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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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!
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