All of our local Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the months leading up to our National Event on October 16, we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.
Meet 2012 San Francisco Host: Kristin Zibell
On the Other Side are Your Travel Dreams
Recently, at a beautiful sun-soaked wedding in California’s wine country, I met two travel dreamers – they had fully-formed travel dreams in their head. Jay, a tall man with white hair who put the sport in sport jacket, wanted to sail around the world for two years; to take off from the East Coast of the United States and end up two years later on the Pacific Coast. His perfectly-coiffed wife, Liz, wanted to work with animals…a cruise to the Galapagos or perhaps observing Silverback gorillas in Africa.
Their travel dreams were inspired by their son, a former cubicle resident who put in five years at a big five services firm and was now captaining tourist sailboats off the coast of Croatia. I thought that was much more exciting and said so. Liz assured me that he was headed for a top 10 business school in the fall, as if I would be worried that somehow he’d fallen off of life’s map.
I shared with them that I work with an organization that encourages people to do something similar – take sabbaticals for a year or so to travel the world. I had taken my own sabbatical from 2008 and 2010 and it was the best choice I had made. “How did you do that?” Jay asked.
I answered simply, “I left my corporate job, started to travel, worked as a consultant to pay for trips, and came back.”
“You just came back? What about your career?” he inquired.
That was it – the big question, what happens to my career after traveling long-term? In working on my blog Takeyourbigtrip.com and with Meet Plan Go!, first as a panelist last year and this year as San Francisco’s host, I found that would-be travelers feel like their career will go into a big black hole if they leave them. I assured Jay that it did not, explaining “I found a job that uses all my skills and made more money than I ever have. My career is my own. I think about what I want my life to be like and shape my work to fit it.”
Not only did my career avoid the black hole trajectory (and so many other long-term travelers will attest to the same), I am living the life that I have always dreamed: a world traveler who’s settled down in San Francisco, working at a job I enjoy, travel writing and blogging, and having fun with an incredible network of friends.
And all that happened because I went in the direction of my dreams and trusted my gut along the way.
Jay seemed partially satisfied with my response and joked that he’d sail around the world and return to the job I promised him after being in the engineering business for 32 years. I smiled, hoping that he would realize that he had 32 years of professional experience and could name his own terms when he returned. After our talk, I sat and reflected on the conversation and realized how much fear of the unknown keeps people in jobs they don’t like and careers that own them. This Rumi quote captures it best:
“Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?”
My hope is that we all realize that on the other side of departure, are our dreams. It’s certainly what I want Meet Plan Go! attendees to realize after they attend the 2012 event on October 16th.
Walk through the door, on the other side, is your dream trip.
In 2008, Kristin Zibell left marriage and corporate life to begin living her travel dreams. She traveled around the world over the next two years to India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe—volunteering, touring, trekking, photographing and blogging along the way. To pay for her adventures, she used her past life’s professional experience to consult between trips. Traveling long term has changed her forever and now she writes the blog Take Your Big Trip to inspire others to live their travel dreams. After her last big trip in 2010, Kristin chose San Francisco as her new home and travels around the city discovering its treasures with her Treasure Map Project.
Join us on October 16, 2012 for our nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events: