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Attend a Meet Plan Go Half Day Workshop for the Love of Travel
Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Do you love traveling so much that you dream of taking a career break to travel the world? Or maybe you want to break into the travel industry as a writer, photographer, or videographer so that you can live a life of travel. You can learn to do all of these things and more, at the NY Travel Festival April 18 – 19. It’s a full weekend of travel-industry-related talks, networking, happy hours and travel giveaways. AND NY Travel Festival is teaming up with Meet, Plan, Go! to host a four-hour workshop that will reveal wanderlust-inducing information to help get you on our way!

An intimate Meet Plan Go four-hour workshop will take place on Sunday, April 19 and cover crucial topics to the career-break traveler. Become inspired by people who have “been there” and meet and network with others with similar career-break travel goals.



Enter promo code “MPG15” to get the $75 MPG workshop/weekend ticket.


What to expect from the Meet Plan Go half-day Workshop:

• 2 – 3pm ~ Panel discussion
Learn from those who have fulfilled their own dreams of escaping their cube and traveling around the world: what they did and how they did it. Our career break veteran panel includes experts on family travel, couple travel, and solo travel.

• 3 – 4pm ~ Katie Aune
A discussion about the nuts and bolts of career break planning, including: planning your trip; budgeting/financial matters; what to do with your home and possessions; handling health/insurance matters

• 4 – 5pm ~ Sherry Ott
Learn how you can go about working on the road. Topics will include teaching ESL; freelance writing; blogging; photography; and utilizing your career background to find work or become location independent.

• 5 – 6pm ~ Breakout Q&A with all panelists/speakers
Your chance to have an extended opportunity to engage individually with the day’s speakers. Pick their brains about your specific concerns and questions, and get ideas from people who’ve been there at this speed networking hour.

Meet the Speakers & Panelists

These experts will not only provide you with inspiration by sharing their own stories, but also tips on how they did it and useful travel planning resources.

Katie-Aune-150x150Katie Aune quit her job in August 2011 to spend a year volunteering and traveling through all 15 countries of the former Soviet Union.  Her journey included running a marathon in Estonia, riding the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway, teaching English in Russia and Tajikistan, volunteering in Armenia, camping in the desert of Turkmenistan and doing her best to speak Russian on a daily basis. She returned to her hometown of Chicago in the fall of 2012 and was employed again in her previous field by the start of 2013  .She will discuss The Nuts & Bolts of Career-Break Planning.


Sherry-Ott-150x150Sherry Ott, a refugee from corporate IT, is a long-term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She has traveled around the world to over 60 countries, primarily solo, and has been living nomadically while traveling and working for over eight years to date. Sherry will share her career-break expertise in solo travel; volunteering; extended travel of a year or longer; teaching ESL; photography; working while on the road; living as an expat; and living out of a suitcase for extended periods of time.


rainerjenss-150x150Rainer Jenss, In 2008/2009, Rainer Jenss traveled around the world with his wife and two boys (ages 8 & 11) for 13 months. During that time, they visited 28 different countries and experienced the world in a hands-on, interactive way that never has been possible otherwise. Since his return, Rainer has dedicated himself to inspiring families to travel and advocated that travel be an essential part of every child’s education. As such, he is launching the Family Travel Association, which aims to create a collective and unified industry voice that will help change the way families travel – charting a path for the future generations of travelers the industry needs to cultivate.


Jane-Stanfield-150x150 Jane Stanfield has three main passions in life: travel, animals and volunteering. In 2006, after five years of knowing that she needed to do something totally different, she put her three passions together on a yearlong trip around the world. She volunteered on 12 projects in seven countries and took fantastic vacations in five others. For volunteer projects, she worked with orphans, spoke English, catalogued an elementary school library, assisted on an archaeological dig, and worked on scientific and rehabilitation projects with seven species of wildlife.


Anne-Mike-Howard-150x150Mike & Anne Howard are a pair of newlyweds who thought a ten-day honeymoon wasn’t nearly enough to celebrate a new life together. With a little bit of savings, no kids, and good health, they figured there was no better time to travel than now. So they quit their jobs, rented their apartment, and set out on a 675-day honeymoon around the world. Using Anne’s background as a magazine editor and Mike’s as a digital media strategist and photographer, they started to share their career break across six continents, 33 countries, and 302 places.

Early-bird tickets are $75 (a 25% discount!) for access to the full weekend of travel industry talks, lunches, giveaways, happy hours AND the MPG workshop. Get your tickets now as space is limited to 30 people for the career break talks!



Enter promo code “MPG15” to get the $75 MPG workshop/weekend ticket.

What else do you get from the NYTravelFest weekend?

nytf-logo-200x200Besides the Meet Plan Go half day workshop you’ll also get:

• Traveler-level admission to both Saturday and Sunday’s ($45 value) activities
• A full weekend of panels, speakers, and experiences that are designed for people who love to explore their world. Panel topics include: Affordable Luxury, NYC Travel Hotspots, The best of Locally produced alcohol (including tastings!)
• Discount Pass from NYC & Co., inc. great deals on NYC restaurants and attractions
• Entrance to contest giveaways, before and during the event
• Lunch on Sunday

Learn more at the NYTravFest FAQ’s


Who Takes a Career Break to Travel?
Thursday, November 20th, 2014

One of the goals of Meet, Plan, Go! is to show you that career break travel is a very real possibility – for everyone! There is no “typical” career breaker. You can be in your mid-twenties or early fifties. You can hit the road solo, as a couple or bring along your whole family. Want to use your career break to transition into a new career or start your own business? Great idea! Just want a break and then return to your old career? That’s fine, too!

Want to plan your<br />
own career break?
Want to plan your
own career break?

There is no right or wrong way to take a career break. Anyone can do it – it’s just a matter of setting your mind to it and making it work. 

Just ask these folks:


It’s not just cubicle-dwellers in the corporate world who feel the call of travel. Boston Meet, Plan, Go host and panel members Lillie Marshall and Catherine Cannon Francis and Chicago’s Christine Benson all left teaching careers to travel,  while San Francisco’s Molly Last hit the road after being awarded a paid sabbatical from her school district. Marshall’s break re-energized her and inspired her to return to the profession with a new found passion.

Solo Women

No one to travel with? No worries! Just ask our hosts and panelists who traveled the world on their own, but rarely feeling alone. Traveling solo as a female doesn’t have to be daunting and women like Chicago’s Lisa Lubin and Val Bromann, Minneapolis’ Katie Aune and Jill Pearson, New York’s Jannell Howell, Toronto’s Kailey Lockhart, Ayngelina Brogan and Janice Waugh and San Francisco’s Kelly Wetherington prove it.

Accidental Career Breakers

Being laid off from your job may seem like a worst-case scenario, but why not make the most of it and hit the road? That’s exactly what San Francisco’s Spencer Spellman, Boston’s Brian E. Peters, Chicago’s Leora Krause and New York’s Sheryl Neutuch did after unexpectedly losing their jobs. For all, a seemingly bad situation ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Career changers

Many career breakers return to their old careers after a break with a new energy and sense of direction. Others use their career break to change careers altogether, often ditching the corporate world for new lives as entrepreneurs, consultants, writers or permanent travelers. This was the case for New York’s Sherry Ott and Lisa Brignoni, Austin’s Keith Hajovsky and Shelley Seale, South Florida’s Matthew Goudreau and San Diego’s Kristin Zibell.

kristin zibell

Later in Life Breakers

Career breaks aren’t just for twenty- and thirty-somethings. Seattle’s Rhonda and Jim Delamater hit the road in their forties, New York’s Larissa and Michael Milne turned 50 and decided to breakaway and travel for a year and Boston’s Ellen Martyn spent her career break bicycling across the country with a group of women all over age 50!


Think having children means you can’t see the world? Think again! Our group of hosts and panelists have included a lot of traveling families – like Austin’s Tiffany and Bill Toomey, Boston’s John and Susan Battye, Chicago’s Nancy Sayre-Vogel and Minneapolis’ Dan Woychick and Jody Halsted.

All believe that travel can be the best education!

Add Antarctica and Patagonia to your Career Break!
Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Is Antarctica on your dream itinerary?

Many people use their career breaks as a time to get to all of those bucket list items that have been building up. If Antarctica or Patagonia are on your bucket list, but you don’t know how you will get there, then we may have a solution for you!

Win a trip for two to Antarctica and Patagonia!

This unique trip gives you the chance to explore the end of one continent and the beginning of another while staying warm in Colombia gear. The best of both worlds by land and sea!


Grand Prize includes:
– Roundtrip flights for two people from anywhere in the US via LAN Airlines
– 5 days/4 nights stay in the EcoCamp eco-hotel (comprised entirely of geodesic domes),
located within Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park
– 10 days aboard a Quark Expeditions Polar Adventure Ship, exploring the Antarctic peninsula
– New TurboDown gear from Colombia Sportswear to keep you warm throughout n

• Sweepstakes begins 12:01 am EDT, September 11, 2014

• Sweepstakes ends 11:59 pm EDT, September 30, 2014

You’re not just in the middle of the Antarctic sea,
you’re in the middle of your trip.

See Terms and Conditions of contest

2014 Career Break Event News
Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Accommodation Discount!

Why not use the Meet Plan Go event as an excuse for a NYC weekend getaway! If you are considering traveling in from out of town for the event, then we have a discount for you! Hosteling International NY is offering a 15% discount on stays from the 18th thru 20th. HI has a really unique space in NYC that is a must see. It was created inside an old public school building and even has something that you rarely see in NYC – a big backyard green space to hang out and enjoy the fall weather! Hosteling International has hostel rooms as well as private rooms to choose from. They also have an abundance of resources for NYC day tours and activities.

Make a reservation here

Use Discount Code: MPG2014 when you make your reservation online.

Hosteling International NYC – the home of our career break event

What to Expect from the Day:

We aren’t about pomp and circumstance – we want this to be a casual, comfortable environment for you to interact and learn.  We will begin at 11AM and kick things off with some panel discussions on how people achieved their breaks and then go into specific planning and on the road topics.  In addition we’ll be covering modes of travel (solo, family, couple).  You won’t leave with unanswered questions!  Talks will wrap up around 5:30pm and then you are welcome to stay for socializing and drinks.

Find more event information here

Lunch/drink is provided.

Get your questions answered in person!


In addition to our keynote speaker and author, Rolf Potts, we’ve put together a group of career break veterans who have expertise in all sorts of travel.

  • Lisa Lubin traveled solo on her career break and is always advocating how to find local experiences when you travel. She’ll share her knowledge on local, slow travel that takes you deeper into a destination.
  • Katie Aune also traveled solo and focused on a specific region for her career break travels. She has experience with how to find volunteering experiences, study languages, and tips on how to market your career break when you return and start job-hunting again.
  • Rainer Jenss is our family travel expert having traveled for 13 months with his family (boys 8 & 11). He will provide tips on how to travel with kids and as well as a significant other!
  • Jane Stanfield focused her break on volunteering around the world. She will help you sort out the confusing process of how to find a volunteer program that is right for you or simply put together an itinerary with purpose.
  • Tamara Lee just got off the plane and back into NYC after her 8 month career break. She’ll have recent tips about what it’s like to save and plan for taking the trip and how to adjust to life on the road.
  • Sherry Ott has been working on the road now for 7 years and will share tips on how you can craft a location independent lifestyle or slow down and consider expat life, or teach ESL.

Learn more about our speakers here

All of our speakers have completed their career breaks and have a wealth of information and advice to share on budgeting, the nitty gritty planning process, and itinerary building as you learn how they did it. Each story is a little different providing you a wealth of information and advice that you can take home with you to begin planning or put the finishing touches on your itinerary. The speakers as well as other career break veterans will be available throughout the day to get to know personally and ask questions of.

We Guarantee It!

This day of learning and inspiration is for those who are serious about exploring taking a break. We want the people who attend the event to GO! We believe so strongly in the value of long-term travel and Career Breaks in people’s lives. If you book, come to the event, and if you don’t not feel that it was worth it after the event is over, we will refund 100% of your ticket fee (Including the part that Eventbrite takes!)

Are you considering attending the event? What would you most like to hear about? Please share in the comments.

Join us on September 20th in NYC!


Career Break Event News
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

We are getting all geared up for the upcoming 2014 Career Break Event in NYC. Here’s a few updates on the latest developments!

Oh the People You’ll Meet!

Keynote speaker, Rolf Potts

We are excited to announce that Author and long term travel expert, Rolf Potts, will be joining us for the event keynote! We sort of look at Rolf as the pioneer of introducing long-term, independent travel to the US audience as he wrote one of the first books on the subject in 2003, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.

When he took off to travel the world in 1994, it was quite a unique adventure. He had many of the same fears we have today, “I was worried that long-term travel would be too expensive, too difficult, too dangerous. It turned out to be none of those things, and the more I did it, the better I got at it. “ he explained. However he goes on to say that his travel experiences yielded some surprise benefits, “In addition to the deep experiential education that long-term travel provides, one of the surprising benefits was its sustainability. When I took my first vagabonding journey 20 years ago I thought it would be my last chance to travel in earnest before I entered the professional world. As it turned out, I’ve been able to take numerous long-term journeys over the years, in tandem with (and rarely at odds with) my work as a writer and teacher.”

He has now incorporated travel into his life and his adventures have taken him across six continents, and include piloting a fishing boat 900 miles down the Laotian Mekong, hitchhiking across Eastern Europe, traversing Israel on foot, bicycling across Burma, driving a Land Rover across South America, and traveling around the world for six weeks with no luggage or bags of any kind. (How’s that for a packing challenge!)

Rolf’s newest book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations From One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer, was the first American-authored book to win Italy’s prestigious Chatwin Prize for travel writing. He has lectured at venues around the world, including New York University, the University of Lugano, the University of Melbourne, Authors@Google, Yale University. Though he rarely stays in one place for more than a few weeks or months, Potts feels somewhat at home in Bangkok, Cairo, Pusan, New York, New Orleans, and north-central Kansas, where he keeps a small farmhouse on 30 acres near his family. Each July he can be found in France, where he is the summer writer-in-residence and program director at the Paris American Academy.

Rolf in Ethiopia

We are excited to have Rolf share his abundance of travel experience and advice with you September 20th!

Not only will you meet travel veterans like Rolf (see our list of other speakers here), but you’ll also get exposed to people like you – people who are contemplating their first big trips. One of our most important goals for the conference is to connect you, the attendee, with other like-minded people who share your same goal. When embarking on an endeavor of this magnitude, support from like-minded people is one of the most important things you can have.

Small group discussions occurring at past events.

So come ready to listen AND talk. This is not an event where we’ll simply be shelling out information; you can get that on the internet if that’s what you want. This is an event that will help connect you with people like yourself. And definitely be ready to be inspired to take your next steps – wherever you are in the process.

Traveling with Purpose
Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Why Water? Because unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

I am revisiting one of my favorite countries from my initial career break – colorful, loud, sense-tingling India. India is a country which was pivotal to leading me on the path to creating Meet Plan Go along with Michaela Potter. It was also a country where I had my first experience of volunteering and giving back to the world for what it gave me during my career break.

One of the most exciting and difficult parts of planning a career break is deciding where to go and what to do. After all, it may be the first time in your life where the world is really your oyster! At Meet Plan Go we talk often about planning itineraries with purpose and your career in mind. How will you decide to enhance your career value while on your career break?

Traveling with a purpose can bring focus to your trip and add new skill sets to your career break resume – for example:

“I spearheaded negotiations with tribal chief and facilitated a young couple’s marriage with the chief’s blessing and a roast goat for the whole village.” –Charlie Grosso

Even though this is a bit tongue and cheek, there are many ways to add purpose to your career break – volunteering, learning a language, enhancing a skill, photography projects, immersion in a country that is important to your career, working in natural disaster areas, teaching, or fundraising for a cause.

I’m in India for a purpose. The aforementioned Charlie Grosso and I are participating in the Rickshaw Run. This is not an actual run, but a transportation adventure in the most massive sense; a two week adventure driving a motorized rickshaw 2000 miles the length of India for two purposes.

To raise $15,000 for charity: water – a charity I believe deeply in and have witnessed the repercussions of contaminated water around the world.
• To experience India close to the ground on a massive adventure that is unique and will test my communication, decision making, and driving skills.

This is a way I can infuse unique adventure into my travel itinerary as well as participate in a worthy career-enhancing cause AND do good.  After traveling the world for 7+ years and starting Meet Plan Go as well as – I think it’s important to give something back to this world that we live, travel, and operate in. I’m happy to be taking on this fundraising mission for everything the world and its cultures has given to me.

If Meet Plan Go has ever inspired you to travel, then we’d love your support towards our fundraising mission, but we’d also like to give you something in return – the chance to win a few great travel prizes you can use on your career break travels.

Learn more and enter the contest here

The raffle runs through the time frame of our Rickshaw Run, April 1st through April 22nd. We will choose 4 winners from the entries for the 4 prizes.

Increase your chances of winning by making a donation to charity: water

Here’s the travel prizes you could win by entering:

Urban Adventures Voucher for 2 – The day tour with a difference! In just a few hours you can get under the skin of the city you’re visiting – so you know it like a local. Urban Adventures will open up a whole new dimension on many of your favorite cities around the world. Destinations worldwide – Bangkok, Sydney, Delhi, Hanoi, Rio, Hong Kong, Istanbul and MANY more!

Telecom Square Mobile Internet Voucher – Get reliable, and hassle free internet while you travel abroad! Save money on data while traveling by using TelecomSquare mobile internet hotspot devices for your career break. You’ll enjoy unlimited wireless internet access for up to 5 devices, everywhere you go. We are using our Mifi device to stay connected during the Rickshaw Run!

London’s Small Car Bit City Voucher – smallcarBIGCITY have a fleet of beautifully restored vintage Mini Coopers to take you down all of the little back streets and show off London’s hidden gems for the ultimate guided tour of London!

AFAR Magazine Subscription – Get inspired with beautifully told travel stories and photography in this award winning travel magazine.

You can enter the Rickshaw Run Travel Raffle Here

And if you are considering infusing some adventure into your career break itinerary like the Rickshaw Run or Mongol Rally, you can follow #RickshawRun in Twitter or my Ottsworld social media to follow us live across India and see if it’s something you’d like to do!

No donations or purchases necessary…but of course we’d love it if you do donate something AND it increases your chances of winning by 10 times!

Career Breaks Are Coming to Texas
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

This isn’t exactly Texas – but this is a former Texan in Patagonia on Career Break!

Yeehaw! We are excited to let you know that career breaks are coming to Texas this Feb/March. Our friend, veteran career breaker, and author – Jeff Jung – is doing a career break road show in his home state of Texas. If you are contemplating a break, then this event may just be the push that you need to make it happen!

We first met Jeff in 2008 when we started Meet Plan Go when he had just finished his career break travels and had settled in Colombia. He left a fantastic but crazy consulting-turned-corporate-marketing career to take a career break and learn Spanish fluently in South America, see magnificent sunsets and sunrises in far flung places, and learn to ski (at the age of 36!).

“Brave and crazy. That’s what people said about me when I told them I was leaving my corporate job, packing up, selling off my stuff, and heading out to travel the world. That was in 2006. Years later, I don’t regret the decision one bit. I got my life back,” said Jeff of his career break travels.

This career break veteran status made him the perfect Austin Meet Plan Go! host for the 2010 and 2011 MPG events. He continues to be a huge proponent of the career break and sabbatical movement.

Meet Plan Go has partnered with Jeff to hold two travel events in Texas during his Because Life is Out There Tour. The events are for people who are interested in taking a break from their normal life to go abroad for a few months.

San Antonio

Saturday February 22nd from 4 to 5PM

Buy Tickets Here


Saturday March 1st from 3 to 4PM

Buy Tickets Here

These hour-long sessions will walk people through Jeff’s “Peace of Mind” planning process and take people through the career break lifecycle: Dreaming, Planning, Traveling and Reentry. Jeff will cover important topics like how to leave your job, how to budget, how to plan your itinerary and how to reenter once you’re back from your big trip. He’ll also deal with sensitive issues like how to ¨come out¨ to your friends and family and share your news with them. “People should come ready to put pen to paper. These sessions will be interactive and we’ll start applying the planning principles at the session.”

Included in the $29.99 ticket price is a copy of Jeff’s book, The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook! “With their outline in hand, participants can use my book to hash out the details of their plan and discover what other resources exist that can help them.” Says Jeff.

We are excited to be teaming up with Jeff in this endeavor! There are limited resources out there for career break travel, and we feel that Jeff’s book, website, and travel show are some of best available. Go see him in Texas this Feb/March!

3 Women, 3 Trips Inspired by Meet, Plan, Go
Monday, February 25th, 2013

Back in the fall of 2010, three future career breakers’ lives converged.  Shortly after attending Meet, Plan, Go! events in September 2010, Katie Aune, Val Bromann and Jannell Howell signed up for our Career Break Basic Training course and set the gears in motion for nearly simultaneous trips around the world.

Each woman’s trip was sparked by a strong desire to travel and see more of the world than they had in the past, with major birthday milestones factoring in as well: Val bought her one way ticket on her 30th birthday, Katie hopped a one-way flight to Helsinki on her 35th birthday and Jannell wanted to travel as a way to celebrate turning 40.

Val departed in July 2011 and traveled for 15 months before heading back home to Chicago in October 2012. Starting in Berlin, she stopped in Poland, Belgium, Spain and Turkey before moving on to Southeast Asia, where she spent the bulk of her trip exploring Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The highlight of her trip was learning to surf in Bali. “I fell every single time, banged my knee, and could hardly even stand up on the board,” says Val. “But at the same time, I was having an amazing time. Surfing was something I had always wanted to do, and it was so much fun…even when I was falling.

Jannell traveled from January to November 2012, making a few stops in the United States before heading to Tokyo, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Dubai, London, Rome, Spain and then back to the U.S. She counts among her trip highlights walking around the Taj Mahal at dawn, riding a camel in the desert, eating Momos made with buffalo meat, looking out from the world’s tallest building and finding complete bliss in the English countryside.

Katie took an unusual route on her trip, focusing on the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union. Departing in August 2011, she spent the next 13 months visiting Finland, Russia, the Baltics, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, the Caucasus, Italy, Turkey, Central Asia and Spain, before finally returning to the United States at the end of September 2012. Her favorite moments included running a marathon in Estonia, hiking in Siberia, teaching English in Tajikistan, camping among Silk Road ruins in Turkmenistan and joining a pilgrimage to an underground mosque in Kazakhstan.

None of the three trips was without its struggles, although most were limited to fleeting feelings of homesickness or exhaustion from being on the move too quickly. Jannell explains, “[a]fter being on the go for about two months, with no stay longer than 4 nights and often being in transit overnight, I felt exhausted. I was able to rejuvenate by staying put for a while, being alone with sightseeing kept to a minimum.”  For Katie, her lowest point may have been at the beginning of her trip when she started a volunteer homestay program in Russia, living in difficult conditions with a family that didn’t seem to care she was there.  Val’s low point came when her hostel in the Philippines was robbed:

All of mine that was taken was the charger to my laptop (luckily the computer itself was locked up, I had just neglected the chord), but some new friends had lost phones or their laptops. It made me feel so vulnerable and unsafe. For the next few days none of us could shake it. Luckily, with the help of some tracking software he’d installed, one of my friends was able to track down the thief and got his stuff back.

All three women credit Meet, Plan, Go! with making their trips possible.  “Before attending Meet, Plan, Go, I didn’t know anyone who had traveled long-term,” says Katie. “All of a sudden here were all these people who had done it and it became so much more real. Within six months of attending that first event, I had set my departure date.

Likewise, Jannell says “Meet, Plan, Go introduced me to many different travelers – both those in the planning stages of their first journey and those that had been traveling for years.  Before making those connections, I felt alone in my travel goals and less confident about my plans.

For Val, Meet, Plan, Go! provided both inspiration and resources, inspiring her to expand her original Europe-focused itinerary to include Asia and offering much-needed information on tricky topics like health insurance.

So what’s next for these world travelers?

Katie has settled back in Chicago, working in her previous field of alumni relations and development and enjoying the opportunity to rediscover a city she loves. She continues to write about her trip and re-entry experience at Katie Going Global. Val also landed back in Chicago, but only temporarily. She will hit the road again in mid-March, this time heading to Central America to learn Spanish and continue her career break for at least another six months. You can follow her adventures on Jannell has relocated to New York City, where she is working on launching a new business, Your Digital Marketer, pursuing a location independent lifestyle and continuing to blog at Travel Junkie’s World Tour.

How to Safely Travel Solo on Your Career Break
Monday, February 11th, 2013

The recent death of a New York mother, Sarai Sierra, while traveling in Istanbul has led to scrutiny over whether it is safe for women to travel solo. Many comments on articles about the incident have asked why Sierra was traveling alone or have stated strongly that women should not travel on their own overseas.

Obviously, here at Meet, Plan, Go! we support, and even encourage everyone to travel solo – male and female. We also understand that incidents like the killing in Istanbul or the recent gang rape in Delhi, India, raise questions for individuals who may be considering traveling solo on their career break – especially if they have not previously traveled alone. To that end, we’d like to share five safety tips to keep in mind as you set out on your journey.

1. Let someone know where you’re going.

If you have a fixed itinerary, give it to friends and family before leaving, including information about where you are staying and any planned activities. On the other hand, if you tend to travel more spur of the moment, keep loved ones updated through social media – email, tweet or update your status on Facebook to let people know where you are and what you’re doing. Also take a minute to register with the U.S. State Department so they know you are in the country in case of political unrest or natural disasters.

2. Dress appropriately.

Women should be careful to dress conservatively in countries with more conservative cultures. Covering shoulders and knees and avoiding low-cut or tight clothing will help to defray unwanted attention from men and will help you blend in more.  Furthermore, both men and women are less likely to stand out as tourists by dressing as the locals do and by not wearing expensive watches or other jewelry that thieves might target.

3. Expect to be safe

This doesn’t mean be naïve or oblivious to the risks – it means adjusting your attitude so you expect good things to happen as you travel, making decisions to maximize your safety and exuding confidence. As Lash World Tour explains:

[I]magine a different traveler who goes out into the world nervous, scared, worried about their safety. What kind of body postures, facial expressions, eye expressions, and vibe do you think they’re going to exude? Do you think people -particularly importantly here ‘bad’ people- are going to pick up on that, either consciously or subconsciously? Of course they are. Will that traveler seem vulnerable, an easy target? Quite likely.

4. Do your research

While some travel tips are universal, others may be specific to certain cities or countries. Refer to guidebooks, online travel forums or even simple Google searches to find out what neighborhoods you should avoid in your destination. Likewise, read up on what typical scams might so you know what to watch out for. Understand what the cultural norms are in the countries you are visiting so you don’t inadvertently offend someone with your actions.

5. Talk to locals and make friends.

As children, we are often taught not to talk to strangers. And when you are traveling alone in an unfamiliar place, it may be tempting to keep your guard way up in an effort to protect yourself. But to do so would be to miss out on one of the best aspects of traveling – meeting people! Not to mention, when you make friends wherever you are traveling, those people can advise you about where to go and what to avoid. More importantly, your new friends are more likely to look out for you if something goes wrong.

For more safety tips and perspective, see Travel Tips and Safety Advice For Your Career Break, as well as these posts from top female travel bloggers:

Breathedreamgo: Why we need the WeGoSolo movement, Top safety tips for women in India (and elsewhere) and Commentary on travelling safely in India

Solitary Wanderer: 5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

Legal Nomads: Revisiting the Solo Female Travel Experience and Solo Female Travel, Trust and the Art of Fitting In

Twenty-Something Travel: Solo Female Travel is NOT the Problem and Experiencing the World through a Female Lens.

A Dangerous Business: Dear Dad: Please Don’t Worry (A Treatise on Solo Female Travel)

Journeywoman: She Travels Solo

Adventurous Kate: The Truth About Solo Female Travel and Safety

Travel Yourself: Yes, It is Safe to Travel Solo as a Female

Katie Going Global: No, It’s Not Stupid to Travel Solo

Flora The Explorer: Happy, Safe and Solo: Travelling in India by Yourself

Hole In The Donut Cultural Travel: Traveling Safely

Solo Traveler: Am I the Pollyanna of Solo Travel?

Grrrl Traveler: Is Solo Travel Still Safe for Women? …6 Safety Tips that make it so.

LashWorldTour: Travel Safety Tips: How to Travel Safely pt 1 – Attitude and Travel Safety Tips: How to Travel Safely pt 2 – Education

WAVEJourneyWomen’s Adventures, Vacations & Experiences!: Travel Tips: Female Solo Travel Safety

Also be sure to follow the #WeGoSolo hashtag on Twitter and join the conversation this Wednesday, February 13, 11-11:30 a.m. EST.

Review: The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook
Thursday, January 31st, 2013

When Meet, Plan, Go! co-founders Michaela Potter and Sherry Ott took career breaks to travel several years ago, the term “career break” wasn’t even common lingo yet. And there certainly weren’t many, if any, resources, advising them about how to prepare to take a year or more off from work to see the world.

Times have changed and there are an increasing number of resources out there for those who dream of escaping the cubicle – from negotiating a sabbatical to downsizing your belongings to seeing the world by housesitting. And a new book by former career breaker Jeff Jung aims to provide an overall roadmap for taking a career break to travel.

Jung, the founder of Career Break Secrets, recently published The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook, one of five books in the new Traveler’s Handbooks series from several notable travel bloggers.  He was kind enough to send us a copy so we could provide a preview for our readers.

There was a lot to like about The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook.  It was well organized and Jung opened it by explaining how his own personal situation led him to take a break. From there, he provides a bit of a pep talk, explaining that taking a break to travel is not selfish and can be done, despite the naysayers.

The real heart of the book comes in the planning section. Jung lays out a lot of information in the form of bullet-pointed lists of things to consider. He definitely touched on a few things that many people may not think of – like obtaining repatriation insurance and creating a will and living will in case anything happens to you.  He also provided some good tips about finding information and making connections before you go, like using Google to search for blogs, specific Twitter hashtags to search for and Twitter chats to participate in. Jung tells you everything you need to think about, but mostly stops there, leaving you with more research to do.

The third section focuses on making the most of your career break trip and again, Jung includes some great ideas, ranging from volunteering to educational courses to active endeavors.  He also provides some examples of epic journeys to undertake, like hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain or the Lycian Way in Turkey. Finally, Jung touches on re-entry, where he gives an overview of things to think about as you return and look to get back into the 9-to-5 world, like updating your resume, explaining your travel to potential employers and budgeting for the time it takes you to find a job.

The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook provides a good checklist of things to consider when taking a career break to travel.  If you are just starting to think about making an escape or are in the early planning stages, it can be a great resource to get you started!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go