Posts Tagged ‘anxieties’

Financial Concerns: Start Saving
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Deciding to go on a career break is difficult enough, but the tough decisions don’t end once you finally take that plunge and decide to do it. After making the decision to go, the first question most people ask is, “How much is this whole venture going to cost?”

A lot goes into budgeting for your career break. Where you go, how you travel, how much gear you need, how open you are to eating new types of food, and how much discomfort you’re willing to endure all have a major effect on how much money you will spend.

The good news is that you’re going to have plenty of time to practice budgeting. The budget and money-saving doesn’t begin the day you leave. It starts right now. The minute you decide to go on an adventure like this is the minute you need to start focusing on money.

Where to Begin

Sometimes the most overwhelming part of the budget is figuring out where to begin. If you don’t already track your spending, then start now!

– Open an account on and start figuring out where your money is going.

– Break down your income vs. your expenses.

– If your expenses exceed your income, then you need to make changes.

  1. Cut back on things like eating out and drinking at bars.
  2. Stop buying new stuff. Chances are high that you are going to want to get rid of a lot of you clutter before leaving, so why buy new items now?
  3. Consider getting a second (or third) job.
  4. Think about selling off a lot of your stuff. You will most likely come home from your career break and realize that you have way too much clutter. Get rid of it now – sell it on ebay, Craig’s List, or have a garage or yard sale.

Start Saving

Once you get to the point where you are bringing in more than you are spending, then it’s time to go into saving mode. Open up a savings account somewhere. Research banks that offer high starting interest rates or specials for the first year. Any extra little bit helps. Then start paying that savings account, otherwise known as your career break travel fund, as you would your normal bills. Figure out how much you can start putting away each month, and pay it as soon you receive a paycheck.

Any little extra bit you earn or save, put it in the travel fund. Start getting into travel mode. Saving for a trip of this magnitude is difficult. You will have to turn down a lot of fun events before leaving on your career break. Going out to bars, dinners with friends, movies, shopping trips with the girls-all are things you are just going to have to say no to much of the time. It’s frustrating, and there will be times you question if what you’re doing is worth it. It is. It’s just all a manner of how you spin it in your mind.

Bypass a night out on the town with your buddies? Congratulations, you just bought yourself four extra days in Thailand. Turn down that shopping trip with your sister? Good job, now you can spend another week in Argentina. It’s all about priorities, and when you make the decision to take a career break and travel the world, it has to be the top priority in your life.

Changing Your Spending Habits

Tracking your expenses and spending habits can seem daunting, but it is the best way to start saving & budgeting for your career break. This is an easy exercise created by Man vs. Debt so you can see where your money is going.

Draft a quick easy budget and start recording your expenses. The toughest thing about the budgeting process is just getting started. People try to spend hours creating their first budget – perfecting every single category or angle. This is a formula for failure. Take 25 minutes and complete as much as you can. Next week, revisit it for another 25 minutes.

1. Estimate your income – Round down whenever possible to convenient numbers. If on an extremely inconsistent income, start by budgeting based on last month’s income.
2. Brainstorm fixed expenses – Brainstorm your fixed, regular expenses. Those bills you pay every month. Round these up to convenient numbers. Don’t worry about being perfect – get as many as you can.
3. Brainstorm irregular expenses – This is the hardest part for most people – and where most budgets fail. Think ahead to any non-regular expenses or bills that are coming up in the next 30 days. Gifts, repairs, holidays, supplies, taxes, etc…
4. Accept that you are going to fail miserably – Do not try to be perfect. Round income down and expenses up. Give yourself fluff room. Next time, at least you’ll have a base with which to start and adapt. Simplify when possible. Take notes when things come that were unplanned.

Basic Training

We cover more on saving and budgeting in Career Break Basic Training, which includes interviews and helpful homework assignments.

What’s Your Motivation?
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Most of the citizens of North America seem to be motivated by a good education, career, financial stability, home ownership, and a stable, safe life for our children. We want to provide for our families, and providing for our families is now defined by not only having a house and being able to put food on the table, but being able to buy nice cars, televisions, furniture, and plenty of other items that make our lives more comfortable.

Many Americans go down this path that’s laid out before us – this ‘American Dream’ that we’re all told about from a very young age. It’s what we strive for. It is what is engrained in our brains from a very young age. Motivation can be a funny thing though – not everyone is motivated by the same things. And maybe what you were previously motivated by has drastically changed. Or maybe you’re questioning what you’ve been told should motivate your life.

Doubting the ‘American Dream’

Since you are reading this, that means you must have some reservations about this so called ‘American Dream’. Are you right in the middle of your American Dream and asking yourself the following questions or having these doubts and thoughts?

– What if I have it all – the job, the house, the stuff, yet I still don’t feel fulfilled?
– I have done the right things, gone down the right path, worked really hard, yet I’m still not happy.
– I feel like something is missing.
– I’m just not happy with my current life path.
– I feel like everyone around me – my coworkers, my friends, my family – have different motivations and life goals than I do.
– I love to travel and have dreamed of doing it long-term, and I don’t want to wait until I retire.
– I have realized that there is more to life than working and collecting the most stuff.
– I want to spend more quality time with my spouse, significant other, and/or family, and it’s not going to happen within my current lifestyle.
– I hate my job, I hate my boss, and I hate my hours. In short, I’m burned out and need a change.
– I want to learn more, see more, and experience more.
– I’m sick of waiting to make my dreams come true.

If one or more of these thoughts resonate with you, it’s time to look deep and discover the “why”. Why do you feel this way – why are you motivated to make a change – and why are you waiting?

American Dream

Do Something About It!

It’s time to let you in on a little secret. If you wake up every morning with an empty feeling, dreading the workday that lies ahead, it’s probably not going to just change or get better without doing anything. Sometimes when your life just isn’t what you thought it would be, something drastic needs to be done. It’s time to stop waiting and take the bull by the horns. It’s time for you to do something!

Joining Career Break Basic Training course & community is one step in the right direction. Here you will find the motivation to actually go through with what many will deem to be crazy, reckless, and irresponsible. It is a challenge that you’ll have to deal with until you leave on that well deserved career break.

We can also help you tune out the naysayers and connect you with other people who have re-assessed their lives and what they want out of it. Reading other’s stories and the challenges they have dealt with along the way is an extremely helpful way of motivating yourself to take this next step.

Live Without Regrets

Making a life changing decision such as this one is not easy, especially when living in a culture that deems career breaks and long-term travel as unnecessary. If this was a simple decision, then more people would do it.

Though many factors come into play when thinking of whether or not to take a career break, it can really be simplified to one big choice. How do you feel about regret?

If you decide not to do it, and you stay in your current position and current life, do you think you’ll regret it 5, 10, or 20 years down the line? On the flip side, if you give it up, take the plunge, and travel the world, do you think that you will regret that experience down the line?

Basic Training

We cover more on how you can pinpoint your motivation in Career Break Basic Training, which includes interviews and helpful homework assignments.

Career Break Terror
Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Your heart races, you start to sweat, and a state of intense fear overcomes you; this is terror. Chances are that on this journey to achieving your career break dreams you have experienced it. We all have. But the question is, will you let it stop you?

We recently had one of our participants in our Career Break Basic Training Community have this reaction to planning a career break:

Please someone tell me I am doing the right thing. I know I am but I am second-guessing everything right now. Why you ask?! I literally just booked my international flights ten minutes ago. Why this is freaking me out has me beside myself. It’s not like this was the first step of my planning process. I have gotten all of my vaccinations, I have bought my rucksack and have started to fill it, I have already put money down on a hotel (oh, a hotel!) to meet friends halfway through my trip and I booked an internal flight within Chile…yet booking my international flight scared the absolute crap out of me!? WHAT? WHY? HELP!

This is pretty typical Career Break terror that many feel when contemplating or planning.

I recently came across this video by one of my favorite actors, Edward Norton, who one would think should be more confident in his ability than ever. But he speaks instead about fear and terror in his profession that never goes away and how to deal with it.

I thought about his interview about fear in acting applies to fear in taking a career break and traveling. I agree with so much of what he says so it’s worth putting it in those career break terms.

It is 100% certain that your decision to take a break to travel will feel completely half-baked and you will think you will fail at it.

Everyone goes through this when contemplating a big change in his or her life; especially when you are taking a road less traveled. The fears might appear in the form of a constant state of irritation, it may be panic attacks (like our training class participant!) , or it may tears. But if you don’t push through those fears of failure, then you’ll never make change in your life. Change means fear. Change means potential failure. But always remember that change is good and necessary to grow.

People will tell you that your plan won’t work.

People will also tell you to work your butt off until you are 65 and then live your life. If you think that’s the answer, then fine, believe the people that tell you it won’t work. But seriously – when did you start listening to what others tell you to do? You are no longer a kid or a young adult. You can make your own decisions, take your own risks, and craft your own life. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who think it will work and thinks it’s a damn good idea!

As Edward Norton points out, “Getting used to that sensation of fear is a good thing. Get to a point where you realize you are in ‘that’ phase where you feel like you are sweating off three t-shirts a day because you are about to go off the side of a cliff. But you realize you can always buy more t-shirts.”

The key is to get used to the sensation of fear. Because this won’t be the first time on this career break journey that you will encounter it. In fact, know that this is only the beginning. There is inherent fear in traveling, fear in being alone, fear that you will get sick, fear that you will be robbed, fear that you are lost, fear that you are running out of money, and in a cruel twist – you will even have fear in returning to your home when the break is finished. Anticipate and embrace the inevitable sensation of fear. It’s not easy, but it must be done to get anywhere. You’ve been doing it your whole life from the first day you went to school, to the first time you dove off of the high dive at the swimming pool, why can’t you do it now? Don’t balk at the sensation of fear – push through it.

The good news is that as I type this – our career break training participant has started her career break! She pushed through and she’s having the time of her life now.

Will you let fear stop you?

Beginning or Ending in Hawaii
Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Beginnings and Endings are always the most challenging when it comes to a career break. In fact, I never really know which one is harder. When you begin your break, you are normally a bundle of nervous excitement with your head aching from all of the planning and checklists you’ve been working with for the last few months. But the real part that makes you break out into a cold sweat is you are heading out into the unknown and outside of your typically predictable life.

Equally perspiration inducing is the return and re-entry into your ‘old’ predictable world when you finish your career break. If you’ve been traveling in far off countries for a significant time, coming home to your own culture can be jolting. You are bombarded with marketing, politics, high prices, questions about what you are going to do next; it makes you want to hop on the next plane out to anywhere!

Abrupt transitions such as the beginning and end of a career break can be challenging and in order to ease that transition we suggest that you consider easing into or out of your break. And one very good place to do that is Hawaii.

The little chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are the perfect place to ease into cultural transition.

Hawaii is indeed the US on paper, but once you get there you won’t feel as if you are in the US any longer. It’s a mix of east meets west, of American culture and Polynesian island culture.  You will feel as if you are in another country as you try the new food, get used to the new vowel-centric language, and understand the different customs of Ohana (family).

If you are leaving on a career break to Asia, this can be the perfect place to ease into the Asian culture. And if you are on your way home to the US after being gone for months of traveling, Hawaii can be a way to ease you back into American culture.


The great news is that you can potentially do this for free, or a very low cost thanks to the possibility of stopovers offered from various airlines. If you are flying to/from Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Asia stopovers in Hawaii are a real possibility. Check out the stop over destinations and deals on the Web sites for companies like New Zealand Air, Quantas , Air Tahiti Nui, and Hawaiian Air (stopover rules). And if you don’t know much about how stopovers work (strangely they aren’t publicized very well), then check out this great stopover article from Bootsnall.

What to Do

So now you know that you can consider Hawaii an easy and affordable stop on the beginning or end of your career break – but what do you do once you get there? You can do much more than you think; Hawaii isn’t just about beaches and Hawaii golf courses. You can hike the hundreds of trails on Oahu, engross yourself in Hawaiian royal history, stay with/meet locals via, learn to surf, go shark cage diving, and go horse back riding. You may even be able to catch a Meet Plan Go Travel meetup in Honolulu! Or you can simply soak in the Aloha spirit and prepare for your next stop on your career break.

This post was sponsored by PGA Championship golf vacations

Photography from Sherry Ott’s recent Hawaii ‘break’:

How to Prepare Mentally for Long-Term Travel
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Choosing where to go and what to pack are important steps in preparing for your career break. And adding destinations to your list and picking out travel gear is certainly the fun part of the process. But have you ever thought about preparing mentally for your extended travel?

Traveling around world and living out of a backpack can sound so ‘amazing’ when you are sitting behind a desk stressed out with your buzzing blackberry and bad fluorescent lighting. However, when you really get down to the nitty-gritty, and start to consider long-term travel, you have to figure out if it’s right for you. To determine if you can hack long term travel to remote countries, Sherry Ott has put together a little four week ‘travel boot camp’ to ready your mind and body for your career break. Follow these exercises and if you survive, then you can hack long-term travel!


For one month start drinking and using ONLY bottled water. This includes brushing your teeth with only bottled water; don’t you dare use that tap water! I became so accustomed to brushing my teeth with bottled water that it seemed strange for me to use the tap any longer. In addition, when you cook, wash all of your fruits or vegetables in bottled water. Or if you don’t want to go to the hassle of washing with bottled water – then simply stop eating raw fruits and vegetables for a month!


Even though English is the one true international language, you will still have to get used to not ever really knowing what is being said around you in a foreign country. Sure, you can always find someone who speaks English if you have a question, however they will answer your question and then go back to speaking to their friends in their native language.

In order to prepare yourself for never really understanding what is being said around you, do the following:

– For two weeks, go spend a few hours a day in Chinatown in your city (if you don’t have one, then go to a Chinese restaurant and try to sit close to the kitchen!). Make sure that you seek out establishments that are filled with Chinese people; then just sit there and drink tea for a few hours.

– In addition, for two weeks only watch the Spanish and Italian channels on cable. Sit through the news, soap operas and games shows – this will certainly make or break you! After two weeks, you will be prepped for the constant chatter of other languages around you that you may not understand.


For 3 weeks, wear the same 8 clothing items from your closet. Yes, you can mix and match them, so pick colors that go together! Do the same for shoes; pick 2 pairs of shoes and wear them for the same 3 weeks. This should prepare you for living out of a suitcase and losing the variety of items that you can choose out of your closet.


For 2 weeks, sleep in a different room and a different piece of furniture in your home or apartment every night. Choose your bed one night, your couch the next night, an air mattress the following night, then the second bedroom…you get the drift. You need to train your body and mind to understand that the concept of ‘your bed’ is going to disappear. I slept in a different place most nights for 16 months – some good, some bad; but rarely the same place.

Special Unit Training for India or Asia Itineraries

Make a one time outing to your local zoo…yes, the zoo. Go to the zoo and stare at the animals. Not a quick look…but a good long stare. Now put yourself in the animals’ position and see if you can hack it; someone staring at you for 5 minutes straight. Also consider what it might feel like when someone reaches out and strokes your arm because they want to touch your skin. The staring can be a real challenge to get used to, but with some practice you can learn to ignore the people staring at you; plus as an alternative, it’s acceptable to stare back!

Basic Training

These are just a few of the “training exercises” we cover in Career Break Basic Training. Once you have successfully completed this training regimen, then you are ready to be a long-term traveler. By preparing your self early, you will enjoy yourself even more when you get on the road!

Addressing Mental Travel Hurdles
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

With the New Year you may be finding that you want to jump start (or re-start) your career break travel plans. And one of the reasons that your plans may have stalled is because of fear.

Getting Over Fear

You came here because you want to make a change in your life; you want to shake it up. Hold on tight because change isn’t easy. Change is wrapped up in fear, and fear is big and bad. It can make any endeavor seem like a mountain that is insurmountable at times. The end result of letting fear take over is that it keeps us stuck where we are. We can assume that since you are here, you don’t want to be stuck where you are – right?

Each person’s situation and fears are different, but most often our fears of career break and sabbatical travel fall into four main areas:

Financial: I don’t have enough money – you have to be rich to travel
Societal: What will others think if I leave my job to travel – my family, friends and peers won’t be supportive
Career: I will ruin my career with a gap on my resume
Safety: fear of travel in general (health, safety, theft)

You may relate to one or all of these fears to varying degrees. But an important first step is to recognize that these hurdles and thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences.

Best Case Scenario and Positive Thinking

We usually default to assuming the worst-case scenario will come true. But we challenge you to think about “What if everything goes right?” for a change. That’s right – just close your eyes and think about those perceived hurdles as opportunities.

Financial: I can learn how to better save money & budget which will benefit me/my family in the long run. I will also realize that I don’t need as much money as I think to be happy.
Societal: Others will love hearing my story of following my passions and I will inspire others to do the same.
Career: By taking this career break I will be more knowledgeable of the world and it’s cultures, a better communicator, able to work in a variety of environments, and demonstrate great flexibility that will make me stand out in interviews and cover letters.
Safety: I will learn ways to remain safe no matter where I am in the world and will see that how people & places are perceived in the media is not necessarily true for entire countries.

There is always a way to over get hurdles – always. Positive thinking is just a start.

Paul Milton on Societal Pressures

The idea of career breaks can seem unrealistic to many – but Paul shares how they didn’t let other people’s opinions change their plans.

Basic Training

We cover more on how you can overcome these hurdles in Career Break Basic Training, which includes more interviews and helpful homework assignments.

Survey Says: Addressing Your Concerns
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

We have learned a lot about our event attendees in the weeks since thanks to our post-event survey. And all of this great information will only help us to better serve you and your needs in the coming months and year.

So who are you and what are your career break concerns?

Ready to Hit the Road

A significant number of you were already planning your break before the event (33%) and that number jumped to 45% afterwards! Looks like you found the inspiration – now you want more tips and resources when it comes to planning for your career break.

Basic Training: Our Basic Training Course & Community addresses many of the how-to’s that career breakers face during the planning stage (and even during the on-the-road & re-entry stages too). These include many of the areas in which you voiced concern, including financial and career-related issues.

Webinars: Understanding that there are a variety of topics that people can relate too, it’s hard to cover them all in one event. So we are in the process of planning future webinars to help address these topics. Want to hear about something in particular? Let us know!

Go! Inspiration: If you still need the inspiration to keep you motivated, be sure to check out the inspiring stories of other career breakers in our “Go!” section.

Take This Job & Shove It?

You’re ready to pack your bags, but a large number of you are scared most of quitting your job. You’re not alone. Here are some that also faced that fear and live to tell the tale.

  • – For 20 years, Warren Talbot identified himself by his career and the idea of leaving terrified him. He struggled with how to leave his job gracefully and now he shares what he learned with you.
  • – Before leaving on her year-long career break with her husband, Alonna Scott was able to negotiate a leave of absence with her company, which did not have a sabbatical program. See how she was successful
  • – Even the best-laid plans of giving notice don’t always go as anticipated and you may have to adapt your plan quickly. Watch what happened to Basic Training member Val Bromann.

You Can Come Home Again

Many of you feel that once you hit the road, you won’t want to come back. But if you do, you’re afraid you won’t find a job. Don’t let that fear make you slam on the breaks.

We will address more of your concerns and interests in the coming weeks, and if there is a specific topic you would like more information on, please let us know!

Preparation: Checklist Chaos
Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Darin & Natalie Moss have recently started a 100 day trip to New Zealand, Australia, and points beyond. Travel has always been a major enjoyment of their lives, but seeing the world in work-permitted two-week segments had some significant limitations. After much contemplation and planning, their career break is here and with it, the goal of restoring a much needed balance between life, family, and work. You can follow their journey on their website The Next Journey and on Twitter @tnjdotcom

Before their departure, Darin described the endless checklists that seemed to takeover every stage of their planning.

“I’m in Checklist Chaos… Where’s the Exit, Please?”

“I can’t wait to board the plane… I can’t wait to board the plane…”

As planning for the big trip continues, it’s turning into a mantra that I continue to recite to myself as I once again fold the lined 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper in half, in half again, and one final fold to get the result to a manageable size. As I tuck it away, this sheet joins its brothers and sisters as just one of a stack of several pieces of paper all quarter folded now in my front right pocket. This small stack of paper has become the source for most of my brain power when I am not at work…

What’s on these carefully folded sheets of paper? Checklists. Pages and pages of checklists.

When we finally made the decision to go on this trip, the realities of our new situation finally began to sink in. We would be gone for 100 days. 14+ weeks. Over 3 months.

My brain took over immediately and it really didn’t stop until I had spit out over half a dozen pages of neat little boxes. Next to every square was the “needed to be completed” task at its side, each one begging for the checkmark that would signify completion and a release from the panic that a set of uncompleted tasks can bring to the Type-A Project Manager type of person that I am.

One page is titled, “Things to Pack”.
One page is titled, “Things I Want to Do on the Trip”.
One is titled, “Things That Must Get Done While We’re Gone”.
And the list of pages just grew and grew.

In short order, my brain had begun to operate in overdrive – identifying, documenting, and attempting to wrap itself around every possible thing that needed to be accomplished before, during, and immediately after the trip in one excruciating chaotic pass.

I couldn’t believe some of the things that had ended up on my lists: (Some actual entries)

– Adjust for Daylight Savings on Battery Powered Clocks Before We Leave
– Develop Christmas Shopping Approach for Family with Limited Window to Purchase Gifts
– Identify TV Shows to Watch in the Fall Season to Remote Program the DVR While We’re Gone

After the initial checklist brain dump was mostly finished, it was astonishing to see what had actually been written on these lists, or more humbling, what my brain had determined was “important” in this process.

It was eye opening and a little scary at the same time. Seriously, who is going to be looking at the clocks in the house or watching new episodes of House while we were gone? And what in the world is a “Christmas shopping approach”?

After a couple Tylenol and a nap, the checklists were pared down and a good number of “the brain thought this was important, but it really isn’t” tasks were banished to a place that would never see the light of day again.

There is still a lot to do on the lists. One thing is certain — I hope that with the start of this trip, I can find the little switch that can turn my extremely overactive brain off for a little while, or if that can’t happen, that I can be reminded through this experience about what the truly important is, and learn that it is possible to just let the rest go.

Your Turn: When you look at your own checklists and “Things to Do”, what are the things that are truly important? What needs to be pared down? Tell us about one truly important thing on your list and one item that really wouldn’t destroy the world if it didn’t get done today. You might even be surprised by your own response!

The Anticipation of a RTW Trip
Monday, July 18th, 2011

It’s common to experience a variety of emotions in the weeks leading up to your career break departure date. In the two weeks before Val Bromann departed on her career break, she still didn’t feel like it was her trip that she was about to depart on. She shares with us the emotions that she experienced before departing earlier this month. You can follow along on her journey on her personal blog and also on Twitter: @sillyamerica – Val also writes about roadside attractions at Silly America.

Venice, ItalyTwo Weeks to Go

People keep telling me that Berlin has good currywurst. A fact that would appeal to me if only I enjoyed eating sausage. Besides that, I don’t know anything to do or see or eat in Berlin.

When, in February, I booked a plane ticket there I figured that I had plenty of time to sort such things out. But now it’s June and I’m leaving in two weeks and have hardly picked up a guidebook. Life happened, work happened, extreme procrastination that haunted me throughout 20 years of school happened.

And I now have two more weeks to figure out everything I’m going to be doing for the next year. Berlin is just the first stop of many, each I’m less prepared for than the last.

The idea of taking a round the world trip had been buzzing in my head for years. I’m not sure how, exactly, it got there. In grad school I took a travel writing class and while everyone else was talking about backpacking Europe or living in Mongolia, I wrote about taking a Greyhound from Chicago to Milwaukee. A few years back while on a three-week European vacation a friend mentioned how he’d heard of people traveling for a year on a round the world ticket and was contemplating doing it some day. In both of those instances I thought to myself “I could never do that.” I don’t know what happened that changed my mind, although I’m still not sure anything actually did. I’m still not convinced that indefinite travel is something I am capable of doing. But I suppose I’m going to find out.

Over a year ago I decided that in July of this summer I would leave my job to backpack through Europe. I would see the world and go to all the places I never thought I’d go. I ended up choosing Berlin as my first stop simply because it was the cheapest one-way ticket I could find.

It still doesn’t feel like I’m the one taking this trip. Like I quit my job and in a weeks time will never have to go back to the opera house where I worked for the last four and a half years. Like I booked a one-way ticket to Europe with no itinerary, no exact timeframe, no end date. It doesn’t feel like in two weeks time my whole life will be turned upside down and I’ll be living nomadically with only the things that can fit in my backpack.

Someone with a whole lot more courage than I have is taking this trip. Someone who isn’t shy and socially awkward is taking this trip. Someone who can read a map is taking this trip. I’m just watching it unfold.

Paris, FranceI still haven’t gotten to the point I normally do before a vacation where I’m crying and cursing for forcing myself to leave the comforts of my home. I’m not shaking and suffering insomnia and rationalizing reasons for me to cancel.

I suspect that will come in about a week and a half.

I’m still reminding myself that I’ve made no commitment other than to go to Berlin. I can come back home after a week and buy a condo and never leave it. I’m still reminding myself that since I’ve made no plans I don’t have to go to Asia. I don’t have to go to Poland. I can make my way from Berlin to London if I want and spend my days in a place where I can at least mostly understand what people are saying. Though, I do have a fear that I’m going to get to Berlin and never leave. Not because I’ll fall in love with the city but because I’ll never figure out how to buy a train ticket out of there.

I see a few all-nighters in the coming weeks as I desperately try to cram for what to do in Europe. I see many tears and some absolute refusal. I see feigning illness. I see calling my old roommate and telling her “never mind I’m staying.” I see telling my boss “oh you thought I was serious about quitting?”

Every time I prepare to travel I panic and cry and decide that I no longer want to go. But every time I return from travel I feel calm and rejuvenated and just plain happy.

So I’ll have to push back all those tears and all those excuses and force myself on that plane to Germany. Because I also see, in my next year of travel, adventure, art museums, cafes, monuments, new friends, wine, and maybe even some currywurst.

Val is a member of our Basic Training community, an efficient and supportive way to plan your extended travel. Need support to help turn your career break dreams into reality? Check out Career Break Basic Training.

Worried What Others Think of Your Career Break Plans
Monday, May 23rd, 2011

We hear it often that one of the biggest decisions career breakers make is when do they come out of the “career break closet” to family and friends. A big concern is that they won’t be supportive of the decision – and not everyone will be. So how do you cope with that?

Katie recently “came out” to her family and friends and shares with us their reactions and how she has dealt with it. (Katie’s last name is being withheld because she has yet to give notice to her employer).


How long have you been planning for and what inspired your career break?

I have always loved to travel, but usually in 2 weeks stints. The idea to take a break and travel for several months first popped into my head about 5 years ago when I was thinking about leaving the practice of law and changing careers (possibly a career in travel). It was a very fleeting thought and I didn’t think about it again until about 3 years later after I had gone through a tough breakup, become disillusioned with my second career and realized I just wasn’t that happy in Chicago. I started thinking about moving back home to Minnesota and decided to take the summer of 2010 off to travel before finding a job in the Twin Cities.

Then, I was offered a promotion at work and it just made sense to put everything off until 2011. Since I was postponing everything, I decided I might as well make it a year-long trip. And after some more thought, I realized I didn’t necessarily want to end up back in Minnesota and that I wanted to try a career in travel, wherever that might take me.

I put my condo on the market in December and figured I’d set a departure date once it sold. But after a heart-to-heart with my realtor in February, I realized the likelihood of it selling at a price I could afford was about zero. I also realized I just didn’t want to wait any longer – I needed to start moving forward. So I decided to go with Plan B – trying to rent it out – and set a departure date of August 30, 2011 – my 35th birthday!

What was the reaction of your friends and family when you shared your news?

I was very nervous to tell my parents, afraid that they would be disappointed in my decision. To my great relief, they were very supportive (I think it helped that I initially told them in the context of moving back to Minnesota). When I officially announced a departure date, though, I think they were surprised. I had been talking about it for so long, I suspect they didn’t really think I would go through with it.

When I initially started thinking about taking a break to travel, I told friends gradually, but when I finally set a departure date, I sent a mass email out announcing it. I got a slew of “that’s great, I wish I could do that” responses and I know many friends are genuinely very excited for me. But I was disappointed that many others did not show much enthusiasm or even questioned my decision to do this. It was interesting to see the different responses among from my friends because it wasn’t always what I expected.

Have they been supportive of your decision?

Luckily, my parents have been very supportive. I got my travel bug from my dad, who traveled all over the world for business when I was growing up. And my mom knows very well what it’s like to be stuck in a career you don’t enjoy, so she thinks it is great I am pursuing a happier life.

For the most part, my friends have been supportive, although it has been hard at times. I’ve had to cut back my social life quite a bit in order to save money and I know some are definitely tired of hearing me say I can’t do something because of the cost (and some have just stopped inviting me out!). The best part has been friends who have said they’d love to do something like this too and have been inspired by my decision.

How have you dealt with those who have not been as supportive of your plans?

I have really learned who my real friends are. I have drifted from several – it has become clear that we are just in different places in our lives now and I feel like they don’t understand or really support what I’m doing. But I have also made some great new, like-minded friends – through events like Meet, Plan, Go!, online through blogging and Twitter and even through taking improv classes. The key has been surrounding myself with the positive, supportive people!

What advice would you have for others who may not have the support they would like while planning a career break?

Building a support system is crucial. With less than four months to go until my departure, I am feeling stressed, panicked, emotionally drained and overwhelmed. I have always been very responsible, playing things safe and planning everything down to the smallest detail. Planning this trip involves so many unknowns and so many things over which I have little control – it is very scary. What if I can’t find a tenant for my condo? What if I don’t find a job when I return? What if I end up bankrupt and homeless? If I didn’t have the support and encouragement from my parents and from friends, old and new, I’m not sure I’d be going through with this.

I definitely recommend getting involved with Meet, Plan, Go! – it can be a great way to meet others in your city who have already taken career breaks or are in the process of planning one. Take advantage of the internet. Travel blogs can be a source of inspiration, encouragement and great advice. Connecting with other travelers and career breakers on Twitter, Facebook and email is a great way to build a support system. Finally, if you can, start your own blog and share your preparation with the world. I have not been able to share my plans on my blog yet, but I am counting the days until I finally give notice and can go public with everything!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go