Basic Training

The Best-Laid Plans
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

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.

Here are some 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 to build a structure and foundation, but know it’s ok to fill in the details as you go. If you are the planning type, then we recommend to get 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.

Basic Training

We cover more on how to plan for your time in Career Break Basic Training, as well as other topics related to your On-the-Road experiences.

How to Prepare Mentally for Long-Term Travel
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Choosing where to go and what to pack are important steps in preparing for your career break. And adding destinations to your list and picking out travel gear is certainly the fun part of the process. But have you ever thought about preparing mentally for your extended travel?

Traveling around world and living out of a backpack can sound so ‘amazing’ when you are sitting behind a desk stressed out with your buzzing blackberry and bad fluorescent lighting. However, when you really get down to the nitty-gritty, and start to consider long-term travel, you have to figure out if it’s right for you. To determine if you can hack long term travel to remote countries, Sherry Ott has put together a little four week ‘travel boot camp’ to ready your mind and body for your career break. Follow these exercises and if you survive, then you can hack long-term travel!


For one month start drinking and using ONLY bottled water. This includes brushing your teeth with only bottled water; don’t you dare use that tap water! I became so accustomed to brushing my teeth with bottled water that it seemed strange for me to use the tap any longer. In addition, when you cook, wash all of your fruits or vegetables in bottled water. Or if you don’t want to go to the hassle of washing with bottled water – then simply stop eating raw fruits and vegetables for a month!


Even though English is the one true international language, you will still have to get used to not ever really knowing what is being said around you in a foreign country. Sure, you can always find someone who speaks English if you have a question, however they will answer your question and then go back to speaking to their friends in their native language.

In order to prepare yourself for never really understanding what is being said around you, do the following:

– For two weeks, go spend a few hours a day in Chinatown in your city (if you don’t have one, then go to a Chinese restaurant and try to sit close to the kitchen!). Make sure that you seek out establishments that are filled with Chinese people; then just sit there and drink tea for a few hours.

– In addition, for two weeks only watch the Spanish and Italian channels on cable. Sit through the news, soap operas and games shows – this will certainly make or break you! After two weeks, you will be prepped for the constant chatter of other languages around you that you may not understand.


For 3 weeks, wear the same 8 clothing items from your closet. Yes, you can mix and match them, so pick colors that go together! Do the same for shoes; pick 2 pairs of shoes and wear them for the same 3 weeks. This should prepare you for living out of a suitcase and losing the variety of items that you can choose out of your closet.


For 2 weeks, sleep in a different room and a different piece of furniture in your home or apartment every night. Choose your bed one night, your couch the next night, an air mattress the following night, then the second bedroom…you get the drift. You need to train your body and mind to understand that the concept of ‘your bed’ is going to disappear. I slept in a different place most nights for 16 months – some good, some bad; but rarely the same place.

Special Unit Training for India or Asia Itineraries

Make a one time outing to your local zoo…yes, the zoo. Go to the zoo and stare at the animals. Not a quick look…but a good long stare. Now put yourself in the animals’ position and see if you can hack it; someone staring at you for 5 minutes straight. Also consider what it might feel like when someone reaches out and strokes your arm because they want to touch your skin. The staring can be a real challenge to get used to, but with some practice you can learn to ignore the people staring at you; plus as an alternative, it’s acceptable to stare back!

Basic Training

These are just a few of the “training exercises” we cover in Career Break Basic Training. Once you have successfully completed this training regimen, then you are ready to be a long-term traveler. By preparing your self early, you will enjoy yourself even more when you get on the road!

Addressing Mental Travel Hurdles
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

With the New Year you may be finding that you want to jump start (or re-start) your career break travel plans. And one of the reasons that your plans may have stalled is because of fear.

Getting Over Fear

You came here because you want to make a change in your life; you want to shake it up. Hold on tight because change isn’t easy. Change is wrapped up in fear, and fear is big and bad. It can make any endeavor seem like a mountain that is insurmountable at times. The end result of letting fear take over is that it keeps us stuck where we are. We can assume that since you are here, you don’t want to be stuck where you are – right?

Each person’s situation and fears are different, but most often our fears of career break and sabbatical travel fall into four main areas:

Financial: I don’t have enough money – you have to be rich to travel
Societal: What will others think if I leave my job to travel – my family, friends and peers won’t be supportive
Career: I will ruin my career with a gap on my resume
Safety: fear of travel in general (health, safety, theft)

You may relate to one or all of these fears to varying degrees. But an important first step is to recognize that these hurdles and thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences.

Best Case Scenario and Positive Thinking

We usually default to assuming the worst-case scenario will come true. But we challenge you to think about “What if everything goes right?” for a change. That’s right – just close your eyes and think about those perceived hurdles as opportunities.

Financial: I can learn how to better save money & budget which will benefit me/my family in the long run. I will also realize that I don’t need as much money as I think to be happy.
Societal: Others will love hearing my story of following my passions and I will inspire others to do the same.
Career: By taking this career break I will be more knowledgeable of the world and it’s cultures, a better communicator, able to work in a variety of environments, and demonstrate great flexibility that will make me stand out in interviews and cover letters.
Safety: I will learn ways to remain safe no matter where I am in the world and will see that how people & places are perceived in the media is not necessarily true for entire countries.

There is always a way to over get hurdles – always. Positive thinking is just a start.

Paul Milton on Societal Pressures

The idea of career breaks can seem unrealistic to many – but Paul shares how they didn’t let other people’s opinions change their plans.

Basic Training

We cover more on how you can overcome these hurdles in Career Break Basic Training, which includes more interviews and helpful homework assignments.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go