Career Breakers

2 Backpackers: Where Are They Now?
Monday, March 21st, 2011

In the summer of 2009 we introduced you to three career break couples, including Jason Castellani and Aracely Santos of 2 Backpackers. Jason and Aracely began their career break in Guatemala and quickly learned that they preferred slow travel. So they shifted their round-the-world plans to focus their year in Central and South America.

In between, we checked in with them to see how they were adjusting to life on-the-road and get some travel tips based on their road experience. One of the most exciting aspects of their trip was getting engaged and since their return, have already gotten married and moved to Miami! So we decided it would be a great time to check in.

2 Backpackers

You obviously survived traveling together for a year – having gotten engaged and married shortly after your return. What insight did you gain about your relationship while traveling?
We figured, if we survived this, we can survive marriage. Which, to us is the long-term commitment of being together and tolerant of each other all the time, while still staying in love. I had planned on proposing during the one year of traveling if we were getting along. And we did get along. Looking back on that journey now, after 7 months of being home, I still feel as though that was our best time together.

What advice would you give to other couples planning a career break?
We suggest not using a travel career break to find out if you are compatible. In our article 5 Tips for Traveling as a Couple we suggest that you each have a clear understanding of your travel preferences. There will always be compromise, but you don’t want to discover one loves hiking and camping while the other is a foodie and sun bather after you just landed in Guatemala.

On the Road with Kailey Lockhart
Monday, March 14th, 2011

Basic Training member Kailey Lockhart had been dreaming of traveling the world ever since she was a child.

“I feel like extended world travel has been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. My parents used to say that when they asked me what I wanted to be when I get older, I would always say ‘I want to travel the world.’”

Kailey Lockhart

For three years she had been mentally planning for her round the world adventures, which finally began in December 2011. “Before I left, I looked into my heart and I asked myself what I really wanted from this trip. I didn’t even ask myself why, I just wrote down some of the things that I felt were me.”


On the Road with Warren & Betsy Talbot
Monday, February 14th, 2011

Shortly after hosting our Inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! event in Seattle this past September, Warren & Betsy Talbot (aka Married with Luggage) took off for their three year career break. Now with four months under their [shrinking] belts, we check in with them to see how they are adjusting to life on the road.

You spent two years planning your career break travels. Now that you have been on the road for four months, what have you found to be the most valuable aspect of your preparation process?
We have found that living on a budget is the most valuable skill for a long-term trip like this. In addition, doing the research to figure out what the trip would likely cost for our style of travel means that we are comfortable traveling with the budget we set out for ourselves and do not anticipate running out of money early. We lived for 2 years on a fairly tight budget, which means once we started on the trip, there was absolutely nothing to get used to. In fact, we felt like we could splurge more once we were on the trip because we had lived under budget for so long – which is a great feeling!

Another thing that really worked well for us was selling off our possessions. We know this isn’t right for everyone, but for us it gives us nothing to think about but the trip. Our advice for anyone planning a trip like this is to make sure you have your “home details” locked in before you leave – hopefully with someone else to look after them – so you don’t have to waste any of your energy on what you left back home.

Warren & Betsy Talbot

Do you feel like you were over-prepared in any ways?
We bought into the hype that we needed special travel clothes, gadgets, and medicine for the eventual “traveler’s illness.” This was a big mistake because we spent too much money on things we either don’t like, never use, or can find abundantly (for less) in every country we have visited so far.


Sorting Through Travel Information Overload
Monday, February 7th, 2011

Jannell HowellIn January of 2012, Jannell Howell will set off on a year-long journey around the world. Her plans will take her West from San Francisco where she’ll travel through Southeast Asia, meander through India and the Middle East, explore Europe and the U.K., check out Morocco, then fly to the East Coast of the U.S. where she’s looking to relocate. Aside from some basic sightseeing and unique activities (e.g. ride an elephant, learn a language, etc), she would like to try working and volunteering overseas, as well as getting to know some locals and a different way of life.

Jannell has joined Career Break Basic Training to help with her planning and blogs about this preparation stage on her site Traveljunkies World Tour. Here she shares how her plans are coming along.

What inspired you to plan a career break?
I knew from an early age that I loved to travel and have gone on some wonderful vacations that allowed me to unplug from reality, but I always longed for more. Wanting to travel around the world has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I never thought I’d get to a point when I had the money or the time to go. Last year, the dream resurfaced as a way to celebrate my 40th birthday in 2012. Then, two weeks later, I attended a Meet, Plan, Go! event that gave me the courage to go for it!

What inspired you to join Basic Training?
I felt alone in my career break pursuit because I didn’t have any friends with the same vision of long-term, around the world travel. I REALLY wanted to meet other aspiring or veteran travelers and Basic Training provided a platform for that. Also, I seriously needed help with my travel ‘information overload’ problem and this program practically spoon-feeds the details. I found out about Basic Training from attending Meet, Plan, Go!. I was impressed with how the event was organized and the number of vendors and travel veterans that attended, so I knew that Basic Training would also be a quality program (I wasn’t wrong). (more…)

Bert & Patty: Where Are They Now?
Monday, January 24th, 2011

In the summer of 2009 we introduced you to three career break couples, including Christine & Paul Milton – aka Bert & Patty – from Seattle. Christine & Paul started their career break by getting married in the Cook Islands and knew from the start that they would end in Edinburgh, Scotland, where they hoped to settle down.

In between, we checked in with them as they offered some travel tips they gained on the road as well as sharing frustrations most travelers face on the road but rarely speak about. It has now been several months since they wrapped up their travels and settled in to their new life in Edinburgh. So we decided it would be a great time to check in!

Christine & Paul

As part of your original career break adventure, you always planned to end in Edinburgh, Scotland. What transpired in the months since moving to Scotland?
Oh, yes, our great adventure was to start in the Cook Islands with a lovely sunset beach wedding, travel for 13 months (talk about an amazing honeymoon), and then end up in Scotland. To our great surprise we quickly found a lovely apartment right in the city. We thought, “wow, this is easy, we will have jobs in no time.”

I (Christine) found a volunteer job right off and we both proceeded to job hunt. Right away, we started hearing gloomy reports about the economy and prospective job cuts for the next couple of years as a way to deal with the deficit. We were still hopeful. We heard many Scots talking about the job market and how difficult it was to secure a job and how many people were already getting laid off in recent days. Seemed like everyone was singing the same song. Never mind, we were determined to make it work in good ol’ Edinburgh. After all, we shipped all of our worldly possessions there—we were committed.

We got involved in, met some nice people and enjoyed the city. We even bought bikes and peddled til our heart’s content. Still, we were hopeful and continued to job hunt but as the months wore on, we started to wonder if and when we would actually get a job and how long our savings was going to hold out.

Paul contacted his old employer to see what was going on and to his surprise, he was offered a job with a significant raise. Although we had our hearts set on starting a new life in Edinburgh, we couldn’t pass up the offer and I was a bit homesick so we thought it would be the sensible thing to do. We are excited to get established in Seattle and who knows, when the British economy starts rebounding, we may just find ourselves back in the UK.


Career Break to Antarctica – Part 2
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

In “Career Break to Antarctica: Part 1” Keith Martin beautifully described his arrival to Antarctica. How did he make the adventure happen?

Keith MartinI have never been one to give up on my dreams easily, so I started looking for other ways to get to Antarctica. Everything I found, from the cruises to mountaineering trips on ski-equipped planes, was exclusively reserved for wealthy travelers. I got my break when I came across a news story that talked about the research going on in Antarctica. That article led me to the website for the U.S. Antarctic Program (currently, which, in turn, led me to the website for Raytheon Polar Services, the scientific support contractor for the U.S. Antarctic Program. I devoured every tidbit of information I could find regarding the Antarctic Program and working in Antarctica and quickly decided that I was going to work down there. The problem was solved, sort of…

There was no question about whether or not I was qualified for the jobs down there, since there were job postings from dishwashers and janitors all the way up to engineers and helicopter pilots, but getting those jobs proved to be another problem. The first year I applied to all of the jobs that I was most excited about: Field Camp Manager, Search and Rescue/Field Training and Equipment Staff, Antenna Rigger – All jobs that would get me out in the field exploring the amazing wilderness. I also applied to the engineering positions, since I am an engineer, but I ignored all of the ‘unskilled’ jobs. In hindsight it is no surprise that I didn’t get a single call.


Career Break to Antarctica – Part 1
Monday, December 13th, 2010

Ever since childhood, Keith Martin dreamt of exploring the far reaches of Antarctica. And in January of 2005, that dream came true as he tackled Antarctica as part of his career break. But it didn’t come easy.

Keith Martin

It was unnaturally hot and, making things even more uncomfortable, I was wearing several layers of expedition-weight fleece, some extreme-cold-weather (ECW) overalls and a set of white, rubber clown boots that made my feet sweat. I was crammed into the back of a C-141 Starlifter, one of the U.S. Air Force’s antiquated workhorses, with several people I would become well acquainted with over the following nine months. We had been airborne for hours, flying southward over a vast ocean of icebergs and ferocious storms.

It had been beautiful and warm when we boarded the plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, yet the rules required us to wear the full compliment of ECW gear we had been given during the flight. Most of us had shed the thick red parka within minutes of take off, but the interior of the Starlifter was still a smothering inferno. I found a bit of relief from the heat when I got up to use the restroom, which for the men was a 55-gallon drum with a funnel and a curtain (the women were sitting in the front of the plane and got to use the flight crew’s bathroom.)

There was an icy draft shooting in through the cracks of the rear cargo door and several people were congregating in the narrow gap between the fuselage and the large pallet of baggage and supplies soaking up the natural air conditioning – I joined them. Despite the discomfort of the hot, cramped quarters, everyone on board was excited. For some people the flight was taking them to a place they thought of as home, for others, myself included, it was rocketing us southward on a grand adventure. A garbled voice materialized out of the jet noise and told us to take our seats – I hadn’t been able to make that out, but the people standing around me were veterans of the program and had been expecting the call.


Slow Travel with Mobile Lawyer
Monday, November 22nd, 2010

In December 2008, Michael Hodson (aka the Mobile Lawyer), an attorney from Northwest Arkansas, left his litigation practice to circumnavigate the globe – all without ever getting on an airplane. The adventure took 16 months as he ventured through 6 continents and 44 countries. He’s currently in Colombia writing about his adventures on his site Go, See, Write as well as a book.

[singlepic=1912,300,,,right]How did you come up with your ‘travel style’ of no planes or reservations on your around the world trip?
Basically, I wanted a challenge. I didn’t really do any research before my trip (which almost ended up a big problem, since you do actually have to reserve cabins on those cargo freighters I had to take, my only reservations), but I was aware there were plenty of people that had circled the world before. I thought that never leaving the ground would also give me a much better perspective of the size of our planet.

And that it did. I do love flying, but you get a much better sense of the size of things if you travel overland. Getting on a plane, having a couple drinks, watching a movie or two, falling asleep and waking up in Bangkok gives one an incredibly false sense of how small our wonderful planet is. I never had a second thought about doing my trip overland and I am incredibly happy I stuck with it.

How do you go about crossing the ocean on a freighter – learning about it, reserving it, preparing for it, and keeping yourself occupied for the long trip?  Did you ever get seasick?
Luckily I don’t get seasick at all, which I have tested in some moderately bad conditions before, though all my freighter rides on this trip were actually very calm. As to the how-to part, there are 3-4 travel agents that book freighter travel. I used a guy named Hamish Jamieson for all four of my crossings, and then got to met him face-to-face when I arrived in Napier, New Zealand.

I wasn’t prepared for how incredibly boring this type of travel was on my first crossing, but luckily had five other passengers on that leg that were interesting and provided some conversational entertainment. Be forewarned, you get a cabin and three meals a day, but that is about it for entertainment. As I went through Africa, Europe and Asia, I stocked up on lots of DVDs to watch on my laptop and bought a Kindle for reading material.  Without those, I might have blown my brains out on the 22-day Pacific crossing back home. It is mind-numbingly monotonous.


Reflection: Getting Back in the Game
Monday, October 18th, 2010

In July 2009, Alonna Scott and her husband Ben set off for their year career break – which we followed from the beginning: Alonna gave tips on how she “negotiated a sabbatical“,  we highlighted their site along with two other career break couples, saw how they were adjusting to “life on the road“, and we checked in with them during the 6-month mark when they gained their “road experience“.

[singlepic=1887,300,,,right]Since they’ve returned, their career break experience continues to inspire their life choices. And when faced with a tough re-entry, Alonna turned to self-reflection to get her back in the game.

When I left my job in 2009 to travel for a year, I hardly gave a second thought to what it would be like to come home at the end. I was fortunate to get a Leave of Absence from my employer, and I assumed that I’d return to work refreshed and motivated. But what I didn’t realize is that taking a break and traveling would change my attitude and perspective on life.

Returning from a Leave of Absence
Coming home after my round-the-world trip was exciting – it felt great to unpack for the last time, sleep in my own bed, and choose from a huge closet full of clothes every day. But the end of my Leave of Absence loomed before me, and I knew I only had two choices: quit or return to work. Considering my dwindling bank account balance, I chose the latter.

Unfortunately, the transition back to work was much harder than I expected. Although I loved engineering, had a great job and awesome coworkers – I wasn’t ready for the change in daily routine and the stress of long to-do lists. I also felt a loss knowing that my trip-of-a-lifetime was officially over. And most of all, with a lack of direction and purpose I was left feeling completely unmotivated. I even questioned whether my career break had done more harm than good.

Luckily, all it took to get me back in the game was a little time and some self-reflection.


Lisa Lubin’s New Business Card
Monday, September 20th, 2010

Worried that taking a career break to travel can hurt your career? It can actually help enhance it. Just look at Lisa Lubin’s new business card.

[singlepic=1878,250,,,right]As summer rapidly comes to a close, I am reminded that it was four years ago now that I quit my full time job and, in essence, my full-time career in television. Since university, I’d worked in broadcast television, starting after my sophomore year with my first internships, including one at “Late Night with David Letterman.” I graduated college and worked full time ever since, at three different television stations – directing, editing, writing and producing. I built a ‘career.’ I was stable and secure. I was saving my pennies and hard earned money…for ‘something.’ I had a bi-weekly direct deposit check, a really good health insurance package, a retirement plan that I funded generously, and some stock shares in my parent company: Disney.

Then in the summer of 2006, I quit. I gave it all up. And I don’t regret it one bit.

Networking on the Road
I didn’t know what I would do when I ‘returned.’ I wasn’t sure, but I was open to new things and willing to just see what happened. I suppose I’ve always been lucky to feel confident in my resourcefulness and abilities and that I would always find ‘something.’ So I really didn’t worry all that much. I remember back in college learning about something called “networking.” Yuck. It seemed so phony or uncomfortable. Now networking is all I do. But I don’t think of it like that. I love talking to people – learning what they do and how they got there. When I traveled, that’s all I did – meet people and ‘network’ in a sense, which landed me random opportunities from working for Turkey’s largest media conglomerate, the Dogan Group, (I just proofread some presentations, but it was still amazing to just ‘fall’ into that from chatting with people) to doing research at the University of Cologne (through a friend) to landing a year-long freelance gig (which basically funded all my travels from then on, allowing me to break even) doing publicity for an English Immersion program based in Madrid.

Many people asked me, “What about the economy?”

Bottom line, I make much less than I did previously, but it frankly doesn’t matter and hasn’t changed my quality of life at all.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go