It has been about two years since I first started dreaming of taking time off to travel. Now that my departure day has arrived (eek!), it is finally starting to sink in:
I am really doing this.
At various points over the last several months, I have felt stressed, scared, sad, confused and generally overwhelmed. Planning a trip like this is not easy by any means and it can be even harder when you have very few people in your every day life who really relate to what you are doing.
When I first dreamed up this idea, I didn’t know a single person who had traveled long-term. I didn’t know anyone who had just quit their job to pursue a crazy dream, not sure what would be waiting on the other side.
This is where Meet, Plan, Go! came to the rescue for me.
In short, Meet, Plan, Go! offers travel advice and coaching for people planning a career break or sabbatical to travel. More importantly, Meet, Plan, Go! provides a supportive community through in person events, an online course and an inspirational blog.
I was one of 2,400 people who attended the inaugural nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! event last fall, held in multiple cities across the country. I left the Chicago event feeling inspired and, for the first time, with a sense that I was not alone in my desire to leave my job to travel. Within a few months, I felt like I was part of a community of past, current and future career-breakers.
Immediately after attending Meet, Plan, Go! I reached out to met up with the Chicago host, Lisa Lubin, and one of the panelists, Megan Kearney. I nearly ambushed Megan at the end of the event because her bio mentioned that she had traveled through Central Asia solo several years ago. The ‘Stans were high on my list of destinations to visit, but I didn’t know anyone who had been, so I was eager to pick Megan’s brain. She was happy to help and became a great source of advice and support.
I connected with Lisa in part because she was similar in age to me when she left to travel – so many of the long-term travel blogs I encountered were written by individuals in their early twenties, I found it hard to relate. Meeting Lisa was just what I needed and we hit it off immediately. I was also impressed (and motivated!) to learn about how Lisa turned her career break into more of a career transition, combining her skills and experiences when she retuned to create a new path for herself.
Shortly after Meet, Plan, Go! I signed up for a beta version of Career Break Basic Training, an online “course” that provides great resources and discussion about issues such as defining the purpose of your career break, budgeting and planning for your trip, obtaining health and travel insurance and finding work and volunteer opportunities on the road. Through Basic Training I got feedback and support for my plans and figured out some of the aspects of my trip with which I had been struggling (like figuring out what to do about health insurance!). I was also able to connect with others, like Val Bromann, who were planning their own career breaks so we were able to compare notes along the way.
The next nationwide Meet, Plan, Go! event will take place October 18, 2011 in 17 cities throughout North America (up from 10 last year!): Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington DC and Toronto, Canada. If you have given even the slightest bit of thought to stepping back from your career to travel, I highly recommend you try to attend.
It just might change your life.