Posts Tagged ‘preparation’

The Best “How to” Advice of 2012
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Over the last few weeks, we’ve recapped some of the best posts about preparing to take a career break to travel from 2012, as well as the best from career breakers on the road. Today, we look back at some of the most valuable “how to” posts – practical advice that you can use before, during or after your career break!

How to Stay in Shape on the Road

Five years out of college, Matt Sussman could no longer ignore his constant itch to travel. Leaving his stressful financial job in New York behind, he is following his dream of traveling the world. Meandering solo since July, Matt has made it a priority to find time to exercise and shared his tips for staying in shape on the road.

As I started planning my career break, I struggled with how I would manage to stay in shape on the road without a gym to go to every day. I had been looking for a theme to keep me sane in my travels and thought what better challenge to keep me motivated than trying to stay in shape while traveling around the world?

Searching online for how other travelers dealt with this dilemma yielded little useful advice. Sure I could just run every day but that would quickly get boring, not too mention the pounding my knees would take. Pulling what I could from crossfit sites and conversations with trainers, I started to assemble a word document of body weight exercises and routines that I could do on the road. Continue…

How to Land a Crewing Job at Sea

Kelly Wetherington has been traveling since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. In this post, she shared her tips for finding a crewing job at sea.

Learn as much as you can before you seek a position.

Go sailing, practice tying knots, familiarize yourself with yachtie terms.

Learning to sail is like learning to speak a foreign language. If you aren’t willing to ask the dumb questions like “What does to reef mean?” then you will never learn the lingo (reefing is taking in a sail). Continue…

How to Account for a Career Break on Your Resume

One of the most common questions we get about re-entry is “how do I explain my career break on my resume?” This post offered some valuable tips and examples.

You arrive home at the end of a life-changing travel experience and one of the biggest questions facing you likely will be how to find work again. Whether you traveled as part of a career break, gap year, or sabbatical, you will need to figure out how to best represent the time and experiences on your resume.

Where should it go on my resume?

It depends. Do you think the experiences you had traveling apply to you finding a new job in your field?  If so, then place it in the main part of your resume. If you don’t feel like it applies, then it probably belongs in a section reserved for Additional Information or Hobbies. Continue…

How to Make Career-Related Connections on the Road

Bethany Rydmark is a landscape architect by trade and a lover of the world by nature.  She and her husband Ted left their beloved home state of Oregon in 2012 to travel South America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand. She made a point to make career-related connections before she hit the road and shared this advice.

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

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

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

How to Make Processing Part of the Re-Entry Process

Cate Brubaker helps all kinds of travelers navigate intercultural, personal, and re-entry experiences in her work with TrekDek,, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

You’re probably familiar with the terms re-entry and reverse culture shock. While some people sail through re-entry problem-free, most say they feel more lost upon returning home than they ever did abroad. This actually makes a lot of sense. When we go abroad we’re constantly in the “new.” We’re seeing new things, having new adventures, hearing new languages, trying new food, considering new perspectives.

It’s exhilarating. Euphoric. It’s why we travel!

Back home, we’re no longer in the “new.” Back home, we are the new. On one hand, we’re happy to be home with family and friends, speaking our native language, eating our favorite foods, and even sleeping in our own bed. But we also feel like something is a bit off. It’s not necessarily bad, just…off. Continue…

How to Accrue Frequent Flier 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. He provided a great two-part series earlier this year about how to accrue and redeem frequent flier miles. Here is an excerpt from part one:

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.

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. Continue…

How to Redeem Frequent Flier Miles

The second part of Mike’s series on frequent flier miles focused on how to redeem those valuable miles.

As discussed in Monday’s post, How to Accrue Frequent Flier Miles, earning and redeeming miles can be a great way to save money on your career break.

All frequent flyer mile (FFM) programs publish an awards table for the required miles needed for a flight redemption.  The exact number, of course, depends on your origin and destination countries.  For instance, at the time of this writing, U.S. Airways, a Star Alliance member, requires 60,000 miles to fly round trip from North America to North Asia while United Airlines, another Star Alliance airline, requires 65,000 miles for the same round trip flight. Continue…


Preparing for a Career Break: Recap 2012
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Preparing to take a career break to travel can be daunting: travel insurance, immunizations, buying the right gear – and of course, making the decision to go in the first place. In 2012, several current and future career-breakers shared their advice on preparing to hit the road.

Travel Gear Tips from a ‘Gearologist’

Jannell Howell recently returned from an around-the-world journey that took her through many countries including Thailand, India, Jordan, and Europe. Before she left, she discovered a love of researching travel-related gear and services and shared some of her favorite finds with us.

While going through Meet, Plan, Go!’s Career Break Basic Training, I was introduced to some pretty incredible services and gear that I didn’t know existed. In the process of learning more about these newfound products, I found that I REALLY enjoyed the research. I have since completed the Basic Training course, but have continued to explore new items and I look forward to further study which, I admit, borders on obsession . . . perhaps I’ve become a travel gear-ologist? Continue…

Travel Insurance Terms You Need to Know

Travel insurance can be confusing. Our sponsor, Insure My Trip, provided this great glossary of travel insurance terms that you need to know as you figure out what insurance plan is right for you.

One of the biggest questions facing you as you prepare for a career break can be how to handle travel insurance for your trip. While it may not be fun to think about, it shouldn’t be left off of your travel to-do list.

Sometimes, understanding travel insurance jargon is like learning a foreign language, a little overwhelming and occasionally confusing.  But you don’t have to take a class to become a proficient and confident travel insurance consumer. Simply use this ‘cheat sheet’ of fundamental insurance terms from and you’ll be on your way to speaking fluently. Continue…

10 Steps to Knowing What Travel Immunizations You Need

Mike Watkins and Akiko Kubo decided to “cash-in” on their dreams of taking a career break to travel around the globe after seeing close friends’ and family’s lives end too soon. They wrote this guest post to share what they learned after spending countless hours figuring out what travel immunizations they needed prior to their trip.

A major consideration when planning a career break or other extended travel through multiple countries is getting the appropriate vaccinations and pills.  Not only is maintaining your health one of the most important elements while abroad, but some countries require certain vaccinations in order to qualify for an entry visa.  The problem is, when we started researching the requirements, we were easily lost in a myriad of information which was sometimes contradictory. Here, we share our 10 steps to a better immunization experience! Continue…

The ABCs of Travel Planning

Sarah Schauer began her career break in June 2012 with a domestic seasonal opportunity before heading to Europe, Africa, South America, and New Zealand. She put together a great list of resources to use when you start planning your own career break.

Like many career-breakers, I spent 8 years paying my dues in Corporate America.  And while I’m probably one of the few who can truly say that I loved my job, I dreamed of something more. After months of thinking, researching, and intensely detailed planning, I was ready to embark on my new “adventure career,” in pursuit of extended around-the-world travels with a purpose.

Following countless hours of research for my own travels, I compiled this A-B-C list of travel-related websites, specifically geared towards long-term international travel.  Whether you plan to go to one country for one week or 20 countries for 6 months, these resources will get you going. Continue…

The Only Way Out is to Jump

Mike Shubbuck and his better half, Tara, left on a round-the-world trip on June 6, 2012. He wrote this guest post comparing making the leap to travel the world to jumping out of an airplane.

My first time skydiving was about on par with the stress level I have been experiencing with the planning and everything else associated with our round-the-world trip. It is bizarre to think that jumping out of a plane could be as frightening as stepping onto one bound for Iceland, but right now, I keep finding myself covered in a cold sweat, hoping that we will be okay.

It is not as though Tara and I have not done a good job researching and planning this trip. Most of our blog posts so far have detailed the deadlines and goals we have had, and met. However, there is still so much uncertainty that we simply cannot plan for. Uncertainty swirling around elements of the trip, our pre-departure, our return, how it will affect us individually, as a couple. These variables prevent us from making decisions, and as someone who likes to attack problems early and head-on, this fills me with worry. Continue…

How to Insure Electronics While Traveling
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

In this era of electronics, where we depend upon gadgets of all shapes and sizes to connect us with the world and manage our lives, it is a rare career break traveler who goes unaccompanied by a cell phone, a laptop, an iPad, e-reader or camera. These days, guarding such precious (and often costly) items from risk of being damaged, stolen, or lost, has become almost as important as protecting your own well being.  Just as your own personal insurance is part of your preparation checklist, so is property insurance if you are carrying high tech valuables.  What are your options for protecting your electronics from theft and loss while on your career break?

Travel Insurance Coverage

Fortunately, travel insurance Package Policies provide comprehensive coverage for both you and your electronics. In addition to important coverage for travel delays, cancellations and medical issues, Package Policies include baggage insurance which is a form of property coverage that is specific to luggage and personal effects, including electronics.

Most plans have a special limit within the baggage coverage for items such as jewelry, furs, cameras, and business-related equipment. There is usually a maximum per article limit (typically around $300), and an aggregate limit for special items such as electronics, furs, and gold/silver.  The aggregate limit for most plans is around $600, and that is the combined maximum amount that the company will pay for all special items.

Though most plans exclude professional equipment, some have Professional Business Property Benefits which will reimburse up to $1,000 with a $150 deductible for theft or damage to business related items. For an additional cost, some plans also offer an option to delete the exclusion for electronics.

In instances of theft, most of the travel insurance package policy plans offer some protection as long as the theft occurred while the coverage is in effect. In the event you ever have to file a claim, be sure to keep/have receipts for your valuables and immediately file a police report for the stolen item(s).

Overall, travel insurance is a good way to cover your smaller/cheaper electronics while you travel.  But what about the big ticket items?

Home Owners/Renters Insurance

It is important to realize that most travel insurance policies may not cover the full replacement cost of your laptop or DSLR.  But for those career breakers who are keeping their home/renters insurance while they travel, check with your agent to see if that policy covers your bigger ticket items while you travel.  You may in fact already be covered.  Note that baggage coverage offered in travel insurance packages as mentioned above is secondary to any other insurance you may have such as a homeowners’ policy.  For the most complete protection available, consider adding a rider for your electronics onto your policy.

Personal Property Insurance

A final option is to take out a separate policy that just insures specific property – a personal articles policy.  This was traditionally used for jewelry, expensive art, etc.; however as the world has become more gadget based, it can also be used to insure your specific gadget.  One of our career breakers, Russ Brooks, found a personal articles policy to cover his laptop and DSLR while he traveled. Costs can be about 5% of the value of the product – but you will need to have all of your paperwork, receipts, and serial numbers in order when getting this type of insurance, so be prepared.

You should note that not all insurance companies will sell a personal articles policy to you if they feel like the length of your travels or your travels in general are too risky for them to insure.  The approval is up to the provider.

Where Should You Start?

Start by deciding which electronics you are taking with you. Then, for more information on insuring your electronics or insurance protection for your career break, contact InsureMyTrip’s exclusive insurance hotline for Meet, Plan, Go! members at 855-773-9375.  They have been trained on the needs of career breakers and can let you know what various travel insurance plans cover and their limits.  If a travel insurance plan doesn’t work for your electronics, then start looking into other types of insurance such as home owners/renters, and personal property insurance.

And whatever you do, take precaution on the road and always lock up your valuables in your bag or in another secure place.  But if you want to keep them the safest, then just don’t bring them!  Unplug for your career break!

Photo by Daniel Feldt.

Why Teaching English Abroad is Your Ticket to the Adventure of a Lifetime
Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Few endeavors provide more avenues for traveling, living and working overseas than teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) abroad. From Beijing and Bangkok to Barcelona and Buenos Aires, tens of thousands of schools and language institutes are paying full-time, professional wages to hundreds of thousands of English speakers to teach English in more than 100 countries around the globe.

And guess what?  You don’t have to have to be a professional teacher or hold a degree in education to get hired to teach English in Japan, Chile or Spain. Heck, with an accredited TEFL certification, you don’t even need a four-year college degree to teach in such great international destinations as Argentina, China and Costa Rica.

So, if you want to travel the world and live abroad, here are five reasons why teaching English abroad can make your dream of international adventure come true.

1. Earn Money to Finance Your International Adventures

Most people don’t travel the world to make money, but for most of us spending $10,000 or $20,000 on international travel just isn’t an option. As an English teacher abroad, however, you can make a comfortable, living wage that enables you to cover your bills and to enjoy life in the country where you teach, whether it be Turkey, Mexico or the Czech Republic. Most English teachers around the world break even financially, meaning they aren’t putting money in the bank at the end of every month, but they aren’t dipping into retirement accounts or begging from their parents either. They’re simply living life and paying their bills, only it’s in Madrid, Prague or Santiago, rather than in Seattle, Chicago or Los Angeles.

If you have student loans or other financial commitments that you need to meet while living abroad; or if you just want to save money for additional extended travel, consider teaching in an Asian or Middle Eastern country, where most English teachers typically make enough to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses. Schools in some of these nations will even provide you with free housing and fund your airfare. In countries like Vietnam or Taiwan, that means saving up to $6,000 after a year of teaching, or in South Korea, you can save $10,000 – $15,000 a year.  With those savings, you can fund months of travel virtually anywhere in the world, and you’ll do it while living in the one of the most fascinating regions on the planet.

To learn more about where you can make and save the most money teaching English abroad, check out the Top 5 Countries to Make the Most Money Teaching English Overseas.

2. Be a Local!

As an English teacher in a foreign country, you aren’t just experiencing that country from a tour bus or even with other international travel addicts at the local hostel – you are a true member of the local community.  From your students and colleagues to the people you encounter on your daily commute and meet at the local market, you are constantly interacting with local folks from all walks of life.

In all likelihood, you will live in a typical apartment in a middle class neighborhood where you will shop at the local market and become a regular at the corner coffee house or sake bar. The opportunities to experience the local culture and befriend people you would never meet otherwise will prove both countless and priceless!

3. Convenient and Affordable Travel Opportunities

Do you want to spend the weekend in Portugal?  Chances are that if you are living in San Diego or Boston, that isn’t possible.  But, if you’re teaching English in Spain, travel to any number of great European destinations is likely a convenient train ride away. While teaching English in Turkey, you can practically swim to Greece.  Or imagine teaching English in a place like Vietnam where nations like China, Cambodia and numerous other fantastic countries in Asia are within affordable and convenient reach.

4. High Demand for English Teachers = Mobility and Countless Opportunities

Demand for English teachers is so high globally that an American can realistically gain employment as an English teacher in dozens of countries around the world. That means when you gain your TEFL certification, you can have your cake and eat it to.  Want to live for a year in Asia and then spend a year in Europe or Latin America?  Great. Teach English in Shanghai, Tokyo or Bangkok, and then spend a year teaching in Russia, Poland or Peru.

5. Make a Difference!

Like international travel, teaching can be one of the most rewarding endeavors one can undertake. As an English teacher – volunteer or professional – you will provide a public service that will enable others to achieve their personal, professional and academic goals.  For many around the globe, learning English isn’t just a school requirement, it’s the ticket to world of better jobs and lives for themselves and their families.  As a teacher realizing your own dreams of living abroad, you are helping others achieve their dreams too – what could be better than that?!

What’s the catch?

The catch is you have to go do it! The other catch is you have to know how to do it, that comes from being professionally TEFL certified.  You will need to take an accredited TEFL Certification class so you can hold a qualification to get hired and will possess the skills necessary to provide you own students with a rewarding educational experience.

To learn more about what you need to look for in a TEFL certification program, check out 7 Key Tips to Evaluating a TEFL/TESOL Training School.

John Bentley is a Senior Admissions Advisor at the International TEFL Academy, which trains and certifies nearly 1,200 people a year to teach English abroad and provides lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates.  He holds a BA from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies and a MSJ (Masters in Journalism) from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.  While at Harvard, John was a primary author for the Egypt-Israel edition of the famous Let’s Go! travel guide series and he has worked in the field of international travel and education throughout his career.  He also grew up overseas in Egypt and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe.

For more information about TEFL Certification and teaching English abroad

and to request a free brochure please visit:

Enter into the Free Online TEFL class drawing. All those filling out a contact form  for information are entered in the Meet Plan Go Drawing. Valued at $1,995

Take the First Step: Attend Meet, Plan, Go!
Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Austin | Boston | Chicago | Minneapolis | New York City

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

Tickets on sale now!

On October 16, 2012, we will be hosting our third annual nationwide event in 10 cities to inspire people to fulfill their career break and long-term travel dreams – and you can get your tickets now!

For less than the cost of a movie and popcorn – just $20 – you can take the first step toward making your travel dreams a reality!

The event will offer participants the opportunity to MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers; get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime; and start taking concrete steps forward to GO on that global adventure.

Because we live in a society that doesn’t find value in taking time off, we wanted to create a community for people who want to break out of the norm and travel for an extended period of time,” says co-founder Sherry Ott. “This is the only seminar out there designed for people who are looking to do long term independent travel.”

Every event will feature individuals and travel experts who have fulfilled their own world travel dreams. Speakers will address the main concerns that prevent people from taking a career break, usually centered around financial, career-related, societal, and safety concerns.

What You Get

Breakout sessions will focus on various aspects of long term travel planning such as:

? Preparation checklists
? Packing tips
? Saving money
? How to find volunteer opportunities
? Planning a purposeful itinerary
? Choosing the right insurance, and
? How to find local experiences when you travel.

Each attendee will leave with a wealth of travel information, plus:

? Getting Rid Of It e-book – kickstart your career break planning with this e-book from Warren and Betsy Talbot!  In 2008 Warren and Betsy put their decluttering and downsizing skills to the ultimate test: Getting rid of everything to travel around the world. How much travel could your junk buy you? Only one way to find out!

? Electronic Goody Bag full of special discounts and promotions from our sponsors which will help you plan your career break travels.

? The chance to win a trip for 2 to Turkey from our sponsor, Intrepid Travel.

Stay tuned as we will be announcing more giveaways and surprises soon!

What People Are Saying

Over 1,000 people attended last year’s event – 40% of whom were in a trip planning stage pre-event. In a post-event survey, that number rose to 54%.

It’s so valuable to hear from other people that have gone on these long trips when you’re contemplating going on one yourself.It validates it, and after attending you really feel like you can make the trip a reality sooner than I thought going into it.” – 2011 Chicago attendee

We were given insightful, honest and practical information from caring, professional travelers who know the ins and outs of long-term travel.” – 2011 Toronto attendee

Phenomenal panels, sponsors and just an all-round great time. Instant inspiration!” – 2011 New York attendee


We want career breaks to be more acceptable in America,” says Ott. “In fact, it is our goal to see a career break on every resume. And with the support of our 10 inspiring hosts, their panelists, and our sponsors, including Intrepid Travel, Insure My Trip, BootsnAll, and International TEFL Academy we are making great inroads to achieving that goal.”

Before You Go: Budgeting and Saving for Travel
Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Amrita Evans is an expat and freelance travel blogger writing for She is well acquainted with the ups and downs of moving and living abroad, and wouldn’t give up her nomadic lifestyle for anything.

Money is the most-cited concern of potential career-breakers, and with good reason – leaving your life for the great unknown is not an easy decision, even if you’re seeking a paid career break position, and in this economic climate it is crucial to make sure you’re prepared for a lifestyle change. Regardless of whether you’re walking away from a great job, or unemployed and hoping that a trip might get you back in the game, long-term travel is a huge financial commitment that should not be undertaken lightly.

However, as the saying goes, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. As long as you’re prepared, your journey can be one of the biggest, most rewarding adventures of your life.

There is plenty of money advice out there, and it can be overwhelming; Meet, Plan, Go! alone has dozens of articles about saving, planning and making money. Let this starter guide be the beginning of a compendium – if you have a great idea or a tried-and-tested tip, leave it in the comments or tweet to @MeetPlanGo!


Planning Before You Go

Budgeting isn’t fun, but absolutely critical. Catch up on some excellent advice from experts before planning and creating a cost-per-day. These two fantastic spreadsheets from David Lee have been a lifesaving resource for many. Research may take time, and this may be the most daunting act of preparation you’ll have to undertake, but it will pay off on the road.

? Make sure to include preparation costs in your budget. Travel visas can be expensive, and include unexpected costs like extra birth certificates and documentation, possible notary fees, and travel to and from a consulate. The cost of travel insurance, immunization and storing your things while you’re away should be factored in as well.

? Open a savings account just for your career break, so you don’t fritter it away on other things in the meantime.

? Make sure you have enough money budgeted for a few months after your return, as it may take some time to find a job on your return.

Saving Before You Go

There are plenty of money-saving tips floating around the internet, but it’s worth noting that saving for a career break is a little bit different – rather than cutting corners for the long term, you may need to make large savings by taking a hatchet to your lifestyle. These compromises are usually temporary, which makes them easier to bear.

? Start tracking your expenses, so you can see where to make savings – is a great resource for this. Take stock of your assets as well, including frequent flier miles.

? Go on a money diet – put a mental price tag on everything, as you might think about calories. A night out with friends, or two nights in a hostel? A new pair of shoes, or a week’s kayak rental in Sweden? Just like a diet, you will slip sometimes, but making this a habit is a great way to get excited about saving.

? Moving in with a friend or family member for the short term is the fastest way to save thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you live somewhere with high rent, like New York or California. If you’re about to travel around the world, sleeping in hostels and tents and campervans and under the stars, what’s a few months on a sofa bed?

? Take a long, hard look at your “essentials.” Do you really need a smartphone? Could you cut the cable and watch TV online, or read?

? Switch insurance providers or gas and electricity providers. Just a few hours’ research can save you hundreds of dollars – to make sure you take advantage of the savings, set up a monthly direct debit to your savings account for the difference.

? eBay and Gumtree are a great resource – sell anything that’s not nailed down, starting with that old rice cooker you got from Aunt Barbara and have never used. Then move on to clothes: beautiful dress that’s two sizes too small, or a week of meals?

? Flights are usually the biggest cost – see if you can get some money back to fly as a courier – you can be paid to escort someone else’s belongings.

? Consider slowing down: would you rather rather see more things shallowly, or less things more deeply? Sticking to a single landmass (North and South America, Australia, Africa, Eurasia) and buying a campervan can completely eliminate your flight and accommodation costs, and there is much to be said for a life on the road.

The thought of saving enough money to take a career break or sabbatical to travel may seem daunting, but following the tips above can get you on the right track in no time!

Images: mynameisharsha, quinn.anya, KSDigital

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

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

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

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

1. Research Other Travelers in Your Profession.

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

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

2. Tap Colleagues and Associates for Resource and Inspiration.

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

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

3. Connect with Professional Associations.

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

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

4. Look for Conferences and Events.

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

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

5. Identify Relevant Contacts Within Travel Networks.

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

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

6. Keep in Touch with Your Alumni Association.

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

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

Parque 3 de Febrero Architectural Plan

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

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

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

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

8. Harness Social Media.

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

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

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

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

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

The ABCs of Travel Planning
Monday, June 25th, 2012

Like many career-breakers, I spent 8 years paying my dues in Corporate America.  And while I’m probably one of the few who can truly say that I loved my job, I dreamed of something more. After months of thinking, researching, and intensely detailed planning, I was ready to embark on my new “adventure career,” in pursuit of extended around-the-world travels with a purpose.

Following countless hours of research for my own travels, I compiled this A-B-C list of travel-related websites, specifically geared towards long-term international travel.  Whether you plan to go to one country for one week or 20 countries for 6 months, these resources will get you going:

A – ALERTS & Warnings

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – sign up to receive the latest Travel Warnings and Alerts about the countr(ies) where you will be traveling or living

B – BUS Transportation

Eurolines – Europe

Megabus – the United Kingdom

StrayBus – New Zealand and Asia

C – COUNTRY Information/Facts

Rick Steves – helpful information about transport, city “must-sees”, sample itineraries, accommodation and restaurant recommendations, lots of little maps, and great walking tours.

Let’s Go – world travel guides written entirely by students who roam the globe in search of travel bargains.

D – DISTANCE between 2 cities anywhere in the world

Distance Calculator


Computer – Want to be able to access, update, and save all of your computer files, pictures, videos, etc. from any of your computers anywhere in the world without memory chips?  Check out Dropbox.

Phones – Don’t want to pay an arm & a leg for calling or texting while traveling?  Try Ekit.

Converter/Adapter – Not only are wall outlets different around the globe but some electronic devices may not be compatible with the voltage in other countries. (For example, the USA operates on 110/120V whereas Europe, uses 220V).  Get a World Travel Voltage Converter Adapter Kit.


Meet, Plan, Go! Trip Planner powered by AirTreks – round-the-world tickets.

Kayak – flight search engine.

Sky Scanner – flights with a “flexible destination.”

Ryan Air or Easy Jet – budget inter-Europe flights.

G – “GLOBAL” Credit/Debit cards

Foreign transaction fees and ATM fees can add up quickly, but here are a couple fee-free cards to try:

Capital One – offers a no annual fee, no-foreign transaction fee VISA credit card.

Charles Schwab – offers a debit card with no ATM fees anywhere in the world, linked to a high-interest checking account with no minimum balance or monthly service fees.

*Always remember to notify your credit/debit card company of upcoming travel, or they may put a hold on your card at the least opportune time.


Meet, Plan, Go!/GoMio– book hostels and connect with fellow travelers at the same time.

Hostel Zoo – search site that compares hostel prices/availability from the major hostel booking sites.

Euro Cheapo – search for cheap European hotels.


For expert personal assistance in evaluating your travel insurance needs,  check out Meet, Plan, Go!‘s new insurance hotline.

J – JUDGE how well-traveled you are. . .here are some fun quizzes:

The Travel List Challenge – how well traveled are you?

Lufthansa Virtual Pilot – how well do you know European geography?

K – KNOW about Diseases and Vaccinations

Centers for Disease Control  – know what vaccinations are necessary and what diseases might exist in your destination

L – LANGUAGE Translators

Google Translate

M – METRIC Converter

Metric Units Converter

N – No-No’s of International Travel

NO expensive jewelry, NO purses over the shoulder—wear a money belt, NO clothes with writing on it, DON’T overpack, DON’T travel on a passport with less than 6 months of validity, DON’T leave belongings unattended on an overnight train or at the beach, DON’T forget to validate your train ticket or rail pass before boarding—the fines are hefty!

O – ORGANIZED-Tour Companies

Intrepid Travel – for adventurous travelers who want to get off the beaten path.

Visit Meet, Plan, Go! Adventures for ideas on choosing your career break adventure.


For travelers, especially those backpacking.

For camping/hiking.

Q – QUALITY Travel Blogs/Sites

I really enjoy these travel bloggers’ sites because they are full of lots of information and inspiration:

Katie Going Global – on a journey through the former Soviet Union.

Nomadic Matt – “travel better, cheaper, longer.”

Round We Go: A Journey Around the World – “a couple’s journey around the world.”

Women on the Road  – “inspiration & advice for women who love to travel solo.”

YTravel Blog – “family travel with young kids.”


Post Career-break Resume – how to reflect long-term travel on your resume

S – SOCIAL-Networking for Travelers

Faith Travels – a place to network with other Christian travelers, talk about destinations, find a travel partner, etc.

Tripping – a way to connect with locals while traveling, this site matches up travelers with local hosts.

T – TRAIN tickets/schedules

Rail Europe – see fares and buy European train tickets.

European Train Schedule – view all European train schedules & connections.

Budget Europe Travel Service (B.E.T.S.) – personalized service from experts in European rail travel.

U – U.S. GOVERNMENT GUIDE to U.S. Citizens Traveling/Living Abroad

International Travel A-Z Index of Topics

V – VISA requirements

Official Travel Documents – general info & forms for visas, passports, and expediting services.

Visa HQ – quick-check of visa requirements by country.

Passport Visa Express – visa & passport expediting services.

W – WORLD-Trip Travel Guides

Travel Independent – “everything you need to know about independent budget travel”

BootsnAll – “one stop indie travel guide.”


World Currency Converter

 Y – YOUR story!

Share your own travel experiences with others!  Create your own blog using WordPress or BlogSpot. And don’t forget to share your story with Meet, Plan, Go!

Z – ZERO-cost (or low-cost) Travel


International House Sitting




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


Set Your Daily Number
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

How much will my trip around the world cost? What started as a dream crashes into reality when you dive in and start trying to determine how much money you’ll need to make it a reality. The thought of all the research and budgeting can easily overwhelm you. However, setting this number should not become an obstacle to taking off on your adventure.

Like many of you, when we decided in September 2008 to embark on a trip around the world we had absolutely no idea how much something like this would cost. The one thing assumed is that a trip like this would be outrageously expensive. Our first wild-ass-guess was that a year on the road would cost us $75,000. We used no research or information to get to this number, but since we both arrived at this number separately it seemed as good a place to start as any. This became our very first goal number, and was the first step towards our savings target.

From there we dove head first into planning mode, consuming information from a broad set of websites, blogs, and forums to glean information from those who had done it before. The information that did exist was all over the map and added even more confusion to the process. We found figures as high as $125,000 for a year to as low as $15,000. After a few days of pouring over reports we were only marginally closer to having a better figure for own adventure. There were just so many variables that it seemed the more research we did the more paralyzed we became.

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

After exploring the problem in depth we discovered a far more useful budgeting technique – the “daily number”. This is the overall average amount you will spend each day on the road. It is inclusive of all expenses you will incur (hotel, flights, trains, meals, alcohol (yikes), entertainment, visas, etc). By coming up with an overall average, you can establish a simple figure to use for calculating your total savings goal and setting a baseline for your journey. It’s a hell of a lot easier to estimate a single day on the road instead of trying to calculate different regional costs, estimate the different flights, food for a year, and what visas you may need. By picking a daily number you also have a great guide you can carry with you when you hit the road and start managing against your budget figure.

We ended up with the figure of $100/day for the two of us, which seemed like a reasonable figure that we could live within based on our style of travel.

Set your daily number early and stick to it as you begin saving towards your dream.

Know You Can Adjust Later On

We have seen over and over people letting the research get in the way of actually taking off. They keep trying to adjust their budget, figure out every single expense to ensure the final figure is 100% correct. The time and stress spent worrying about getting it right becomes more important than the dream itself.

Guess what? Regardless of how much effort you expend determining your budget figure, you are going to get it wrong. And that is ok. The reason is you cannot predict how your trip will unfold. If all goes well, your trip is going to take some amazing and unexpected twists and you’ll find yourself in situations, and possibly places, you never expected. It is this type of adventure that got your excitement going in the first place and makes trying to plan every expense simply impossible.

But there is good news to this state of the unknown. You are still in complete control of your trip because this is YOUR dream. When you hit the road you have a number of levers you can use to change how much you are spending each and every day.

? Head to somewhere cheaper – is SE Asia calling your name after 2 months in Europe?

? Cut back on meals – while you still need to eat, you can embrace the wonderful world of street carts. Warning: this can become addictive.

? Adjust the duration of your trip – who said your trip has to be 12 months? If you are having the time of your life for 11 months is that a terrible outcome?

? Buy beer at the grocery store and not the bar– you will be shocked at how much bars get away with marking up your bottle of beer.

By focusing your spending only what is most important to you at the time, you can shift your daily spending around to allow you enjoy the more expensive areas of the globe and then making up for it when you get that great house-sitting gig. The key is watching your daily number over time and managing it to suit your dream, but not letting it control your dream.

After 20 months on the road I’m surprised at just how much our “daily number” has stayed with us. After all this time our overall spending (yes, we’ve tracked every penny) today sits at $63/day, well below over average and it feels great.

Your budget is a guide to your trip around the world, but is should not be an obstacle that keeps you from taking the leap. Instead, take the another step towards your dream today and select your daily number.

If you have a daily spending number you are using, or have used, please share it in the comments. It would be great to provide more information to anyone beginning to put together their own daily number.

In 2010, Warren Talbot and his wife Betsy took off on an around-the-world journey. A year later, they revealed their financial and mental strategies in Dream Save Do, the definitive guide to funding any big dream. You can find out more about Living the Good Life on their website, Married with Luggage. He can currently be found on a train, bus, or camel crossing the vast expanse of Asia and Europe during their 18,000km journey from Thailand to Portugal.

10 Steps to Knowing What Travel Immunizations You Need
Monday, May 28th, 2012

A major consideration when planning a career break or other extended travel through multiple countries is getting the appropriate vaccinations and pills.  Not only is maintaining your health one of the most important elements while abroad, but some countries require certain vaccinations in order to qualify for an entry visa.  The problem is, when we started researching the requirements, we were easily lost in a myriad of information which was sometimes contradictory.

Here, we share our 10 steps to a better immunization experience!

Step 1: Start early.  Certain vaccinations come in a series that may take 4-6 months to complete.

Step 2: Prepare a list of potential destinations.

Step 3: Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and locate the Traveler’s Health section.   There are 3 categories of vaccinations: Routine, Required, and Recommended.  Routine vaccinations include childhood immunizations.  There are only a few Required vaccinations necessary for entry into certain countries or to obtain a visa.  Most of the time, the choice to be vaccinated is ultimately up to you, which are listed under the Recommended section.

Step 4: Go to a Passport and Visa Services website such as and research visa immunization requirements by destination.  This may be different than what the CDC states.  For example, Brazil is listed by the CDC as a country where yellow fever risk is present, but a vaccination is not necessarily required for entry.  However, if your nationality requires a visa to enter Brazil, and you are coming from a yellow fever risk country, you will need a yellow fever vaccination as a visa requirement.

Step 5: Gather your immunization history, such as your childhood immunization records.  Questions that may be asked when getting your immunizations include: the last date of your tetanus shot, whether you received a Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccination and booster, whether you’ve had chickenpox or not, etc.

Step 6: Schedule a consultation with a travel immunization clinic or specialist.  We scheduled a consultation due to the complexity of our travel itinerary.  The very thorough and informative 1.5 to 2 hour consultation cost $150 for the both of us.   Overall, it was a highly productive meeting to have a consultant break down 300 pages of travel documents into information we could use.  The consultant also gave us prescriptions for antibiotics, altitude sickness, and malaria, should we choose to fill them.

Step 7: Based on the information collected, make decisions on what immunizations and prescriptions you want/need.  This is the hard part.  Fortunately, many recommended vaccines overlapped between South America and Asia.  These included the Hepatitis A and B series, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.  We decided to go with all of the recommended vaccines because (1) we could afford it (2) mosquitoes love Akiko and many of the disease are mosquito-borne, and (3) the potential consequences of some of the diseases are severe.

Pills were recommended for malaria, altitude sickness, and antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea.   None of the malaria pill options were ideal due to side effects and/or cost, but while we were mulling it over, we discovered that the newest medication, Malarone, was now available in generic form, reducing our out-of-pocket cost substantially.  Yellow Fever ended up being the only required vaccine for visa purposes.

Step 8: Research if medical insurance and prescription plans will cover part of the cost.  Depending on your existing health insurance and prescription plan, you may be able to get part of the cost covered.  We found we could update our routine vaccines (e.g. influenza, pneumococcal, chickenpox or varicella, polio, MMR, Td or Tdap, etc.) through our primary care physician for the copay cost.   We had our doctor re-write the prescriptions written by the travel immunization clinic so that our prescription plan would cover most of the cost.

Step 9: Map out a schedule on when immunizations need to be completed.  This will also help spread out the cost of some of the immunizations.   After all was said and done, all the prophylaxis cost upwards of $1,300 per person.

Step 10: Start somewhere.  Go get immunized and/or fill the prescriptions! 

Travel has always been their hobby, but recently, Mike Watkins and Akiko Kubo decided to “cash-in” on their dreams of taking a career break to travel around the globe after seeing close friends’ and family’s lives end too soon.  To avoid wondering what might have been, they are downsizing their comfortable lives into a backpack, and making way for opportunities undiscovered.  Follow their 8-month, round-the-world, adventures  on or on Facebook.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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