Posts Tagged ‘itinerary’

Think Less, Go More
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

What would happen if you thought less?

I am sitting in front of a wall covered in chalk board paint, blowing cherries with my lips trying to relax my face muscles as I am about to do another take for the 1000 time. There is a camera pointed at me, Oliver is behind it shooting in HD, Alex is monitoring the sound, and Raven is standing by with chalk to draw and re-draw a map of Europe / Asia on the chalkboard behind me.

There seems to be a small army of freshly minted graduates from NYU and Columbia University in the room, coming in and out, filling various crew positions on this tiny impromptu set and I am having trouble keeping all the names straight. There are shoes everywhere. Winter scarves and heavy wooly sweaters hang about the banister despite that we are well on into summer. The fridge is full of condiments and containers of mystery. How did I end up in this apartment in Bushwick?

I met Oliver on a job over Memorial Day weekend. I was the still photographer and he was the videographer. Brooklyn Brothers, a creative agency in NYC who have generously agreed to do a pro-bono round of work for me and SM Stowaway, had just told me that they think we need to make a new video; a video that introduces The Mongol Rally, the charity, and us. I asked Oliver if he would be willing to help me shoot the raw footage.

In a matter of 3 days, we went from Oliver acting as the cameraman to him being the director / producer on a fully conceived video for me. Another 4 days later, I am sitting in Brooklyn Brother’s office with Oliver and Alex watching a well-animated, well-produced, super fun video.

I felt an incredible sense of possibility and excitement sitting in Oliver’s apartment that afternoon as we waited to reload for another take. There is something so indescribably sexy about “GO.” Let’s go, let’s do, let’s just make it happen!

Age, experience and success are great. Except they extend the time between initial conception and go. Experience and success makes us hesitate a little bit longer before we pull the trigger. We stop and wonder about changing into our swim suits before we grab for the rope swing and jump into the lake. The unflinching gusto youth throw themselves into an endeavor is absurdly inspiring.

The thought of traveling the world sounds exciting to you but daunting at the same time? How about a career break? Or maybe even the Mongol Rally? You can do it! It is more than possible.

May I suggest that we think less, have fewer meetings, and more go! Let’s just do. Let’s just figure it out as we go along.

3 women, 1 tiny car, 10,000 miles of epic adventure — The Mongol Rally 2012 – SM Stowaway from Charlie Grosso on Vimeo


‘Travel’ with Charlie and get your own souvenirs from Central Asia!

You can purchase a Mystery Crate and be a supporter of SM Stowaway’s Mongol Rally Adventure! We will be your personal magpie and send you a little bit something from our adventure….you will be supporting The Lotus Children Center and I hope the token will inspire you to travel, to activate “Go” time for you!


Itineraries with Purpose: Food Pilgrimage
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

When I stared out the terminal window at the silver American Airlines Boeing 777 that was going to fly me non-stop to London, I gathered my thoughts and tried to conjure up a description of my career break mission. I gave up and instead just tried to picture how I would feel when I came back.

I have yet to come back.

From London, I boarded a flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and met up with a bright yellow Safari truck to spend the next month rumbling on dirt roads through Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. That part of my trip was planned, and I had saved the money to do so. I had negotiated with my long-time employer for their blessing and promise of a job to come back to. But I didn’t intend to come back, and I haven’t.

I was determined to find a life abroad; find a way to perpetuate a travel lifestyle while spreading my passion for food culture, cooking and cuisine. See, I believe that a good meal shared with good people is about all you need in life, and that seeking out food culture would be the best way to see the world. I tried to convince myself that if I just kept talking and asking questions, that my travels would expand themselves without my having to know every step in advance.

Delusional? Perhaps…

So how does one go about making a vocation out of traveling the world in search of great food? Well, I had a head-start. In my old life of being an architect, I was lucky enough to write a technical book that my publishers liked. They liked it enough to give me their blessing to write another book, about anything I wanted. And so I decided that along with the small amount of money I had saved up, I would use my meager royalties as a cushion as I jumped from one place to the next, asking anyone who would listen where to find the greatest food on offer. And then I wrote about my experiences.

In Africa, I ate at roadside fish stands and canteens in dusty townships; I ate in family homes and waited out the heat of the day at makeshift bars.

What I discovered, is that as soon as you ask someone about food, you have a friend, and you create an aficionado. Nearly everyone, everywhere, when prompted to think about what they want to eat next, will weave a story full of detail and direction, and will do anything to help you along their suggested path. In this way, my journey was as much about discovering people as it was about discovering food. It was in these conversations and along these paths that I would decide on each subsequent destination.

After a month on the safari truck, eating anything and talking to anyone, I arrived in Cape Town with a hand-drawn map and a list of “must-visit” passionate foodie contacts all over the world.

And so I was off. First to Spain; Barcelona, then to Andalucia. After dining on tiny fried fish and platters of paella, stopping in at every tapas bar I could find, I followed my map to Northern England, where a foodie host showed me the life of pubs; cask conditioned ales, Sunday dinner and the great agricultural heritage that manifests in steaks, chops and roasts of all sorts. I was treated to garden culture and the prize-winning vegetables that the English take such great pride in.

From there, I set sail for the Mediterranean, stopping in Naples for divine pizza and traveling through Tuscany to eat Wild Boar before moving on to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina for an eclectic mix of European and Arab cuisines.

But the point is much less where I went, and much more how I found myself with hosts and guides and passionate suggestions of where to go next. I think many people plan their “big travel” with a specific itinerary in mind and a plan that requires worrying about missing out on something. The great thing about the world once you step into it, is that everyone has ideas of where you should go and they really want to help you get there. This is the true spirit of traveling; letting the people who inhabit the world outside of your own inform you and guide you. Ask questions, tell people what you are after,  get people involved, and be ready to accept their generosity and hospitality.

It is with this spirit that I found my travels expanding out before me. My only plan was to live as thoroughly as possible and write about it to inspire others to do so. I kept writing and writing, striving only to translate passion, with no clear picture of how it would fund or perpetuate my travels. Well… writing led to a blog, and although the blog didn’t lead to any meaningful income, the blog led to an offer to host a radio show and invitations to write for notable food and travel publications. The blog also formed the bridge that will become that second book that I promised my publisher.

Traveling is something that not everybody gets to do, but everybody loves to dream about. If you have a passion for your adventures, share it; write about it; photograph it and create a way to spread it to your audience. In this manner, you are letting the world know what you love to do and the opportunities and invitations to keep doing it may just find you.

I’m settled in London now, with an address and a dining room table to work at as I write and get to know my new town and its food characters. I’m busy finding enthusiastic food folks with whom to trade passion. I certainly had no clear road map to get here, but here I am: A laptop, a digital camera, two books in the works, a bunch of deadlines for articles and a radio show to dig up guests for.

When I set off, I planned and saved money for the first moves only to help me find the adventures and the people that would inspire the second and third and fourth moves. It was passion and the intention to be aware and soak up every experience that truly funded my journey. It was the willingness to share my desires with the people I encountered and the dedication to keep sharing with my new-found audience that has kept this adventure going. Ask questions, Share your desires, engage with the locals and always be on the lookout for the next step to your adventure. Planning and money are important, but realize that neither are absolutely necessary. Don’t let the pursuit of a perfect version of either delay for too long, your taking that first step.

Sage Russell is a normal person who took the leap and found out he didn’t want to go back to his desk job as an architect. He is now proud to call himself a food and travel writer and a novelist. You can follow his food-centric travel adventures and short stories here. His popular Food Pilgrimage Manifesto has created Food Pilgrimage converts all over the world by showing how to break out of the “Consumption” routine to create a life of passion and pleasure through food.



How Much of My Trip Should I Plan?
Monday, September 19th, 2011

Balancing Spontaneity and Preparedness

When planning that big trip I spent a lot of time daydreaming. I was going to glide from place to place with the wind; it would be amazing, we would just meet someone in a cafe in a small town who would tell a story of a lovely little island, and then we would say, “lets go”.

Well, it sort of can work that way, but enter Reality. It turns out long-term traveling has just as much to do with counting days on your visa, understanding bus routes, and knowing which day of the week an entire town is likely to shut down as it does with improvisation. Most travelers have a tendency to either over-plan every aspect of their trip, or remain blissfully ignorant under the belief that “everything will work itself out.” Here are some great tips on how to keep a healthy balance when planning your trip.

Decide On Your Countries First

First, you can’t show up at every border and walk right into the country. Sometimes you need to get Visas in advance. Even when you can get them on arrival each country has a different number of days you can stay, and it usually depends on the type of visa you applied for, what country you’re from, and if you enter overland or through an international airport.

The good news is this gives you a great framework for your trip. For trips longer than 3 months a great idea is to have “Must See” countries and then some “If there’s time” countries. Once you know your countries research the basics:

  • • Seasonal weather. You have no idea how many people get caught unaware in monsoon season
    • Cultural awareness. Particularly know what the appropriate dress codes are!
    • Common safety warnings. Read up on scams and bad neighborhoods
    • Currency/exchange rate. If you carry a smartphone, download an app for that.
    • Understand all the destinations a country has to offer, and then don’t try to see them all (unless you’re giving yourself a long time to do so). I love using sites like: tripadvisor and wikitravel for this kind of information. Also, the Bootsnall forum was a great resource for itinerary planning help.
    • Break your trip into “legs”. Since planning a trip lasting months or years is certainly overwhelming, break your trip up into “legs” and focus on planning the upcoming leg that may be 2 months and keeping the rest vague until a certain date.

Book A Room In Advance If…

  • • It’s your first stop on the trip. Trust me, after a long-hull flight you’ll be glad a bed is waiting for you. It’s a great way to ease yourself into travel-mode as well.
  • • There’s a Festival or Holiday. Heading to a Full-moon Party? Sydney for New Years Eve? Munich for Octoberfest? Sounds awesome! Book way in advance.
  • • You’re traveling with more than 4 people.
  • • You’re traveling in a major European city in the summer, or any place else that you’ve heard rooms book up quick. I guess it all depends how agreeable you are to sleeping in a train station.
  • • If there’s a particular hostel/hotel you really want to stay at.

This may seem like a lot of scenarios but in Asia my husband and I showed up without rooms booked probably 85% of the time. Advantages are the ability to negotiate rates and see the room and location before you book, and more freedom if you get delayed traveling.

Fly Less, But If You Have To Fly…

  • • Book longer/major flights at least a month in advance. Or be willing to part with more money for booking it later.
    • As you plan your trip, do quick Kayak searches to confirm you can easily get between destinations. (We personally had a “no connections rule” while traveling – too much opportunity for missed flights, and lost baggage. Whatever connection city came up in the Kayak search usually became at least a 2 day stop-over destination instead)
    • Check the Wikitravel airport pages to discover small airlines that you can’t book over the Internet. Yes, they still exist in some places. You show up in person and pay in cash. Really.

It All Comes Back To Your Budget

Planning correctly saves you money. Spontaneity is easy if you have a bottomless purse, but most backpackers aren’t that lucky. If you blow through your budget you only have three options: Spend even less for the rest of your trip, Go home early, find some work on the road.

• Estimate a daily budget for each country. If you don’t know what you should be spending everyday to stretch your budget for X months it’s really easy to overspend.
• Have a separate budget set aside for expenses outside the norm, like expensive attractions, activities like Scuba Diving, and splurges for special events and occasions.
• This is over-said in the travel community, but it’s true: Slower travel is cheaper travel. Don’t be in a hurry to count countries, and move out of town every third day. Your money will last you twice as long if you’re not purchasing a $100 plane ticket or $50 train ticket three times a week.
• Take vacations from traveling. Pick a few destinations without a lot to do and plan to spend a week or more. It’s a great way, to really get to know a small town, recharge, and plan the next leg of your travels. Volunteering or taking a class is recommended during these longer stays.

Don’t let all these tips overwhelm you, once you’re on the road it’s easy to find your style and travel speed. Of course, once you do your homework it’s a lot easier to concentrate on the stuff that really matters, like finding out where that island is you heard about in that cafe.

Robin Botto and her husband Tim were directors in corporate America who decided they wanted to get off the rollercoaster and take a break. They planned and budgeted for two years before quitting their jobs and taking five months to travel and volunteer in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Before their break, they had traveled to at least 30 other countries, mostly using vacation days. You can read about their journey on their site On the Banana Pancake Trail.

Robin & Tim will also be sharing advice and inspiration at the Boston Meet, Plan, Go! event on October 18, 2011. Reserve your ticket now!

Keith Savage – Breaking One Career to Build Another
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Keith Savage of Traveling Savage is one person who has not allowed societal pressures to stop him from pursuing his career break dreams. He’s not afraid of the unconventional. In fact, his career break plans are quite unconventional! Over the next two years Keith plans to visit 8 countries for a month each (4 months total a year) while beginning a travel writing career. All with the support of his wife, who will remain at home working and taking care of their three cats.

He shares with us what led him to this point in life.

Keith & Sarah Savage in ScotlandCould you tell me more about what made you decide to take a career break?
The American system of moving from childhood to adulthood usually involves going to college and identifying your future professional pursuit. Going to college also involves far too many parties and tons of interesting “flavors” of coursework. I graduated from school with degrees in creative writing and psychology, but I failed to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Actually, I think I secretly knew what I’m consciously aware of now: I simply don’t want to do the kind of work that has come to typically define the word.

With no aspirations of seeking higher education after graduation, my liberal arts degrees effectively became little more than proof that I successfully completed undergraduate studies. I was on my own for job hunting, but, by the grace of some long-forgotten god, I managed to land a job as a technical writer at an amazing software company after only a few months. By any estimation this was the best “first job” I could have gotten.


Let’s Go: Round the World Tickets
Monday, May 17th, 2010

Brian Peters of No Debt World Travel has shared with us how he transitioned from Briefcase to Backpack and also offered some great resources in his eBook “No Debt World Travel: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling the World”. He now shares with us the art of booking round-the-world tickets and how you can travel around the world for less than you thought.

[singlepic=1779,250,,,right]One thing that stops people from traveling around the world is the PERCEIVED high price of airfare. Going to 5-10 different locations all on one ticket must be super expensive and only for rich folks who have the last name of Trump or Hilton.

Far from the truth.

A round the world ticket can cost LESS that $2500US. A year of Starbucks or cigarettes can pay for RTW air travel. Really. It all depends on the locations you pick and the times of the year you travel.

There are two options for purchasing a round the world ticket.


Itinerary Tips from The Blonde Wanderer
Thursday, September 17th, 2009

[singlepic=1528,250,,,right]Even though Bill & Cindy Peterson have a great deal of combined travel experience, the idea of taking a year off from their careers still terrified them. Like most Americans, the difficult thing for them to get over was the “work hard, save for retirement” mentality.

Still they knew that if they didn’t take this opportunity now to travel the world, they would regret it down the road. And they found their corporate experience to be very beneficial in planning a year of backpacking the globe.

“We used our previous travel experience and our Corporate America budgeting and Excel skills to plan an overall budget. Our budget was broken down into maintenance costs (storage, cell phones, etc.); time for ‘re-entry’ (into the work world), and actual travel money. Our travel money allowance allowed us to establish a monthly travel budget and pick destinations and activities that we could afford.”

Bill & Cindy are now more than half way through their trip, and even managed to extend it from 12 to 14 months by stretching their travel budget even further. They took time off from the road to share with us their favorite tips on creating an itinerary that works best for you.


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go