Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!


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25 October 2011
If you want to sing out, sing out!
a recap of Meet, Plan, Go! 2011

Does it feed your soul? Go within before you go without. We don't know how long the economy will be down, and in the meantime we need to live our lives!

our kickass panel

Sure, last Tuesday's Meet, Plan, Go! in DC dealt with nuts & bolts issues like insurance, airfare, and finances. But in between the logistics a steady theme emerged. Travel is more than getting from Point A to Point B. It nourishes something deep inside.

a great crowd

For the second year, I had the privilege of assembling a kickass panel to tell their stories and answer questions about long-term travel. In the audience of about 80 people were nurses and lawyers, project managers and artists, techies and cops, past and present and future careerbreakers, all bitten by the travel bug and yearning to see more of the world.


Alexis GrantNancy BeargKimberly PalmerKinnari PatelColey Hudgins 

After a little informal mixing and mingling, and an opening video featuring interviews with many MPG hosts from across North America, our panel of experts turned up the star power:

>> Moderator Alexis Grant backpacked thru Africa in 2008, recently left her journalism job and has just published an e-guide called How to Take a Career Break to Travel. In addition to contributing her own travel tips, she kept the program flowing smoothly and guided the panelists through a wealth of topics.

>> Nancy Bearg, co-author of Reboot Your Life and former National Security Advisor to vice presidents, regaled us with some eye-opening stats about how just burnt out the American workforce is. Did you know we're leaving $21 billion in vacation time on the table annually? Sheesh. Nancy gave us some great tips on how to make your travel work for your career. In 20 years, more than half the jobs out there will be things we don't even know the name of today. Create your own niche to come back to!

>> Kim Palmer, author of Generation Earn, tackled the big issue of money. Before you can figure out how much you need to save for your trip, you need to determine your dream/vision. Do you want to work while traveling? Relocate to another country? Just lounge around? Regardless, get your finances organized before you go, and consider launching a side business to sock away funds for your trip. Craigslist is great place to see what people are getting paid to do!

>> Kinnari Patel, corporate rat race escapee and social entrepreneur, advised us to tap into local hostel staff for information on traveler-friendly job opportunities and volunteer gigs. To find an organization to volunteer with, do your research online but ultimately go within to find a place that's a match your passions.

>> Coley Hudgins represented both the expat and family travel contingents. He's moved his family to Panama, and his youngest daughter will have dual citizenship. (How cool is that?) Kids are more flexible than you can imagine and will roll with anything. Getting your spouse on board can be another story, but as long as he/she has a willingness to get outside his/her comfort zone, you're on your way. He advised us not to  underestimate the "boots on the ground" effect of researching travel deals as well as local employment.

Bob from Hosteling International

Here are a few of my favorite nuggets from the night, as seen around the Twitterverse:

@hungry_wil: search within before you go without.

@pulpologist: You'll come back frm #travel more creative & a risk-taker, and this makes you a more appealing employee!

@CareerBreakHQs: Amen! RT @pulpologist: Wing it! Don't overplan. You'll never have this much freedom again in your life!

@jenniferparker3: Me too! RT @cityandsand Yes. #travel RT @jenniferparker3: Is this something that your spirit needs?

@pulpologist: You will have naysayers. (They're jealous!) Ignore some, let others know how important this is to you.

@BBADWoman: You nvr know the work yr going to get abroad until your boots are on the ground! Good blog name #BootsOnTheGround

annnnnnd prizes!

As a way to unwind after the event, Mark & I watched the classic movie Harold and Maude. If you've never seen it, or haven't seen it in some time, I highly recommend a viewing. It's not a travel flick, per se, but includes lots of timeless wisdom about finding your passion. And it has an amazing soundtrack by Cat Stevens, who reminds us:

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
You see
It's easy
You only need to know


In addition to fueling the passions of future careerbreakers, our DC event raised funds for the Joan Zamborsky Memorial Trust Fund, which provides supplies and enables scientific exploration for an alternative high school in Pennsylvania. Way to go, travelistas!

cheers to a great event!

Many thanks to:
* my kickass panelists, for their energy before and during the event
* DC Travel Tweetup ambassadors Jennifer P, Jennifer L, Kelly, Claudia, and Kim, for helping to spread the word, for mixing and mingling, and for tweeting up a storm
* Lisa & Russ, for rockin' the reg table and icebreakers
* Mark, best.soundguy.ever
* Kelsey, fabulous photog
* Recessions Lounge, for donating the space
* Hosteling International volunteer Bob, for representing HI
* our kickass national sponsors:
Intrepid Travel, Hosteling International, and GoMio


Recaps from just a few of the 16 other events:
*
Austin
*
Minneapolis
*
Boston
*
Toronto
*
San Francisco
* Scenes from Meet, Plan, Go!


To see more photos and get involved in our monthly meetups, check out the DC MPG Facebook page. Oh, and check it out, we made the WaPo!

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19 October 2011
Save the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia


A recap of last night's stellar Meet, Plan, Go! event is coming later this week, but in the meantime I thought we'd keep the travel inspiration going with this guest post from Daniel Quilter of Ecoteer.

Perhential Islands, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands are renowned for being the most beautiful Islands in Malaysia and this title is warranted. The coral sand beaches are lined by palm trees on one side and fringing coral reefs on the other. If Robinson Crusoe was to be filmed they could easily use the Perhentian Islands as the set.

However below the turquoise blue waters not all is good. The coral reefs are dying fast, mainly due to the hordes of tourists which search out this tropical paradise on a daily basis. Corals grow at fastest just 15cm per year and with hundreds of tourists snorkelling and diving the coral reefs daily the breakage of coral is a big issue.

female turtleThe same goes for the sea turtles of Perhentian. The beaches of the Perhentians are nesting grounds for two species of turtle, green and hawksbill. The number has been slowly declining since 2000. Tourists often seek out nesting turtles and if they get too close they will scare the shy creatures who will then go back into the sea without laying any eggs. If a mother gets to lay her eggs, they then have to evade being collected by poachers who consume or sell the eggs as a local delicacy.

Ecoteer beach cleanupIt's not all bad news though! Reef Check Malaysia and Ecoteer both run projects in the islands and several of the resorts are protecting their own piece of paradise. Ecoteer run the community house which is open to the village children in the afternoon as a youth centre. Ecoteer international volunteers also go into the local primary school twice a week to improve the children’s English and to teach them about the environment.

The Ecoteer House is the base for Ecoteer and provides international volunteers with an opportunity to experience the village island life and to give back to the islands' environment. Reef Check runs extensive surveys to establish the health of the coral reefs in Perhentian.

Bubbles resort


One of the resorts who are doing a lot of good is Bubbles, pictured above. They run a turtle and coral conservation project aimed at protecting the nesting sea turtles and replenishing their fringing coral reef. The seas surrounding Perhentian are very easy for first time scuba divers and during the Bubbles volunteer program you can not only take your first course but the advanced and then become a qualified Reef Check surveyor.

traditional Malay dinner teaching English Shrahul, one of the local kids


The Perhentian Islands need you, otherwise Paradise will be lost!

You can find out more about these projects at www.ecoteerresponsibletravel.com.

Daniel QuilterDaniel Quilter has always been inspired by the words and footage of David Attenborough which has created a love and passion for helping this world. After he finished his studies in 2005 in Environmental Science Daniel went on an adventure to Borneo that changed his life. He lived and volunteered in Malaysian Borneo for eight months which culminated in him starting Ecoteer.com. Six years on and Daniel is still helping the nature and people of Malaysia.




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17 October 2011
Meet, Plan, Go! it's almost here!

Meet, Plan, Go! DC

Tomorrow night, aspiring careerbreakers will gather in 17 cities across North America to get inspiration and information from the experts.

In DC, we've got a stellar lineup of panelists who will be dispensing advice on finances, travel with children, facing your fears, and lots of other juicy topics. If you haven't already met our kickass panel, here's a second chance.

Meet, Plan, Go! Oct 18

There's been a flurry of great articles written in anticipation of the big day. Here's a quick roundup of my faves:

* Raising Travelers, by DC Ambassador Jennifer Parker
* How a Career Break Turned My Life Totally Upside Down, by 2010 DC panelist Stephanie Yoder
* How Taking a Break to Travel Can Benefit Your Career, featuring 2011 DC panelist Nancy Bearg
* Does leaving your job to travel sound appealing? by DC panelist Alexis Grant
* Can I Afford to Take a Sabbatical? by DC panelist Kimberly Palmer
* The Event that Changed my Life, by San Franciso panelist Spencer Spellman
* Lisa Lubin: A Cheeky Chick You Should Know, featuring Chicago host and everyone's favorite cheekster Lisa Lubin
* How to take a career break for long-term travel, featuring St Louis host Adam Seper
* It Might be Time for a Career Break, courtesy of MPG national marketing partner BootsNAll
* A Career Change: Why I’m Speaking at Meet, Plan, Go 2011, by Seattle panelist Chris Faust
* Career Break Call to Action (Inspired by the Songs of Glee), by Austin host Jeff Jung
* How to Represent Travel on Your Resume, by MPG co-founder Sherry Ott

There's a ton more -- it'a a nationwide movement, people! -- but I'll leave you wanting more. Grab your passport, and join us tomorrow night to take advantage of this collective wisdom. If you can't make it to DC, there are 16 other locations available for all your careerbreak needs. And if you want to follow along virtually on Twitter, check out the hashtag #meetplango plus our local tag #mpgdc.

Stop dreaming... start packing!

Meet, Plan, Go! Oct 18

RELATED LINKS:
* DC event registration
* DC event Facebook page
* Meet, Plan, Go! national event
* all MPG-related posts from this blog

 

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13 October 2011
Bein' the Tía Loca

This week, in the face of some auspicious news (the birth of my first niece, Gwen) and some ominous news (an aunt deciding to accept hospice care for what we think is end-stage breast cancer) I've been ruminating a lot on aunthood.

It has long been my theory that every family has a crazy aunt and a party uncle. Sometimes these characters are packaged together into one person, sometimes the genders are reversed. But they make an appearance in just about every family circus. We seem to have a preponderance in my family, and I'm proud to count myself in the crazy aunt contingent.

Melanie Notkin (aka "Savvy Auntie") wrote an article recently in celebration of PANKs: Professional Aunts, No Kids. Whether childfree by choice or by circumstance, non-breeder aunts play a special role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. Unfettered by rules and homework and other parental structures, we're freer to dish out important lifeskills like how to curse in five foreign languages and the best way to open a wine bottle. There tends to be more negative bias towards the "maiden aunt" as opposed to the swingin' bachelor uncle, but personally I think that just adds to our mystique.

I wouldn't be a proper auntie if I didn't proudly display pics of all my nieces and nephews. So, here, see for yourself how fabulous they all are. :)

James Welcome Rinard
James Welcome Rinard, 4 years
big brother in the hizzouse

Jack Elliott Zamborsky
Jack Elliott Zamborsky, 1 1/2 years
the Jack Attack

Charles Andrew Zamborsky
Charles Andrew Zamborsky, 3 months
aka Charlie, or C-note

Gwendolyn Ruth Rinard
Gwendolyn Ruth Rinard, 1 week
one niece to rule them all


So what advice do I have for these adorable niece- and nephlings?

- See the world, just as soon as you have the inkling to do so! Don't let fears -- your own or the fears of those around you -- hold you back. As Mark Twain famously said, "You will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor." Indeed, stretching past your comfort zone is the only way to grow.

Be radicallly self-expressed
Burning Man 2010, my contribution to the Temple of Flux

- Be radically self-expressed. Speak your mind, even (and especially) when it's unpopular. Be true to yourself, even if it takes an entire lifetime to figure out what that really means.

- Appreciate your parents. They work *really* hard for you, and they put up with a lot of your shit, literally and figuratively. Yes, they're hopelessly uncool, but that's sorta their job. You may think they'll be around forever, and I sincerely hope that's the case, but take it from me, you just never know.

- Love your Mother. And this time I mean Mother Earth. We in past generations have done a crappy job in the stewardship department, but don't let that stop you from getting your hands dirty, knowing where your food comes from, and perhaps even planting your own victory garden.


Salut!
To my fellow tías locas -- particularly
Tía Laura and Tía Vanessa of my own clan, but also the rest of you out there who are wrong in all the right ways -- I raise my glass. Despite the title of this post, I don't think Ricky Martin is going to write us a song anytime soon. Somehow Pink seems a more fitting tribute anyway.

Any party uncles wanna weigh in with their perspective?


RELATED LINKS:
*
Savvy Auntie: PANKs
* The Truth About the Modern Aunt
* with apologies to Ricky Martin
* P!nk: Raise Your Glass
* Browse all Burning Man posts, view pics from 2010 and 2008
* Celebrate Joan


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11 October 2011
Planning on taking a year off to travel? Read this first.


Today's guest post is by #DCTravelTweetup compatriot Adam Riemer (bio below). Get more great travel tips at next week's Meet, Plan, Go! event in DC.


 

Many people get stressed out with work and just want to travel. You can take a gap year, you can teach your native language in another country or you can go and travel without an actual purpose. It's easy to  overdo it with pre-trip tasks and lists, but you'll be better able to enjoy your trip if you square away a few key items before you go:


Rent and other bills – Make sure you have someone taking care of your apartment or house before you leave for your trip. Either cancel or put a hold on your phone, and get  one that you can travel with. Make sure you have also either closed out any bills or utilities that are in your name or transferred them over to the people who will be living in your apartment or house.


Family – Make sure that everyone in your family from pets to people are taken care of. If someone is pregnant when you leave for your trip, they may have the baby before you get back, so make sure to find a way to keep in contact so that you can be there for the birth or be able to see the pictures. Skype is great for this, but you may have to walk any technophobic relatives through the installation process before you leave. You also need to make sure that your pets are being taken care of as well. You may want to leave your pillow or something with your scent at the persons house that is taking care of them.
 

Savings and Credit Cards – One thing you will want to have is an emergency backup plan in case your wallet gets stolen. Hide a credit card and keep it at a zero balance, and consider squirrelling away some extra cash in a hidden pocket of your backpack or suitcase. Don't forget to set aside some savings to support you when you get back.


Medicine – You’ll want to go to your doctor and get every shot or vaccination that is recommended for each place you plan on visiting. If you have specialized medication, bring it and the prescription with you, but keep in mind that most medicine is widely available and cheaper outside the US.


Insurance – Do not forget to buy travel insurance. You never know if you will need it and you will be thankful you have it in case something comes up. You’ll want to ensure your policy covers lost or stolen clothing, medical expenses, etc…


There are a lot of other things you will need to do to prepare for a long trip, but the things mentioned above should help you get started. You’ll also want to consider things like a second passport just to make sure you can apply for visas as well as have a second one in case the first one gets lost or stolen.

Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Come to Meet, Plan, Go! on October 18
and we'll give you the tools you need to get your long-term travel planning on track.

Meet, Plan, Go! October 18


Adam RiemerAdam Riemer is an Affiliate Marketer and Online Marketing Strategist. He consults for VisaHQ and blogs at http://adamriemer.me, and you can catch him on Twitter at @rollerblader.

 

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05 October 2011
WanderFood Wednesday: funky Asian fruits

From the archives, just 'cuz, some funky fabulous favorite fruits from our time in Southeast Asia...

mango and sticky rice! like buttah!
mango & sticky rice! like buttah!

custard apple
custard apple

name those funky fruits
name those funky fruits

bean paste
actually made out of bean paste... but so purdy!

durian, the most notorious fruit of them all!
durian, the most notorious fruit of them all!

a medley of fruit funk
a medley of fruit funk

 

For more great foodie posts, be sure to visit Wanderlust & Lipstick's weekly WanderFood Wednesday blog carnival!

RELATED LINKS:
* all Thailand photos and blog posts (2008)
* all Malaysia photos and blog posts (2008)


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