Letting Go

Quit Your Job With Confidence
Thursday, August 21st, 2014

How can you just quit your job?

Kind of a tough question right? I think it is easier than some might believe.

Why do we work anyway? Is it to pass the day by and get some income, or is it to challenge ourselves and create ourselves? And if you knew you could leave your job for a year to come back to it, would you do it?

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I would think most people would say yes. So why not work towards doing that? If we worked smart enough to create a unique position for ourselves highlighting our strengths, we would create high value for ourselves. Being more valuable in your job will allow you to leave and give you options when you come back.

The decision to quit

My wife and I decided to quit our jobs and travel the world about two and a half years ago. We both graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2008 and found jobs in Oklahoma City. She decided to go to graduate school and take two years to get her nurse practitioner degree in August 2011. At that time I decided to get another job in the Energy industry in Oklahoma City as an Engineer. We both agreed that after Katie finished her masters degree, we would take off. I worked two years with my new company doing well, Katie finished her masters program, and we knew it was time to quit. We quit in May 2014 and have just started our RTW trip.

So far we traveled around the US for two months, went to the World Cup in Brazil, and now are in Portugal. We plan on traveling through Europe, New Zealand, Asia, Central America, and Africa for about a year and a half, hitting warm weather destinations the whole time. We also came up with a rule of for every four countries we spend time in, one of those will be devoted to volunteering for our whole stay.

Passing up the big offer

I had performed well with my company and made a good impression with my engineering role. After being there two years, I created a niche role for myself and started to have options open up for me to move up in the organization. Even though I was leaving to travel, I had the option to be welcomed back if we came back to Oklahoma City after a year of traveling.

However, this wasn’t my only option for re-entry employment. Two months before I was going to quit, another company approached me and asked me to start in five months time with a really good offer. Five months vacation and then a for sure job to come back to. Sounds pretty good and secure right? However, my passion for taking the trip we wanted to take exceeded my passion for traveling for 5 months and committing to something else.

Everything in life is not about money

It was a tough decision, but I believe you should do what you are passionate about. So I decided to go against ALL advice I received and declined the offer.

I decided to travel with open ends, realizing that there could be something I find along the way that could be more meaningful than creating lots of business for a company. In the end it is your life, and you have to live it, not by a company’s plan and standard for you, but by your own. After declining the offer, the company came back and said ok, we will extend this offer for 2015. Take your time and you have something to come back to if you want it.

How did I get all of these opportunities?

I think of work differently. Instead of coasting through work to retire after thirty-five years, I’d like to “retire” every fifth year with the ability to have a job for us when we come back from taking breaks.

Let’s work to be truly valued so that we can demand a career break and get it. You can become more valuable by doing these things in your career:

  • Work smarter to make a big impact with your group
  • Be positive, happy, and enjoyable to be around
  • Do more research on a specialty problem and uncover the unknown
  • Come up with an innovative idea to solve that problem or create another section of business
  • Take charge, execute, and grow your new idea or business section, doing it with no instruction from your boss, just informing your boss of your actions along the way
  • Realize you are now in demand and valued at your company
  • Have the confidence to demand more from your work, and negotiate leave with the ability to be hired back
  • You are in demand, be confident

Some are already in demand at work or valued and just don’t know the power they hold. Your company knows you can do a great job. They know you are doing a good job now, and know that you can do a good job when and if you come back. You are a sure bet to them and not a risky hire.

Telling my boss about quitting to go travel made me realize that if you have ambitions outside of work, whether that is taking care of your dad who has cancer, retiring, taking time off to travel, your company does not see that as a negative or a threat. They can relate with life choices a lot easier than leaving for another job.

Don’t hide your passions, but work them into your life and job and take risks to do so. If you have the passion to quit your job and travel then you also have the passion to stand up to others plans/advice and be happy doing it. Your good at what you do, so be confident about negotiating leave.

Just as much as you are scared to leave your paycheck, your bosses are scared to loose you. It’s not a one way relationship. If you have a good relationship with your company, then through that relationship they will be open to hiring you when you come back. If you can’t talk to your boss and colleagues about these things, then there isn’t much of a relationship, and you might have to depend on your connections outside of your current job. For me, regardless if I go back to my old job or take the other opportunity, the one thing I know is that my number one priority is to travel, and I won’t settle to pursue that dream right now.

Taking the step of quitting is something that seems pretty hard to do, but it all depends on what we want to do in life.  Like most change in life, the hardest part is within your own mind. Once I actually did it, I realized that I can achieve whatever I want to, I just had to go for it. If I can do it, you can do it, too!

Katie and Wes decided to quit their jobs in Oklahaoma City April 2014 and take some time to explore the world and slow down. Their lives were career oriented and too routine. They thrived for a big change that would let them experience actual value in their lives. They plan to travel for about 18 months to South and Central America, Europe, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. They want to travel around one month per country and try and do four countries per continent; volunteering in one country for every four that they travel to. Follow them on their blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Packing Tips from Career Breakers
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

There are endless packing lists and tips on the Internet – and they are a great place to start – but we find that no matter how much advice you are given or receive, it will really come down to personal choice.

So you won’t find any lists here, but but you will hear tips on what worked for us and some of our career break vets.

Minimalist Packing Advice

For career breakers, one of the hardest things to do is imagine what life is like living out of a single suitcase for an extended period of time. This means leaving behind many things. So we asked Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist, to provide some ‘minimalist’ packing advice.

  • Bring a travel clothesline, and travel packets of laundry detergent. These two simple items will save you tons of space in your suitcase. The more often you wash, the less clothing you’ll need to lug around!
  • Use packing cubes. Life on the road is much easier (and more organized) when you don’t have loose stuff rolling around in your suitcase. I think of my packing cubes as “drawers,” and use them to keep like items together. If space is at a premium, you may want to consider compression bags.
  • Don’t pack stuff you can buy on the road. For example, bring only small quantities of toiletries, and simply buy more when you run out. I have fond memories of shopping for toothpaste in Tokyo!
  • When it comes to clothing, versatility is key. Pack items that go from daytime to dinner, or can be dressed up with accessories (like a scarf or necklace). Favor items that can be layered, so they’ll work in a variety of climates. And choose your shoes wisely, so that you can get by with one pair (or two at the most!).
  • For winter travel or colder climates, pack silk long johns. They’re extremely lightweight, take up next to no space, and eliminate the need for bulkier clothing. You can even wear them as pajamas in a pinch!

Career Breaker Must-Haves

No matter how many times we say “no really, you don’t need to pack everything!” people don’t seem to listen. So we asked some of our career break vets to tell us what things they can’t travel without. You might find some surprising items!


Michaela shares why carabiners, a head lamp, and her journal are the three things she never leaves home without.


Ever think a frisbee was an essential item to pack? It is for Kirk, and you may become a believer too! Hear why he loves packing a frisbee, plus ear plugs and his Swiss Army knife.


If you are packing something that only has one use – leave it behind. Hear why from Lillie.


Sherry shares some of her packing tips along with the items she doesn’t leave home without.


Lisa shares her profound love for her laptop and the other items she doesn’t leave home without, including a raincoat, watch, and packing cubes.

What items do you think you can’t leave home without?


What Happens to Your Stuff When You’re Traveling?
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

What do you do with your all of your stuff when you take a career break and travel?  It’s a fair question, and one a lot of career breakers leave until the last moment. But if you put a little bit of planning into what you leave behind, your trip can be far more rewarding and your budget a little bit fatter.

The last thing you want to worry about when you’re climbing a mountain in South America, cruising to Antarctica, or visiting the temples in Southeast Asia, is your stuff back home. The whole point of your career break is to cut your ties and explore something new, and that can’t happen – at least not the full immersion you’re seeking – if you don’t have things at home under control.

The easiest method is the one we chose for our career break back in 2010. We sold everything over the course of 2 years, and along the way we became accidental experts at this whole decluttering thing.

Whether you choose to get rid of it all or save some of it for when you come back, what we know for sure is you’ll need a strategy for your stuff.

Declutter Your Space

No matter how long you plan to be gone, getting rid of the things you don’t need now will save you money, time, and worry later on. You’ll have less to store, less to maintain, and less to move when you get back.

Think about what you’ll need when you return and what you own but haven’t used in a very long time. As you go about rethinking your career and life, it’s a great time to do the same with your possessions. When you cut out the excess from your life, you can more easily see the opportunities around you.

Decluttering also helps prepare your mindset for your journey. You’ll likely be traveling light, and practicing that method now with your belongings will teach you to think about what you really need and want in this world, which is part of the reason you’re doing this whole career break thing anyway.

Sell the Excess

The added bonus is that you can sell most of what you no longer want now and use it to help fund your career break. Think about how your old phones, computers, exercise equipment, kitchen supplies, and even software and games can help fund your adventures around the world. This is much better than hauling them into a storage building that you’ll pay $1200 for while you’re gone.

In the months leading up to your career break, list a few things for sale each week on Craigslist, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up in your bank account and what a difference it makes in your home.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to do this each week, and over time you’ll appreciate this small effort.

Rent Your Space

Now that your home is decluttered and you’ve sold all the excess to help fund your trip, you have a clean space to rent. Depending on your location, you may even be able to leave your furniture and belongings in place and rent it to someone on a temporary relocation or a visiting professor or student. Use your social network to find trustworthy friends of friends in need of a place to live.

There are also professional housesitters all over the world looking for great places to stay. If you don’t need the cash or have pets you want to be loved and cared for in your absence, look for someone to stay in your home for free in exchange for pet care and maintenance. There are many housesitters who take long-term assignments. Check out TrustedHousesitters.com if you want to list your home (use our discount code “married” for 25% off).

If you are renting your space, use a property management company or a trusted local friend to manage any small repairs or emergencies at your home. You don’t want to have to worry about a busted hot water heater when you’re rafting down the Amazon.

The more you let go of the responsibilities of home, the more you’ll enjoy and benefit from your career break. In the end, it’s all just stuff, and none of it is more important than the experiences you’ll forever have from this grand adventure.

Minimize your stuff and maximize your experience.

About the Authors: Warren and Betsy Talbot have been traveling the world since 2010. Their first book, Getting Rid of It: Eliminate the Clutter in Your Life, is now a full blown multimedia course for people who are making big changes in their lives…people like you. Find out how to get rid of your stuff and make some serious cash toward your career break at www.DeclutterClinic.com. Click here to view more details

The Joy of Less
Monday, December 6th, 2010

The Joy of LessI’ve undergone many changes in my life thanks to travel. However one of the greatest changes I’ve experienced is the change in my weight; the weight of my possessions. I’ve gone from a 1,000 square foot Manhattan apartment to 2 suitcases and a small closet sized storage unit. This downsizing wasn’t necessary to travel, but it was something I wanted to do to feel lighter and more flexible.

Many people who are planning an around the world trip typically go through a purge process; sometimes it’s motivated by money, and sometimes it’s motivated by the fact that they are going to sublet their place and put things in storage. Whatever the reason, when you are standing in the middle of your living room full of stuff, it’s hard to know where to start.

That’s where Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist, comes in. She’s the Wonder Woman of simplicity! I just finished reading Francine’s book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life and can happily recommend it to anyone looking to downsize their life, their home, a room, a closet, or a to-do list. She covers it all with a very simple, effective process called STREAMLINE.
S – Start over
T – Trash, Treasure, or Transfer
R – Reason for each item
E – Everything in its place
A – All surfaces clear
M – Modules
L – Limits
I – If one comes in, one goes out
N – Narrow it down
E – Everyday maintenance


Letting Go: What About the Pets?
Monday, October 4th, 2010

One of the most important issues one faces when planning any type of travel is what to do with your beloved pet. When you factor in extended travel, it becomes even more difficult. And there are a number of options that you can consider.

One option is to find a pet sitter (see tips below).

When Sherry Ott first set off on her original round the world career break, she decided to find a pet sitter for her cat.

Palucci“This was one of the most difficult things I had to organize; probably because it was the most emotional for me. I had to find someone willing to take my cat for one year. This is a process that you definitely have to start early. Start asking your family and friends and see if you get any bites.

My first option fell through which left me scrambling to find someone else to take my cat. I realized that I couldn’t be too picky about this process as I might never find the perfect home, but I could find an adequate home and realize that my cat would adjust – just as humans do. In addition, once you figure out who can take your pets, then you must figure out how to get your pets to the new destination. For me that meant driving to another state. I also had to make sure that my cat had a recent check up and I gave all of her vet history to my friend in case there were any issues when I was gone.”


Letting Go: Making Other Plans
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Sometimes even the best laid plans can’t stand up to a curve ball or two. And that is certainly the case when it comes to planning your career break. Sonia Zamborsky of Pulpology shares with us how her original career break plans faced a detour, but rather than cancel the dream, found a new route.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That quote has been attributed to many different people throughout the years, and it’s always been one of my favorites. It neatly summarizes the absurdity of the illusion of having any level of control over the human condition.

Sonia & MarkSometime in 2006 I’d decided it was time for a change. I had a good job, a nice house, a great relationship and lots of interesting friends. But I also had a vague sense there was something better than sleepwalking through a comfortable existence. Nice as it might look on paper, this was not my American Dream. After some inspiration from the likes of Rolf Potts and Rita Golden Gelman, I started formulating plans for an extended trip. The lure of selling our house and getting rid of most of our stuff was intoxicating. I began collecting tips and ideas in a huge binder. I bookmarked every interesting travel site I could find. I read tons of blogs. I sketched out routes on maps and signed up for airfare alerts. In my mind, I was well on my way.

You see, I’m a planner. For me, one of the most fun aspects of travel has always been the planning and scheming and dreaming, prior to ever leaving home. Little did I know I was about to run smack into my favorite quote…

Part of The Big Plan had been to sell our house and use some of the proceeds to travel, keeping some in reserve as a default world “re-entry” cushion. In the halcyon days before the housing bubble burst, this seemed like a solid idea. But by the time my boyfriend and I had gotten our house ready to sell, things were already slipping.  By 2007, it was becoming clear that we’d have to significantly lower our price in order to get the house sold, and that put a huge crimp in the travel budget. The plan began to crumble.


Bring on Africa! (I Think…)
Monday, June 14th, 2010

[singlepic=1808,148,,,right]Sometimes even an experienced traveler doesn’t feel prepared. Marie Elena Martinez shares with us the nerves she is facing heading off to Africa for two months, despite having experienced a two-year career break before! As part of her trip, she will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on behalf of Flying Kites.

I’ve done this already. Multiple times. And yet, the mixed feelings always come. Kenya, Tanzania, and Kilimanjaro loom large in my future, but I’m torn on leaving a very settled New York existence for the pleasures and perils of a travel-break.

In 2005, a rising Associate Publicity Director within the matrix of the HarperCollins Publishers machine, I left my job. No disillusionment with cranky authors, no falling out with top brass, no desire to continue my upward climb to Director. I just…quit. When I look back, I can remember that my position’s sense of urgency, of growth and of learning, had fallen off. So, I decided to throw myself into a new challenge and give myself a new education: traveling the world. Solo.

[singlepic=1805,275,,,right]Everyone thought I was crazy. “I mean, who does that?” wailed my sister. “Did you win the lottery?” questioned nosy neighbors. No, and no. I just needed a change. Which was odd. I had toiled at HarperCollins for nine solid years. I owned my New York City apartment. I dabbled with the same boy for half a decade. Change cramped my style. But it was time. I was on the cusp of 31, unattached, and unchallenged. So, I quit.


Overcoming the 7 Obstacles to Traveling the World
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

You are probably reading Briefcase to Backpack because you have a dream; a dream to take a break and travel. Ahhh…but there is a battle going on; raging in your psyche dropping bombs and waving white flags.


Image property of Bill S. @ doodler blog

The ‘good angel’ says

“Do it, take that job and shove it! See what the world has to offer. Other people do it, so why can’t you?”

The ‘devil’ says

“It’s too expensive, you have to be rich. What will my family say? It’s irresponsible!”

Anil Polat has taken the bombs that your devil drops and addresses them in his E-Book – Overcoming the Seven Major Obstacles to Traveling the World. Anil is someone who has done it; he worked in a traditional job for 6 years and then decided to shake up his life and combine his love for travel with his work. He has overcome these obstacles himself. Sure, everyone’s circumstances are different, but if you need a little push, then Overcoming the Seven Major Obstacles to Traveling the World may be the nudge you need.

Traveling the world is not a luxury for most people – it’s a choice. You can overcome each and every obstacle you face and travel with good planning and by making some choices you’ll find hard to make.


Health Insurance for American Travelers
Monday, February 8th, 2010

[singlepic=1668,250,,,right]There are many fun steps in preparing for your career break travels, and planning for health insurance issues is not one of them. However, it is probably the most important issue you should pay attention to, especially for Americans.

Keith and Amy Sutter have successfully made the transition from briefcase to backpack. They are currently traveling the world while documenting efforts in environmental sustainability on their blog, Green Around The Globe. They share with us how Americans must navigate a complex process to get health insurance while traveling around the globe.

Second only to our salaries, health insurance was the most valuable component of our employer-provided compensation before we made the leap from briefcase to backpack. Walking away from the relative simplicity of employer-provided health benefits was fraught with forms, confusion and seemingly endless options. Tempting as it was, throwing our hands up and foregoing health coverage was not an option. Going without health insurance seemed riskier than riding a motorbike through downtown Hanoi at rush hour blindfolded, not something either of us want to do. By detailing our experiences throughout the process of obtaining health insurance coverage for our career break we hope to share what we learned and make the process a bit easier for you.

Private health insurance in the United States is a quagmire of benefit statements and long medical history applications. We quickly found this out when we began researching our options. As this was the first time we would not have employer or university-provided group health benefits, we had to start from scratch. We quickly discovered the world of travel insurance.

There are many reputable travel insurance companies out there that offer great coverage while traveling abroad. As an American, however, you must keep in mind that most of these plans will not cover you within the United States and many of these plans are not recognized as “creditable.” “Creditable coverage” is defined quite broadly and includes nearly all U.S. group and individual health plans. But despite the broad definition nearly all travel insurance is NOT deemed creditable coverage. One notable exception is HTH Worldwide’s Global Citizen, which is underwritten by A-rated insurance companies licensed by each State’s department of insurance as admitted carriers. The trick here is that depending on what state you live in you may need to go through underwriting in order to obtain coverage.


Brian Peters: Transitioning from Briefcase to Backpack
Monday, September 14th, 2009

[singlepic=1522,250,,,right]How does one go from working a white collar 9-to-5 job to traveling around the world, sleeping in hostels from Thailand to South Africa? Brian Peters from No Debt World Travel shares how he did it.

I worked for years in corporate America in Information Technology, moving up the ladder, changing jobs, taking severance packages and being a good soldier in the corporate wars. Professionally I was accomplished and liked my work but felt something was missing.

I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I thought about traveling to see all the places I’ve always seen on TV. In 2006 I woke up one morning and decided to sell my house. I did not know where I was going to go with that, but I felt that I didn’t want the house to weigh me down if I wanted to make a move. Selling it gave me options.

Thankfully the house easily sold before the real estate market meltdown. A year went by and the thoughts about travel stayed with me. Then in February 2008, the job told me I was being laid off. Most people would react with disappointment or even anger. I was quietly excited. Before this I didn’t know how I was going to leave my job. This was my opportunity.


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