Posts Tagged ‘career break’

Who Takes a Career Break to Travel?
Thursday, November 20th, 2014

One of the goals of Meet, Plan, Go! is to show you that career break travel is a very real possibility – for everyone! There is no “typical” career breaker. You can be in your mid-twenties or early fifties. You can hit the road solo, as a couple or bring along your whole family. Want to use your career break to transition into a new career or start your own business? Great idea! Just want a break and then return to your old career? That’s fine, too!

Want to plan your<br />
own career break?
Want to plan your
own career break?

There is no right or wrong way to take a career break. Anyone can do it – it’s just a matter of setting your mind to it and making it work. 

Just ask these folks:


It’s not just cubicle-dwellers in the corporate world who feel the call of travel. Boston Meet, Plan, Go host and panel members Lillie Marshall and Catherine Cannon Francis and Chicago’s Christine Benson all left teaching careers to travel,  while San Francisco’s Molly Last hit the road after being awarded a paid sabbatical from her school district. Marshall’s break re-energized her and inspired her to return to the profession with a new found passion.

Solo Women

No one to travel with? No worries! Just ask our hosts and panelists who traveled the world on their own, but rarely feeling alone. Traveling solo as a female doesn’t have to be daunting and women like Chicago’s Lisa Lubin and Val Bromann, Minneapolis’ Katie Aune and Jill Pearson, New York’s Jannell Howell, Toronto’s Kailey Lockhart, Ayngelina Brogan and Janice Waugh and San Francisco’s Kelly Wetherington prove it.

Accidental Career Breakers

Being laid off from your job may seem like a worst-case scenario, but why not make the most of it and hit the road? That’s exactly what San Francisco’s Spencer Spellman, Boston’s Brian E. Peters, Chicago’s Leora Krause and New York’s Sheryl Neutuch did after unexpectedly losing their jobs. For all, a seemingly bad situation ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Career changers

Many career breakers return to their old careers after a break with a new energy and sense of direction. Others use their career break to change careers altogether, often ditching the corporate world for new lives as entrepreneurs, consultants, writers or permanent travelers. This was the case for New York’s Sherry Ott and Lisa Brignoni, Austin’s Keith Hajovsky and Shelley Seale, South Florida’s Matthew Goudreau and San Diego’s Kristin Zibell.

kristin zibell

Later in Life Breakers

Career breaks aren’t just for twenty- and thirty-somethings. Seattle’s Rhonda and Jim Delamater hit the road in their forties, New York’s Larissa and Michael Milne turned 50 and decided to breakaway and travel for a year and Boston’s Ellen Martyn spent her career break bicycling across the country with a group of women all over age 50!


Think having children means you can’t see the world? Think again! Our group of hosts and panelists have included a lot of traveling families – like Austin’s Tiffany and Bill Toomey, Boston’s John and Susan Battye, Chicago’s Nancy Sayre-Vogel and Minneapolis’ Dan Woychick and Jody Halsted.

All believe that travel can be the best education!

How the West Can Be Won
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Cost is an obvious, integral factor for those of us planning an overseas sabbatical.  You’ve already resolved to place your day job on pause, now it’s time to strike a balance between where you would like to visit and the amount of money it takes to get there.  While Western Europe rightfully holds an allure for all travelers, some of its more enticing cities tend to be the most prohibitively expensive.  It’s the reason we see few backpacks in Florence and a barrage in Luang Prabang; Southeast Asia is the affordable alternative, particularly when you’re sustaining yourself with US dollars.  But is it completely out of the question to be Euro-friendly?  On a recent trip to Berlin, I discovered that Western Europe can indeed make the shortlist for potential career break destinations.

There are few places in the world in which I believe the possibilities are infinite; Berlin is one of those cities.   Perhaps because certain areas appear under perpetual construction, or likely since there are invariant traces of its tumultuous past, Berlin exudes an energy that similarly sized cities notably lack.  From its trove of museums to a nightlife that puts New York’s to shame, the once-divided metropolis may sate whatever a traveler craves.  The fact that it is one of the least expensive cities in Western Europe makes it even more palatable for those seeking a bit of intrigue versus the steeply priced capitals. Food, housing, and transportation are a relative bargain when compared elsewhere within the EU; Berlin’s monthly metro/bus pass is $98, dinner and drinks runs around $50 for two, and a private flat in the city’s most convenient and compelling neighborhoods can be had for $40 per night.  You won’t reside in a lap of luxury, though that usually isn’t one’s intent when embarking on a sabbatical in the first place.

As I’m sure it will take some convincing, here’s a snapshot as to how Berlin can be your private and economical European playground:

Expense-Free Exploration

Anything pertaining to World War II is free of charge.  The Holocaust Memorial should be at the top of your list as the museum provides context for all European nations who were affected by the Nazis, while its exterior, undulating slabs of concrete are a site in and of themselves.   The former SS Headquarters, now known as the Topography of Terror, along with the Resistance Museum (think “Valkyrie”) are likewise of interest, as is the lesser-known Museum Otto Weidt, the namesake of which is attributed to a man who hired blind Jews at his factory and successfully saved them from deportation through 1943.  Also notable is the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining portion of the Wall covered in commissioned art for ¾ of a mile, while the Tränenpalast is a former border crossing that today exhibits East/West checkpoint complexities.

Note: If you need a respite from Berlin’s varied past and happen to be in town on a Tuesday, free concerts are held each week at 1pm at the city’s Philharmonic.

Cut-Rate Transportation

As mentioned earlier, a monthly pass in Berlin costs roughly $98 and covers S-Bahn, U-Bahn, and bus services.  Those who prefer to have a late start while on break should instead opt for the “Wide-Awake” monthly pass ($72), the primary difference that it may only be used between 10am-3am Monday through Friday, with all day/night continuing to apply on weekends.

Thrifty Fine Dining

On my recent jaunt I devised a gastronomic tour that encompassed any and all cuisines.  Henne, a traditional “wirtshaus” in Kreuzberg, is the frontrunner as it serves remarkable roasted chicken along with kraut salad and wine for $26.  Close seconds are Monsieur Vuong, a trendy Vietnamese spot in Mitte that I’d recommend for lunch and dinner (appetizer + entrée + drinks for one = $23), and the inventive Rosa Caleta, a Jamaican joint where I dined on a jerk platter and crispy snapper (plus drinks = $32).  For Italian enthusiasts, Muret La Barba is an inviting wine bar where the host stood at his Mac and obligingly translated the German-only menu (homemade linguine + wine = $16).   Schöneberg’s Bejte is another top contender, offering excellent Ethiopian fare that ran three of us $64, while W-Der Imbiss specializes in an array of appetizing naan pizzas ($8-10) that range from guacamole to olive tapenade.  For a meal on the go, Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab was the best $4 I spent during my trip – expect a line.

Shelter on a Shoestring

I rented a two-room flat in Schöneberg via that was considerably larger than my one-bedroom in New York.  The rate was $60 per night (taxes/fees included), though I could have leased a smaller yet equally adequate space for less than $40 a day.  In addition to where I stayed, the neighborhoods best suited for sightseeing and sustenance are Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain, the latter of which has most faithfully retained its eastside temperament.

In all fairness, it should be noted that half of Berlin was once part of the Eastern Bloc for almost thirty years, a fact that continues to impact its current economy.  Every city likewise has its perks; nearly all museums in London are free, the Paris metro is $2 per ride, and the art in Rome is unquestionably worth the price.  Is it impossible to find a meal in London for two under $50?  It’s quite feasible, actually, though your day-to-day costs on the Tube along with lodging will leave you feeling Pound foolish.  My advice to anyone who is considering a Westernized sabbatical – save the other capitals for one-off visits, and instead couple Berlin with more reasonable cities like Lisbon and Barcelona.  While Bangkok may be kinder to your bank account, the exchange rate doesn’t necessarily create a barrier between Western Europe and the wandering employee.  And Berlin is the perfect place to begin.

Paul Fusco is an avid traveler who works as an Executive Recruiter at an international management consulting firm in Manhattan.  He took his first career break in early 2010 and recently achieved a personal objective of visiting thirty countries by the age of thirty, celebrating in both Israel and Jordan.  In his spare time Paul writes, maps out future destinations, and enjoys New York City for all it has to offer.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

In 2008, my then-boyfriend George and I took a year-long sabbatical. In the first month of that trip, we went to the Nomads Hostel in Auckland, New Zealand. The tagline of the hostel was “Nomads: Not all who wander are Lost!” I took a deep breath and thought, “maybe, I will survive this adventure.” Although I had traveled extensively prior to meeting George online, I had never done so with so little pre-planning. Years of traveling while working on a cruise ship meant I only ever unpacked once. I did not carry my things around and wonder where I would lay my head and, as George told me during our travels together, there would be no chocolate on my pillow!

I did adjust to wandering and wondering and not minding (well nearly not minding) on the two nights when we did not have a place to stay. Surviving one of my greatest fears (of having nowhere to stay) along with being ill in Indonesia at New Years made me realize I was handling all the sabbatical year could dish out.

Getting engaged underwater in Thailand on our two year anniversary was a highlight of our trip and one of the main reasons we returned to Los Angeles was to get married! While we were home, we also were selected to be the hosts for the 2011 Meet, Plan, Go! nationwide event, where we met so many wonderful travelers and new friends.

During our three years in Los Angeles, we always remembered the feeling of our first night back when we contemplated our return. I asked George that night, “how did we get here?” He replied, “we got on the wrong plane.”

In July 2012, we corrected our “mistake,” and got on a flight to Bali for the beginning of sabbatical year number two. I wish I could Skype with myself back in 2008 and share how life has changed. Before our first trip, I was unsure if our relationship would endure the trials of being on the road and together 24/7. Now I know that it thrives on all this time together. Recently, George and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary in Fort Cochin, India on December 19, 2012. We had talked about going to India and Myanmar on our trip in 2009 but did not make it to either place then but both were priorities for year #2.

Having another career break has been great for our relationship and for our website! When we traveled in 2008-9, I sent a newsletter once a month. I had left behind many former students who wanted to know where we were and what was happening in which countries. I was surprised at the responses. People seemed genuinely interested in our voyage and what we were learning on the road.

In 2010, I started a blog on Blogger and wrote every Sunday. Several “helpful” people shared how writing only once a week, I would never get anywhere. I explained, “since I am nowhere now, it hardly makes a difference.” About a year later, we added a weekly website and in March 2012 made the leap to WordPress and publishing nearly every day.

During all of my travels and teaching, I have always written in a journal and written letters but now I also write articles that get published. 2012 has been the year of media for me with an appearance on National Television, a photo shoot for a National Magazine and a recent article in National Geographic! I loved it when my bio for National Geographic Intelligent Traveler called me a “Travel Writer.”

For our next project, we are hosting a travel writing contest on our site. This competition is free to enter and offers cash prizes and a raffle with travel literature from incredible published authors. Our theme is Inspiration: A Place You Love. We’re accepting submissions through February 14 – all the details are available here.

Lisa Niver Rajna is spending the year in Asia with her husband (both of whom are members of the Traveler’s Century Club and Huffington Post Bloggers). Follow their adventures at, on Twitter @wesaidgotravel and their Facebook page.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Career Break Traveler
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Still looking for holiday gifts ideas for the career break traveler on your list? Or are you dreaming of taking a career break to travel and looking for additional advice or inspiration?

Here are a few of our favorite career break and travel resources to get you started. And as an added bonus? They’re almost all ebooks – no gift wrapping involved!

How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World, by Dalene and Pete Heck.

Dalene and Pete Heck have spent over half of the last three years house-sitting in places like Ireland, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Honduras, Canada, London and New York. They estimate they have saved at least $30,000 on accommodation costs in the process and now they have poured all of their experience into their ebook, How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World. They analyze the various house-sitting websites out there, recommend how to create a successful profile, tips on how to be a good house-sitter and a variety of resources to help plan for your first house-sitting gig. You can read more here.

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Dream Save Do, by Betsy and Warren Talbot.

The most common perceived obstacle to taking a career break is financial – people fear how much it might cost and assume you need to be rich to take a career break to travel. You definitely don’t need to be rich, and in Dream Save Do, Betsy and Warren show you how to save money for career break travel – or any other dream. They provide concrete ways not only to save money, but to change your life and find the inspiration to follow through. You can read our full review here.

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Negotiating Your Sabbatical: The Ultimate Toolkit for Writing and Presenting a Killer Sabbatical Proposal That Your Boss Can’t Refuse, by Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano

This mother-daughter team took a career break several years ago and now work full-time running – a firm that partners with businesses to develop programs that attract, retain and accelerate top talent through the use of structured leaves of absence. This ebook is aimed at employees – providing advice for wanna-be career breakers on how to successful ask for a sabbatical. But, it is even more than an ebook – it is an entire toolkit to help you build a foundation, create a proposal and engage in the negotiation. Check out our full review here.

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The Traveler’s Handbooks, by multiple authors

This series of books, available in paperback or electronically, focus on the idea that travel is about more than just the destination – it’s about how you choose to experience the world. Several books in the series may be of interest to potential career-breakers, including The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook by Jeff Jung, founder of Career Break Secrets; The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook by Shannon O’Donnell; and The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, by Meet, Plan, Go! Toronto host and founder of Solo Traveler, Janice Waugh.

You might also check out The Food Traveler’s Handbook by Jodi Ettenberg or The Luxury Traveler’s Handbook by Sarah & Terry Lee.

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The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, by Andrew McCarthy

Actor-turned-travel writer Andrew McCarthy’s new memoir is kind of a love story to travel. It’s about how travel can help us discover our truest and best selves, while expanding our minds and souls and shaping us into different people. In the book, McCarthy travels to the far ends of the earth while trying to understand what is holding him back from fully committing to his fiance of four years. From Patagonia to the Amazon to Mount Kiliminjaro, he brings the reader along as he finds a deeper meaning in each experience. You can hear more from McCarthy about the book and his travel philosophy here.


Top photo by Jennifer C.

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RTW Chat Recap: All About Career Breaks
Thursday, October 4th, 2012

We hope you joined us yesterday on Twitter for RTW Chat with RTW Chat is a weekly conversation on Twitter that brings extended travel lovers together from all around the world to discuss everything there is to know about round the world (rtw) travel.

In case you missed it, this week was all about career break travel! Here are some of our favorite responses:

Q1: Where did/do you dream about being when you are at your desk?

@TravelMermaid: Shipwrecked on a desert island with a) King Neptune, b) George Clooney and c) the US Men’s Water Polo team.

@DestnUnknown: Somewhere where I feel like I am living life instead of killing time until I die. Too melodramatic?! If so..Antarctica!!

@Thedelhiway: Always dream about being far far away from bosses, on an island where they cant get to me & mobiles don’t work 🙂

Q2: What scared/scares you most about taking a career break and traveling?

@SherpaKeith: being able to get a job when I returned, but it really wasn’t that hard – urban myth

?@OurOwnPath: Thinking that finishing traveling I wouldn’t find work. I’m finding the opposite – the world is more open for me to find work

@traveling9to5: I was terrified of squat toilets in Asia – Now I prefer them!

@llworldtour: The unknown & being lonely. Both fears went away pretty quick as i learned I was rarely alone.

Q3: What is/was the hardest part of planning your career break travels?

@VolunteerSarah: Figuring out where to go–too many amazing places!

@HeckticTravels: We never really planned! Kinda threw a dart at a map, and booked our first three nights accommodations only. 🙂

@DestnUnknown: Getting the balance right between ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’ – wanting to make the most of my time, but leave it flexible too

@KatkaTravels: tying up loose-ends. Finding a subleaser, home for my dog, closing accounts, etc

Q4: What is/was the easiest part of planning your career break travels?

@travelshus: I thought the easiest part was decided where to go. Easiest ended up being quitting the job and packing the stuff

@katieaune: surprisingly, renting out my condo was one of the easiest – great rental market in Chicago!

@DestnUnknown: Decision to do it was easy, it felt so right. Planning phase was fun, it felt easy because it was fun

@greentravelgrl: Surprisingly easy to sell my car. And also sell all of my furniture and move out of my townhouse to become essentially homeless

Q5: Should your career break travels include working? What kind?

@GirlUnmapped: My year working in Oz was definitely helpful upon returning (got better work experience than I would’ve in US!)

@llworldtour: Didn’t plan it, but mine did. I fell into random jobs & loved it. Became more local, met new people that weren’t travelers.

?@travelitach: I would love to work on farms in every country I visit – that’s how you really get into the local knowledge

Q6: If you’ve taken a career break, what was the most important lesson you learned?

@DestnUnknown: That you can replenish your bank account, but you can’t reclaim time – make each second in life count!

@tweetthemap: That it can be done! And if we, a family of 4, can do it, anyone can!

@katieaune: that no matter how much i stressed or worried, things always had a way of working themselves out.

@anishahbbc: That despite our differences we”re all trying to make it in this world; humans & animals. Philanthropy.

Q7: Why do we need a career break/gap year in America?

?@GirlUnmapped: There’s more to life than work & climbing the ladder – realize there’s more to the world & appreciating the diverse ppl in it.

@HeckticTravels: To broaden one’s perspective outside of their own borders. To break down barriers, stereotypes, and prejudices. TO GROW!

@greentravelgrl: Broader perspectives on the really important issues in life. Not everyone has water from a tap or garbage pickup, etc

?@wanderbelly: To end pervasive American ignorance that the rest of the world is a ‘scary’ place.

Q8: Do you think a career break will help your career? Why?

@traveling9to5: My career break is the start of my new career and my freedom to control my own life again!

@llworldtour: YES! It changed my career & my life. Went from TV producer to full time travel writer & traveler. Less Money. MORE happy.

@riorimontitours: Yes, you will become more aware of how many differences and cultures surround you, and of how vast the world is

?@OutlanderAbroad: Have a great career by US standards. Want to discover what I’m truly passionate about, maybe discover a new career!

?@KatkaTravels: I think it would help ME more than my career. You can work anywhere but working where you are happy is the best

Q9: Would you include a career break and travel on your resume? If so, how?

?@travelshus: yes, and currently do. I put it under skills. Its also clearly a talking pt due to the time gap. #rtwchat.

@insuremytrip: If you wouldn’t, you should! Place it proudly in the appropriate spot under “relevant experience.” List countries. Show pix.

@greentravelgrl: Write a list of skills that you learned on the road such as networking, nonverbal communication, problem solving, photography

?@OutlanderAbroad: YES. Show you can plan, budget, execute a massive-scale ‘project’, plus all the lessons learned & new experiences along the way

Q10: What is the biggest benefit of taking a career break that includes travel?

?@SherpaKeith: you appreciate life and what you have so much more imho

@traveling9to5: Your opportunites are opened and your mindset drastically changes on what success is

@DestnUnknown: Learn that work is not just sitting in an office. Many different ways to earn money around the world, find what you love doing

@GirlUnmapped: We are an increasingly global society. Cross-cultural communication skills, int’l exper & a global perspective are important.

And our favorite response of all? From @HeckticTravels: “‘I wish I had NEVER gone traveling.’ Said no one. EVER.”
You can also follow along on YouTube with BootsnAll CEO Sean Keener and Meet, Plan, Go! co-founder Sherry Ott as they participated in the RTW Chat:

Join us on October 16, 2012 for our nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! events:

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

San Diego | San Francisco | Seattle | South Florida | Toronto

Photo: West McGowan

Ideas for Planning a Career Break
Friday, August 31st, 2012

This post is brought to you by Thomson, which is part of TUI UK.

One of the most amazing things about humanity is that if you walked into a crowded room today and asked everyone about their dream destination, it’s very unlikely people would name the same places. You may have a yearning to go to Tenerife, Paris, Las Vegas, Moscow… but it takes courage, not to mention money, to take a career break and head out into the unknown.

The reasons people go on holiday are often quite obvious: for example, honeymoons, summers, rejuvenation, or family time.  But people who travel for a month or more and discover new things go for less obvious reasons and their journeys begin long before they start researching destinations or flight deals.

The problem is that a vague idea of living in Las Palmas and teaching English doesn’t always translate easily into a plan – particularly if you have a family, career and other responsibilities to consider. We’ve compiled a few ideas that may help you:

Book an around-the-world ticket.

So many people begin their careers early, meaning they have less time to travel when they’re younger, meaning they miss out on the traditional gap years in skiing resorts and summer camps that are offered in many countries.

But why should gap years be reserved for young people? There are many temporary jobs available for people who have experience working with customers or with numbers, and if you’ve seen the benefits gap years have provided for your children, you may be encouraged to plan a year away alone or even with your spouse.

Learn something new

If you’re feeling stagnant or tired at work, it may be time to learn a new skill – not at university or by correspondence – but in a new country! Some of the career breaks you might like to consider include learning a new language, working with children, adventure activities such as scuba diving or sailing, cooking, teaching or mountain biking.

Give back

Many people choose to do volunteer work overseas as it has the double benefit of immersing you in local culture and providing you with the opportunity to do more than simply pass through the country. There are companies that provide placements for those interested in volunteering in areas like wildlife, conservation and community. This can include working with homeless children, teaching English, doing environmental work and raising awareness of conservation.

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

A wonderful thing about traveling is that every person gets something different out of it, whether it’s wisdom or adventure, and every person has their own preferences when traveling, whether they’re eating in restaurants, shopping in markets, swimming lakes or hiking high up in the wilderness. And there’s no perfect time, bank balance or destination that you need to wait for, just go!

Jane Shelley is an Australian travel writer. She loves venturing to Asia, Europe, Britain and the United States, although when at home she lives in Sydney.

How to Make Career-Related Connections on the Road
Monday, August 20th, 2012

Though I left my job behind to travel the world for thirteen months, I did not abandon my career.

Intentional preparation allowed me to harness my professional skills, expand my experience and qualifications as a landscape architect, and add value to my travels. By laying groundwork before departure and remaining engaged on the road, I’ve connected with relevant projects and opportunities, and as a bonus, I’ve leveraged my skills to offset traveling expenses. While my story is connected to landscape architecture, the concepts apply to careers across the spectrum: nursing, construction, sales, finance, writing, painting, teaching…you name it!

As you plan your career break, consider these eight tips for making career-related connections on the road.

1. Research Other Travelers in Your Profession.

Since university, I’d kept a particular article from Landscape Architecture Magazine tucked away for future reference: a story of two senior level landscape architects who together left their jobs and signed up for two-year contracts with the Peace Corps, donating their skills and expertise to community development and conservations work in eastern Europe. I also valued stories of historical landscape architects whose international travels inspired and shaped their careers.

To Do: Google [Your Profession] and any combination of Travel + Blog + Story + Volunteer + International + Example + Case Study and see what comes up! Follow a blog, read a biography, soak up the inspiration and prepare to inspire.

2. Tap Colleagues and Associates for Resource and Inspiration.

Before departing, I spent time with a few trusted mentors and industry colleagues and asked this question: “While I’m traveling, what would you recommend that I look for and learn from with regard to landscape architecture?” Their answers inspired and shaped me, and helped me more clearly define the professional goals I hoped to achieve while traveling.

To Do: Think carefully through your existing professional network: even if they’re not travelers, are there free spirits who share your passions and professional interests? Schedule coffee dates and ask mentors what they recommend you look for and learn from with regard to your profession. Take notes!

3. Connect with Professional Associations.

Before departure, I’d served on the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Oregon Executive Committee and founded our state’s Emerging Professionals Committee. Curious about professional connections overseas, I contacted the International Federation of Landscape Architects and engaged in a helpful email conversation with the chair of the Young Professionals Advocate Task Force about networking opportunities and the potential for writing/sharing case studies with emerging professionals while on the road. I also received specific contact information for national chapter leaders in various countries around the world.

To Do: Send an email, introduce yourself, ask for contacts. Follow up with introduction emails to individuals along your route.

4. Look for Conferences and Events.

Before leaving, I took note of details for the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ World Conference; the date and location were a potential match for my itinerary! Once on the road, I learned that our visit to Lebanon coincided with the Beirut Design Festival, and I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to view proposals for future urban development projects projects slated for the city.

To Do: Check events calendars for associations and organizations and see if dates align with your travel times and itinerary.

5. Identify Relevant Contacts Within Travel Networks.

Before departing, my husband and I joined Servas, an international organization facilitating peace and hospitality through the cross-pollination of cultures and relationship. As we planned our trip and examined the Servas host directories, we looked for contacts that share interest and influence in our respective professions. For example, when we visited Salvador, Brazil, we connected with a community development worker and a young architect practicing in the city and teaching in the local university; they served as day hosts during our time in the city, and the rich learning experience added a layer of professional relevance to an otherwise touristy cruise-ship stop.

To Do: Research and join relevant travel networks such as Couchsurfing, Servas, Tripl, and begin compiling a list of hosts who share similar career interests and experience.

6. Keep in Touch with Your Alumni Association.

I remain in touch with my Alumni Association and with my department and past professors at the University of Oregon. I sent an update on my travels for our Architecture and Allied Arts Alumni Notes section and let them know about my travels. They in turn sent a request for an interview and published a feature piece on my experience bridging travel and professional practice. The article is a great tool for sharing my ongoing commitment to my profession with colleagues and industry contacts.

To Do: Contact your alma mater to see if they have an international alumni network. Make a note of your university’s contact information; send them an update once you’ve been on the road, supplying details of how your studies and professional practice tie into your overseas experience.

Parque 3 de Febrero Architectural Plan

7. Look for Volunteer Opportunities That Match Your Skill Set.

Opportunities to put your skills to use on the road abound with organizations like and word-of-mouth referrals. I began researching in advance of leavening and made connections for projects where I could use my technical abilities to work in exchange for room and board in South America, Europe, and Africa. Such rich experiences: meeting new “clients,” and assisting in valuable ways while earning housing, meals, and work experience to add to my resume.

My one week room and board exchange for a residential/campground master plan in Bolivia and one month room and board exchange for a retreat center master plan in South Africa literally saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lodging, food, and transportation expenses and also provided invaluable experience to add to my professional portfolio (and the chance to spend time with truly wonderful hosts!).

To Do: Volunteer-trade exchanges aren’t limited to particular job types; brainstorm your skill set: technical trade, management, cleaning, writing, computer programming, cooking, providing child care, painting, gardening, driving, teaching, etc., etc. Ask contacts in your personal network if they’re aware of places or projects looking for volunteers. Browse sites like and others. Once you’ve found potential matches, commit to membership, submit your profile, and begin reaching out to potential partners. Treat potential connections as valuable professional opportunities, work hard, and confidently add the experiences to your resume.

8. Harness Social Media.

Since joining Twitter in 2008, I’ve followed local practitioners, companies, commentators, and international organizations related to landscape architecture. Thanks to such accounts as World Landscape Architecture webzine @wlandscapearch and @thisbigcity, the opportunity to read stories about Rio de Janeiro prior to arrival, for example, gave me an added level of understanding of their urban planning, waterfront redevelopment, and utility infrastructure projects in preparation for the Brazil World Cup and Olympics. Following @FutureCapeTown increased my excitement during lead time for the trip and gave me a helpful perspective on the city and its current position as World Design Capital for 2014 once I arrived to walk the streets in person.

To Do: Follow people and projects related to your profession, reach out to them for ideas and input when visiting their regions, and build connections within your industry.

If you find yourself preparing to take an extended break from employment and spend time overseas, I hope these ideas help you lay a solid foundation for making the most of your travels and gaining professional experience along the way.

With a bit of intentional planning and preparation, the decision to step away from your job and gain experience on the journey may turn out to be the greatest next step of your career!

Bethany Rydmark is a landscape architect by trade and a lover of the world by nature. After scheming and dreaming for eight years, planning and saving pennies, she and her husband Ted left their beloved home state of Oregon in 2012 to travel South America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand. Her stories and photos are scattered around the web: and Tweet her at @bethanyrydmark or @twoOregonians; she’d love to hear your stories.

Inspired by Meet, Plan, Go!
Monday, August 13th, 2012

Thumbing through my daily devotional book, the April 20 reading caught my attention:  “Want to know God’s will for your life?  Then answer this question: What ignites your heart?”  (from Grace for the Moment)

I knew MY answer.

My heart is “ignited” by opportunities to travel and to make an impact on other peoples’ lives through volunteer/mission work and cultural immersion.  Putting those passions together with my God-given gifts was the start of my dream to “Travel with a Purpose.”

There were so many things I wanted to experience while traveling—cultural exchanges, international volunteering, mission work, and even working seasonal jobs.  But, I knew I could never do it with 14 vacation days per year.  Soon, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t find myself contemplating leaving behind everything I knew in order to have the opportunity travel around the world.

It began to consume all of my thoughts, and so last October, when I heard about the Meet, Plan, Go! event, I knew I had to go.


The purpose of Meet, Plan, Go!  is to “encourage and teach others how to travel the world and have it be beneficial to your career.”  Last year’s event in Orlando was an opportunity for me to get inspiration, encouragement, and advice for my career break plans and to MEET current/former career breakers, such as Mike & Catrell Cooney of Cooney World Adventure, Jillian Tobias of I Should Logoff (hosting the South Florida event this year!), Shannon O’Donnell of A Little Adrift, Cheryl MacDonald & Lisa Chavis of What Boundaries and Ben Reed of Adventures with Ben.


My ultimate decision to be a “career-breaker” got more serious about 2 years ago but my specific planning didn’t intensify until about 6 months prior to my departure date.

Here’s my planning checklist:

6 months prior

? Research visas, vaccinations, gear, insurance, volunteer opportunities, travel plans, etc.

? Consider taking up travel blogging (to document your trip).

? Apply for/Renew passport if necessary (most countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of your intended stay).

? Register your career break with Meet, Plan, Go!

5 months prior

? Plan itinerary—to whatever extent you’re comfortable.

? Buy gear and supplies so you have time to try it out & break it in.

? Set up a Skype account to stay in touch with friends & family back home.

? Set up a DropBox account for easy access to your computer files.

? Get any required vaccinations.

4 months prior

? Book plane tickets and reserve accommodations (especially if traveling during busy season).

? Apply for any volunteer programs in which you plan on participating.

3 months prior

? Visit a travel doctor.

? Begin filling prescriptions (especially if you’re going to need Malaria prophylaxis).

2 months prior

– Apply for international and/or domestic medical insurance.

– Obtain any required visas.

1 month prior

? Change address and/or arrange for someone to handle “business things” for you while you’re gone.

? Take pictures of credit cards, passports, visas, etc. and email to yourself (if you lose them overseas, at least having a photo will make getting an emergency replacement a lot easier).

? Notify credit/debit card companies of travel.

I tend to think, if I could pull THIS off, planning a wedding one day will be a piece of cake!


Last October, inspired by the Meet, Plan, Go! event, I took the first committal steps to GO for my dream—I submitted 3 volunteer applications and got a plane ticket for 90 days in Europe, making it that much harder to turn back.  I wanted to use these opportunities to serve God’s purpose for my life and to make use of the gifts, abilities, and passions that He’d given me.

Not surprisingly, as reality began to set in, fear also crept in—fear that I would fail or that I wouldn’t be able to get a job when I returned.  And, fear is the enemy of progress.  As Max Lucado said, “at the beginning of every act of faith, there is often a seed of fear.

But, endless possibilities exist when you’re willing to make a change.  And, I was confident that if I was doing my best to follow God’s Will, everything would be ok.  It may not turn out how I think it should, but it will turn out exactly how God wants it to.

Sarah Schauer began her career break in June 2012 with a domestic seasonal opportunity before heading to Europe, Africa, South America, and New Zealand. She’s a financial analyst by career, but also plays beach volleyball, volunteers with foreign exchange students, and enjoys hiking & the outdoors.  She’s a Christian who feels blessed to be able to experience this adventure of a lifetime participating in international volunteer opportunities, all out of the desire to make a difference in the lives of others and experience cultural immersion.  You can follow Sarah during her experiences at her website, Travels With a Purpose.

The Great New Zealand Overseas Experience
Monday, August 6th, 2012

Taking a year or two off from your normal life is so common in New Zealand we have our own acronym for it – OE.

What we forget is that if you’re not a kiwi the term “OE” means absolutely nothing.

So if it means nothing to you, here’s what it means to us: “Overseas Experience.”

It may sound silly, but when you consider that New Zealand has a population of 4.5 million, there’s a ratio of seven sheep to every person (I can hear the sheep jokes already) and we’re geographically isolated out there in the southwest Pacific Ocean, you can see why getting out of New Zealand and seeing the world is viewed favorably.

As for how we travel, because the flights are so expensive and because it takes a good day of solid travel to get to Europe or America, we don’t go for a week or two, we go for months, even years.

Take me for instance.  I am a 25-year-old, who last year found myself out of a job after the politician for whom I had been spin-doctoring retired. I was fit and healthy, financially uncommitted, childless, newly manless and newly happily unemployed, so it seemed like the perfect time for my OE.

I have now been on the road for six months exploring Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, England and Scotland and I’m about to add Morocco and Spain to that list.

But I’m a late bloomer when it comes to getting the travel bug.

Most of my friends have been there, done that and are now slowly filtering back to New Zealand (or jumping the ditch to Australia) to do adult things like get married, buy houses and have babies.

Typically New Zealanders (I’m basing this on my friends and family) either travel:

? Right after they finish high school and they find themselves grappling with the age old question – what to do with my life?

? In the middle of university when they need a break from their degrees.

?  Right after university when they need a break before they begin their climb up the career ladder.

? Like me, a few years into their careers, when they again find themselves grappling with the age old question – what to do with my life?

? Or, like the former neighbors I am currently staying with in London, once your children have grown up and you’re empty nesters.

And a quick survey of my friends from home puts pins all over the map:  there’s a gaggle in London, one in Scotland, one in Norway, one in Mexico, one in Germany, one in Canada, one in America, one in Turkey, one in Italy, a number sojourning in Europe and South America and too many to count in Australia.

But I know that those of you from the northern hemisphere find our way of travel a bit strange.

I know because whenever I met people from your part of the world you tell me. By far the most common question I get is  – how can you afford it?

The answer is I saved my arse off before I left home and I live cheaply. I stay in hostels, I don’t buy souvenirs, the only thing I take is photos, I stay with long lost friends, I house sit and I try to take pleasure out of the free things in life – such as people watching.

As for getting a job, while I’ve got a youth mobility visa that allows me to work in the United Kingdom for up to two years, I haven’t needed to work yet, and to be honest, traveling by yourself when you can’t read a map and don’t know left from right is a full time job as it is.

And, despite the fact that I may very well go home with a blank spot on my resume for 2012,  potential employers would probably view it very highly.

They would probably see it as life experience and view me as a worldly candidate.

And, I bet your bottom dollar, if there were two very similar candidates going for the same job and one had traveled and one hadn’t, the one who had done their OE would get the job, even if it was for no other reason than at least they’d got it out of their system and were less likely to leave in the near future.

Rachael Bruce is a 25-year-old New Zealander, who on finding herself out of a job at the end of last year decided to condense her life into a 15kg rucksack and hit the road. She’s been backpacking solo since January through South East Asia and Europe, and to keep her sanity, blogging about it at

Not Wasting Time: Taking a Second Career Break
Monday, July 16th, 2012

Time is now the currency. We earn it and spend it. The rich can live forever and the rest of us? I just wanna wake up with more time on my hands than hours in the day. – In Time (2011)

In Time is a movie that really spoke to me. In the movie, the main character, Will, is falsely accused of murder and must find a way to bring down a system in which time is money. While the wealthy can live forever, the poor have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through each day. At one point, a character gives his time to Will and tells him, “don’t waste my time.

How many times have you been in a pointless meeting thinking what a waste of time it is? So many of us waste time every day. We casually think that there will be time later. One of my strongest memories of seven years working on cruise ships was speaking to a widow who said, “we always planned to come here to Alaska together but there was always something that got in the way.” I heard over and over again, “don’t wait to make your dreams come true” or “you are so smart to travel like this while you are young.” I often felt like a character who had borrowed against time and was running to spend my time wisely traveling.

When my company went bankrupt after September 11, 2001, I thought I would never travel again. I just could not imagine how to make it happen. When George came in my life after an internet date and shared his dream of a year of exotic international travel, I was willing to jump with both feet and share his dream. During our eleven month adventure in twelve countries, our relationship deepened, and our life together evolved. We really learned to be a team.

In the movie, In Time, Will talks about what he would do with plenty of time.

Henry Hamilton: If you had as much time as I have, on that clock, what would you do with it?
[Will looks at the clock on his arm showing how much time he has left]
Will Salas: I’d stop watching it. I can tell you one thing. If I had all that time, I’d sure as hell wouldn’t waste it.

I have been graced with the option to travel and act outside the box. Lily Tomlin said “the trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” When I dropped out of medical school and went to Club Med and Princess Cruises to see the world, I didn’t have a clue of the adventures I would find. I would say a theme of my life is that I have not wanted to waste my time.

Recently George and I were provided with another opportunity to drop out of “normal” life. We left July 1st to start a year in South East Asia. Leaving this time is so different. I wish I could write a letter to myself and get it this time four years ago as we were preparing for our first voyage together. Everything seemed so hard and so complicated. We had to build a storage unit in the garage which we used for the first one-year trip and for two summer trips. Now we will be gone again for a year. We are about to rent our condo for the fourth time. The first time I was so worried: will my relationship work out? Will the tenant break all our dishes and windows and things?

George has gotten a leave of absence again. I am saying good-bye to hundreds of children again. We are working on travel insurance, moving files, and finding the best things to bring with us in our backpacks. This time I actually have a backpack. For our first year trip, I freaked out and left with two small bags but no backpack. A few years ago, George bought me a backpack and now I love it.

I had to be patient with myself then. I was so worried. But I lived. I survived. Getting right up close to my greatest fears has let me see some of the best times. On the last trip, I lost sixty pounds and we got engaged underwater. Both were tremendous surprises. For this trip, I cannot even begin to imagine what we will discover together. I only know that we are living our dreams and I cannot wait to see what will happen next!

In the movie, Sylvia realizes that maybe it is worth it to step outside of your zone and take a chance.

Sylvia Weis: Oh, no? The clock is good for no one. The poor die and the rich don’t live. We can all live forever so long as we don’t do anything foolish. Doesn’t that scare you? That maybe you’ll never do anything foolish or courageous or anything worth a damn?

I am glad I took the risk and said YES when George asked me to go with him on his dream trip. For me, it felt foolish and courageous and it makes me feel so alive to be getting ready to go again on another “Big Trip.

Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. is an accomplished travel agent, blogger, speaker, science teacher and member of the Traveler’s Century Club, a unique travel club limited to travelers who have visited one hundred or more countries. Lisa and George Rajna spent eleven months wandering Southeast Asia from Indonesia to Mongolia where they fell in love, got engaged, and now as a married couple are writing a book about their journey. They left on July 1st for another year in South East Asia, follow them at

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go