Life On-the-Road

Hostel Tips for Career Breakers
Monday, August 16th, 2010

It was one month into my 15 month career break and for the first time I was alone. I had the first month to ease into travels first with my friends, next with my sister; but now I stood in front of the hostel in Capetown as my sister pulled away in the taxi.

[singlepic=1443,275,,,right]I was nervous, very nervous; this was going to be my first hostel stay in my entire 36 years of life. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with fears – fears I would meet no one, fears it would be uncomfortable, fears I would be the oldest person there, fears I was somehow going backwards in my life. After all, the last time I stayed in a shared sleeping arrangement (dorm) I was in college. However, I knew that if I were going to travel for 15 months, I would need to overcome those fears.

And I did…only to come to realize how irrational those fears were.

Hostels are a great option for career breakers of all ages, and more people then you think are utilizing them to keep expenses down, and provide social outlets as part of their career breaks. If you are like me and have never stayed in a hostel before because you think they are just for young partying backpacker types, then prepare to have that myth shattered.

Before you start your career break here are some strategies for easing into hostels as an accommodation for the first time.

Take a Test Run

You’d never buy a car without driving it first – so why not use that same idea and give hostels a test run? You don’t have to be out of the country to try out a hostel; did you know that there are many, many great hostels in the US? I recommend on your next short trip, instead of booking yourself into a Marriott or Holiday Inn, check out Hostelling International USA and see if there’s a hostel in your destination. This is a great chance to try one on and see what you can expect. Some of the hostels in San Francisco , New York City , Chicago,  and Martha’s Vineyardare in amazing locations with great facilities. You’ll find the staff is very knowledgeable about the tourist attractions, and you’ll probably save half the money you would have spent on a hotel to be used at a fabulous restaurant instead!


How Long-Term Travel Strengthens Relationships
Monday, July 19th, 2010

Betsy Talbot of Married with Luggage ponders how long-term travel can strengthen a relationship as she is about to embark on her journey with her husband, Warren.

Can you imagine being with your partner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a whole year or more? (You, in the back, do you need a paper bag? Breathe in, breathe out.)

Travelers who embark on long-term trips dream of the excitement of new places, recapturing the romance in their relationships, and discovering new things about each other. Still others worry that minor personality conflicts will turn into big fights with too much time together. You know what? Both sides are right.

Warren and I have spent the last two years planning and saving for our upcoming trip around the world. We’ve learned to live with a pretty tight budget, let go of material possessions, and become fairly Zen about the whole quitting-your-job-without-a-backup-plan thing.

But how are we – two type-A people with different opinions on a lot of things – going to fare on the road? We asked some seasoned travelers for their tips.

Lee and Sachi LeFeverLee is a pretty brave guy when it comes to relationships. Not only did he and his wife Sachi travel for a year together, they also work together every day at Common Craft and they recently did an extensive remodel on their home. This is a couple with some experience to share:

“Relationships sometimes live or die based on a couple’s ability to make decisions. It’s hard enough in normal life to deal with coming to consensus on something as simple as dinner plans. Travel puts these decision points into overdrive. You wake up in a new city and have to decide your way through. From the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep, your day is filled with finding food, activities and rest with little to go on but a guidebook and advice from friends. It can be really stressful. Add some heat, hunger and a little attitude and it can be explosive.


How To Find a Job While on a Career Break
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

“What are you going to do when you come back?” said my friend with her head tilted sideways; a concerned and perplexed look on her face.

I felt like this scene was a video caught in a loop as I planned my career break for the year leading up to my departure. It was nice that everyone was concerned about my well-being, but every time someone asked that question, it tied my stomach in yet another knot.

I didn’t know the beauty of ‘not knowing’ then. I was still in my ‘I must be in control’ mode. Slowly my traveling career break peeled away each hyper-planning layer of my personality and left me with delicious ambiguity.

It was that delicious ambiguity that helped me land my next job while I was on my career break. Yes – that’s right, my career break actually helped me find my next job(s).

An expat friend I had met while traveling heard I used to work at a luxury handbag company prior to becoming a career breaker. Upon hearing this she decided she should introduce me to two women who had started CAMENAE , an Italian luxury handbag business managed out of Singapore and Saigon. (Actually the manufacturing is all done in Italy, but the owners live in Singapore and Saigon!)


On the Road: Extended Honeymoon
Monday, May 24th, 2010

[singlepic=1787,250,,,right]Nathan Hale & Carolina Bolado were both facing changes in their careers – Carolina’s job had taken a turn away from what she wanted to be doing and the struggles of the newspaper industry had created a lot of uncertainty in the outlook of Nathan’s position. So they decided it was a good time to take a break and reassess what they wanted to do.

So at the end of January 2010, they decided to take off for six months of travel around the world – just three days after their wedding! And rather than having a traditional registry, they registered for unique experiences during their travels.

What came first – the wedding plans or career break plans? When and how did you decide to combine the two?
Carolina: I had thought about doing extended travel, although I don’t think I originally thought of it as a career break. Basically, I wanted to travel for more than my annual two weeks of vacation would allow. I had the time when I was younger, but not the money. Now I had some money saved and wasn’t entirely happy with my work situation, so it seemed like a good time to take that trip I’d been dreaming of and at the same time step back and reassess my career.

Nathan: I hadn’t really thought about a traveling career break before. While the idea of the trip preceded our engagement, we had already discussed marriage. Once I proposed, the trip pretty naturally became a possible honeymoon. There may have been some question of the timing for the break/extended trip, but it seemed to make the most sense to combine it with the honeymoon.

[singlepic=1788,200,,,left]What were some of the items/experiences on your registry?
Most of the items on our registry were for activities (a cooking class in Chiang Mai, whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River) and accommodations (five nights in Sydney, three in Lisbon, etc.). For the most part, we avoided putting in transportation costs like airfare and bus rides, which we thought people would be less excited about. Our trip was long enough that we had plenty of other expenses to put on the registry. One friend who travels a lot for work actually did get us a transportation gift though: enough frequent flier miles for one business-class fare from Africa to Europe.

Have you traveled extensively together before? How has the honeymoon experience been for you so far?
We took our first trip together — a Memorial Day baseball road trip to Pittsburgh and Cleveland — six months after we started dating. We had a great time and learned that we make pretty good travel partners. Since then, we’ve done a fair amount of traveling, both close to home and to some far-flung places (Vancouver, South Korea and Argentina).

Nathan: We’ve found that some of our happiest times together have been during our travels. The honeymoon experience has been going great. We had read about the need to be sure to take breaks from each other and have some alone time, but in three months, I think we’ve done this only twice, and it’s been fine. Maybe it’s because when we first started dating we were sitting at adjacent desks every day at work, but being together all the time hasn’t been a problem for us

Carolina: I think on this trip we’re really learning to rely on and support each other. I’ve noticed a few things about Nathan that I hadn’t before, and I think we’ve become quite good at sensing when the other is uneasy or unwell and might need some help. Right now we’re in India, which can be an exhausting place to travel, and I’m so happy Nathan is here to take the reins sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

You have decided to do two significant life events at the same time – get married and take a career break. What (if any) challenges have you faced during this time?
One thing we talked about before leaving was the possibility that, given the job market, one or both of us might be out of work when we return, and what the added stress might do to our still-very-new marriage. That’s still up in the air of course. But we decided that we felt comfortable enough with both our relationship and the state of our savings account to take the risk. We also have the support of our family, which helps a lot.

Nathan: It was overwhelming simultaneously planning a wedding and preparing to take off for six months, especially in the final weeks. In some way, combining the two life changes, I think, could result in less upheaval than if we had gone through each one separately. We were both thinking a lot about our careers, and we felt that if we put off the trip/break because of our marriage, those issues would still be there.

[singlepic=1789,250,,,right]Any advice/tips?
For those planning to do this as a honeymoon, definitely leave some time between the wedding and your departure. We had two days before our early-morning flight to Hawaii, which led to some frantic wrapping up of loose ends.

Also, just go for it. We’ve had so many amazing experiences so far, and we’re only halfway through our journey. At times, we keep looking at each other and asking, “Can you believe we’re actually here?” But we are. Somehow we made it happen, and we are both so happy that we did.

Nathan: I have a newfound appreciation for how much time and work go into blogging, but I’d recommend it as a fun way to stay connected with friends and family, and it should make a terrific record of our adventures when we get home.

You can follow along on Nathan & Carolina’s blog – Around the World in 180 Days

On the Road: Splurging on a Budget
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

When traveling long-term, you are usually watching every penny in your budget. But sometimes there are experiences or amenities that you are willing to splurge on like sailing in Europe or surfing lessons in Bali, or a 5 star hotel in Bangkok. And sometimes you just miss the most basic of creature comforts.  So we asked “Traveling on a budget? What’s the one thing you did or would splurge on?” and you answered!

[singlepic=680,300,,,right]VIA TWITTER:

@EmilyRHarris – I’d splurge on going to see the one “must-see” natural/cultural attraction of each place I visited.

@EmilyRHarris – Sapa in Vietnam by overnight train from Hanoi – both beautiful and culturally fascinating.

@TransAmericas – SCUBA diving

@travoholic –  Flights to the other side of the world to do fun things. Last year Haiti – Australia. This year Asia – London – Pakistan?

@solitarypanda – Sadly, shoes

@thom_sean – truly once in a lifetime stuff; helicopter over grand canyon, train from Beijing to Moscow etc


[singlepic=1749,300,,,right]Brian Peters – A fancy hotel room, at least for a few nights

Sarah Girard – A fitted backpack

Angela Petitt – A great authentic meal!

Martin Withington – A hot shower, with lots of water pressure and no time limit

Darren Wells – Private transport to go literally anywhere…

Charles J Forsythe – I think the nice hotel room. We’ve been traveling for 4 months and try to get a night or two in something decent once a month.


On the Road: Volunteer Farmstays
Monday, April 12th, 2010

After Charles Forsyth received an “offer” to take a voluntary separation from his employer (where he had worked since graduating college) his fiancé, Heather Molnar, decided to take the leap and quit her job. And the idea to take a “year off” to travel was born.

[singlepic=1752,300,,,right]In September of 2009 their adventure began and they decided that they would spend the year volunteering on organic farms in exchange for room and board. They share with us what the experience has been like and how they will incorporate lessons learned into their lives.

What made you decide to spend your travels volunteering and staying on organic farms and homestays?
Budget was definitely a factor in the beginning, but more so we were newly interested in learning more about sustainable living, gardening, farming and living a simpler lifestyle. By living on farms and in eco-hostels in Central America we not only honed gardening skills we learned to live with fewer material choices — such as supermarkets loaded with snacks and convenience foods.

What have been some highlights from your volunteer experience?
We loved living with and spending time with the children on our first homestay in Nicaragua. Without even knowing they were doing it, they helped us learn Spanish and introduced us to their way of life — work hard and play hard (daily games of family baseball and soccer in the barnyard that is).

We also very much enjoyed our month at an eco-lodge in Nicaragua where we lived with no electricity or indoor plumbing. This was easier than you might think when the company is good.

Finally, when else would we have been able to bottle-feed baby howler monkeys, and take an anteater for a daily walk on her leash [in Costa Rica]? Every place we’ve been has given us a new and enjoyable experience — though there were some “downsides” at times, we’ve always been able to take away a positive experience.

[singlepic=1757,260,,,left] [singlepic=1753,260,,,left]


On the Road: Traveling with Kids
Monday, March 15th, 2010

Family on Bikes recently shared with us how they homeschool their sons while biking the Pan-America Highway.

[singlepic=1727,300,,,right]The Hoffmeister Family (4Suitcases) had a similar experience homeschooling their daughters while on their 9-month world adventure. They embraced the idea of homeschooling so much that they continue to homeschool their daughters now that they have returned home. They share with us what that experience was like.

What made you decide to travel with your children?
Well, it just didn’t seem like a good idea to leave them behind! Seriously, one of our main goals was to spend more time together as a family, instead of always being off in our separate worlds of school & work. Besides, we think all the benefits of taking a break and traveling apply to kids every bit as much as they apply to adults.

Did you look at this as an educational experience first and foremost? If so, why?
It’s funny – both before and after our trip people kept telling us what a tremendous education we were giving the kids, but we didn’t really think of it that way when we started out. Our main goal was just to have a bunch of new and interesting experiences. The education that went along with that was sort of a bonus – for all of us.

Were your children homeschooled before your trip? How was the transition to homeschooling?
No, we had been considering it, but let the trip force us to take the plunge. We were re-thinking our entire way of life and learning to look at education differently was just another part of that process. It was probably harder for us than for the kids. All those traditional ideas about school were much more ingrained in our minds than theirs, you know?


Family on Bikes: Homeschooling on the Road
Saturday, February 13th, 2010

[singlepic=1691,250,,,right]John Vogel and Nancy Sathre-Vogel were both long-time teachers with over 20 years of experience each. So what made them decide to quit their jobs? Time. “They say time is the greatest gift one can give their children. Time is why we made the decision to quit our teaching jobs and join the ever-burgeoning ranks of homeschoolers; we were tired of spending more time with other parents’ kids than with our own.”

They are now using that time and combining it with their passion for biking to cycle the Pan-America Highway (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina) with their sons, Daryl and Davy. Along the way they are using the world as their classroom. You can follow along on their adventures on their site, Family on Bikes.

We asked them to share their experiences homeschooling their sons on the road.

[singlepic=1692,250,,,left]What made you decide to travel with your children?
Time. My husband and I came to the conclusion that we would never be able to put time in a bottle. We can not go back to regain precious lost moments. We can only live for today. Our boys will never be this age again and, if we don’t take advantage of their childhood now, the opportunity will be lost forever.

My husband and I had traveled extensively before the boys were born (and while they were young) and we knew it is the best education there is. When we decided to take time now for the boys, it was a given that we would take off and travel with them. They’ve learned way more in their years on the road than they ever could have learned in the classroom!


Life on the Road: House Sitting
Monday, January 18th, 2010

[singlepic=1644,200,,,right]Leigh Haugseth is a bona fide travel addict as well as a certified WellCoach (and co-founder of Vibrapreneur), so she understands the importance of keeping healthy both physically and mentally. She says “Part of being ‘well’, means having meaning in your life, reaching for your dreams, and taking risks. Traveling can help with this. It can transform your life. Often in ways you’d never expect.”

Leigh shares with us how house sitting can be a great option during your travels!

House sitting and home exchanges are becoming more and more popular these days and for good reason. They are a cheap way to explore a new destination, you have the creature comforts of a home, and you get to live someone else’s life for a while. What’s not to love?

Here’s how it works: You register on line at a reputable house sitting site (see list below), pay a small annual fee, and put up a profile. Select your preferred dates and countries and have weekly or daily assignments delivered to your in box. Simple! Some homeowners will ask that you pay utilities during your stay. Also, some house sits require your own transportation, although I’ve seen some that will allow you to use their car, bike or are near public transportation.


Life on the Road: Away for the Holidays
Monday, December 14th, 2009

[singlepic=1601,250,,,right]Traveling long term is a gift; the ability to see and experience new cultures, to step away from your own rat race, and slow down. However, when you’ve been on the road for a while and the holidays roll around, it’s easy to get the blues. You’re away from your own culture and traditions, and you miss your family and friends, so it’s easy to get a bit homesick. I spent my last Christmas Eve alone eating leftovers watching a movie; I was so lonely in Vietnam that I vowed to never be alone again during the Holidays.

If your career break travel happens to fall during the holidays, then consider what you can do to avoid the holiday blues.

When I first traveled around the world I actually planned out my itinerary with the holidays in mind. For me Christmas is all about family. Luckily I happened to have family living in Singapore so when I planned my itinerary, I planned to be in Singapore in December. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. The familiar food, customs, and humor of my family was just what I needed. Plus, they were able to introduce me to different Asian holiday customs in Singapore – so even though I had slowed down my travel to spend time with family, I was still experiencing new things in new cultures!


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