Favorite Website: Amateur Traveler
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

You’ve decided to fulfill your round-the-world travel dreams and are ready to book your ticket – but where to go? Look no further than Amateur Traveler for destination inspiration.

[singlepic=1783,555,,,left]The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and the best places to travel. According to Chris Christensen, “It covers everything from knowing what to put on your Chicago dog to swimming with whales in Tonga.” In addition to a weekly audio podcast, Chris also produces a twice montly video podcast and blog.

We love Amateur Traveler because there is no better way to learn about a destination and what to do than from people who have actually done it. How often do you take action on something based on a friend’s recommendation – whether it’s a restaurant or movie? Well think of Chris and his guests as friends that are giving you great travel advice.

[singlepic=1784,150,,,left]In the past five years, Chris has interviewed over 230 guests for his podcast, has produced more than 60 videos, and has even added on a weekly travel show: This Week in Travel. That’s a lot of inspiration to pull from! He even interviewed Sherry Ott (pre-Briefcase to Backpack) back in 2007 about traveling solo as a woman.

And if you sign up for the newsletter, you will receive his free eBook: “How to Save Money Booking Your Travel Online” – which serves as a nice supplement to our post “Let’s Go: Round the World Tickets”.

So check out Amateur Traveler and get ready to be inspired!

The Lost Girls: Book Review
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. Or as we like to call it here at Briefcase to Backpack – a career break.

One of these Lost Girls shared with us the struggles she faced letting go on the road: Amanda Pressner – Losing Myself on the Road. And now with the release of the book, we are able to learn much more about her career break experience, and those of her fellow travelers Jennifer Baggett and Holly Corbett.

Whether they were running away from something (Jen), searching for something (Amanda), or seeking adventure (Holly), The Lost Girls took a leap of faith together and ventured off on a global journey that took them to South America (Peru & Brazil), Kenya, India, Southeast Asia (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia) and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia).

Like many career breakers featured on our site, The Lost Girls were on the expected path in life, but questioned whether or not that was the right one for them.

“As we rocketed toward the next major stage (the one involving mortgages, marriages, and 2.2 children), we all wondered: Were the paths that we were heading down the right ones for us – or were we simply staying the course because we thought we should? Was the road most frequently traveled the one that we wanted to follow?”

They hoped that life on the road would help them gain the perspective they were looking for.

What is fascinating about the book is how we are able to delve into their hearts & minds and how the same journey is interpreted & experienced in three very different & unique ways. The Lost Girls do a great job of sharing their experiences – including the struggles & triumphs, the ups & downs – while still maintaining their individual voices. Not only do they guide us through their actual travels, but they open up to how each experience was affecting their own internal journeys.

The Lost Girls

Jen, Holly, and Amanda - aka "The Lost Girls"

And by sharing their thoughts and feelings about each other demonstrates the power of having a support system when taking such a huge risk in life – whether that is one on the road, back home, or both. Though it’s not always easy to travel long-term with one partner, let alone two, they were able to utilize each other’s strengths throughout and lean on each other during their weaknesses.

For the armchair traveler or workaholic, their story may be unique. But it fits right in here at Briefcase to Backpack. They touch on the circumstances that brought them to this point, the steps they took in planning & preparing, and even a glimmer of their reflections afterwards.

But the main crux of the book covers life on the road – and not just climbing Machu Picchu, volunteering in Kenya, surviving the trains in India, and bungy jumping in New Zealand. But also the struggles they faced letting go of their careers, loved ones, and sense of identities in order to gain new insight into themselves.

As they learn, the road doesn’t always have the answers to the questions you seek, nor will it serve them up on a nice silver platter. But by the end of this journey they realized that it wasn’t over, and lessons learned would only serve as guides as they navigate through the next steps of their lives.

Something every career breaker should embrace.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents.
One Unconventional Detour Around the World

Released May, 11, 2010 (hardcover) | April 26, 2011 (paperback)
Order now!

Paperback price: $9.75
Kindle price: $9.99
Hardcover price: $16.49

Favorite Website: Hostel Dog
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

[singlepic=1737,350,,,right]It’s often a dream come true when you can combine your passion with your work, and that is what Garrett Schemmel has done with his website: Hostel Dog – Travel Inspired Apparel.

Garrett graduated with a degree in industrial design but has also been very interested in sketching and graphic design. And then he caught the travel bug, which set him on a path combining the two passions. Garrett shares with us how he has been able to successfully bring his two passions together to create a business he cares about.

When were you first inspired to travel?
My fascination with all things international probably started when I was a senior in high school and became great friends with the exchange students at my high school. They just seemed different. It’s hard to say what exactly it is that made them fun to hang out with, but I built great friendships there that lasted past high school.

[singlepic=1738,250,,,right]I got to be great friends with a guy from Brazil, named Eduardo. Still friends to this day, he made his way to my house through a roundabout means and ended up staying for six months. Three years into college, I made the decision to go visit him and his family in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. That’s when I got a real taste of international travel and being fully immersed in the local culture. Every minute of every day was me being surrounded by folks from “Belo” and I had to learn quickly what it meant to live in a foreign culture.

But what really kicked off my travel habit?


Favorite Blogs: Travels with Children
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Traveling long-term on a career break with children can seem very daunting, but the Vogel Family (Family on Bikes) and the Hoffmeister Family (4Suitcases) have shown what an incredible experience it can be.

And even short-term travel with children can be overwhelming. But here are a few sites that offer some great insight into making it a fun and rewarding experience.

[singlepic=1728,275,,,right]Debbie Dubrow’s blog, Delicious Baby, offers advice on “Making Travel with Kids Fun”. Her blog details her own experiences traveling in the US and internationally with young children as well as product reviews, city guides and travel tips like “Ten Tips for Keeping a Toddler Busy on a Plane”  and “Breeze Through Airport Security with Kids”.

Perhaps my favorite tips include the ones listed under “Why Travel?”

Everyone knows that travel with children is unpredictable, difficult, and definitely not at the same pace or with the same freedoms that pre-child travel afforded, so why do it at all?

  • Through our children’s eyes, we see the world in a new way.
  • You get to immerse yourself in the local culture. Traveling with children forces you to do as locals do… shop in the grocery stores, bakeries, and pharmacies, not just tourist shops. You get to connect with locals in a way that’s difficult to do as adults traveling alone. People love kids. They’ll go out of their way to connect with you and see you as a family rather than just tourists, and you’ll gain insights into what it’s like to live in a different place.
  • The kids love getting out of their everyday routine, and being in new situations helps everyone to reconnect. Whenever we travel, we find that there’s a special brand of giggly, silly fun that happens after a long day of travel that we just don’t seem to have at home.
  • The kids learn new things. For young kids it isn’t so much that they’ll learn world history as that they are exposed to new experiences, sights, sounds and smells. With a little thought, you can bring those experiences home to make your everyday life a little richer too.
  • For school age kids it’s much more engaging and fun to learn history by doing than by reading.

[singlepic=1729,300,,,right]Michelle Duffy’s blog, WanderMom, offers insight and resources for independent family travel. As she says “The goal of this website is to share my experiences as a traveling parent with you and through that to encourage and inspire you to take your children to interesting places far and wide, inside and outside your home country.”

Other blogs that focus on traveling as a family and with children include:

Travel Tips: Budget Your Trip
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

[singlepic=1720,250,,,right]Betsy & Warren Talbot shared with us the secrets of how they saved money for their career break travels. But how do you stay on track with the trip budget you planned for?

During their 10 months of travel, Laurie and Bryan Tighe traveled through West Africa, the Middle East, India and Nepal. Along the way they were meticulous in keeping to their budget. And with their computer programming skills, they were able to develop an online calculator to keep track of their money and budget. And now they are sharing that with others with Budget Your Trip.

[singlepic=1719,200,,,left]Budget Your Trip is designed to help travelers track their spending and expenses. After registering you can create a trip and enter your daily expenses. The website creates charts and tables that break down costs by category and location. The layout lets you find out if you’re spending more than anticipated on transportation or which country ate away more of your budget.

Furthermore, the website’s budget calculator allows users to estimate the cost of future trips. The budgets provided by other travelers are used to determine the average cost of countries, cities, and categories a traveler might visit. Visitors to the site can search for the average daily costs of accommodation, food, and numerous other categories for cities and countries around the world.

[singlepic=1722,200,,,right]Budget Your Trip also offers a “Travel Cost Calculator Widget” so travelers can search for travel costs directly on your website.

Be sure to check out Budget Your Trip for future trips. And if you have budgets from previous trips, be sure to enter them and help out your fellow travelers!

Travel Tips: Road Experience
Thursday, February 18th, 2010

There comes a point in long-term travel where you have gained your backpacker-legs and have the confidence to help others you encounter on the road, or those preparing. Our three career break couples are at that point in their journeys and share some tips they’ve gained after six-months on the road, as well as what’s next for them.

[singlepic=1700,200,,,right]Two Backpackers (currently in Peru)
One week into our trip we arrived at Panajachel, Guatemala. When our bus stopped, 5 men were already pulling our backpacks off the roof rack and taking them to their own taxis or boats. We asked where a hostel was that we had reserved. The first man assured us that it was across Lake Atitlan, a 1hr boat ride away. We retained our bags and walked away, nervous about the situation. We found a tour shop and asked again. They told us it was a 10 minute walk up the street.

Lesson learned: Whenever you arrive at a transportation station make sure you don’t say yes to anything being offered. Get a hold of your bags and escape the chaos of offerings by finding a place you can sit down and think about your next decisions. Early in the trip we found ourselves being rushed into a bus or taxi with no clue where we were really going.

What’s Next:
Our plans have changed drastically during the last month. We have realized that traveling fast is not what we enjoy. It’s no longer a race to literally travel around the world, but rather to enjoy our visits to different countries throughout Latin America. Latin America is a vast area to explore and most countries have their own unique culture which we would like to experience. So Southeast Asia is off the list of destinations for this trip. I am sure we will get there some day. I am most excited about trekking through Torres del Paine in Patagonia and Aracely is looking forward to visiting the Amazonian Jungle.


Travel Blog Success Review
Monday, February 1st, 2010

Think blogs are just for keeping your friends & family updated on your travels? Think again. The rise of travel bloggers has grown so much that World Hum called 2009 the “Year of the Travel Blogger”.

“Sure, travel bloggers—like travel blogs—have been around for years. But this year, travel bloggers began organizing in new and increasingly prominent ways—and as never before, they were treated to many of the same perks (and some of the same scrutiny) as traditional big media travel journalists.”      – World Hum

So if you have big dreams of doing more with your travel blog, you’re in good, and very crowded, company.

How do you make yourself standout? With Travel Blog Success!

Travel Blog Success

We recently shared David Lee’s career break story, and featured why we love his site, Go Backpacking. And now David has used the successes he has learned in travel blogging to help others achieve their goals.

There are a lot of great resources to help you build your blog, but you could easily spend countless hours sifting through forums, tweets, and websites trying to figure it all out. Travel Blog Success presents it all in one place.


Favorite Blog: Go Backpacking
Thursday, January 28th, 2010

[singlepic=1656,300,,,right]We recently highlighted David Lee’s career break, which he documented in his blog Go Backpacking. But Go Backpacking is more than just a journal of his adventures – it is a site that encourages and inspires people to independently travel abroad. And with three years of blogging and over 1,000 posts, David has a lot of great content and resources to do just that.

In addition to the 20-month archive of David’s 22-country round-the-world trip, the site offers tips for budget planning, interviews with fellow travelers, book reviews, how-to articles, and news from the online travel community. He has even expanded his site to include several contributors, adding a variety of voices and experiences.

One of the most popular posts is ”Cost of a Trip Around the World”, which is usually the first concern on potential travelers minds.  And by breaking down his daily expenses by country allows future backpackers to understand where their dollar can go farther.

Another popular post is “Final Thoughts – Annapurna Sanctuary Trek” in which David offers great tips based on his experiences to anyone planning a trek in Nepal.  I did the Annapurna Circuit in 2001 and definitely agree with many of his points – although I’d like to add one. Boiled water in a nalgene bottle makes a wonderful bedtime companion. Helps to keep you warm and stays warm throughout the chilly nights!


Favorite Website: TED Talks – Ideas Worth Spreading
Thursday, January 7th, 2010

[singlepic=1636,250,,,right]In his recent guest post, Sabbaticals and the Pursuit of Happiness, Clive Prout makes reference to a video presentation on TED Talks given by Dr. Martin Seligman.

If you don’t know what TED Talks is, you should! TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. It started out as a conference bringing people together from the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design (thus, the TED). During the annual conference, attendees get to hear riveting talks (18 minutes in length) by more than 50 remarkable people.

The site TED Talks grew out of the idea to give everyone on-demand access to these most inspiring voices.

The TED content has expanded to include talks on business, science, culture, arts, and global issues. Dr. Seligman’s talk is found in the Culture section under “What Makes Us Happy”. Another notable talk in this category is by Stefan Sagmeister titled “The Power of Time Off”.

Sagmeister is a notable designer based in NYC and is also known for shutting down his shop every seven years for a year sabbatical. That’s one idea we know is worth spreading! His reasoning is that we spend the first 25 years of our lives learning, the next 40 years working, and the final 15 in retirement. He wanted to intersperse some of the retirement years within the working years.

He also recognized the value of time off to rejuvenate and refresh his creative outlook. After his first sabbatical, he found that:

  • His job became his calling again
  • Over the long term it was financially successful
  • And everything his shop designed in the seven years following the first sabbatical was originated in that year.

We highly recommend you take the 18 minutes to listen to this fascinating talk. And thank you for helping us spread the idea on career breaks and sabbaticals!

Favorite Gear: Stocking Stuffers
Thursday, December 17th, 2009

When traveling for long periods of time, it’s essential to pack as light as possible. Here is some of our favorite travel gear that we feel is essential to add to your packing list. And as a bonus, they take up little space and make great stocking stuffers for the holidays!

And by purchasing these items for you or your favorite traveler, you will be spreading glad tidings of income for us here at Briefcase to Backpack.

[singlepic=1607,100,,,left]Knirps X1 Compact Umbrella – heavy duty, but tiny for travel. Comes with hard case that’s the size of an eyeglass case!

[singlepic=1605,100,,,left]Humangear GoToob Travel Bottle – the soft squeezable tubes for bathroom products.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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