Posts Tagged ‘national event’

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!

Photo Friday: It’s Time to Meet, Plan, Go!
Friday, October 19th, 2012

A packed house in Chicago listens to a panel of career break veterans and travel experts share their stories and advice about taking a career break or sabbatical to travel.

The Chicago event, on Tuesday, October 16, was one of 10 events across North America designed to provide people with the inspiration, information and resources they need to make their travel dreams a reality.

Didn’t make it to a Meet, Plan, Go! event? No worries!

Jump start your planning with our online Career Break Basic Training course and community, and sign up for our newsletter to get the latest career break news and to find out about upcoming local meetups in a city near you!

Taking the Next Step
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

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

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

Start Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get your plans rolling and sign-up today!

Keep Meeting

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

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


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

Share Your Story

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

Register Your Break

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


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

Everyone’s Talking About Career Breaks!
Monday, October 15th, 2012

People may think you would be crazy to leave your full-time job to travel the world…but we think you’d be crazy NOT to attend the Meet, Plan, Go! national event tomorrow night to learn how to make your travel dreams a reality.

It can be done – and you’re NOT crazy.

The dozens of experienced career breakers and travel experts who will be leading the events in ten cities across North America tomorrow are proof of that.
Even actor-turned-travel writer Andrew McCarthy is on board with taking a career break to travel:

The career break craze may not quite be sweeping the nation, but it is drawing a lot of attention. Everyone seems to be talking about Meet, Plan, Go! and we couldn’t be more excited!

? Seminar Inspires People to Take a Career Break and Travel the World –

? Nationwide Events Help you Plan a Career Break –

? Meet, Plan, Go! helps you trade a desk for the open road –

? Introducing Your Career Break Role Model –

? How to Make Your Travel Dreams a Reality – Meet, Plan, Go! –

? Meet Plan Go Event Kick Off Your Travel Sabbatical –

? Planes, trains and marshrutkas – White Bear Press (White Bear Lake, MN)

Meet, Plan, Go! is hitting the airwaves too:

Check out Chicago host Lusa Lubin talking affordable long-term travel and Meet, Plan, Go! with WGN:

And watch Minneapolis host Katie Aune on KSTC-TV discussing what you can learn when you attend Meet, Plan, Go!:

And what did last year’s attendees have to say?

“Life-inspiring event – covering an amazing amount of relevant material. I would definitely attend another and another until I go!” — San Francisco attendee

“After this event, the excitement for traveling was high for everyone. The panelists were helpful, gave excellent examples of things to do and not to do, plus lots of encouragement. Everyone with this dream should go to see how it is possible.” — Chicago attendee

“This was a fantastic event! It made me realize that long term travel is a completely realistic goal and that I have amazing company also doing the same” — Seattle attendee

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 Friday: South Walton County, Florida
Friday, October 12th, 2012

Today’s Photo Friday captures the shoreline at Ed Walline Beach in South Walton County, Florida, courtesy of Meet, Plan, Go! Chicago speaker Lisa Dworkin.

Lisa is a self-proclaimed beach addict who founded The Best Beach, which offers illuminating and honest information about beaches around the world. Follow Lisa on Facebook or Twitter or meet her in person at Meet, Plan, Go! Chicago October 16th!

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

MPG 2012 New York Host: Sherry Ott
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

All of our local Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the months leading up to our National Event on October 16, we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet Our New York Host: Sherry Ott

Taking the Leap

There are 2 ways to jump off a cliff:

  1. Stand at the edge, look down and tentatively step off
  2. Take a running leap into the abyss

But the fact is – most people never jump off.

They go to the edge, look down, get a case of vertigo, freak out, and take a step back – still stretching their neck to see over the edge, but never feeling like they have the guts to do it themselves. 

We started Meet, Plan, Go  because we wanted to provide those people who were considering the leap off the edge with support.  Support in the form of advice and inspiration.

I meet and hear from people every day about how they have this desire to travel and take the leap, but they look at the edge and wonder – “Can I do it?”  They feel dizzy, fearful and back away from the ledge trying to push those travel desires to the back of their minds.  They deny the desires and instead throw themselves into the routines of gathering up and accumulating the ‘shoulds’ in their life.

At a recent Meet, Plan, Go meetup in New York City I listened to a woman talk about how her family isn’t supportive of her ‘crazy’ travel desires and she wonders why she just can’t shake the desire and be ‘normal’ like everyone else.  I thought to myself – does that mean I’m abnormal – because I did take a break and traveled?

I suppose I am.  But taking the break was the best thing I ever did. 

Finally getting the guts to take the leap and the joy of floating through this world on my own terms  and landing on my feet was just what I needed to re-evaluate my career and life.  I learned I was more capable than I ever thought.  That initial leap into a year long career break helped me realize that I could take other leaps and make career changes.   That’s the beauty of jumping over the edge, when you reach the bottom you want to turn around and go again.

But for those of you standing at the ledge looking over into the canyon wondering if you can do it, then I hope you have a ticket to a Meet, Plan, Go event Oct. 16th.  The act of going out and meeting others who are standing at a similar ledge can fuel the fire enough to get you over that ledge.   When you meet others who have taken that leap and survived, the jump doesn’t seem that scary any longer.   In fact – it may just look like fun.

I feel like Meet, Plan, Go is like throwing gasoline onto a smoldering fire…in a huge blast of light and heat you realize that your smoldering spark can turn into something big, real, hot, and energetic….it can turn your travel dreams into reality.

The leap isn’t easy – we know that. 

But it is easier when you are surrounded by a cheering section.  It gives you a place to turn when your friends, family, and co-workers think you are crazy.    Our cheering section of career break veterans will also provide you all the resources you will need in order to jump – information about money, preparation, packing, safety, and itinerary ideas.  As much as we can pack into a Tuesday evening to get you started and closer to that ledge.

We hope to see many of you on October 16th at the ledge with us.

Sherry Ott is a Co-Founder of Meet Plan Go! and is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger and photographer.  Sherry has been blogging about her travels on Ottsworld: Travel and Life Experiences of a Corporate America Runaway since 2006. It was named one of the Best Around the World Travel Blogs on BootsnAll travel website.

While on a career break she traveled around the world to over 23 countries primarily solo armed with her camera. Since her career break she has spent a year living and working in Vietnam, wrote an ebook about her hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal with her father, traveled the globe house-sitting, volunteered in India and Nepal,  participated in cultural exchange programs in the Middle East, drove 10,000 miles from London to Mongolia for the Mongol Rally, walked 550 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, co-created Career Break Basic Training online class & community, and organizes Meet, Plan, Go! events across North America. Sherry’s latest adventures will be to travel with her father to Antarctica this December.

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

How to Make Friends on the Road
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

We are excited to have Evelyn Hannon giving the keynote speech at Meet, Plan, Go! in Toronto on October 16.  Evelyn was the first Canadian to look at travel strictly from a woman’s point of view. Since 1994 her mandate has been to inspire females worldwide to travel safely and well. Her award-winning website, and her monthly travel tip newsletter connect 64,000 readers and journalists in over 100 countries. She’s circumnavigated the globe, explored 65 countries and this Fall will be reporting on India and then spending New Year’s Eve in Antarctica. Now 72, Evelyn is considered the “Grandmother of Women’s Travel.” Today, she shares her best advice for making friends while traveling.

Remember back to your first day in grade one? You came into school excited but a bit worried that you wouldn’t have anybody to talk to. Who will you play with at recess? Who will sit beside you in the lunch room? Well, hold that memory because setting out on a solo journey could include much the same set of emotions.

I’ve never been afraid to travel solo. I’ve been doing it for the last 37 years and I love it but I do work on ways of meeting folks along the way. It’s important to me. I feel cheated if I don’t connect with the locals. I’m bored if I don’t chat with other travelers along the way.

Here are eight of my tried and true tips for making friends along the way…

1. Seek out connections even before you leave home. Chat with women who’ve traveled before you. Make note of their tips, advice and contacts. Some of your best adventures will begin that way.

2. Speak to your friends and neighbours who were born in the country you’re travelling to.There is a grandmother here or a sister there who will happily provide some wonderful connections for you. (And, even if they can’t suggest contacts to you they will certainly share their expertise on how to dress appropriately and stay safe. This is a perfect time to ask.

3. Dress appropriately. Do your research before you leave and find out what is suitable so that you don’t offend the culture you are in. For tips from others who have travelled before you check out, What Should I Wear, Where.

4. Join SERVAS, an international network of hosts and travelers building peace by providing opportunities for personal contact between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.

 5. Many solo travellers tend to choose hostels because they are looking for travelling partners. Take advantage of that fact. Don’t like eating dinner alone? Pack your favorite tunafish casserole recipe and offer to cook dinner for your new hostelling pals. You will be a very popular traveller.

6. Look for restaurants that offer communal seating at large dining room tables. Journeywoman has tried this at the warm and welcoming Pain Quotidian bakery, bar and cafe all rolled into one as well as Wagamama, a chain that serves tasty noodles dishes worldwide. The fun part of these restaurants is you never know who will sit down beside you and what the conversation will yield.

7. Are you a runner? Ask around – check on bulletin boards, the internet and sports shops for groups that you could join for fun and exercise when you’re away.

8. Finally, a word of caution. Not everyone you meet has pure intentions. That said, never tell a new pal you’ve met on the road which hotel or hostel and (gasp!) what room he/she can find you in. If arranging a rendez-vous meet the person at a neutral yet busy spot. Leave a note in your room describing who you are meeting and where. In case you run into trouble authorities will, at least, have some idea of your circumstances.

Safe journeys, everybody!

Join us on October 16 at one of our 10 Meet, Plan, Go!

events across North America:

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

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

MPG 2012 Toronto Host: Janice Waugh
Monday, October 8th, 2012

All of our local Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the months leading up to our National Event on October 16, we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet Our 2012 Toronto Host: Janice Waugh

We’re thrilled to have Janice Waugh hosting Meet, Plan, Go! in Toronto for the third year in a row. Janice has enjoyed many forms of travel at different times in her life – twenty-something travel, family travel, career break travel and most recently, solo travel.

In August 2001, Janice left on a ten-month career break with her husband and youngest son (age 10 at the time). Her other sons joined them at times along the way. Janice wrote about their decision to stay or to go, saying,

“We could finally see our way clear to living our dream of long-term travel. Having sold our business and with two sons out the door, one entering his last year of high school and the youngest going into grade six, it all seemed possible.

To others, it may have made more sense to wait, at least a year, but we planned and went. We bet on the present over the future and, as you’ll see, we won.”

Janice is grateful for taking her career break when she did; just a few years after returning from their trip, she lost her husband to a rare illness known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).

“While our choice to take an extended trip at that particular time of life may have seemed odd to some, it made sense to us. At least, we made it make sense. We put our present and our future on a scale and chose to live in the present for that year. And, at the time, we had no idea that it was our last chance to do so.”

Today, Janice travels solo and devotes a lot of her time to inspiring others to discover the world as they discover themselves.  She publishes Solo Traveler and recently launched a book, The Solo Traveler’s Handbook. She has spoken at The Smithsonian on solo travel and has been quoted in many media outlets including CNN, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today. She is a strong proponent of career break travel and eager to help others pursue their career break dreams.

Last year, Janice wrote about the 18 loves she discovered during her 10-month career break. Today, she shares some practical advice about renting out your home before traveling long-term:

Is renting your home right for you?

Renting out your home is not for everyone. You need to decide if it is right for you. Do you get stressed by the idea of someone living in your home and using your stuff? Then it’s not for you. Are you easygoing about your things? If you will travel and not worry about your home, go for it. Are you allowed to rent your home? If you rent or live in a co-op, you need to ensure that you can legally sublet.

How to find the right tenant

To take the work off your shoulders completely, you can hire a property manager to handle the renting and maintenance of your home. They’ll collect the rent and pay the bills and do the occasional drop-by… whatever you want. But it will cost you. I am more a DIY gal. I do things myself whenever I can. If you want to do it yourself, here are some of the steps to follow.

? Identify the type of person or people you want to rent your home.

? Specify your criteria regarding smoking, pets and any other detail that is important to you.

? Decide what you will include in your rental. What utilities and technology?

Once you know the type of person you want to rent your home:

? Create a mini website that shows off your home. Google “make a free website” and you’ll find that you can do this yourself at no cost.

? Let friends and family know that you are looking to rent your home. Let them know your criteria and share your website with them.

? Use an online service like to list your home. If you want to stay in one place, consider trading places with a service like Home Exchange.

If you’re not having success or are not comfortable managing the process yourself, find a real estate agent to do the job for you.  Unfortunately, they’ll make more from the sale of a house than from renting yours, so they are not going to work at it very hard.

When you’ve found a prospective tenant, check them out thoroughly. You’re going away. You don’t want any headaches. You need financial, business and personal references.

This is an excerpt of a post that originally appeared on the Solo Traveler on September 12, 2012.  To read more of Janice’s advice on finding and preparing for a tenant, see the full article here.

Join us on October 16 at one of our 10 Meet, Plan, Go! events across North America:

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

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

MPG 2012 Seattle Host: Lori Stone
Monday, October 1st, 2012

All of our local Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the months leading up to our National Event on October 16, we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet Our Host: Lori Stone

I’m a collector.

I collect things and experiences and daydreams. I collect cool things in jars like sea glass and sand from my travels and I have boxes of old family photos lining shelves with travel books and souvenirs and weird figurines that mean nothing to the average onlooker. I have list after list of brilliant ideas, new inventions, and places I long to be. I love finding things—dropped shopping lists, coins, and other ephemera. I look lovingly at the passport vacation stamps I’ve amassed over the years and with a recent romp through Montana, I’ve been to more US States than not. Not too shabby.

So imagine my surprise when last summer I sat down and realized that my “someday” list had outgrown itself. Someday I will _______ (fill in the blank with anything and everything that I wasn’t doing by August of 2011). By age 40 (which unimaginably happens THIS November!) I had vowed to learn my new accordion, tour Vietnam, launch my dream freelance business, clean out my wicked, wicked garage, start selling my photography, buy a boat, and take a vintage silver Airstream RV, completely restored by hand, across the good ol’ US of A.

Someday. Why does it always have to be “someday?”

Someday…a hopeful word that came to finally represent the height of my inaction. All of the things I had claimed to wish for were sitting on a little slip of paper and my desires were in complete contrast to my daily actions and work.

You see, I’d spent the last 8+ years doing work that I really, really liked but that never truly fulfilled me. And, over the last 20+ years, I had—albeit proudly—turned my career into something very lucrative…a comfortable life, basic needs met, and potential to continue with great success on that trajectory. And like a second-grader procrastinating long division while staring out the window at the playground set, I often thought of so many places I’d rather be than answering even one more business email.

Couple that with the whammy news I got in late 2006 and you have the makings of a truly restless life. It was just over five years ago that I heard the words “it’s cancer.” I was diagnosed with endocervical adenocarcinoma, or invasive cervical cancer, at just 34, at the heart of this lucrative existence I had carved out for myself. I think this is what they mean when they say “stopped in your tracks.” I will jump ahead to happily report that I am in full remission. My treatment was successful and I can now add survivor-turned-advocate to my resume.

It was from this potentially tragic future that I began to actively take back my life to be what I desired it to be.

What I desired was this: a life lived fully, on my terms, spending my days both contributing to my local community and setting pace to leave a great legacy of someone who embraces all things joyful. I reflected back on all of the great places I had traveled in my life and it was always then that I truly felt most alive…from my romantic wanderings through Paris to my kayaking in Honduras to my meditation on humor and irony while sitting through a rogue cyclone on the Sunshine Coast of Australia.

So then in December of 2011—at the height of a wary economy and my consulting success – I reclaimed my procrastinated journey by finally saying “no” to a tempting work contract renewal and thereby saying “yes” to my wanderlust. I went on sabbatical for a year and I grinned from ear-to-ear as I drove home on my last day of work and realized what lay before me. For the first time in years, I had no clue as to what came next. I still don’t. Five year plan? No clue.

My days of meticulous racing are over and I have traded the frenetic energy of corporate life for one of wonder, adventure, and fun. What used to worry me now challenges me and I trust completely in the idea that my desires will carve the perfect path for where I need to be. Not to be confused with a lack of caring for where I am or my personal and long-term career success…I would argue that I now care MORE by owning how I spend my time and the quality of my life vs. the quantity and raw acclamation of money and goods.

Like many of us, my garage still desperately needs cleaning and my mortgage still needs paying and my life still has certain grown-up obligations. The biggest myth that we tell ourselves is that life and desire are mutually exclusive. I’ve discovered that this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve simply changed the way I view opportunity.

My official sabbatical will be wrapping up in a few months and I look forward to seeing what my next career turn has in store for me. In the meantime, I’m trading in my normally gloomy Pacific Northwest winter for a sunny, summer beach in New Zealand…#17 on my someday list.

Someday is now.

Lori Stone spent the last 20 years in the corporate, non-profit, and technology sectors and today specializes in communications and program management. In 2007, she started The Joy Guild, a side business at the time that incorporated her love of the arts, photography, teaching, and travel safaris from Paris, France to Moab, Utah to Melbourne, Australia. However, her full time commitment to corporate technology consulting over the last nine years kept her from fully launching her dream business.

2011 marked the beginning of Lori’s research sabbatical and career break. She is taking time off from contract management work and exploring the world around her by leading creative art retreats, traveling, writing, learning, continuing outreach as a cancer survivor-turned-advocate, building communities, and—most important—having fun. She continues to envision a world where people increasingly find play AND work that brings them joy and looks forward to her official business launch in 2013. You can find Lori on Twitter as @thejoyguild or on Facebook.

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

MPG 2012 Minneapolis Host: Katie Aune
Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

All of our local Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the months leading up to our National Event on October 16, we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet Our 2012 Minneapolis Host: Katie Aune

My biggest mistake in taking my career break?

I waited too long.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty and, looking back, the perfect time for my career break would have been 2006. I had just sold my condominium in Chicago in an attempt to downsize and prepare myself to change careers from being an attorney to being…something else.

That was back when the economy was still doing okay and I walked away from that condo with a nice chunk of change in the bank. I entertained faint visions of taking time off to travel but the idea seemed so far out there to me, I didn’t even really seriously think about it. It just didn’t seem possible.

Instead, I rented for a year, changed careers and then promptly bought a new condo.

Two years later, I started dreaming of travel again.

This time, the idea hovered in my mind a bit longer but it still seemed like a pipe dream. I didn’t know anyone who had traveled for an extended period of time and I just didn’t know how I would make it work. I had a condo, I had a job, I had cats. Nonetheless, I spent nearly all of my free time dreaming about possible routes and itineraries. Slowly but surely, the idea morphed into a very loose plan. I started actually telling people what I wanted to do, but it sounded crazy coming out of my mouth.

I don’t know that anyone really believed I would actually go through with it.

Months passed and I bought up every guidebook I could find and made list after list of online resources. I started reading travel blogs and started my own. I joined Twitter and started following travel folks, which is how I am pretty sure I first heard of Meet, Plan, Go!

However it happened, I found myself sitting in a room at REI in Chicago in September, 2010. I was surrounded by people who loved to travel. I listened to the host, Lisa Lubin, explain how she left her career to travel and ended up being gone nearly three years and making a new career out of it. I soaked up information about insurance and packing and itinerary planning. And when the event ended, I practically ran over to panelist Megan Kearney, who had traveled solo through Central Asia – the exact area that I wanted to visit.

Suddenly, it all seemed possible.

A year later, I was part of that panel – via Skype from Veliky Novgorod, Russia.

Two years later, I am thrilled to be hosting the Meet, Plan, Go! event in Minneapolis.

How did I get here?

After that inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! event in Chicago, I joined the online Basic Training course, where I was able to find even more practical information, inspiration and community. I went to local meet-ups and got to know Lisa and Megan better, while also connecting with others planning to hit the road as well. I put my condo on the market and when it didn’t sell after six months, I came up with a Plan B. I figured out a way to make things work financially while renting it out instead. I started listing things to sell on Craigslist, increased my monthly bank transfers to savings and picked up some freelance work through Elance to make extra money. In February 2011, I announced to friends and family I would leave on my 35th birthday, just six months later.

By late July, I secured a tenant for my condo, gave notice at work and found a new home for my cat.  I sold all my furniture and moved the rest of my belongings to my parents’ basement in Minnesota.

And on August 30, 2011, I boarded a plane to Helsinki, Finland.

In the last year, I ran a marathon in Estonia, taught English in Russia and Tajikistan, traveled the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway, studied Russian in St. Petersburg and Kiev, crossed the Black Sea by ferry from Ukraine to Georgia, volunteered with the national tourism board in Armenia, lived with local families in Azerbaijan and camped in the desert among ancient ruins in Turkmenistan.

I also picked up some freelance travel writing work and joined the Meet, Plan, Go! team as managing editor, which together have allowed me to extend what was going to be a ten-month trip into a thirteen-month journey.

The road has not always been smooth – I probably have experienced more bumps than most do, ranging from hellish homestays to horrid weather conditions (visiting Ukraine when it is -30C is not ideal!). And I still had things to deal with at home which sometimes put a damper on my feeling of complete freedom. But as much as I stressed and worried about things along the way, the biggest lesson I learned was that things always have a way of working out.

My only regret? That I didn’t do it sooner.

Katie is a Minnesota native and recent Chicago resident who started dreaming of traveling and seeing the world at a young age.  But aside from a church mission trip to Mexico when she was 14, she didn’t leave the country for the first time until she took a 23 day tour to Europe after finishing law school in 2001. She spent the next ten years making the most of her vacation time by taking short trips to Australia, Egypt, Peru, Norway and all over western Europe.

A self-professed “recovering attorney,” Katie left a job in educational fundraising and event planning last August to travel and volunteer in all 15 countries of the former Soviet Union. She returns home September 25 after a 13-month career break that included running a marathon in Estonia, teaching English in Russia and Tajikistan, volunteering with the national tourism board of Armenia, living with local families in Azerbaijan, and trying her best to speak Russian on a daily basis.  In addition to being obsessed with travel, Katie is a sports fanatic, running enthusiast and gluten-free since 2010. You can read more about her adventures on her blog, Katie Going Global, or follow her on Twitter at @katieaune.

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

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go