Posts Tagged ‘preparation’

The Big Career Break Question: Where to Go?
Friday, June 20th, 2014

One of the most important – and fun – aspects of planning a career break is deciding where to go. With so many choices out there, though, it can easily become daunting. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you debate South America versus Southeast Asia, Europe versus Africa or Australia versus the Middle East.

What Calls You

First things first – think about what calls to you. For many travelers, their favorite destinations have been places that have spoken to them in some way before they have even visited.

For example, Meet, Plan, Go! co-founder Michaela Potter became fascinated with Vietnam and Cambodia after studying the war and Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970s. So when she decided to take a three-month career break in 2001, she centered her travels on those destinations.

Ready to go? Need help planning? Sign up for our free 30-day planning e-course! 

Meet, Plan, Go! editor Katie Aune read a biography about Catherine the Great of Russia when she was in high school, which led to majoring in Russian & East European Studies and taking Russian language classes in college. When she started thinking about a career break, Russia was at the very top of her list.

So think about places or cultures that might call you. They don’t have to be steeped in history – perhaps there is a cuisine that you love, a language that you want to learn or an aspect of your family background that you want to explore. Think about some of your favorite movies or books – do they tend to take place in the same destinations or center on similar themes? Inspiration is all around you and you may not even realize it.

Timing

Once you come up with a short list of the destinations you want to visit, think about when the best time is to travel to those countries.

What will the weather be like? 

What kind of weather do you prefer and what types of activities are you likely to engage in?

And are there any major events taking place that you might want to witness or participate in?

For example, the months of September – November in the southern part of Thailand is monsoon season, so you won’t be able to enjoy the beaches. However, this time of year also sees some unique local festivals, so you will be able to experience part of the culture most travelers don’t.

December – January are the summer months in Australia and New Zealand, making for a nice escape from winter in the northern hemisphere. However, this is also the time of year when students are on break so most Aussies and Kiwis will vacation during this time, creating competition for lodging and activities.

Some people follow the warm weather so they can avoid experiencing cold, harsh winter climates during their career break, but that doesn’t mean you have to. If you’re an avid skier, spending February in the snow-covered mountains of Europe may be just your thing!

Participating in local holidays and festivals offers a unique cultural experience, but it can also offer some challenges. During countrywide holidays, such as the Thai New Year (Songkran Festival), most locals travel, making it difficult to book transportation or accommodation. This is also the case during the Hindu celebration of Diwali in India. Don’t let that deter you, but do your best to be prepared and stay patient.

It’s also important to understand the significance of the holiday or festival and try to act as respectful as possible. During Ramadan in Islamic countries, non-Muslims and visitors are not expected to observe the fast, but it is respectful to be discrete when consuming food or water during the day. Learning about the customs of the countries you plan to travel to is a great way to understand their holidays as well as their cultures. And if you happen to “stumble upon” a holiday, don’t be afraid to ask a local more about it and find out how you can participate.

Loy Krathong - Chiang Mai, Thailand

Comfort Level

Finally, think about your comfort level with respect to the places you plan to visit. Travel is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, but only you know how far you are willing to go.

Before hitting the road, you do want to have the peace of mind that where you are going is safe – not just for your own comfort but that of your friends and family staying behind. The U.S. State Department’s website offers tips for safely traveling internationally (including registering with the local US Embassies) and posts warnings and alerts for countries all around the world.

Before you leave, try to get a handle on local issues in the countries you may visit by following the websites of international papers, signing up for Google Alerts or check out message boards and forums. While a lot of news stories tend to focus on the negative, locals or fellow travelers may be able to give you a more balanced perspective. Try the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum, BootsnAll forums or Couchsurfing message boards for up to date information from people on the ground in your chosen destinations.

While Americans often assume that we are viewed negatively overseas and that it is not safe to travel abroad as an American, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people can differentiate between the individual and one’s government, especially when it comes to Americans. And most of the time, people don’t even care where you are from. As long as you respect their cultures, refrain from illegal activities, and keep an open mind, you will be fine.

Have you taken a career break? How did you choose your destinations?

Create a Travel Communication Plan
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

When you are traveling for an extended time on a career break, communication is important. It can help ease any home sickness, provide peace of mind to your worrying mother, make you the envy of your co-workers and friends, and it can help you do travel planning while on the road.

It wasn’t that long ago the process of communication while on the road was difficult and expensive; wow how things have changed! We have highlighted a few of the ‘new modern’ ways to stay in touch while on the road – but keep in mind with new phone apps and programs constantly coming out – this stuff can be out of date quickly. Some of you may prefer to not be ‘plugged in’ – but I think you’ll find that at some time or another, you will need to find a way to communicate; so here are some ideas on how to make that happen.

Setting up your communication plan is an important thing to do BEFORE you leave. Make sure you have accounts/apps, make sure your friends/family have accounts/apps, make sure everyone knows how to use it all (give them test runs), make sure you have talked to your family about how often you will be checking in and what to do if they don’t hear from you for a while. Handling these things before you leave will allow you to get the most out of your time and ensure that people aren’t back home worrying about you!

EMAIL:

This is pretty obvious, and nearly everyone has email already! It’s still the best way to stay in touch. You can find internet cafes and wifi connections all over the world to check your email and send messages.

TRAVEL CARD:

Think business card, but more fun! I would consider making a cheap set of ‘travel cards’ before you leave. Just a card with your name and your email is great. You can create these really cheaply these days and even put some cool travel photos on it! You might want to include your Skype id, Twitter handle, and Google Voice number too if you use those applications to communicate. When you are traveling you’ll meet so many new people, and the easiest thing to do is to hand someone a card with information on how they can get in touch with you for the future. It’s less likely to be lost or misplaced!

 SOCIAL NETWORKS:

This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – or whatever else you may use. These are fabulous ways to stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers. You can post pictures of your travels, link to blog posts or websites; it can really bring your travel experience alive for the people back home. Many people chose not to blog, and instead put all of their photography and short updates on Facebook. In addition, you will be adding so many new friends as you travel; this is also how you can stay in touch with them.

Or, if you’d like to remain more private, you can also create a private Facebook group and simply invite close family and friends to it and provide updates there regarding your whereabouts.

SKYPE:

Skype is the holy grail of communication! If you don’t have Skype, I suggest you research it before you leave and set up a login. It is a free downloadable application you can log into on a computer and make phone calls (with video), chat, conference calls, or text message over the internet. However, if you don’t intend to take a laptop, please know that 99% of internet cafés have Skype loaded on their machines as well as headsets. In addition, Skype offers a smart phone application and you are able to take calls via your smart phone if you have a wireless internet connection available.

How does it work? If the person you are calling also has Skype, then the calls are free. If they don’t have Skype, then the cost of calls is minimal and you’ll need to add credit to your Skype account to make those calls. So – the lesson here is to get your family and friends to also get on Skype. Since my parents are older and some of my siblings aren’t really tech savvy, I always suggest to people to set this stuff up BEFORE you go. Help them download it on their computers or phones; then set up an account for them and make sure they know how to use it. You don’t want to be on the road trying to teach your parents how to use Skype; I’ve done that, and it’s not fun.

Download and learn more about Skype.

Other alternative to skype is Google Hangouts or if the people you want to communicate with are on a Apple product, you can also use Facetime.

CELL PHONE:

There are many options for cell phones but once again, research this before you go. If you are positive you want to keep your phone and current provider, then make sure you look into international roaming and texting plans. This is definitely the expensive option as American carriers used internationally are costly.

Barbara from Hole in the Donut created this useful post: “Using your iphone while traveling internationally without breaking the bank”

However, a cheaper option is to purchase a cheap, unlocked (not associated with any US carrier) phone and simply purchase an international SIM card that can be used everywhere. Or you can purchase a SIM card from a local provider in the country you are traveling in (good if you are going to be in that country for a while). Personally – I’ve done both and much prefer just getting a SIM when I enter a country and using the pay as you go plans. This means your phone number changes all of the time, but there are ways around that (see Google Voice below). However; if you have a Skype id to communicate with people back home, then the only reason you may need a cell phone is to call local places (hotels, hostels, tour companies, etc); so it’s not a big deal if your number changes in each country.

With a smart phone then this means that you can also pretty easily communicate with less tech savvy family/friends back home too via texting.  You don’t even need a SIM card to text these days with smart phone apps like What’s App and Viber.  These apps are a super solution for free international texting and sending photos while on the road.   They both offer free texting via a wifi connection.  Note that the person you are texting must also have the app on their phone, so make sure you tell your friends/family to get it set up on their devices before you go and test it out.

Download and learn more about What’s App

Downoad and learn more about Viber

GOOGLE VOICE:

A free service from Google where you to pick a new Google ‘phone’ number and when anyone calls this number, it will ring all of your phones, or specified phones.

  • Use one number to manage all your phones; your Google Voice number is tied to you, not to a particular device or location.
  • Voicemail is like email: Save voicemail messages for as long as you’d like, star important ones, and search through them.
  • Voicemail transcription: Voicemail messages will be automatically transcribed to text and sent to you via email and/or SMS.
  • Works with mobile phones, desk phones, and work phones. There’s nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don’t have to make or take calls using a computer.
  • You can also text from Google Voice
  • International calling: Make low priced international calls from the web or from your phone.

Definitely look into this option – it’s growing rapidly in popularity and a super option for travel. Additional info and videos on the functionality: Google Voice

The interesting thing is that you can make all of these communications work together for you at the same time to save money and stay in touch. It’s a bit complicated – but if you want to learn more – then check out this great article by A Chick With Baggage – it’s the best article I’ve found for how to integrate your smart phone, Skype, and Google Voice: 5 steps for using your iPhone while traveling for less than $7 a month

POSTCARDS:

If you need to stay in touch with elderly parents/grandparents who just aren’t tech savvy at all – then send a postcard!  Check out the smart phone postcard apps such as Postagram where you can create and send postcards right from your smartphone photo gallery!  A physical post card with your message get’s mailed automatically!

More information on Postagram App
What other suggestions do you have for staying touch on the road?

Tips for Negotiating a Sabbatical vs. Quitting
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Abandon your career? Are you crazy?!

There was nothing scarier for me after the decision to travel around the world than the aspect of leaving my career.” — Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage

This is a frequent comment we hear from people contemplating career breaks.  People take career breaks for different reasons – are you taking a break to change careers or explore new careers – or do you simply need a break? Granted, it’s not necessarily that simple, but you will need to examine deep down whether you want to leave your job behind or try to simply put it on hold while you take a career break.

There are endless possiblities on what can happen with your career when you take a break, but before you leave, you have to normally consider one of two things – quitting your job or trying to negotiate extended time off.  We’ve pulled together some resources on both options and tips on how to handle them.

QUITTING

If you think you want to cut ties with your current job, then go about it carefully. Consider how much notice you need to give, and always keep in mind that burning bridges is never a good solution. We’ve met career breakers who actually quit their jobs to travel for a year and then were actually hired back by the company when they returned.   Even though you may not want to work for your company or your boss again, you may need their assistance when you return in building up your network, contacts, and references when looking for a new job. You know your company culture the best, so really think about how much notice you need to give, and how you will explain to them why you are leaving. Always try to put a positive spin to why you are leaving.

What’s the best way to go about quitting – here’s a few tips from how Warren on how to leave your job gracefully.

  1. When you give notice, provide your boss with recommendations for how you will spend your remaining time. Let them know you will remain motivated to work hard. Talk about helping to recruit your replacement and get them trained and up to speed before you leave.
  2. Make sure to focus the discussion about your desire to explore the world. Do not turn this into your opportunity to explain all the ways they have disappointed you in your career. Remember, you may want to get back together with this partner.
  3. Read your situation – every scenario is different, so be sure to have an idea at how your boss will take the news. Be prepared for the worst case scenario (walked to the parking lot and start your trip earlier than expected), but plan for the best. Provide you employer with reasons why keeping you on is going to be good for them.
  4. Always keep the door open to the future. For most people, this is a “career break”, and as such there is at least a “plan” to return to the corporate world. Keeping your options open and remaining flexible is generally a good strategy. Make sure that you could return to the company if possible.
  5. Not everyone will understand – this is something I faced immediately after giving notice. People simply could not grasp why I would even consider doing “something this stupid”. It is inevitable you will come across this at work and will spend many hours trying to explain. This is normal. What you are doing is odd (sadly), but you are following your dream and your heart. Explain why you came to the decision, and remember why it is so important to you. Your career will likely be there if/when you return.

Read about what happened to Warren a year after being on the road.

Even the best-laid plans of giving notice don’t always go as anticipated and you may have to adapt your plan quickly. Watch what happened to career breaker Val Bromann when she decided to give notice.

Want to see where Val ended up…well…she’s still traveling and now doing freelance work – check out her website here!

SABBATICALS OR UNPAID LEAVE

A sabbatical is simply getting an extended leave from work to pursue a break. The first thing to do if you think you want to take a sabbatical is to do your research. Find out if your company offers any type of sabbatical or leave program. Many times companies offer these, but they aren’t necessarily publicized, so don’t be afraid to dig into your HR manual or sit and have a talk with your HR rep to learn exactly what the options may be.

Granted, your company might not have a formal sabbatical program, but consider the fact that you can lead the way in requesting a sabbatical and having them start such a program. You get nothing if you don’t ask.

Sherry Ott interviewed Barbara Pagano, who wrote the ebook  Negotiating Your Sabbatical, to get some tips on the steps to approaching your employer about taking a break. In addition she shares advice on deciding quit vs. sabbatical, and tips for job hunting when you return.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 1 Runtime – 14:23)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – Barbara took her own sabbatical – what did she learn?– Reset the ‘challenge meter’; found that challenges in business seemed to be less of a challenge any longer.– Improved decision making skills – they are extraordinary now!– Need to have confidence in selling your career break experience.
  • 3:53 – How can you decide whether to quit your job vs. asking for a sabbatical from your job?– You need to look at your long-term career goals.– In this economy it’s the best time to negotiate a sabbatical.
  • 5:55 – Why do some companies offer sabbaticals?– More are ‘getting it’ – Large and small companies are looking at sabbatical programs as a way to develop the talent of their employees.– The company benefits by seeing just what kind of leadership they have in the pipeline and it develops your employers further. More and more companies area looking at it as talent development.
  • 8:03 – What are some tips for negotiating a sabbatical at a company who doesn’t normally offer one?– Understand the pre-work you need to do before you go in and talk to your boss.– Know who else is giving sabbaticals and why they are doing it. It allows you to talk intelligently about sabbatical programs. Arm yourself with knowledge.– Understand what you are good at and what you need to strengthen. Determine this before you decide what you want to do on sabbatical.– Treat it seriously and formulate your business proposition. It’s not about you, it’s about the company and how they can benefit.– You have to educate people! In addition, put it all in writing so that you can talk intelligently about it with your boss.
  • 12:14 – How long of a sabbatical should/can you try to ask for?– The average sabbatical occurs about every 5 years for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. The average sabbatical is 1 to 3 months in length.– It also depends on how long you’ve been with the company. Know that a sabbatical should not be a one shot experience; they should be interspersed throughout your career.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 2 Runtime – 13:45)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – If you are looking for a job change, then look for companies who value the idea of breaks/sabbaticals.– Look on YourSabbatical.com for a list of companies that support sabbaticals.
  • 2:00 – Can anyone ask for a sabbatical no matter what their position? Is it more difficult if you are not a company leader?- Try to link your sabbatical to your company’s values. Alignment is key.– Consider how the current conversation in the company potentially applies to the break you want to take. Find ways to benefit the company – no matter what level you are at.
  • 4:25 – If you do want to actually leave your job and take a break (as opposed to a sabbatical), then you can still use all of the research you’ve done and incorporate it into your resume when looking for a new job.
  • 5:40 – Should you hide the fact that you left your job to take a break? No!
  • 6:05 – Tips for job hunting: Make sure you negotiate a sabbatical into your new job if you are changing jobs.
  • 6:50 – Can you negotiate unpaid sabbaticals or with other perks?– If you are willing to take an unpaid sabbatical, then negotiate benefits and securing your position when you return.– Some companies use unpaid sabbaticals to alleviate costs.
  • 9:52 – Look at your sabbatical as a standard negotiation – start high and know how low you are willing to go.
  • 10:15 – What do you do if it doesn’t work? You have planted the seed and let people know that it’s important to you as an employee.
  • 11:28 – Don’t look at your sabbatical as a gift that the company gives you. Instead look at it as a company developing and keeping talent in a company therefore making the company successful in the future.

What is your plan?  Quit vs. Negotiate Time off?  Have any tips to share?

 

 

To Plan or Not to Plan
Friday, August 23rd, 2013

cat direction

Plan your stops?

The best-laid plans of travelers often go awry…a truth you will most definitely learn on the road. Traveling long term is different than a vacation. In a vacation you normally have to maximize your short time very carefully; transportation, lodging, tours, and sometimes food is often planned. However when you are roaming from place to place over the period of 3 to 12 months, planning each detail becomes much harder.

Things to consider when trying to plan:

You Will Change

One of the most rewarding things about extended travel is that you have time to learn; not only about other cultures, but about yourself. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself. The knowledge you gain will likely effect your plans, so consider leaving yourself open to new opportunities.

Seeing the Whole World

You can’t get to every ‘must-see’ in the world. We know it’s tempting to look at the globe and know that you have more time off then you ever have before in your life and want to do EVERYTHING. But really…do you want to do everything? If you do, then what’s left? One of the biggest benefits of taking a career break and traveling is that you will infuse travel into your life from this point on. We’ve never met anyone who traveled the world and didn’t want to go back out again. Travel and exploring will become a part of your life, you will have more opportunities to get back to places you didn’t get to on this trip.

You Don’t Know Until You Get There

Many times you plan to go to a place and have something specific that you want to do there or see. But once you hit the ground, you’ll meet locals and other travelers and bond with them. Soon you learn of other things that you want to see and do that they recommend. If you have everything already planned, then you may miss out on these new places/experiences that you just learned about.

Oh – The People You’ll Meet!

Whether you are a solo, couple, or family traveler you will meet hundreds of new people while you travel. Each person brings a new possibility; one which you will never be able to predict or control. You may decide to travel with a new friend, you may fall in love, you may get offered a job, or you may decide to stay and help someone. Remain flexible & open and you will most likely end up in a place that you never knew about – and certainly wasn’t according to plan.

Sometimes when you plan too much in advance, the universe has a way of laughing at those plans. That’s what happened to Stephanie and she shares how she now travels at a different pace.

You Will Get Tired

At some point in your extended travels, you will get tired. You won’t want to move any longer, pack any more, see another museum, or ride another bus. If you plan everything in advance, then you’ll wear yourself out with no time to recover. Remember you don’t want to return home as tired and stressed out as you were when you left!

Overall we recommend building a structure and foundation, but know it’s okay to fill in the details as you go. If you are the planning type, then we recommend getting the first few weeks or months planned with transportation and an itinerary, but leave the remainder open-ended. It’s good to have a few core ideas, but fight the urge to connect them until it gets closer to the time in which they will occur.

Where to Go: Timing
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Timing plays a big part in deciding where to go.  Some factors to consider include weather, holidays & festivals, and the value of the dollar.

Weather:

What time of year are you traveling and what will the weather be like in your destination? Summer in the northern hemisphere means winter most points south of the equator. And some destinations don’t experience our traditional four seasons but rather two – wet and dry. But whatever time of year you travel, there are benefits to the different types of weather you may encounter.

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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

Teaching English Abroad: The International Career Break that Pays You to Travel & Boosts Your Resume
Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Are you looking to escape the corporate grind for a rewarding career break abroad than enables you to live in foreign country and become part of the local community?

Do you need a way to finance your international adventures?

Have you considered that international work experience can boost your resume and set you apart in a globalized economy and a competitive job market?

 

Why Consider Teaching English Abroad?

From Costa Rica and Chile to Cambodia and China, an estimated 250,000 English speakers gain employment each year teaching English abroad, making teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) one of the most viable ways for people from all background to get paid while living abroad.  You won’t get rich teaching English abroad, but in Europe and Latin America English teachers typically make enough to break even and live comfortably, while in Asia and the Middle East English teachers usually save 30%-50% of their salary each month after expenses, which is great for funding extra travel or perhaps making student loan payments.  In addition, you can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a foreign country as a local where you shop in local markets, live in a local neighborhood, and interact with members of the community on a level that even the most dedicated travelers almost never experience.

Teaching English Abroad as a Resume Booster

Whether you are looking to take a break from your current career or are just out of college and looking for ways to enhance your marketability to potential future employers or graduate schools, teaching English abroad can not  only provide a great international adventure, it can make for a serious resume booster as well.

  • * In a globalized economy where commodities, financial transactions, information, and people are crossing borders at ever-faster rates, international work experience is sought by employers in nearly every sector.
  • * Employers also increasingly prefer to hire people with experience interacting with others from different cultural backgrounds, and nothing embodies that more than living and working in a foreign country.

  • * Teaching English abroad will require you to develop organizational and communication skills, as well as the ability manage group settings – all skills that will serve you in whatever endeavors you pursue in the future.

  • * Working and traveling in a foreign country proves your ability to move out of your comfort zone, to take risks, and to adapt and confront new challenges.

  • * Graduate school programs, including law schools and MBA programs, increasingly seek those with an international background and “real world” work experience.

In addition, teaching and living abroad will set you apart from other applicants for jobs or graduate school who will otherwise hold similar qualifications to you.

Key Things to Know about Teaching English Abroad

  1. Take a TEFL certification course!  You don’t need background in teaching in education to teach English abroad, but a quality TEFL course will provide you with the skills you need to become a professional teacher, and most schools and language institutes require it. Also, quality TEFL schools will provide job placement assistance. Make sure you take an accredited TEFL course that meets international standards, including 100 hours of training and coursework, and 6-20 hours of live practice teaching and observation.  This is the equivalent of a four-week intensive class or an 11-13 week part-time or online class.

  2. Research as much as you can!  From interview procedures and hiring requirements to visa matters and salaries, all aspects of teaching English abroad will vary from country to country.  Here are some great resources for learning more:

Resources

Websites like www.daveseslcafe.com and www.eslemployment.com list thousands of job listings for English teaching positions all over the world and forums where English teachers and job seekers share their experiences and insights.

The International TEFL Academy website features hundreds of FAQs & Articles about teaching English in addition to country profiles for teaching English in more than 50 countries around the globe.  You can also call 773-634-9900 and speak to an expert advisor about all aspects of teaching English overseas.

While it’s written primarily for a British audience, Susan Griffith’s Teaching English Abroad is a great resource providing hundreds of pages of information about job markets for teaching English abroad, including country profiles, contact info for thousands of schools, volunteer organizations and recruiters.

Blogs – Many English teachers around the world write their own blogs that offer great first-hand insights into life abroad as an English teacher and many include great job-hunting tips as well.

And finally, don’t be intimidated if you don’t have prior teaching experience or a background in education. Approximately 80% of those teaching English abroad don’t have prior experience and by taking a TEFL course you will gain the skills you need to enjoy a rewarding experience abroad as an English teacher.

Good Luck!

John Bentley is a Senior Admissions Advisor at the International TEFL Academy, which trains and certifies 1,200 people a year to teach English abroad and provides lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates.  He holds a BA from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies and an MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.  While at Harvard, John was a primary author for the Egypt-Israel edition of the famous Let’s Go! travel guide series and he has worked in the field of international travel and education throughout his career.  He also grew up overseas in Cairo, `Egypt and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe.

For more information about TEFL Certification and teaching English abroad and to request a free brochure and country chart, please call 773-634-9900 or visit: www.internationalteflacademy.com

 

 

The Essential Guide to Travel
Thursday, April 11th, 2013

We all know that the internet is a cluttered place of information — some good and some bad. Here at the Meet Plan Go! Career Break Headquarters we are always trying to weed through it all to bring you the best nuggets of information out there so you are fully prepared for your travels, armed with tips and advice from those who’ve done it before you.

One of our very own, Chicago host, Lisa Lubin of LLworldtour.com, has just released a brand new eBook called: The Essential Guide to Travel: Tips, Tricks & Advice on Getting the Most from Your Adventures

If you’ve been dreaming about that career break, but are still apprehensive, Lisa’s book is full of info and tips that will put you more at ease and show you how much easier this kind of trip is than you think!

Summary from Amazon:

Have you ever had the urge to chuck it all and travel the world? Or maybe you seek less-permanent adventures but still want to experience something new. Whatever your travel dreams, author and LLWorldTour blog founder Lisa Lubin encourages you to take the leap. After all, that’s what she did! After more than a decade in broadcast television, she quit her job and sold everything to travel the world and chronicle her adventures on her blog. In her eBook, “Essential Guide to Travel: Tips, Tricks & Advice on Getting the Most from Your Adventures,” Lubin offers readers practical advice on how to save money, pack well, and make connections in new countries. Through her personal stories, you’ll learn tips on packing, dealing with money (saving and spending), getting around in foreign countries, finding the best food for the money and adjusting to cultural differences.

Excerpt:

“Once you are out on the road, first things first: Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy it. This is your time. A lot of the planning is done and now you can just be in the moment. If you are traveling long-term, you will fall into a rhythm and your old chores or to-do list will be replaced by little tasks like finding somewhere to do your laundry or booking your next hotel. Try and travel slowly if you can. The slower you go, the more money you will save (less transport costs) and the more local experiences you will have. Sticking around for a couple weeks or more allows you to immerse yourself more and meet the locals. Meeting people from all over the globe is the best part of travel… besides the tasty food! Getting to know folks from a different place and culture will create memories and stories that you will never forget. Be open to trying new things. You will find yourself doing things that you might never do at home. Jump in. Say “yes” more and you will be amazed at what you learn about the world … and yourself.”

Includes:

Introduction
What to Do with Your Stuff
Packing (with packing list)
How to Save Money for Travel
How to Save Money While Traveling
How to Find Cheap Airfare
How to Find Affordable Accommodations
Credit and ATM Cards
Getting Around
Eating
Traveling Solo, But Never Alone
Adjusting to Foreign Locales
Parting Thoughts

Buy it here on Amazon today!

About Lisa

Lisa Lubin is a three-time Emmy® Award-winning television writer, producer/director, photographer and video consultant. After more than a decade in broadcast television, she decided to take a sabbatical of sorts, which turned into nearly three years of traveling and working her way around the world. She documents her (mis)adventures on her blog, LLworldtour.com, with photographs and articles from the road/train/rickshaw/camel. Her writing and photography has been published by the Wall Street Journal, American Way Magazine, The Malibu Times, Chicago Tribune, Latina, Smithsonian, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Huffington Post. She also runs LLmedia, a video consulting business.
Lisa has been featured on WGN-TV, Good Morning America, MSNBC.comFOX.comFrommers.com, the Chicagoist.com and in the Chicago Daily Herald and the NJ Daily Record.

Lisa teamed up with Whole Foods, REI and Hostelling International for several “Travel & Food” lectures. She also hosts the Chicago portion of the annual national “Meet, Plan, Go!” event, encouraging working Americans to take career breaks and sabbaticals. She has spoken about video and journalism at several conferences, including the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), the World Travel Market in London, and “Visit Russia 2012” in Yaroslavl.
Lisa loves cheese and kittens, but not together.

Setting the Wheels in Motion
Monday, January 14th, 2013

During a recent sermon, our pastor preached about not living a life of “accumulating regrets.”  At that moment, my husband and I glanced at each and we both knew what the other was thinking…let’s do it.  Two Southwest tickets and four weeks later, we were sitting in Bar Louie in Chicago for one of the nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events.  We had just taken the first step in planning our round-the-world (RTW) journey.

There’s just something about being in a room packed full of travel junkies that is intoxicating.  When my husband and I left the event, we were high as planes mid-flight.  Unlike most “conferences,” there were no awkward conversations with strangers.  You see, each participant’s nametag announced two important items of interest:  the last place visited and the next on the list.   Conversations flowed loosely and easily between people who had just met.  The intoxicant:  Travel Talk.

“Wow, we really should have done this 15 years ago,” was my initial reaction after spending four glorious hours with people who had really done it.  By “it,” I mean extended ’round the world travel.  Sixteen years ago my life was so simple.  I was mid-20′s, freshly divorced with a job and an apartment.  That was it.  No husband, no kids, no pets, no mortgage.  Unfortunately, I drank the corporate Kool-aid and decided it wasn’t the right time for such an adventure.

Fast forward to present:  I’m now in my early 40′s with a 50-ish husband, three businesses between us, two middle-schoolers, a dog, a cat, and a big house.  I now understand that the time is never “right.”  However, the yearning to experience the world is one that comes from the core of your soul.  Either it’s there, or it’s not.  And here’s the kicker…if it’s there, it never goes away.  Ever.  All the stock options, and vacation time, and fancy kitchens won’t scratch that itch.  Trust me.

Since leaving the Meet, Plan, Go! event in October, we have put the wheels in motion for our RTW journey.  The first step was getting our daughters on board.  It’s hard enough for two people to agree on the particulars, much less four people.  Although my husband and I might do it differently if it was just the two of us, it’s not just the two of us.  Everyone’s vote counts and while our 13-year-old was initially on board, she’s recently changed her mind. Nonetheless,  we’re planning to start our five-month tour in October 2013, focusing on Southeast Asia, New Zealand and  Australia.  We know it is a LOT to cover in five short months, and we are prepared to let the final version unfold along the way.  Based on the wise counsel of RTW veterans, we are opting to buy point-to-point tickets rather than RTW tickets.  Flexibility is key.

We’re now arranging the pieces of the RTW puzzle.  Remember paragraph four?  It is overwhelming as a whole, so we’re breaking it into small pieces and finding solutions for each piece.  Here’s what it looks like so far:

♦ Thanks to eBay and Craigslist, we are purging our excess stuff and preparing to put our house on the market in January
♦ We have sold one business, and have interim solutions in the works for the other two.
♦ We are fortunate to live in a school district that values these types of experiences.  Between homeschooling resources and the girls’ teachers, we will ensure they are prepared for re-entry in the spring.
♦ Did I mention that one daughter is in the middle of orthodontic treatment?  We have a solution for that, too.  Our top-notch, well-traveled orthodontist has worldwide professional connections.  We’ll visit orthodontists as necessary along the way.
♦ Finally, our beloved pets.  This is the most difficult detail of all–logistically and emotionally.  We will place them temporarily with loving foster families.  We are still working on this one…

The bottom line:  For every challenge, there is a work-around.  It’s just a matter of identifying it.  We all have a million and one reasons why the time isn’t right.  However, I am writing this from the aisle seat of a LAN flight from Cusco to Lima, Peru.  There is nothing like hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to remind you that so many of the world’s great experiences should not be postponed until your Golden Years.  You can always work, but can you always travel?

Kellie McIntyre spent 15 years in corporate healthcare surviving on three weeks of annual vacation time.  She’s now a full-time mom, part-time real estate manager, and part-time family adventure planner.  Kellie and her family live in Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Save Time Planning Your Career Break
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

You have taken the first step – you decided to take the plunge to take a career break to travel. Now comes what should be the fun part – the actual planning. If you are like many career breakers, you might be thinking about booking a round-the-world flight itinerary including multiple stops around the world. Unfortunately, you may find that pricing out such an itinerary can be extremely time consuming. It can quickly chip away at the time you need to take care of everything else on your to-do list before leaving.  Even frequent world traveler Chris Guillebeau has said it can take as much as 40 hours to get a handle on planning a multi-stop trip.

Indeed, planning a trip with five or more stops often requires the use of a travel agent – search engines like Travelocity and Expedia don’t let you book trips with so many stops. Using a travel agent, it can sometimes take days just to get a price quotation in a particular itinerary – and if you want to change that itinerary before booking, count on more time to get a revised quote.

Wouldn’t you rather spend your time thinking about what you’re going to do once you reach your destination instead of sweating out how you’re going to get there?

Never fear – BootsnAll is here to help. The well-known independent travel website has just launched Indie– the first airfare booking engine that offers instant prices, no rules and online booking for multi-stop itineraries. While most search engines like Travelocity or Expedia allow you to book a trip with up to 5 or 6 legs, Indie lets you plan a trip with up to 25 stops. Even better, Indie helps you do it quickly – you can plan and book your entire itinerary in just an hour!

The idea for this new web app was spawned from actual travelers’ feedback,” Sean Keener, co-founder and CEO of BootsnAll, says, “to give travelers the ability to search and book a multi-stop or round the world ticket in minutes. We’ve been serving RTW and long-term travelers since 1998, and one of the biggest pain points we have heard, thousands of times, is the difficulty in planning the airfare component. Indie solves this problem.”

Using Indie is easy – simply enter your proposed route and then view it instantly on a map. You can drag destinations around to change up the itinerary and even add a combination of overland travel and flights. Better yet, unlike other round-the-world booking engines, you can travel in any direction you want and there is no limit on the mileage you travel. As soon as you are ready, you can get an instant price quote for your itinerary and book it on the spot.

Meet, Plan,Go! editor Katie Aune was curious and decided to test Indie out for herself. Having recently returned from a 13-month career break, she plugged in all of the destinations that she flew in and out of – an itinerary that looked like this: ORD-HEL-MOW-VVO-TBS-ROM-IST-TBS-TAS-FRU-RIX-BCN-ORD. Within seconds, she had a price quote for just under $6,000. Since she actually traveled overland between several of those destinations, she altered the itinerary to account for the overland travel and quickly received a revised quote of $3,764 – which was pretty close to what she actually spent on the flights that she had booked as she went along. Her only complaint? She actually flew into Dushanbe, Tajikistan rather than Tashkent, Uzbekistan as she eventually plugged in, but Indie didn’t recognize Dushanbe as an airport (editor’s note: after notifying Bootsnall of the issue, they added Dushanbe to Indie within 24 hours).

Indie has received positive feedback from travelers so far.  “I might’ve been able to get to the same number on Travelocity, but it just felt like more work,” says Jamie Boud. “Now, maybe that was an illusion because I was spending a lot of time checking various sites, trying to work out all the details that I started to get burnt out. But that’s a big reason I appreciated Indie’s clean interface.”

We travelled around the world last year and are looking to go again in 2013,” explains Brian Kelly. “We have had a number of quotes again using Star Alliance, etc., that we used last time, but this system…seems a thousand times easier and lets us get to exactly where we want to go without the usual restrictions placed on you with other RTW companies.”

To try out Indie for yourself, visit indie.bootsnall.com.  And once you’ve booked your dream trip, we’d love to hear how Indie worked for you!

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Career Break Guide Table of Contents