Posts Tagged ‘money’

Preparation: Budget Concerns
Thursday, October 30th, 2014

A concern many career break-dreamers face is that they can’t afford to do it. But if you believe enough in your dream, you will find ways to make it happen.

It’s all about prioritizing and budgeting: even on a non-profit salary, you can make it happen.

See what some of our career break experts have to say about budgeting for long-term travel: 

Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday)
Travel requires savings but not much; you can travel for less than you pay on New York rent, and you can always save more by indulging less at home. Money and time are commodities with an inverse relationship, you can only acquire one by spending the other and travel taught me free time is more valuable than additional money.

Jennifer Baggett (The Lost Girls)
Since I made the decision to travel about a year and a half prior to departure, I was able to properly budget and save for the money I’d need in order to spend a year on the road.  And I was definitely not making that much money considering I was paying Manhattan rent and living expense (about $65K – I’m happy to be completely transparent) nor did I have financial help from anyone else.

The biggest money saver, honestly, was that I literally stopped purchasing anything frivolous (clothes, shoes, electronics, expensive dinners, etc.) and socked away a percentage of every pay check (including 100% of my annual bonus), cashed savings bonds from childhood, even sold books/CDs on Amazon and most of my furniture on Craig’s List. Amanda, Holly and I also chose to visit predominately third world and developing nations where you can easily live off of $20-$30 per day.  Of course traveling as a group definitely helped as everything from lodging, taxis, food and other items (travel guides/books, some toiletries, etc.) could be split up and shared. Other big ways we saved:  Round-the-world plane tickets (ours took us from Kenya to Australia – with multiple countries in between for only $2200), eliminating almost all bills/expenses back home (rent, cell phone, electric bills, cable, etc.) penning the occasional travel article while on the road, crashing at friend’s (or friends of friends) places overseas and keeping costs fixed by doing a structured volunteer program/staying in one location for multiple weeks.


Working While on a Career Break
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

outdoor office

Yes, you read that title correctly, no need to rub your eyes and refocus. I know what you are thinking – “You told us that we needed to get away from work and take a break in order slow down, clear your mind, and see the world. Why would we consider working during our career break? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?”

Every situation is different and there are many reasons why someone may want to work on a while on a career break:

• Some people don’t have enough time to save the necessary money for their career break so they need to generate income while they travel.
• You want to dabble in and explore a new career while you are taking a break from your old one.
• You want to dig deeper into a culture and learn about what it’s like to stay longer or work in a place.
• You want to keep your expenses down while you travel.
• You want to meet more locals and have local experiences.

The main goal of a career break should be to take a break from your everyday life and your routine. You want to shake things up and get away from the daily grind so that you can free your mind and provide space to think and process things – this is when you start to reap the benefits of a career break. The key is getting away, and what you do when you get away is up to you.

As Jonah Lehrer writes in a piece for the Guardian,

“Several new science papers suggest that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking.”

For those of you who fall into the myriad of situations that cause someone to want to work on a career break, then we have some resources for you as you look for work during your break.

Working for Reduced Expenses

HelpX is a site where people ask for help, and you work in exchange for lodging and sometimes food. In a typical HelpX arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts. Note that a real salary is not really paid typically – but you do cut your travel expenses drastically by not paying for lodging.

The opportunities on HelpX range from handyman/woman work at hostels and guest houses, to social media help for small business, to crewing boats, riding horses, and fruit picking. To get a better idea of what opportunities they list, take a look at a few of their  international listings.

Think good Thoughts

Working for a Salary

If you think you are looking for a real salary and something more permanent then check out this comprehensive article about How to Make a Living on the Road. It provides inspirational stories and detailed information about what kind of careers are good for making money on the road and what you may expect to make in a year. In addition, it provides some stellar advice on how to get over fear in making any big change in your life.

“Fear and taking a leap – fear has a way of fermenting in your mind, the longer you sit and think something over, the more likely you are to allow all of the things that could go wrong pile up in the back of your head until you’re paralyzed by your worst enemy, your own imagination in fear mode.“

Finding Work Via Networking on the Road

Our Meet Plan Go Chicago Host, Lisa Lubin, is a career break veteran who worked her way around the world just using her own personal networks. After all, traveling is about meeting people, and when you can meet local people and expats, then your work opportunities really open up. She found random opportunities from working for Turkey’s largest media conglomerate, to doing research at the University of Cologne, to landing a year-long freelance gig doing publicity for an English Immersion program based in Madrid. The key – you have to make an effort to meet locals and be open to possibilities.

Another resource worth noting is Transitions Abroad – which offers article, resources, and programs for those interested in finding work overseas.

All of this working while on career break just broadens your horizons and increases your experience for your resume when you return.  In fact – you may find that you like it so much that you don’t want to quit!

How to Accrue Frequent Flier Miles
Monday, April 30th, 2012

Frequent Flyer Miles (FFM) can be an excellent way to subsidize airfare costs during your career break.  For those unfamiliar with FFM, they are a unit of rewards earned through an airline’s loyalty program by flying.  The objective of these loyalty programs is to retain customers by rewarding customers with miles, which translate to free flights with enough accumulated miles.

Earning Miles

In the United States, aside from flying, there are numerous ways to earn FFM such as purchases with co-branded airline cards and a slew of other promotional offers.

Unless you have a lot of reimbursable expenses, purchases with a co-branded airline credit card will not generate enough miles for a flight in a timely manner.  This post will focus on flying, assuming there are some future career breakers who travel for work and are allowed to accumulate FFM for personal use.

With work related travels, we’re usually committed to a schedule that may not be conducive to flying our preferred airline, so we end up crediting the flown miles to another carrier.  The end result is multiple frequent flyer mile accounts with smaller balances.  This is not the most ideal situation because account balances in different frequent flyer miles programs cannot be combined. It’s best to have a single account with a large balance so that they can be redeemed for a flight, ideally an international flight.

To accrue miles in a single account, it’s helpful to know the alliance and partner airlines of your frequent flyer mile program.  The Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team are the three alliances in existence today.  In most cases, alliance member and partner airlines can be credited to a single frequent flyer mile account within the alliance.  Most people don’t realize this and end up creating multiple frequent flyer mile accounts from different airlines.

For example, a few weeks ago a friend was looking to purchase a round trip ticket to Atlanta and preferred to fly U.S. Airways because it’s where he has the greatest amount of frequent flyer miles.  However, this time around, he wasn’t able to go with U.S. Airways as it didn’t allow an ample connection time. My friend has a small bank of frequent flyer miles with Delta, so he was going to pay more money to fly with Delta directly to Atlanta for the convenience and mileage accrual.

After consulting with me, I suggested he buy a United flight that was similarly priced to the U.S. Airways flight and allowed a sufficient connection time.  I explained that United flights could be credited to his U.S. Airways account since they are both Star Alliance members.  I showed him the following miles earnings table from the U.S. Airways site:

Since the airfare he was purchasing was one of the fare classes that aligned with the 100% accrual rate, he would earn all the flown miles on the United flight to his U.S. Airways account.

Airlines also have partner airlines that can accrue miles.  For example, I have an AAdvantage account from American Airlines and last year I booked a round trip flight to Kathmandu from New York City.  One of my flight options was to fly on Cathay Pacific to Kathmandu via Hong Kong.  Cathay Pacific and American Airlines are part of the One World Alliance so a flight on Cathay Pacific would earn miles on American Airlines.

However, since the airfare booking code I would have purchased (Class L) aligned with 0% mileage accrual according to American Airline’s website, I would have earned zero miles to my AAdvantage account for a 20,000 mile flight from NYC to Kathmandu, which was the deal breaker for me.

Another comparable priced option was a Gulf Air flight transiting through Europe and the Middle East to arrive in Kathmandu.

Since Gulf Air is a partner airline with American Airlines and the fare class I bought aligned with the 100% accrual rate of all flown miles, I earned all the miles for the flight.  You can’t assume that just because airlines are in the same alliance you’ll earn all the flown miles.  You have to pay attention to the airfare booking codes and the corresponding earning rates table to be sure.

Keeping Miles

Frequent Flier Miles have an all-inclusive expiration date, meaning that if there is no account activity for the specified duration as detailed by the FFM program, all your miles will expire, not just the older accrued miles.

The good news is that it’s very easy to keep miles from expiring.  All you need is to generate any kind of account activity, which includes: flying, redeeming miles for a flight, and crediting hotel/rental cars to your FFM account.  With the various ways to earn miles these days, the options are nearly endless.  The obvious key is to keep your out of pocket expenses low if you have to generate account activity to keep your miles from expiring.

For instance, nearly all FFM programs have online shopping portals such as the “AAdvantage eshopping” or the “U.S. Airways Dividend Sky Mall” where a single low cost purchase from these Online Malls will generate account activity to reset the expiration date.

Things to Keep in Mind

? Know the alliance and partner members of your FFM account.
? Check your FFM account earning rules to determine which fare classes on alliance and partner airlines will earn miles to your FFM account.
? Accumulate miles in a single account because miles across different airline programs cannot be combined. It’s always best to have a large balance in a single account to be redeemed for travel.
? Always give the gate or ticketing agent your FFM account number before your flight because it’s easier to receive miles rather than after the fact.
? Never let your miles expire.  It’s easy enough to keep them from expiring with all the ways to generate any kind of account activity.
? If you have large amounts of reimbursable expenses, credit card spending on a co-branded airline card may be a method to earning miles.

Mike Choi is known as the resident world traveler in his office and blogs about his travels at  With his knowledge of FFM, he runs a part time frequent flyer mile consulting shop at to help those with miles see the world.  After reading books authored by Rolf Potts, Mike’s been inspired to take a career break to travel long term.

Check back on Wednesday when Mike explains how to best redeem your hard-earned frequent flier miles.

Photo credit: Vox Efx

Round the World Expenses
Monday, April 2nd, 2012

We know that career breakers are concerned about finances – whether it is being able to save enough for your break or blowing your budget while on it.

So we are excited to announce that starting this month, we will be joining together with RTW Expenses to deliver more robust articles, guidance, and information to help you plan your career break and long-term travel.

RTW Expenses started as a project of Warren & Betsy Talbot of Married with Luggage, who left in October 2010 to travel the world. Since leaving, they have been documenting all of their expenses on the road from the beer in England to the doctor’s visit in Ecuador to everything in between. (They also documented how they managed to save enough money in their e-book “Dream Save Do”.)

Betsy & Warren Talbot

In addition to their monthly expense report, we will also be working together to provide you in-depth articles and advice to help you plan your own adventure. We will be publishing more financial-based articles on RTW Expenses with deeper insights into how you can save on flights, visas, insurance, gear, travel, and much more.

We are thrilled with this new partnership as are the Talbots. “Betsy and I have been tremendous fans of the idea of helping others to plan their own around the world adventures, and this joint venture is a perfect synergy with our message.”

We will also be focusing on financial and budgeting concerns at our local meet-ups in April and May. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to see what meet-ups may be coming to your city.

What financial issues would you like us to address?

Financial Concerns: Planning Your Budget
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

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

So where to start planning your budget?

Where to Go/How Long to Travel

Where you go and how long your career break is greatly affects your budget. If you want to spend a lot of time in places like Europe, the US, Australia, or New Zealand, then your trip is probably going to be shorter than most. If India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and South America are on your short list, then your money will go much further.

Researching costs in different destinations is key to planning the budget. Budget Your Trip is a great site to see how much it costs to travel in certain cities and countries based on real travelers budgets. RTW Expenses is another great resource


Your biggest single expense is going to be your airfare. Buying a RTW plane ticket vs. buying your tickets as you go is also going to be one of the biggest decisions you make. It’s a hot debate when it comes to long-term travel, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Here are a few things to realize off the bat:
• RTW tickets will most likely be cheaper.
• If you choose the RTW ticket option, you won’t be able to be as spontaneous.
• If you chose the “buy as you go option”, you’ll spend a lot of your time researching flights and destinations while on your trip.


Start researching accommodation options now. If you don’t have much international travel experience, you probably have some misconceptions about things like hostels. Many think that hostels are only for young, college-aged travelers looking to party all night and keep you from sleeping. While there are certainly many hostels like this, they aren’t the norm, and there are plenty of hostels out there that cater to people who aren’t in college or on their gap years, and there are many that are great for families.

The best way to go about budgeting for accommodations is to simply go to a budget site like BootsnAll,,, or, plug in your city and dates, and start checking average prices. This will give you an idea of what accommodations cost in various places around the world. Remember to factor in which season (high, low, shoulder, rainy, dry) you’ll be traveling in, and keep an eye on holidays, festivals, and big events. Prices can double or more during certain times of the year.

Other accommodation options include and If you plan on doing slow-travel, staying in places longer, long-term apartment rentals through sites like and are also viable options.


Trying to figure out a budget for food can be a bit difficult. Many websites and guidebooks out there give you a pretty decent breakdown for food costs in the regions you plan on traveling in, but many are a year or more out of date, so always be sure to aim high. Food costs can vary wildly depending on many factors, and while some travelers can easily get buy on less than $5/day for food in many parts of the world, it takes some determination and creativity.

Check out the following money saving tips for food:
• Stay in hostels to take advantage of free breakfasts and kitchens for cooking your own food.
• Eat how the locals eat – this means markets and street food in many areas of the world.
• If you’re leery about street food, don’t be, just use common sense:

  • – Street food is typically amongst the best and cheapest food in the region, especially in places like Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • – When looking for street stalls to eat at, try finding one with the most locals – they know where to find the best food.
  • – Look for crowded stalls with high turnover – this lessens the chance that food can spoil or go bad (refrigeration methods are questionable in some countries).

• Get creative – eat lots of fruit from local markets, pack a sandwich for a day of sightseeing, make sure you bring snacks on long bus rides.

Basic Training

Other areas to factor into your budget include entertainment and activities, overland travel (buses and trains), internal flights, visas, vaccinations, gear, and insurance among others. We cover this more thoroughly in our Career Break Basic Training course.

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

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

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

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

Where to Begin

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

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

– Break down your income vs. your expenses.

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

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

Start Saving

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

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

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

Changing Your Spending Habits

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

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

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

Basic Training

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

Addressing Mental Travel Hurdles
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

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

Getting Over Fear

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

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

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

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

Best Case Scenario and Positive Thinking

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

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

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

Paul Milton on Societal Pressures

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

Basic Training

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

How to Save Money for Travel
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

We hear from most career break dreamers that finances are the biggest hurdle in fulfilling their dream. Well, Dream Save Do is here to help.

Dream Save Do

Accepting change is hard. Most people don’t have a choice – when the world changes, they eventually have to change with it. But actually making change, creating it from your own idea or desire for an end product – that’s improbable for many. Creating changes in your life that aren’t dictated by society or a particular person can seem as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest or say… starting a career break movement in the US.

But change has to happen if you want to save money to accomplish your career break travel dreams, or any dream for that matter. Warren and Betsy Talbot know this.

They are experts at making change in order to achieve their own travel dreams. That’s why I was excited to hear that they wrote a book to teach others how to save enough money to travel. The ebook, Dream Save Do, is not simply about saving money for career break travel; it’s about saving money to accomplish whatever dream you have. It’s about how to make change in your life; how to take control of your finances & mindset in order to achieve goals.

We met Warren and Betsy in 2010 as they were preparing for their three-year career break and they agreed to be our inaugural Seattle Meet, Plan, Go! hosts. They have now been traveling for one year and have decided to turn their three-year planned career break into a location independent lifestyle. In Dream Save Do they took the processes they used to change their lives to create concrete steps that apply to everyone, so that others can do the same. And they continue to track every dollar spent on their travels at their Around the World Expenses Blog, which just shows they practice what they preach.

Saving money isn’t rocket science. It’s willpower and the ability to make change in your life. There is no way to get rich quick, just as there is no effective way to lose 20 pounds in a week and keep it off. The eBook provides concrete ways to save money, change your life, and provides you the inspiration you will need in order to follow through. They even have a guarantee or your money back offer! Woven among the concrete steps is their story of how they did it; the successes and the failures, the a-ha moments and the tears. It’s theory put into practice.

The Book Covers

Dream: Defining your Dream, Creating Dream Porn, Determining the cost of your Dream, and Setting a Date

Save: Create the Vault, Calculate Current Spending, Resolving Credit Card Debt, Creating your Phrase to Save, Cutting Expenses, Revising Spending Habits, Where to ‘Find’ Money, Performing a Monthly Review

Do: Publicizing your Dream, Screwing up and Getting Back on Track, Learn to Handle Peer Pressure, Planning Your Holiday Spending, Enjoying the Saving Success

Special Tools: Videos on Credit Card Debt Reduction from Man vs. Debt, How to Sell Your Junk To Make Cash, List of Online Resources

The Takeaway

My take away from the book was how to:
• Achieve goals
• Create change in your life that you and others can be excited about.
• Look at our consumption-based society differently
• Look at how we live differently
• Achieve goals (yes, I know I said it already, but it’s such a strong message in this book. If you don’t like to achieve goals, then don’t get the book – you will be disappointed.)

As I read through the guide, I highlighted things that really spoke to me such as:
• “We were trying to let money dictate our lifestyle instead of the other way around.”

• Focus your saving effort on a small but easily visualized segment of your overall figure. For travel goals – that can be the cost of a day on the road. Then use it as the ‘Phrase to Save’ – “Is that (insert item/service you want to buy) more important to you than a day on the road?”

• “There is never a perfect time to do anything in life, including a budget, and you have to be ready to make it the right time. This lifestyle requires action, and if you aren’t ready to commit to action it won’t do you any good to finish reading this guide. Be ruthless. This is what it takes to save large amounts of money in a short period of time. It is not a forever way to live, but it is a way to get ‘happily ever after’ sooner than ever imagined.”

• “A budget is limiting only in your spending. Your imagination has no limits.”

• “You’ll be disciplined, creative, and confident in your ability to reach your goals, and life will be an ever-evolving series of challenges and wins as you think better, dream bigger, and learn that money is a means to an end, not the end itself.”

Why Should You Buy This Book?

Because the first thing we hear from all ‘want-to-be’ career breakers is – “You have to be rich to take a career break – right?” And it’s normally followed by “How much does it cost?”

People’s biggest perceived hurdle to a career break is financial. Now we’ve just given you a way to shatter that perceived hurdle and understand how you personally can save money and take the career break you are dreaming of.

No more excuses.

Buy Dream Save Do today.

What’s your dream you want to save for? Please share in the comments!

Consulting to Pay for Long-Term Travel
Monday, August 15th, 2011

Don’t think you have the funds to take off and travel the world? Feel like you are chained to your job for financial stability? Consulting could be the answer to both of those concerns.Kristin Zibell, the author and editor of Take Your Big Trip, a web site dedicated to helping would-be travelers live their travel dreams, shares how she made consulting pay for her travels and how you can too. She can also be found on Twitter at @takeyourbigtrip.

kristin zibell
My career break to travel wasn’t planned, but once started, it lasted two years and took me to 16 countries across four continents. I’m not independently wealthy, nor have some secret to blogging success that others haven’t figured out. Instead, I used 10 years of professional experience to sell myself into short-term consulting gigs during an economic downturn and pay for long-term trips to India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

My first big trip developed because I needed a life break as the result of a divorce. I decided to leave, among other things, my excellent post-MBA job and take some time off to travel to India. When I returned a few months later to a very cold Midwest winter, the only answer I had to the endless “what now?” questions was “All I want to do is travel again.” Where? Egypt. How long? As long as I can.

Initially, the hardest question for this security-minded Midwesterner was, “how do I pay for it?” Consulting proved to be the answer. This article contains a few tips I learned along the way to help those considering a career break to travel understand how to use consulting as a way to pay for it.

Believe in Yourself

Believe that you can do it – traveling for as long as you want AND paying for it. There may be a fear that no one will hire you if you’re a traveler or have a flight plan. This fear is extraneous for educated professionals with years of experience – most have sellable skills and wide networks ready to mine for consulting opportunities.

In winter 2009 – when the Dow Index started with a “6” – I believed I could find a job to pay for my next big trip and strove to do so. Several recruiters called for lucrative positions in Arkansas and Texas, promising full-time, permanent employment in “this economy.” But I politely declined their offers, believing I was meant to travel.

Showcase the Skills You Can Sell

As a consultant, thy name is the brand and thy resume, portfolio, and interviews the marketing. Potential clients want to know that you can step in with a professional demeanor, take charge when the way is unclear, and deliver effectively to the short and longer-term project goals. In addition to technical skills or an industrial focus, a consultant’s resume is succinct and showcases leadership and results.

My resume always includes a summary to hit the technical and industry experience and then shows actual results as evidence of my experience and expertise. In interviews, my stories elaborate on the results delivered and skills needed following a succinct STAR format: Situation, Tasks, Actions, and Results. My portfolio has a few key examples that illustrate my most successful or applicable projects. Even if there wasn’t a fit, agencies and recruiters were happy to connect me with other opportunities because I showcased well.

Get Creative

Consulting jobs are typically by word of mouth or through staffing agencies. I did not know this when I first started, so I applied for full-time jobs where I had the skills and experience. After getting an HR recruiter or hiring manager on the phone, I listened to their needs. Then, I would explain what I was looking for: a consulting or contract position and could step in immediately on their projects. Then, I’d shape the conversation to tell them what I could do for them in the immediate future. My creativity paid off during the depressed economy when companies had work, but little desire to add overhead.

Honestly, Ask for What You Want

When there’s a good job available that doesn’t meet your exact needs on travel timing or budget, it’s easy to acquiesce or stay silent in fear that something else may not come along. This is a false belief. Recruiters and interviewers will ask, “What do you want?” Stating that you’re looking for a short-term consulting position in your area of expertise to help you travel long-term is okay and honest. No one reacted negatively when I shared my plans. In fact, the travel aspect was attractive and made me more memorable as a candidate. Staying true to your desires in the details is important too. Ask for what you want in pay, location, expenses, and timing. Overall, remember that you are meant to travel and believe, “this or something better” when looking at offers.

By reading this article and reviewing this web site, you’re already on the path to long-term travel. Realizing that you can use the professional skills you’ve spent your career developing to pay for your travel dreams is the next step. Good luck!

Additional Resources:
Create Your Travel Vision
Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself

Kristen is on our San Francisco panel for our October 18th event. Come and be inspired by her and the rest of our kick-ass panelists!

Travel Tips: Budget Your Trip
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

[singlepic=1720,250,,,right]Betsy & Warren Talbot shared with us the secrets of how they saved money for their career break travels. But how do you stay on track with the trip budget you planned for?

During their 10 months of travel, Laurie and Bryan Tighe traveled through West Africa, the Middle East, India and Nepal. Along the way they were meticulous in keeping to their budget. And with their computer programming skills, they were able to develop an online calculator to keep track of their money and budget. And now they are sharing that with others with Budget Your Trip.

[singlepic=1719,200,,,left]Budget Your Trip is designed to help travelers track their spending and expenses. After registering you can create a trip and enter your daily expenses. The website creates charts and tables that break down costs by category and location. The layout lets you find out if you’re spending more than anticipated on transportation or which country ate away more of your budget.

Furthermore, the website’s budget calculator allows users to estimate the cost of future trips. The budgets provided by other travelers are used to determine the average cost of countries, cities, and categories a traveler might visit. Visitors to the site can search for the average daily costs of accommodation, food, and numerous other categories for cities and countries around the world.

[singlepic=1722,200,,,right]Budget Your Trip also offers a “Travel Cost Calculator Widget” so travelers can search for travel costs directly on your website.

Be sure to check out Budget Your Trip for future trips. And if you have budgets from previous trips, be sure to enter them and help out your fellow travelers!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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