Now that I have reached 11 months on the road – a point I never originally intended to reach – I want to share two big announcements with you – the first being the biggest.
I have booked my flights home.
After months of thinking about it and feeling like I needed to know when my career break trip would come to an end, and after knowing in my head approximately when that would be for the last couple months, I have finally made it official.
First, I will fly from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Barcelona, Spain.
Actually, it won’t quite be that simple. First, on September 16, I fly from Bishkek to Riga, Latvia with a brief layover in Kiev. Then, on September 18, I fly from Riga to Barcelona. Why so convoluted? Well, as it turns out, it is really hard to find a decently priced flight from Bishkek to Barcelona that doesn’t go through Russia (which would be a pain in the butt). This option is $200 cheaper than anything else I could find and I get to check out Riga again when the weather should be a little better (last time I was there, it was December!).
Finally, after a couple days in Barcelona, I will head to Girona for the TBEX travel blogging conference September 21-22. Like the TBU conference I attended in Italy back in April, I am looking forward to this as a great chance to catch up with some of my travel blogging friends and to network and make some new contacts.
Then, on September 25, I will fly from Barcelona to Chicago.
Those who follow me on Facebook may recall I seriously considered stopping in Los Angeles when I first return to the United States. The thought was tempting as I have many college and law school friends in L.A. and many of my fellow volunteers in Armenia live in the area. But while it would have been great to see so many familiar faces, I realized it might also be too much of a shock to the system when I first return. And the more I thought about it, I really couldn’t see myself landing anywhere other than Chicago when September comes – I think I will be craving the comfort and familiarity that Chicago provides.
Unfortunately, as much as I would love to just settle right back into life in Chicago, reality (i.e., a lack of a job) dictates that I call Minnesota home for a bit while I look for employment. So after catching up with friends in the Windy City, I will head back to the Twin Cities, where I will unpack my bags at my parents’ house and sleep in a familiar bed for the first time in 13 months.
And that brings me to my second announcement.
I will be hosting Meet, Plan, Go! Minneapolis in October.
For those of you not familiar with Meet, Plan, Go!, it provides resources and inspiration for people contemplating or preparing to take a career break to travel. This includes a blog, online community, local meet-ups and an annual national event held in major cities throughout North America. I first attended Meet, Plan, Go! in Chicago in 2010 and that experience truly propelled me to be where I am today. Last year, I participated in the Chicago event as a panelist by Skype from Russia and this spring, I joined the MPG team as managing editor for the website.
I am so excited about this opportunity to host the annual event in Minneapolis on October 16, to share my story and to hopefully inspire and encourage others to make the leap and take a career break to travel as well. If you are in the Twin Cities area, I hope you will attend!
So there you have it – 335 days down on the road and exactly 57 days left. I have a feeling it will fly by and I will be landing in Chicago before I know it.