Photo Friday: From Nairobi to Mombasa
Friday, September 7th, 2012

Today’s Photo Friday comes from Meet, Plan, Go! Austin hosts, Shelley Seale and Keith Hajovsky.

Shelley and Keith rode the overnight train known as the Iron Snake of Africa from Nairobi to Mombasa. The train was built by the British in 1899 during the colonial years and passes through vast amounts of open terrain and is one of the most classic train rides in the world. To learn more about their travels, visit their websites, and TravelSherpaKeith. Even better, meet them in person at Meet, Plan, Go! in Austin!

Join us on October 16, 2012 for our nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events:

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

San Diego | San Francisco | Seattle | South Florida | Toronto

Living Like a Local in Barcelona
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The following is a destination post brought to you by Oh Barcelona.

Barcelona is an incredibly popular destination for city breaks and family holidays. The combination of long sandy beaches and a buzzing metropolitan centre also makes the city ideal for longer stays and career breaks. While the day-to-day cost of living in Spain has increased substantially in recent years Spain is still a far cheaper place to live than northern European countries like Germany or the UK.

Despite all these advantages the city can be overwhelming to the first time visitor, particularly if you’ll be in the area for longer than a few weeks. Barcelona is a faster-paced and more businesslike city than Spain’s reputation for siestas and ‘mañana’ might lead you to expect. Meeting people can also be difficult unless you really make the effort to put yourself out there so use this guide to make sure you hit the ground running on your trip to Barcelona!

Where to Stay

The best area of the city to live in depends on how long you’ll be in Barcelona and what you want to get out of the city. If you’re only in the city for a short period of time then consider staying in Eixample. The area is more expensive than others (particularly if you’re visiting in the height of summer) but is well located for all of the city’s main tourist attractions and is also a short metro journey from the beaches of Barceloneta. If you’re only renting a room in an apartment then double check if it actually has a window (a surprising amount do not!) and whether the window faces an internal courtyard or the street (Barcelona is a very noisy city and if you’re a light sleeper it’s worth paying the premium for a courtyard room).

If you’re looking to rent an entire apartment then air-conditioning is a must if you’re visiting from May-September (if the temperature doesn’t get you the humidity will…). is an excellent place to start your search as you can easily filter apartments by area, amenities, number of beds and price.

Those staying in Barcelona for a little longer may want to consider looking in Poble Sec. Previously dogged by a poor reputation the neighborhood has improved markedly in recent years and many young professionals have moved in to take advantage of the area’s bohemian culture and comparatively lower property prices. You will be a little further from the main attractions but the area is well connected to the city centre by metro.

Working in Barcelona

While working during your ‘career break’ may seem a tad counter-intuitive it can be a great way to meet new people and will also allow you to extend your stay (or enjoy yourself that little bit more!). Casual work in bars and restaurants is easy enough to pick up during the summer months. Anyone working in Spain is required to obtain a N.I.E. from the local police station or foreign residents office (in central Barcelona this is located at Calle Balmas 192, get there early (before 8 o’clock) as spaces for the day will run out quickly. A N.I.E. can take up to two weeks to obtain, however if you apply at the main office in Barcelona you can generally pick up your certificate the following day or on the day you apply. If you’re only going to be doing casual work it is possible to get by without a number but you would be working illegally and some landlords will require a copy of your N.I.E certificate before renting you an apartment.

Eating like the Locals

Spain’s love of late night dining is legendary and even on weeknights you will struggle to get a table in a good restaurant before around 8 o’clock in the evening. Should hunger overtake you before this then your best bit is to hit one of the city’s tapas bars. If possible avoid going to the bars on the city’s more crowded avenues such as Las Ramblas or Passeig de Gràcia. Not only will you save money (€10 tapas on Las Ramblas are not unheard of, whereas €3-4 is a far more common rate elsewhere) but you’ll probably eat better food, receive far better service and be able to soak up a far more authentic atmosphere.

Meeting People

The internet has made meeting people with similar interests and hobbies far easier than it might once have been. Language exchanges are great way to meet up with fellow newcomers and improve your Spanish. Additionally there are yoga sessions, Pilates classes, meditation and wine tasting. features around 50 weekly events in the city so there’s bound to be something which appeals to you!

Learning the Language

Barcelona is a bilingual city and most signage and public announcements are in Catalan. This can make picking up Spanish more difficult than in other cities as you won’t be exposed to the language as much as in Madrid or Seville.

Nevertheless Barcelona is still an excellent place to practice your Spanish. The Babylon language school runs a huge variety of part-time, intensive and one-to-one courses and is very popular with its students. Tuition like this doesn’t come cheap however so don’t be surprised to be paying over €500 a month for your language course. Many language schools offer taster sessions so don’t be afraid to pop in and meet the teachers before you decide to part with your cash.

Getting Out

As wonderful as Barcelona is it can, from time to time, become a little too much. Luckily there are many lovely villages and small towns in the region and most are easily accessible by train.

Sitges is a charming traditional village around 30 minutes south of Barcelona. Boasting traditional Spanish architecture, several long sandy beaches and a diverse dining scene the town is also popular with gay and lesbian travelers and regularly hosts cultural and music festivals.

Figueres, around an hour north of Barcelona, was the birthplace of surrealist artist Salvador Dali and is now home to a museum hosting his work. The museum building is as eccentric as the art inside and is almost worth the visit in itself. The town itself is a typical Catalan community with beautiful squares, a few interesting boutiques and (yet again!) an excellent selection of restaurants, tapas bars and other eateries.

Photo Friday: Thailand’s Tiger Temple
Friday, August 17th, 2012

Ever wanted to pet a tiger?

This week’s Photo Friday comes from Meet, Plan, Go! Boston host Lillie Marshall who had a chance to get up close and personal with several tigers when she visited Thailand’s Tiger Temple during her career break two years ago.

Today, Lillie is back in Boston, where she has launched a movement through to inspire and assist more teachers to travel, and more travelers to teach, thus transforming the educational experience of our world. You can read more about Lillie’s travels on or follow her on Twitter as @WorldLillie.

Join us on October 16, 2012 for our nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events:

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

San Diego | San Francisco | Seattle | South Florida | Toronto

To be the first notified when tickets go on sale this fall, sign up for our newsletter.

Photo Friday: Cusco, Peru
Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Today’s Photo Friday submission comes from Facebook fans, the Van Loen family;

Our kids get some up-close and personal time with a llama at Tambomachay, Cusco, Perú. We’re now 3 weeks into a 13 month RTW career-break, and are loving it!

Follow along with the Van Loens as they travel through South America, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Southeast Asia and China. You can find them on Twitter or on their website,

Want to see your photo here?

Check out our easy submission policy!

Top 10 Ultimate Escapes in Australia
Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The following is a sponsored destination post brought to you by Flight Centre Australia.

Australia is a country with a rich landscape and many natural wonders. Home to some of the world’s most famous monuments and cities, Australia is perfect for escaping the daily grind of repetitive work days and routine. You will fall in love with the beauty Australia has to offer, and you will go back home wanting to come back before you even set foot on your door step. Australia is a country with much diversity, from the slow relaxed atmosphere of Queensland to the hustle and bustle of New South Wales. Not to say places like Sydney’s Bondi Beach aren’t as relaxing as some of the best Queensland has to offer – each state is unique in itself in this amazing country many call home – Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef

Of course The Great Barrier Reef is one of the top places to go on an Australian holiday. As one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to millions of species of fish, marine mammals and coral. Vibrant and full of life, the Reef is a must see for anyone. Composed of over 2,900 individual reefs, it’s impossible to see it all. One day spent here will be enough for lifelong memories.

Kangaroo Island

Situated 70 miles southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a historical and natural wonder. Filled with beautiful shorelines and forested land, this island will amaze your family from the moment you step off the ferry transport. From sea lions to sand dunes, you will have a blast exploring everything Kangaroo Island has to offer.

Sydney Harbour

This harbour is as massive as it is beautiful. Fireworks are often lit from the harbour, making it a great spot for viewing. The ships coming in and out of the area are also a spectacle to see.


This massive island is an excellent place to take your family for learning about history. It is also the natural home of Tasmanian devils. Though they are nocturnal, you can sometimes catch them lounging in the sun.

Great Ocean Road

Australian holidays wouldn’t be complete without a trip down Great Ocean Road. It borders the sea, making it a perfect road for sightseeing Australia’s beautiful coast.

Kakadu National Park

This national park is a must see. Here you will find a rich melting pot of natural life. The photo opportunities are worth the trip alone.


The fourth largest city in Australia is home to a sprawling metropolitan area. Perth is great for families because there is so much to do here. You can visit museums or spend your days at the beach. If you are planning Australian holidays, then Perth is a must.

Port Douglas

This tropical beach-side city is perfect for surfing, kite surfing and parasailing. If you are looking for a tropical getaway, Port Douglas is a superb choice.

Red Centre

You wouldn’t spend much time in Red Centre, but if you are adventurous it is worth touching foot into. Being able to say you have been to the Australian Outback is definitely great for bragging rights. The desert here is brutal, so come prepared.


Uluru is a World Heritage Site, and it is essentially a massive rock in the middle of the desert. It draws in thousands of curious tourists each year, and it is a spot of mystery. It is a scared spot to the Anangu aboriginal people. When visiting here, be sure to stay for sunrise and sunset. The colors of the rock and landscape are truly a once in a lifetime sight.

Whether you want to lie on a beach for 2 weeks or explore unchartered terrain Australia is a country which truly has it all. Escape from what you are doing right now and make a life changing decision to visit God’s country and see why so many people have migrated to this amazing diamond in the rough.

Beginning or Ending in Hawaii
Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Beginnings and Endings are always the most challenging when it comes to a career break. In fact, I never really know which one is harder. When you begin your break, you are normally a bundle of nervous excitement with your head aching from all of the planning and checklists you’ve been working with for the last few months. But the real part that makes you break out into a cold sweat is you are heading out into the unknown and outside of your typically predictable life.

Equally perspiration inducing is the return and re-entry into your ‘old’ predictable world when you finish your career break. If you’ve been traveling in far off countries for a significant time, coming home to your own culture can be jolting. You are bombarded with marketing, politics, high prices, questions about what you are going to do next; it makes you want to hop on the next plane out to anywhere!

Abrupt transitions such as the beginning and end of a career break can be challenging and in order to ease that transition we suggest that you consider easing into or out of your break. And one very good place to do that is Hawaii.

The little chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are the perfect place to ease into cultural transition.

Hawaii is indeed the US on paper, but once you get there you won’t feel as if you are in the US any longer. It’s a mix of east meets west, of American culture and Polynesian island culture.  You will feel as if you are in another country as you try the new food, get used to the new vowel-centric language, and understand the different customs of Ohana (family).

If you are leaving on a career break to Asia, this can be the perfect place to ease into the Asian culture. And if you are on your way home to the US after being gone for months of traveling, Hawaii can be a way to ease you back into American culture.


The great news is that you can potentially do this for free, or a very low cost thanks to the possibility of stopovers offered from various airlines. If you are flying to/from Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Asia stopovers in Hawaii are a real possibility. Check out the stop over destinations and deals on the Web sites for companies like New Zealand Air, Quantas , Air Tahiti Nui, and Hawaiian Air (stopover rules). And if you don’t know much about how stopovers work (strangely they aren’t publicized very well), then check out this great stopover article from Bootsnall.

What to Do

So now you know that you can consider Hawaii an easy and affordable stop on the beginning or end of your career break – but what do you do once you get there? You can do much more than you think; Hawaii isn’t just about beaches and Hawaii golf courses. You can hike the hundreds of trails on Oahu, engross yourself in Hawaiian royal history, stay with/meet locals via, learn to surf, go shark cage diving, and go horse back riding. You may even be able to catch a Meet Plan Go Travel meetup in Honolulu! Or you can simply soak in the Aloha spirit and prepare for your next stop on your career break.

This post was sponsored by PGA Championship golf vacations

Photography from Sherry Ott’s recent Hawaii ‘break’:

Photo Friday: San Blas, Panama
Friday, May 6th, 2011

San Blas, Panama

This Photo Friday is from the relaxing shores of one of the many islands in the San Blas region of Panama. It was during this trip that Michaela Potter realized that she isn’t in a rush to always be planning her next career break.

I think that because of my early travel experiences I have learned how to really make the most of my vacations, using the week or two to also experience new cultures while enjoying the time off. It was during that vacation that I realized it’s not the length of the trip that is important – it is what you do with your time that is. And that is something I learned from my various career breaks.

Coley Hudgins did more than just vacation in Panama – he moved his family there for a career break and is now building a life and career there! Based on his experience he offers us advice on preparing to move abroad during your career break.

Want to see your photo here? Join our Facebook Fan Page and upload your career break photo onto our Wall. Add a brief description & we may choose to feature it here!

Photo Friday: Beirut, Lebanon
Friday, April 1st, 2011

Religion in Lebanon

In all of the countries I’ve traveled to, Lebanon produced the most contrasts and confusion. Whether you are there to enjoy the beaches of the Mediterranean, the cosmopolitan nightlife and shopping of Beirut, or the beautiful hiking on the Lebanon Hiking Trail – you can’t avoid the religious contrasts that are woven so deeply into this country.

Unlike the rest of the Middle East, all religions are represented, lending way to many scenes like this one where churches and Mosques are placed right next to each other. Even after a month in Lebanon, I still just scratched the surface of history, culture, and understanding.

You can follow more of Sherry’s adventures in the Middle East through her Volunteer Chronicles.

Photo Friday: Birthday Guest
Friday, March 25th, 2011

Birthday Guest

In Beirut everything is done with flare – even birthdays. While I was volunteering there I was showered with attention from the Lebanese and their ‘guest culture’.

However, nothing prepared me for the attention I received on my birthday. My host family threw me a party and invited family and friends; people who I had just briefly met in the short time I had been staying in Lebanon via GeoVisions. Not only did they provide fireworks, but each of them gave me presents. It was as if I had known them all for 12 years, not 12 days.

You can follow more of Sherry’s adventures in the Middle East through her Volunteer Chronicles.

Be Our Guest
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The first night in Lebanon I mentioned to my host mother, Mira, that I needed to find a place the next day to buy some shampoo and toothpaste. “Ok, no problem.” She said.

Host Family in LebanonThe next morning I woke up, opened my door and went down the hallway to the kitchen to find Mira. She wasn’t in the kitchen; instead she was at the front door where a man was delivering groceries to her. After greeting her with “good morning,” she handed me a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, saying “these are for you.”

I was a little stunned, as I hadn’t asked her to buy me these products – I just mentioned that I needed to buy them. But she wouldn’t take any money and insisted I take them. This was my first experience of what it was like to be a guest in Lebanon.

Guest culture is a very important piece of Lebanese culture and it took some getting used to as an American. Over the next month I learned that this also took on a traditional form of ‘volunteering’. Lebanese regularly help their relatives, friends, and neighbors without expectation of direct compensation, financial or otherwise. This provides them with a mutual aid network in which they do not necessarily reciprocate help to the person who helped them. Rather, the expectation is to reciprocate by helping others within their network.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go