappointment. Not only were the living conditions not as had been represented to me, the family didn’t even seem to want me there. The children had no interest in being tutored and during the entire four weeks I was there, no one in the family asked me a single thing about myself or opened up anything to me about their lives. I just felt like I was in the way. Continue…

Regrouping on the Road

Leora Krause is a travel addict who started circling the globe when she was old enough to vote.  Recently downsized from corporate America, she enjoyed her second career break in 2012, traveling through Thailand, Vietnam, India and Nepal. She wrote about having to regroup after an airline she was supposed to fly went out of business.

Everyone knows the first rule of traveling abroad, especially in developing countries, is to expect the unexpected.  But when the unexpected happens, what do you do? I was a few days away from my flight from Delhi to Cochin, India, casually discussing my plans with a fellow traveler, when she said, “I hope you’re not flying Kingfisher.”

I was.

“You’d better check your flight, they’re about to go bankrupt.”

I jumped online as soon as I returned to the hotel.  Sure enough, my destination was no longer listed, but I could not find any other information.  I asked the hotel staff if they had any news about the situation, and all they could tell me was that it was bad and passengers were getting stranded.  Flights were not taking off if the airline couldn’t pay for fuel, and no one was extending credit to them.   There is no Chapter 11 here, no consumer protection, no other airline willing to offer an alternate flight, you are just plain out of luck. Continue…

Career Breaks: They’re Not Just for Backpackers

Larissa & Michael Milne turned 50, sold everything and embarked on a 1+ year round-the-world trip in August 2011. In this post, they shared how they made their career break work with rolling suitcases and apartment rentals.

When we first started telling people about planning our round-the-world trip we often got the comment: “You two are going to backpack?

The short answer was “no.” We’re in our fifties, so this didn’t seem like a good time to start teaching our old spines new tricks. Yet this is often the image of a round-the-world journey: people with overloaded backpacks trudging through airports and train stations. But there are alternatives. Continue…

Pachyderm Dreams

After leaving her job as an associate with a large law firm, Robin Devaux spent approximately eleven months traveling the world with her husband, Pierre, visiting five continents and 24 countries. She also got to finally fulfill her life-long dream of working with elephants.

I felt a bit panicky when I realized, while speaking with the bed and breakfast owner in India, that I might never work with elephants.

My husband and I were staying in the woman’s home in a rural part of Kerala, chatting with her about the wild elephants that had wreaked havoc on her banana trees the year before, when the thought of elephants caused my heart to sink. I began to tune out what she was telling us as I recalled my myriad childhood career aspirations – elephant caretaker, and also naturalist, park ranger, veterinarian, journalist, jockey, novelist. In my mind, I watched these varied and utterly incompatible aspirations fall to my sides like leaves. It struck me then as it never had previously: There was so much I had wanted to do, and so little time. Continue…

Around the World as a Family

The Van Loen family left their “normal” life in July 2012 to spend a year slow traveling around the world. Here, they share their rationale for hitting the road as a family.

Most folks travel in their twenties when they have few responsibilities or in their retirement when they have fulfilled them. We thought we’d try splitting the difference.  As a family we value experiences — learning by doing — which is why we chose an alternative school for our children that used the Expeditionary Learning (ELOB) approach. Our concept for our around-the-world (RTW) trip emerged primarily from that core value.  We talked a lot about whether we wanted to travel in between school years, or take the kids out of school for the whole year. This decision was made a bit easier by the fact that Anne is a teacher, and we can home school the kids for the year without major impacts to their overall school journey. Continue…

Want to read more?

You can find all of our guest posts from career breakers on the road HERE.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents