Posts Tagged ‘travel tips’

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…

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Career Break Traveler
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Still looking for holiday gifts ideas for the career break traveler on your list? Or are you dreaming of taking a career break to travel and looking for additional advice or inspiration?

Here are a few of our favorite career break and travel resources to get you started. And as an added bonus? They’re almost all ebooks – no gift wrapping involved!

How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World, by Dalene and Pete Heck.

Dalene and Pete Heck have spent over half of the last three years house-sitting in places like Ireland, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Honduras, Canada, London and New York. They estimate they have saved at least $30,000 on accommodation costs in the process and now they have poured all of their experience into their ebook, How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World. They analyze the various house-sitting websites out there, recommend how to create a successful profile, tips on how to be a good house-sitter and a variety of resources to help plan for your first house-sitting gig. You can read more here.

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Dream Save Do, by Betsy and Warren Talbot.

The most common perceived obstacle to taking a career break is financial – people fear how much it might cost and assume you need to be rich to take a career break to travel. You definitely don’t need to be rich, and in Dream Save Do, Betsy and Warren show you how to save money for career break travel – or any other dream. They provide concrete ways not only to save money, but to change your life and find the inspiration to follow through. You can read our full review here.

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Negotiating Your Sabbatical: The Ultimate Toolkit for Writing and Presenting a Killer Sabbatical Proposal That Your Boss Can’t Refuse, by Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano

This mother-daughter team took a career break several years ago and now work full-time running – a firm that partners with businesses to develop programs that attract, retain and accelerate top talent through the use of structured leaves of absence. This ebook is aimed at employees – providing advice for wanna-be career breakers on how to successful ask for a sabbatical. But, it is even more than an ebook – it is an entire toolkit to help you build a foundation, create a proposal and engage in the negotiation. Check out our full review here.

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The Traveler’s Handbooks, by multiple authors

This series of books, available in paperback or electronically, focus on the idea that travel is about more than just the destination – it’s about how you choose to experience the world. Several books in the series may be of interest to potential career-breakers, including The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook by Jeff Jung, founder of Career Break Secrets; The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook by Shannon O’Donnell; and The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, by Meet, Plan, Go! Toronto host and founder of Solo Traveler, Janice Waugh.

You might also check out The Food Traveler’s Handbook by Jodi Ettenberg or The Luxury Traveler’s Handbook by Sarah & Terry Lee.

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The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down, by Andrew McCarthy

Actor-turned-travel writer Andrew McCarthy’s new memoir is kind of a love story to travel. It’s about how travel can help us discover our truest and best selves, while expanding our minds and souls and shaping us into different people. In the book, McCarthy travels to the far ends of the earth while trying to understand what is holding him back from fully committing to his fiance of four years. From Patagonia to the Amazon to Mount Kiliminjaro, he brings the reader along as he finds a deeper meaning in each experience. You can hear more from McCarthy about the book and his travel philosophy here.


Top photo by Jennifer C.

Product links above are affiliate links; we will earn a small commission from any books purchased.

Preventing Identity Theft While Traveling
Monday, November 19th, 2012

Identity theft is an ongoing issue, but most people don’t think it will happen to them and don’t take simple precautions.  It is said that you are 15 times more likely to have your identity stolen than to have your car broken into.  Per CSID, an identity-protection provider, data theft exposure increases when traveling. For example, some crafty thieves gain access to your bank or credit card information by way of unsecured wireless networks and Bluetooth technology.

Speaking of technology, identity theft occurs more offline than online according to the National Crime Prevention Council – normally due to lost wallets, smartphones, and laptops.  When traveling, the use of credit and/or ATM cards increases, as does the likelihood that such cards will be handled by unknown sources.   A few years ago, I watched the following video about electronic pickpocketing and became aware of the theft potential due to the RFID signal coming from my credit cards and even my passport. It shocked me how easy my financial information could be stolen!


The idea of a thief being able to scan my sensitive data right off of my credit card – without touching it – brings a whole new level of worry. Before I left for my around-the-world trip, I purchased Stronghold Identity RFID sleeves for my credit cards and passport and ‘worry’ left as well.



More and more wallets, purses, and bags are coming equipped with RFID signal blocking, through retailers such as REI and Amazon. These are well worth the investment to provide you with an extra layer of protection against identity theft – and some peace of mind.


Roughly 140 million Americans traveled last year – opening themselves up to potential identity theft. The Consumer Sentinel Network reported that approximately 257,000 identity thefts occurred in 2010 with an average loss of $4,930 per incident! RFID blocking products are just one way to safe-guard your identity, but there are other ways – like surfing the web securely, using only credit instead of debit cards for purchases and using ATM machines with caution. Don’t risk your hard-earned vacation dollars; put a plan in place to protect yourself.

Jannell Howell is a lover of travel, habitual blogger, social media devotee and wannabe nomad who just finished an around-the-world journey that took her through parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, India, England, Italy and Spain. She classifies herself as a ‘flashpacker’ who enjoys staying in one destination long enough to experience a taste of local life.mWhile preparing for her own extended travels, she became a self-confessed ‘gear-ologist’ through (almost obsessive) study of travel-related gear & services. Jannell shares her journey and gearology finds on her blog, Traveljunkie’s World Tour. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Pack for Your Career Break
Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

If you are just starting to think about taking a career break, you may not even be thinking yet about what to pack. But the time will come when that is priority – and struggle – number one. Here are some of our best tips to pack for your career break travels.

1. Pack Only What You Can Carry

Whether you go with the traditional backpack or a wheeled suitcase, you will be carrying all of your worldly possessions with you from city to city, country to country.So you will want to only pack what you can carry. One way of limiting what you bring is to get a smaller backpack or suitcase. If you get the biggest possible backpack available, chances are you will be tempted to pack it full right away. If you are limited in size, you will be forced to really evaluate what you are bringing. Plus, you’ll want to leave room for all the souvenirs you might want to buy!

In addition, airlines are now charging for overweight bags. This is especially true for smaller, internal flights. That’s just another added expense that you won’t want chipping away at your budget.

When packing it’s extremely useful to lay out everything you plan to bring. By visually seeing everything together, you can step back and evaluate what you truly need. The general formula is to take just half of what you originally planned.

2. Dress in Layers and Neutral Colors

No matter where you travel, there is a good chance you will experience multiple climates – even in the same day! Dressing in layers is a great way to be prepared for any moment. It is also smart to layer and wear your bulkiest items when you’re flying.

Dressing in neutral colors also allows you to mix and match multiple items in your limited wardrobe.

Those who are new to long-term travel may find that one of the biggest challenges up front is the clothing issue, or lack thereof. But keep in mind that as you will be living on the move, chances are most people won’t know that you are wearing the same things every other day. And more than likely, so are they! Not to mention, it can be refreshing not to worry about what to wear each day – with just a couple options, it is one less decision to make!

3. Evaluate What’s Most Important To You

While you generally want to pack light, you also need to weigh potential extras that may be of particular importance to you. For example, if you are a budding photographer, you likely won’t want to travel without your various cameras and lenses. For you, that extra weight will be worth it, even if it means our daypack is as heavy as your main pack or suitcase.

Likewise, if you’re an avid diver, you may want to bring your own diving equipment. A fervent runner? You’ll want your running sneakers for sure. Or maybe you are going to do a lot of hiking and want to bring your walking sticks.

Also think about what you will actually be comfortable wearing – don’t go out and buy a bunch of technical clothing if you aren’t likely to wear it. And while people may tell you to stay away from jeans, if that’s what you’re comfortable in, go for it!

4. Use Packing Cubes for Separating Gear

The last thing you want while traveling is an “exploding” backpack or suitcase – you don’t want to find yourself removing everything while digging through your pack just to find one particular item. This can be extremely frustrating, especially if you are on a train or on your way out.

Keep your backpack or suitcase in order by separating your gear in individual packing cubes. Packing cubes are made of nylon and mesh and come in multiple shapes, sizes and colors, making them the perfect way to stay organized! If you need a new t-shirt, you know which cube to grab. Even if it’s placed at the bottom of your pack, you only have to remove two or three items to get to it. You can use separate cubes for just about everything – shirts and bottoms, underwear and socks, even toiletries and electrical/tech accessories.

A key to packing in packing cubes is to roll your items – this saves space and keeps items somewhat wrinkle free. Cubes also make it easier to repack. It won’t take long for you to figure out the best configuration for items in your backpack or suitcase and it will soon become automatic.

5. Keep Toiletries Light

Toiletry items can easily become the heaviest part of your backpack, so it’s best to try and keep them to a minimum. One way to do this is to only pack what you need for the immediate weeks. You can easily pick up most items like shampoo, soap and toothpaste con the road, so starting off with smaller sizes is a great idea. Plus, if you pack a large shampoo bottle, the bulk of it will still take up more space even as you use it up. You might also consider shampoo bars from Lush, an all-natural cosmetics company – they are compact and long-lasting!

Some items of your toiletry bag that may be more difficult to find overseas. If you wear contacts, you may want to bring extra lens solution as that may not always be available. And women may have a hard time finding feminine hygiene products in other countries – especially tampons. Unless you are comfortable with OB-type products, you will want to pack extra tampons.

In addition to any travel medications you might be on (such as malaria pills) perhaps you have a regular prescription for something. You will want to make sure you have enough of it to get through the trip. It is very important that you bring your doctor’s prescription with you as well.

Another item that will take up a lot of space in your backpack is a traditional bath towel. Instead, use an ultra light towel! They are small, lightweight, soak up water in an instant, and dry super fast. And if you are worried about a towel for the beach, use a sarong! Again, these are small and lightweight and can even be used as a wrap if you find yourself using a communal bathroom.

6. Pack For the Immediate

If you plan to be in various climates during your extended travel, pack for your most immediate. Warm destinations obviously require lighter clothing than cold weather destinations so you won’t want to be lugging around down coats and boots while in the tropics. Likewise, if you’re starting in a colder climate, consider donating your cold weather gear to a local charity before moving on to warmer weather. If you really want to hold on to an item, simply ship it home. The extra space will make it worth the cost!

And not to sound like a broken record but you can always pick up necessary items when you get to your destination.

7. Be Culturally Sensitive

It’s important to keep in mind the local cultures in the countries you’re visiting – you are a guest in their country and you should be respectful. Sure, Thailand is hot, but they are a very conservative country in the way that they dress. You won’t see many Thai people in skimpy tops and shorts. You can certainly dress this way, but be prepared to attract unwanted attention and don’t expect to enter temples dressed that way. Make sure you have a top that covers your shoulders and long pants or, for women,  a skirt below the knees.

Other Quick Tips

? Don’t bring anything that needs to be dry cleaned.
? Dry-fit clothes are great items as they breathe, dry fast, and don’t wrinkle.
? Fabric softener in your pack is a great way to freshen up your wardrobe.
? Are you a runner? Deodorant balls can be great for keeping sneakers from smelling up your pack.

Don’t Leave Home Without:

? Extra passport photos (you never know when you’ll need them for visas)
? iPod (great for listening to travel podcasts and keeps you company on long road trips)
? Water bottle (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!)
? Straps and carabiners (great for strapping/attaching extra things to your pack)
? Dry bags (great for keeping valuables such as cameras and computers safe when on or near the water)
? Plastic bags (great for separating items in your pack, especially wet items)
? Headlamp (see Our Favorite Gear entry)
? Journal (you’ll regret in the future not documenting this incredible passage in your life)
? Camera (no explanation needed)
? Photos and/or postcards from home (a great way to share your culture and life with the people you encounter)

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

How to Stay in Shape on the Road
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


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.

From day one of my trip, I have been committed to doing some type of exercise each day. This has continued despite my fair share of travel days and spending three weeks in Tunisia and Egypt during Ramadan.

My 5 pieces of advice for working out successfully on the road:

1. Find exercises that require a minimum of space – not having a gym nearby or sharing space at a hostel often means space is at a premium. Luckily body weight exercises like pushups, squats, sit-ups and burpees can be done almost anywhere. If you keep going long enough I promise you will get a good sweat going. And don’t worry if you think you look ridiculous. On several occasions people have come up to me in the middle of a workout to ask what I’m doing to see if they can do the same thing at home!

2. Keep it creative and fun – finding exercises that can be done in confined spaces encourages creativity. Be on the lookout for anything that can be used as exercise equipment. I have used pull up bars in neighborhood parks, a gas canister used to heat a kitchen stove for bicep curls and bedposts for dips. My backpack also serves as a great way to weight train nearly all of my muscles. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then it will never become a habit. There are always opportunities out there to go on a long bike ride, spend an afternoon hiking or even find a local gym. So reward yourself with activities that you like.

3. Schedule exercise for a similar time each day if you can– this one is tricky on days when you’re traveling or have scheduled activities but penciling in my workout each morning gives me the energy to start each day with a sense of accomplishment. Think of the word routine as something to look forward to rather than with a sense of dread. That’s why its so important that you find workouts that are fun.

4. Keep an exercise log – documenting my fitness activities has allowed me to monitor my progress and serves as motivation for exercising each day. Incorporating this into weekly posts on my blog motivates me to push myself even more knowing that my friends and family can see what I’m doing.

5. Run or jog as a way to get acclimated to a new place – I love to go jogging whenever I arrive in a new destination. There is nothing better for helping you become oriented to a place and allowing you to see things you might otherwise miss. Plus in my case it’s been pretty cool to jog along the Nile in Egypt, up the steps of a Roman theater in Tunisia and along train tracks in Sicily.

Working out on the road is a great way to stay in shape and blow off some steam. Some of my best ideas for my blog and in planning my trip come during my workouts, which is the one time every day I know I will have all to myself.

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 loves exploring new cultures and meeting new people all the while continuing to find time to exercise. You can read about his adventures and follow his workout routines at

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

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