Posts Tagged ‘Favorites’

Teaching Traveling: Inspiring Teachers to Travel
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

“Why should we care if teachers follow their travel dreams or not? Here’s one reason: if we teachers are telling students they can and should follow their dreams… shouldn’t WE do what it takes to follow our own travel dreams as well?”

Lillie MarshallWise words from our MPG Boston Host Lillie Marshall, who followed her dream and took a year-long Leave of Absence to travel around the world after 6 years of teaching in Boston Public Schools. But that dream almost didn’t see the light of day.

“Part of what nearly stopped me from taking a Travel Leave of Absence from my job as a public school teacher was guilt. ‘What will my students do without me?’ I wondered, worry gnawing at my stomach. ‘How can you do this to us?!’ wailed my coworkers when they found out about my impending Leave of Absence. ‘Do you realize how much you leaving will screw everything up?’

Thank heaven I didn’t cave into this guilt, because the reality is: after I left, the world as we knew it at my job did NOT end. In fact, I would assert that the state of Boston Public Schools is now BETTER since my Travel Leave.”

Lillie chronicled her adventures on AroundTheWorldL and is now inspiring and assisting more teachers to travel through her new site, Teaching Traveling. Why?

1. Happiness leads to effectiveness. First and foremost, a fulfilled, happy staff is the key to an energetic, powerfully effective organization. Going into my sixth year of teaching, I was getting tired, falling into a rut, and lacking sparkle. But now, after a year away, I return to Boston Public Schools with such renewed passion for teaching! And the students and my coworkers now appreciate that.

2. Have faith in humans!The students who I left on my year-long Leave of Absence didn’t have me as an English teacher, but they ended up having a lot of other great teachers that year. If you are being pressured not to leave because of the threat that ‘everything will fall apart,’ remind folks of the reality: humans have the ability to rise to a challenge. Your workplace WILL go on, and in fact, the new configuration might even cause a positive breakthrough for the whole organization!

3. If you decide to return to your workplace after a Travel Leave, what an asset you will be! Now that I’m back in BPS, I have a wealth of new curriculum from working with students in West Africa and beyond, I have a ton of contacts for teachers wanting guest contributors to their lessons and projects, and I have a veritable trove of resources for educators wishing to follow their own travel dreams. What would BPS rather have: 7 years of a tired, un-inspired teacher who never once took time to fulfill her own life goals by taking the risk of a Leave, or a zest-filled, world-traveling dynamo, freshly back from Around the World?

Teaching TravelingTeaching Traveling profiles teachers who have traveled, shows how they have done it, and shares how the experience has benefited them. You also meet travelers who have decided to teach – many of whom are teaching English overseas.

Lillie will also be hosting a night of travel inspiration for teachers and those who have dreams of teaching abroad.

During this event, you can connect with aspiring and expert Teacher-Travelers as well as representatives from related organizations. All types of Teacher-Travel will be discussed – from short-term to long term and educational to “non-educational.” You can also learn secrets of cheap travel from a diverse, interactive panel and speakers will discuss balancing travel with raising kids, dealing with a small bank account, and having no time.

Teaching Traveling Inspiration Night in Boston
Thursday, March 31 – 6:30-8:30pm
Elephant and Castle Restaurant, Lower Level
161 Devonshire Street – Boston, MA 02110
For more information and to RSVP

Art of Non-Conformity
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I’ve always been someone who strives to be different, stand out, and be unique. Back when I had my very own drab cubicle walls I tried to decorate them to make them less gray, sad, and boring. I had a small coral colored card I always hung next to my computer monitor that simply read:

“Conform and Be Dull”

Yet the irony was I was staying in a job I didn’t love, depriving myself of my real passions so that I could simply be like everyone else and fit in. Fit into my company, fit into New York City, fit into my parent’s expectations, and ultimately fit into society; my life was all about conforming.

As you read in Steve’s post “Notes from a Briefcase” earlier this week, over the last 4 years I have broken out of that life of conformity and really followed my passions. And guess what – I’m surviving, and happier than ever. Steve also is happy doing his corporate job which takes him all over the world, but provides him a regular paycheck as well as stimulates him. Everyone has different things which make them happy, but the key is – live the life YOU want.

AONC Book SigningI stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau’s blog a few years ago; he writes on unconventional strategies for life, work, and travel. He espouses the message of ‘you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to’ and ‘work should be fun and meaningful’. I felt as if he had been eavesdropping on my inner thoughts and desires. In many ways it speaks to the Briefcase to Backpack mentality; you don’t have to defer your desires and wanderlust until retirement, why not set your own rules and put career break in your vocabulary. I signed up for his newsletter and have been following him ever since.

Chris recently moved beyond bits and bytes and became an author; his book The Art of Non-Conformity was released in September. The book goes into more detail on how you can go about setting your own path, your own rules, and find your purpose in your career and life. It covers the idea that career and life don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Sure – that’s easy to say; we all strive to spend our time doing things we love, but something stops us from doing that; normally it’s the expectations of others and our own desire to conform.


Favorite Blog: Quitter to Winner
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Quitter to WinnerWe recently discussed how many career breakers remain in the “career break closet” – keeping their upcoming travel plans from friends, family, and especially colleagues and bosses. Some spend months, if not years, planning their escape, but are afraid to share the news too soon out of fear of losing their jobs – much like Keith & Amy Sutter. “We could not afford, either financially or professional, for word of our plans to leak back to our companies before we were ready.”

Quitting can be difficult for anyone, especially career breakers. Doubts can seep in as you start to question your decision. Hearing others stories of quitting can make it that much easier, and now you can on Quitter to Winner”, a resource for those quitting their job for a career break, sabbatical, entrepreneurial venture or new gig.

The blog was started by Michael Sjostedt, who noticed that “over the last few years people held onto jobs they weren’t satisfied with. But recent stats show that more and more workers are voluntarily leaving their gigs for yet-to-be-determined opportunities.

Job burnout certainly plays a role in the trend. Some might have a little red devil on their shoulders who whispers ‘life’s too short.’ Others have the hutzpa to strike out on their own, thinking they can crack the ‘earn more, work less’ algorithm.

Everyone’s got a reason and a story. I’m curious to learn why people jumped, how they navigated the free fall, and if they succeeded.”

You can read stories like Alice Gray and Lyon Graulty, who are taking several months off between jobs to bike the West Coast and raise money for Posada Esperanza, an Austin-based shelter for immigrant women and their children. Or James Morgan, who talks about his difficult transition from a teaching career into architectural woodworking. And Ryan Fuller and his wife, Jen, who got burnt out from their high-pressure consulting jobs and are now in rehab: via extended vacation in Argentina.

And be sure to visit their Facebook Fan Page as Michael features inspiring career-related stories, blogs, and job boards from around the web.

Favorite Gear: Knopf MapGuides
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

[singlepic=1844,250,,,right]I’ve always been great at directions. During road trips, I always loved playing shotgun while flipping through road maps. But that was before GPS took that job away from me.

And even though I was won over by the iPhone for the map feature alone, I’m still a big fan of old school printed maps when exploring a new city. Even before leaving on a trip, I will carefully study maps of the destinations I’m going to – including locating places I’m staying and sites I like to see. This is unbelievably helpful for making me feel acclimated that much faster upon arrival.

I recently discussed how when traveling with a partner, it is best to recognize each others strengths. And for me, that is map reader and director. I love this role because if someone else is leading, I often don’t pay attention to our path. And being dependent on another person to get around fills me with a sense of helplessness, especially if we separate.

Of course I don’t like sticking out like a tourist by standing on the street corner with a giant unfolded map. That’s when studying a map before hand helps. But recently I found a more discreet, and extremely helpful map, that includes destination highlights – so you can even leave the guidebook at home!

During a recent trip to London, I picked up the Knopf MapGuide: London (Knopf Mapguides).

It is extremely compact and easily fit into my purse, so I could always have it with me. The sections are broken up by neighborhoods/districts, and in addition to the easy fold-out maps (which are inconspicuous), each section includes highlights like restaurants, bars, museums and other essential places to see. It also includes a map of the Underground, so taking public transportation was easy to navigate.

So on this trip I was definitely happy to put down the iPhone (with the roaming charges) and rely on my Knopf MapGuide. I’ll be certain to use these more on future trips!

[singlepic=1845,175,,,left] [singlepic=1846,175,,,left] [singlepic=1847,175,,,left]

Travel Swag Contest!
Friday, June 25th, 2010

WIN a Camenae Travel Clutch!

Wednesday I wrote about how you can make career connections while you are traveling on your career break; it just takes a little networking and you may be able to line up your next job after your career break travels are finished!

I was able to do this when I was in Sinagpore and met the women who own/run CAMENAE – a luxury Italian handbag company.

Jill and Brittany, my part time employers, have always supported the work Michaela and I do on Briefcase to Backpack. They are avid travelers and both have been living overseas as expats for years. They were nice enough to offer one of their classy CAMENAE travel clutches for free to one of our lucky Briefcase to Backpack readers!

Whether you are traveling for a career break or for business – you still have to comply by all of the airport regulations. In most countries this means you can’t have any liquids loosely hanging out in your carry on bag – they must be contained.

What better way to contain those liquids than with the CAMENAE Travel Clutch!

It’s time to throw away those ugly zip lock bags and travel in style with the CAMENAE travel clutch!

Designed to FAA/TSA flight carry-on
security regulations (*3-1-1)

it can be used as a travel case, clutch, make-up case, or ipod case for the beach; you’ll be traveling in style and saving the environment from those plastic bags!

To win you very own CAMENAE travel clutch you simply need to do TWO simple things…but you have to do both…else you won’t be eligible to win!

1. Become a fan of CAMENAE on Facebook where you’ll get some behind the scenes information about their designs, photo shoots, and new collections.
2. Leave a comment on this post (below) describing why you’d like to win the CAMENAE Travel Clutch!

Simple right?!  Do both before July 5th, 2010 and you’ll be eligible to win!

Favorite Website: Amateur Traveler
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

You’ve decided to fulfill your round-the-world travel dreams and are ready to book your ticket – but where to go? Look no further than Amateur Traveler for destination inspiration.

[singlepic=1783,555,,,left]The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and the best places to travel. According to Chris Christensen, “It covers everything from knowing what to put on your Chicago dog to swimming with whales in Tonga.” In addition to a weekly audio podcast, Chris also produces a twice montly video podcast and blog.

We love Amateur Traveler because there is no better way to learn about a destination and what to do than from people who have actually done it. How often do you take action on something based on a friend’s recommendation – whether it’s a restaurant or movie? Well think of Chris and his guests as friends that are giving you great travel advice.

[singlepic=1784,150,,,left]In the past five years, Chris has interviewed over 230 guests for his podcast, has produced more than 60 videos, and has even added on a weekly travel show: This Week in Travel. That’s a lot of inspiration to pull from! He even interviewed Sherry Ott (pre-Briefcase to Backpack) back in 2007 about traveling solo as a woman.

And if you sign up for the newsletter, you will receive his free eBook: “How to Save Money Booking Your Travel Online” – which serves as a nice supplement to our post “Let’s Go: Round the World Tickets”.

So check out Amateur Traveler and get ready to be inspired!

The Lost Girls: Book Review
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. Or as we like to call it here at Briefcase to Backpack – a career break.

One of these Lost Girls shared with us the struggles she faced letting go on the road: Amanda Pressner – Losing Myself on the Road. And now with the release of the book, we are able to learn much more about her career break experience, and those of her fellow travelers Jennifer Baggett and Holly Corbett.

Whether they were running away from something (Jen), searching for something (Amanda), or seeking adventure (Holly), The Lost Girls took a leap of faith together and ventured off on a global journey that took them to South America (Peru & Brazil), Kenya, India, Southeast Asia (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia) and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia).

Like many career breakers featured on our site, The Lost Girls were on the expected path in life, but questioned whether or not that was the right one for them.

“As we rocketed toward the next major stage (the one involving mortgages, marriages, and 2.2 children), we all wondered: Were the paths that we were heading down the right ones for us – or were we simply staying the course because we thought we should? Was the road most frequently traveled the one that we wanted to follow?”

They hoped that life on the road would help them gain the perspective they were looking for.

What is fascinating about the book is how we are able to delve into their hearts & minds and how the same journey is interpreted & experienced in three very different & unique ways. The Lost Girls do a great job of sharing their experiences – including the struggles & triumphs, the ups & downs – while still maintaining their individual voices. Not only do they guide us through their actual travels, but they open up to how each experience was affecting their own internal journeys.

The Lost Girls

Jen, Holly, and Amanda - aka "The Lost Girls"

And by sharing their thoughts and feelings about each other demonstrates the power of having a support system when taking such a huge risk in life – whether that is one on the road, back home, or both. Though it’s not always easy to travel long-term with one partner, let alone two, they were able to utilize each other’s strengths throughout and lean on each other during their weaknesses.

For the armchair traveler or workaholic, their story may be unique. But it fits right in here at Briefcase to Backpack. They touch on the circumstances that brought them to this point, the steps they took in planning & preparing, and even a glimmer of their reflections afterwards.

But the main crux of the book covers life on the road – and not just climbing Machu Picchu, volunteering in Kenya, surviving the trains in India, and bungy jumping in New Zealand. But also the struggles they faced letting go of their careers, loved ones, and sense of identities in order to gain new insight into themselves.

As they learn, the road doesn’t always have the answers to the questions you seek, nor will it serve them up on a nice silver platter. But by the end of this journey they realized that it wasn’t over, and lessons learned would only serve as guides as they navigate through the next steps of their lives.

Something every career breaker should embrace.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents.
One Unconventional Detour Around the World

Released May, 11, 2010 (hardcover) | April 26, 2011 (paperback)
Order now!

Paperback price: $9.75
Kindle price: $9.99
Hardcover price: $16.49

Favorite Blogs: Travels with Children
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Traveling long-term on a career break with children can seem very daunting, but the Vogel Family (Family on Bikes) and the Hoffmeister Family (4Suitcases) have shown what an incredible experience it can be.

And even short-term travel with children can be overwhelming. But here are a few sites that offer some great insight into making it a fun and rewarding experience.

[singlepic=1728,275,,,right]Debbie Dubrow’s blog, Delicious Baby, offers advice on “Making Travel with Kids Fun”. Her blog details her own experiences traveling in the US and internationally with young children as well as product reviews, city guides and travel tips like “Ten Tips for Keeping a Toddler Busy on a Plane”  and “Breeze Through Airport Security with Kids”.

Perhaps my favorite tips include the ones listed under “Why Travel?”

Everyone knows that travel with children is unpredictable, difficult, and definitely not at the same pace or with the same freedoms that pre-child travel afforded, so why do it at all?

  • Through our children’s eyes, we see the world in a new way.
  • You get to immerse yourself in the local culture. Traveling with children forces you to do as locals do… shop in the grocery stores, bakeries, and pharmacies, not just tourist shops. You get to connect with locals in a way that’s difficult to do as adults traveling alone. People love kids. They’ll go out of their way to connect with you and see you as a family rather than just tourists, and you’ll gain insights into what it’s like to live in a different place.
  • The kids love getting out of their everyday routine, and being in new situations helps everyone to reconnect. Whenever we travel, we find that there’s a special brand of giggly, silly fun that happens after a long day of travel that we just don’t seem to have at home.
  • The kids learn new things. For young kids it isn’t so much that they’ll learn world history as that they are exposed to new experiences, sights, sounds and smells. With a little thought, you can bring those experiences home to make your everyday life a little richer too.
  • For school age kids it’s much more engaging and fun to learn history by doing than by reading.

[singlepic=1729,300,,,right]Michelle Duffy’s blog, WanderMom, offers insight and resources for independent family travel. As she says “The goal of this website is to share my experiences as a traveling parent with you and through that to encourage and inspire you to take your children to interesting places far and wide, inside and outside your home country.”

Other blogs that focus on traveling as a family and with children include:

Favorite Blog: Go Backpacking
Thursday, January 28th, 2010

[singlepic=1656,300,,,right]We recently highlighted David Lee’s career break, which he documented in his blog Go Backpacking. But Go Backpacking is more than just a journal of his adventures – it is a site that encourages and inspires people to independently travel abroad. And with three years of blogging and over 1,000 posts, David has a lot of great content and resources to do just that.

In addition to the 20-month archive of David’s 22-country round-the-world trip, the site offers tips for budget planning, interviews with fellow travelers, book reviews, how-to articles, and news from the online travel community. He has even expanded his site to include several contributors, adding a variety of voices and experiences.

One of the most popular posts is ”Cost of a Trip Around the World”, which is usually the first concern on potential travelers minds.  And by breaking down his daily expenses by country allows future backpackers to understand where their dollar can go farther.

Another popular post is “Final Thoughts – Annapurna Sanctuary Trek” in which David offers great tips based on his experiences to anyone planning a trek in Nepal.  I did the Annapurna Circuit in 2001 and definitely agree with many of his points – although I’d like to add one. Boiled water in a nalgene bottle makes a wonderful bedtime companion. Helps to keep you warm and stays warm throughout the chilly nights!


Favorite Gear: Stocking Stuffers
Thursday, December 17th, 2009

When traveling for long periods of time, it’s essential to pack as light as possible. Here is some of our favorite travel gear that we feel is essential to add to your packing list. And as a bonus, they take up little space and make great stocking stuffers for the holidays!

And by purchasing these items for you or your favorite traveler, you will be spreading glad tidings of income for us here at Briefcase to Backpack.

[singlepic=1607,100,,,left]Knirps X1 Compact Umbrella – heavy duty, but tiny for travel. Comes with hard case that’s the size of an eyeglass case!

[singlepic=1605,100,,,left]Humangear GoToob Travel Bottle – the soft squeezable tubes for bathroom products.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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