Posts Tagged ‘basic training’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s next for these world travelers?

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

Taking the Next Step
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

If you attended one of our 10 events across North America, you likely heard some inspiring stories from veteran career breakers. And we hope you met other like-minded individuals who share your aspirations to take a career break and travel!

Above all, we hope you realized that it is 100% possible to make a career break happen for yourself. But…what is the next step?

Start Planning

You don’t have to go any further than the Meet, Plan, Go! to kick your planning into high gear! We have the resources you need to book round-the-world flights, secure travel insurance, book hostels through GoMio, get destination inspiration, and read reviews on other helpful web sites and books. All of the trip planning tools you need are at your finger tips.

And once you have the trip planning under control, what about the life planning?

Do you quit your job or negotiate a sabbatical? Rent/sublet your home or sell it? How do you save for your career break and set a budget that won’t drain your savings? And of course – how do you prepare for your return before you even leave?

Career Break Basic Training provides everything you need to get started!

From contemplation and preparation to life on the road and re-entry, this private network offers a supportive peer community and access to career break travel experts to guide you throughout the process – whether you’re leaving in a month or a year!

Each section includes video interviews, valuable travel tips, resources, discussion groups, and concrete steps to follow towards your escape. In addition, all members receive a $75 AirTreks flight coupon and we are talking about a great value to the $149 membership fee.

Get your plans rolling and sign-up today!

Keep Meeting

Whether you head to one of our local meet-ups throughout the year or connect with other travelers online, continue building your support network!  Here’s how:

Facebook Pages
Get the latest news and join the conversations on our national Meet, Plan, Go! page and connect with local travelers on these city pages: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and  Washington, D.C.


Sign up for our newsletter to get an added dose of inspiration every two weeks. Plus, if you can’t stay up to date on our content, we give you a recap of what you may have missed. And as an added bonus, subscribers are the first to know about special news, exclusive deals, and announcements about upcoming webinars.

Share Your Story

We love to share stories from career breakers through every stage of their break: from Contemplation and Preparation to On-the-Road and Re-Entry. You may have already been inspired by some of their voices. Why not share your own? View our editorial guidelines.

Register Your Break

Are you now planning your break – or even better – experiencing it? Then please register with us! We’d love to hear where you’re going and what you plan to do. We also love to highlight event attendees who were brave enough to follow their dreams. And who knows – maybe you will return to inspire others by joining an event panel or even hosting! Register Now!


Follow @MeetPlanGo on Twitter to get the latest news from us – and some of the best career break and travel-related information from around the web!

How to Take a Career Break to Travel
Monday, March 26th, 2012

If you attended a Meet, Plan, Go! event, get our newsletter, have followed our Briefcase to Backpack blog, follow our @MeetPlanGo  twitter stream, or follow our Meet, Plan, Go! Facebook page then I’m guessing that this is the question that you are dying to get an answer to.  Right?

So – how do you take a career break and travel?

Believe it or not, I have an answer for you and it’s simple.

Just do it.  (thank you Nike marketing geniuses!)

Okay, I understand that many of you just wrinkled your nose and shook your head and are about ready to close this web page because you don’t believe it’s that simple.

Fine – for those of you who want a more complex answer then my answer is to spend a lot of time scouring through the internet doing searches on Google like these:

How can I travel?”

“What insurance do I need for travel?”

“How do I not hurt my career if I take a break to travel?”

“What should I do on my career break?”

“What are good volunteering opportunities?”

“How can I save money to travel?”

“How do I travel on a budget?”

“How to travel solo?”

“What do I need to do to prep for extended travel?”

“How do I tell my employer I want to take a break?”

“What do I do when my family/friends don’t support my decisions?”

“How do I find a job after a career break?”

Eventually you will find all of your answers you are looking for.  You will realize that taking a career break isn’t rocket science; nor is it only for the well off, or for those people who have traveled their whole life, or for new age hippies, or for the young, or for the single, or for those who are daring.  You will realize that it’s attainable for everyone no matter what your situation.  If you want it bad enough, you can do it.

However all of this searching and research takes time…lots of time.  You will get lost in Google results spending hours and hours down an insurance or round-the-world airfare rabbit hole and you still may not have answers.  Many professionals don’t have the time to do all of this research and work you have other things to do  – like work more hours than you should, and take care of your family.

Wouldn’t it just be easier if all of this information you needed were in once place and there were people there in that place who you could ask questions to and get answers quickly from a human being?

No, you aren’t dreaming…this career break resource and community utopia exists. 

You can get access to all of the resources you need in one place and meet others who have done it or are planning it who will support you and cheer you on in your career break goals.

Learn more about why Career Break Basic Training will help you accomplish your travel and professional goals, who should join, what you get from Basic Training, and read testimonials of people where are now on the road.    

You can even check out a Sneak Peak series to see what kind of information you will get access to in order to help you plan and take your career break travels

And if you sign up before the end of March, you can get it all for a steal – just $99 (a discount of $50!), PLUS coupons you can use towards your travel itineraries and airfare worth $175.

Do the math…you will end up on top AND you will save the time of searching endlessly through the Google “travel” rabbit hole.

See – it’s just that easy.  Now all you have to do is

Just do it.

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.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go