Life On-the-Road

A Travelers Guide to Watching TV Shows & Movies Abroad
Thursday, March 28th, 2013

With access to the internet in many parts of the globe, it’s easier to stay connected with friends, family, . . . and your favorite TV shows.  Unfortunately, blocked content (due to licensing agreements) is a common problem for travelers when out of their home country.  Luckily, I found a little known site, called, which allows me to access TV shows without having to deal with blocked content problems.  There is also a trick with Amazon Instant Video to watch a movie when away from wifi.  I admit, sometimes I skirt legalities by unblocking content with the use of a web proxy, because having the ability to watch my favorite TV shows and various movies is a small luxury to have while on the road.

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Best site for TV shows is my favorite streaming content site.  On my last count, they offered 780 TV shows; everything from drama, comedy, action, sci-fi, reality, and animation – even old, discontinued shows!   Not only do they provide unblocked content, but has the best pricing with a non-expiring, pay-as-you go membership instead of a monthly fee; perfect for those on a limited budget.  Their website is a bit unorthodox with the process of purchasing ‘F$’ credits and then exchanging them for points to be used to watch shows, but otherwise pretty simple to use. only offers TV shows, so you’ll have to find other options if you want to watch movies during your travels.

Best site for movies

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has also jumped onto the streaming content bandwagon.  Amazon Instant Video does offer TV show episodes, but it is my ‘go-to’ source for renting premium movie titles.  Movie rentals cost approximately $2.99 – $4.99 US and will stay active up to 30 days; however, once you start the movie you’ll have 48-hours to finish it.  Amazon allows you to download your rental onto certain mobile devices so that they can be watched without the need for internet access.  I’ve used this trick to load my Kindle with movies to enjoy during long flights and train rides.  If you travel out of your home country and wish to watch your rental on your computer, you may need to use a web proxy as the video might be blocked.

Using a web proxy

The use of a web proxy is simply to tell the internet that your computer is located in a particular country/location.  Using a web proxy to access blocked content from your own home country for your private viewing is one thing, but using a proxy to watch videos licensed in a different country than your own is bordering on illegal, so please be mindful.

There are oodles of proxy options available. The service I use is Hide My Ass (seriously, that’s their name) as they offer a free proxy to hide my computers actual location as well as encrypt my browsing history.  HMA’s web proxy can show my computer as home and allow me to watch my Netflix movies, documentaries, and special events without running into content blocking problems.  Read more about web proxies towards the end of this FoxNomad article.

More and more streaming content options continue to become available, such as Hulu, Crackle, Slingbox, even sites for sporting events! With the use of a web proxy, ‘internet-free’ movies from Amazon, or pay-as-you-go TV shows from, travelers have ways to kill time during a layover or reconnect with a bit of home.

Jannell Howell recently returned from an around-the-world journey that took her through many countries including Thailand, India, the U.A.E., and Europe. Before she left, Jannell discovered a love of researching travel-related gear & services and shared her favorite finds on her blog, Traveljunkie’s World Tour. Jannell will soon relocate to New York City and continue to pursue a location independent lifestyle.

Going Local on Your Trip
Thursday, March 21st, 2013

One of the best parts of taking a career break trip is getting the opportunity to go local in a destination. When we’re grinding away at the 9-5’s and take our one or two weeks of vacation each year, it’s extremely difficult to really dig into a culture – for several reasons.

1. Time: Learning about a new culture and its people takes time. And traveling in a destination for a week or two rarely affords us the time to really get to know a place.

2. Priority: Often digging into a culture isn’t on the top of our priority list when taking a vacation. We are tired and just want to relax during the little time off we get – which is perfectly reasonable.

But taking extended time off for a career break will afford you that opportunity.

BootsnAll hosts a chat every Wednesday afternoon (3:30 EST) on Twitter entitled #RTWchat, and this past week’s chat was all about going local. They also do a corresponding video chat with a few guests, and they invited one of Meet, Plan, Go!’s co-founder, Sherry Ott, along with LL World Tour’s Lisa Lubin, to give their expertise on what it means to Go Local. Check out the video and the following resources to see how you can best connect with locals during your career break trip!

Read the following articles to learn more about going local on your trip:

Volunteering in Dangerous Places: Beirut, Lebanon
Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Without a doubt, Lebanon is one of the most complex countries I’ve visited. On one hand, you have the cosmopolitan capital, complete with a seaside Corniche, trendy restaurants, high-end shopping, and colorful street performers. On the other, Lebanon offers a glimpse of an ancient rural life that still exists throughout much of the Middle East.

About a year and a half ago, I was invited to Beirut to work with the nonprofit organization Baladi. The organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting Lebanon’s heritage to youngsters by encouraging students to learn about their country’s cultural diversity and works to foster mutual understanding between communities. Baladi sees Lebanon’s shared culture as one way to peacefully address regional conflict.

For my Lebanon visit, I accompanied my close Egyptian friend Inji, whom I met volunteering in Cairo the year before. She introduced me to her friends and colleagues in the country. I was most grateful for this personal introduction to a fascinating country.

In addition to the diversity of landscapes, I found the people and the cultures of the region incredibly absorbing (justifying Baladi’s great pride in their indigenous communities). Here’s a snapshot of my impressions during my short time spent in this most remarkable country.

City Life in Beirut

While staying in Beirut, we shuttled between our apartment in the city’s center to the suburban residence of Joanne, Baladi’s founder and CEO. It was here in Joanne’s home that we did the bulk of our volunteer work of providing philanthropic business development and fundraising advice. (Nonprofit development is my profession in the U.S., and I often provide pro bono consulting during my overseas volunteer stints.)

One of the advantages of meeting in a private home is the ability to see a modern-Lebanese lifestyle up-close. Our friend Joanne lived with her extended family in a stylish apartment with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. I got the chance to meet her charming husband and her children.

I especially enjoyed meeting Joanne’s mother. Our conversation was a bit stilted, with Joanne translating for me, but upon my departure she gave me a blessing to protect me during my onward travels. Looking back, I credit these heart-felt good wishes as one reason I survived my 2-year journey relatively unscathed.

As peaceful as the Beirut suburbs are, the reality of the country’s ongoing political conflict is never far away.  During our city stay, there were three incidents that reminded me I was in a country that continues to experience deep and long-running political tension:

  • – After dinner one night, Inji and I were walking back to our apartment we heard a series of loud shots. We were uncertain if the noise was fireworks or gunshots or an incoming missile. We took cover under an apartment overhang, just to be on the safe side.
  • – Driving to meet a potential donor, we made it through the city in record time. The reason? Traffic was light because there was a bomb scare. (I, of course, was wondering why we were still out and about when everyone else had retreated inside.)
  • – While strolling through the winding streets, Inji pointed out the main headquarters of Hezbollah, a Shi’a Islamic militant group and political party which is based in Lebanon. I kept my head down and eyes averted as we walked past the guards stationed outside.

Road-Trip Lebanon

After a few days of intense work, Joanne arranged for several of her Baladi guides to give us a 2-day tour of northern Lebanon as a thank you gift. This was an extraordinarily generous offer, and I cherished the opportunity to be shown the country by these trained historians and local experts. Highlights included:

  • Bekaa Valley:  Here we visited a Druze temple, came across an itinerant Bedouin family living out of a wagon, and hiked through the fertile valley observing the natural wildlife and beauty of this biblical valley.
  • Baalbek: Formerly known as Heliopolis during the Roman period, Baalbek is an extremely well-preserved example of a temple compound from these ancient Roman times. Baalbek is also a Hezbollah stronghold, as evidence from the black flags and pictures of Syrian President Assad lining the streets, political murals on the walls surrounding the Roman ruins, and loudspeakers blaring revolutionary music outside a Lebanese military base.
  • Mount Lebanon: This mountain range which includes the highest mountain in the Middle East is covered in snow 4-6 months out of the year. I admit, I was dumbfounded to still see traces of snow on the ground in June. The mountains are also the known for their famous groves of cedar, Lebanon’s national symbol.
  • Maronite Village: We spent the night here in a village nestled high on the mountains. In the morning we visited several ornate orthodox churches and observed the caves carved into the rugged mountainscape that were sanctuaries for monks seeking complete solitude. With more than 3 million Maronites (about 22% of the population), Lebanon retains a distinctive Maronite character.
  • Tripoli: The country’s second largest city, Tripoli was founded as long ago at 12th century B.C. and has a large Sunni majority (as evidenced by the preponderance of abayas and head scarves worn by the women).  It was here that I had the best meal of my entire 2-year trip, a hand-made feast of full of lively mint and lemon flavors.

Quintessential Volunteer Experience

Even though the country might be in the midst of fluctuating degrees of conflict and unrest, it still provided me with a wonderful volunteer experience.  In fact, as I look back, my quick trip to Lebanon was the ultimate volunteer experience, affording me the opportunity to:

  • – Do some good by lending my business development skills to a worthwhile nonprofit doing important work on conflict reconciliation in the region.
  • – Visit and learn about a country I wouldn’t have necessarily traveled to on my own.
  • – Benefit from a personal tour of the country to see first-hand the richness of the culture and the physical beauty of the landscape.
  • – Make friends with local Lebanese, providing me with a window into their lives and some insight on the challenges they experience each day.
  • – Push my limits of where I felt comfortable in terms of physical safety and erode some lingering stereotypes about Arab countries.

Volunteering in Lebanon opened up a new frontier for me and helped me put into context the struggles that we hear so much about through the news. I consider myself truly lucky to have had this wonderful volunteer experience.

To read more about volunteering and travel in Lebanon, check out the following articles:

A former finance executive, Erin Michelson is now an “Adventure Philanthropist,” who recently completed a two-year global giving adventure, visiting all 7 continents and exploring 60 countries. Volunteering with global non-profit organizations along the way, Erin helped build a house in the Philippines, a well in rural Uganda, and a library in northern Laos, sponsored secondary school education for a young woman in India and helped provide self-defense training for young girls in Israel.  Read more about her experiences on Go Erin Go or follow her on Twitter @GoErinGo.

Photo credits: Lebnen18, all other photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

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.


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.


Dealing with Tragedy Back Home
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

It’s every travelers worst nightmare – what do you do if tragedy strikes back home while you are on the road? You can never predict when illness or death may occur, nor should you let the anticipation of those events prevent you from traveling. It’s a situation you can never quite prepare for, but a conversation definitely worth having before you leave.

Amy Sutter shares with us how she and her husband Keith determined in advance what plan of action they might take if someone in their family fell ill, and how they inevitably had to put it into action.

Dealing with Tragedy

Nine thousand five hundred twenty-four miles. That is approximately the distance we were from home when we got the news that turned our world upside-down. We were about to go to sleep, only our second night in our campervan, mere meters from the ocean in Kurrimine Beach, Queensland, Australia. We had no internet and no international cell phone service, and it had been a few days since we last got in touch with anyone back home.


On the Road: Safety Concerns
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Safety is a valid concern when traveling abroad for any length of time. And with the latest travel warnings, even the most intrepid traveler may be a bit intimidated. But in a society that focuses so heavily on the negative (especially in the news), how concerned should you be? And should you let such warnings, and the concerns of family and friends, stop you from pursuing your travel dreams?

MPGNYC Panelists
Our New York City panel for Meet, Plan, Go! share how they approached safety concerns during their own travels.

Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday)
The world is an amazingly safe place and the greatest practical danger travelers face in 99% of the world is having their possessions stolen. The unfamiliar is often scary–heck the first week of college is scary–but it is almost always a fear of the unknown rather than a marker of actual danger. Even for solo travelers. Even for women.

Jennifer Baggett (The Lost Girls)
One thing I always say when asked about safety abroad is that during the entire year I was on the road (which included notoriously dangerous locations such as Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi), I only experienced one non-threatening attempted pick pocket incident and a crazy cab driver trying to cheat us with a rigged meter. Whereas in NYC, I’ve had my wallet stolen out of my bag two times, punched by a homeless guy and been jumped in an all out fight on the street with two crazy drug addicts. Not to mention that I grew up not too far from Baltimore and Washington D.C. where there was no short of very violent crimes.

And of course after having been to so many places abroad and seeing firsthand how much safer it is than people think, it’s almost mind blowing how many misconceptions there are about international travel. Although considering that places such as India, Africa, Asia and the Middle East aren’t typical tourist destinations for Americans it’s understandable why there are so many perceived fears of the unknown. But like many places in the States as long as you keep your wits about you and make smart, common sense decisions (keep an eye on your stuff, don’t wander off down a dark alley alone or go to notoriously bad neighborhoods at night), you’re likely going to be just as safe abroad as you are at home. Especially since often times people are just after your money and don’t actually intend to do you harm.


Traveling with Medications
Monday, October 11th, 2010

A valid concern when traveling is the thought of  getting sick. But what if you already live with a chronic condition – one that requires you to be continually on medication? Should that prevent you from following your extended travel dreams? Jenny Leonard of Where Is Jenny? shares tips on how she is able to travel long-term while on medication.

[singlepic=1885,350,,,right]I started my location independent graphic design business straight out of college so that I could pursue my dreams in whatever way I wanted to at any given time. For a while it was racing competitive motocross (2000-2003), then it was volunteering in Vanuatu (2006), then backpacking South America (2008-2009), and now I’m going to sell everything I own to travel indefinitely (Jan 2011). My business was less than a year old in 2003 when I was involved in a serious car accident. After several surgeries, procedures, and years of physical therapy I finally found a doctor whom worked closely with me to find a solution. As a result I attend pain management every month and take a cocktail of medications daily (including Schedule II narcotics) to alleviate my symptoms.

Medication and medical care is easy to take care of if you live in one place and see the same doctor every month. It quickly becomes tricky when you hit the road for an extended or open-ended period of time. I’ve found it very difficult to find good information on the web surrounding this topic so I’m going to detail how I’ve addressed traveling around the world for extended periods of time with prescription medication.

The most important link that helps make extended travel even an option for me is my doctor. My doctor understands that the decisions I make in life are mine and that only I can make risk assessment choices, not him. Therefore, he doesn’t sit around and lecture me on how skateboarding will make my injury worse, but rather helps me continue doing an activity that makes me happy. If your doctor is giving you a hard time about what you’re doing in life whether it’s skateboarding or traveling the world, shop around. It took visiting dozens of doctors before I found one that I’m thrilled with. I found many to be traditional, conservative, and judgmental towards my unconventional life. They also didn’t give me the treatment I deserved because of it. The doctor’s job is to support and give you the tools and resources you need to live the life you want to live. Don’t settle for less.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go