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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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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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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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29 September 2011
How a Career Break Turned My Life Totally Upside Down


Today's guest post is from Stephanie Yoder, one of our Meet, Plan, Go! panelists in DC last year. Steph will not be at this year's event because she's off traveling the world. But if you'd like to meet other inspiring travelers like her who are getting out there and living the dream, come out and join us for MPG DC on October 18!

Steph at MPG 2010Last September, I sat on the panel for Meet, Plan, Go! DC, nervous as hell. I was there to share my expertise both as a blogger and an imminent career breaker. In less than a week I was supposed to be on a plane to Tokyo. From there I would be exploring Asia, Australia and more in what I envisioned would be a year long trip before I came back and found myself a real career.

As I sat near the bar, nervously reciting my reasons for leaving, I felt a tad hypocritical. I firmly believed that may year around the world would be a success, but there was no way for me to actually know what the world had in store for me. In truth, and I didn't dare say this out loud, I was terrified.

Looking back now, a year later, I can now say that my decision to quit my boring cubicle job and fly to Asia was the best thing that has EVER happened to me. My life now looks totally different than it did 12 months ago and it just keeps getting better.

Here are some of the ways by life has evolved over the past year:

A new career
In truth I felt kind of guilty calling my Asia trip a career break as, at 25 years old, I'd yet to come close to finding anything resembling a career. I'd been working in publications, which fit in well with my English degree but bored me to tears, yet I couldn't come up with an alternative that actually sounded appealing.

Months before I left I'd started writing about my travel experiences online. I wrote about my desire to travel, to do something different, about planning and executing a big trip, about how bored I was at home. It took far too long for it to dawn on me that what I really loved, maybe even more than travel, was writing itself! Even better: people seemed pretty interested in what I had to say. It was a leap.... but maybe I could write about travel for a living?

And that's what I do now, against all odds. I am a self-employed travel writer and blogger. The money isn't super but the intangible rewards are out of this world. I used to hate getting up and going to work in the morning but now I've become a workaholic!

A new community
When I began blogging and planning my big trip I started tapping into the online travel community -- a fascinating place full of backpackers, career breakers, travel professionals and more. It was so encouraging to meet so many people who also felt passionate about travel. I now have friends all over the world! Sure I haven't met all of them, but it's a great resource.

Steph and Mike

A new love
In the months leading up to my big trip I'd pretty much given up all hope of having a love life. The career-oriented guys I would meet in DC just looked at me like I was a lunatic when I told them my plans. I'd planned to do this big trip solo anyways and I was pretty okay with that.

Then, mere weeks before I was set to leave, I met a really cute guy. Not just any guy, a free-wheeling fellow travel blogger who was headed to China to teach English for the next year. In most situations that would be a pretty big inconvenience but for me it was perfect.

We spent the next nine months hopscotching around Asia. I'd go to visit him in Xi'an, he'd use his vacation time to island hop in Thailand with me. It wasn't easy but a jet-setting, continent hopping romance did feel pretty glamorous. Plus I was in love, with someone who actually understood the restlessness of my soul.

A new energy and purpose
When I was working in DC, wasting away my hours answering corporate emails I felt like I could spend an eternity just whittling my life away without any chance of escape. Now, anything seems possible. If I dropped everything and flew across the Pacific, what else could I do?

After 9 months of backpacking around Asia and Australia I came home for a couple months, to get ready for the next step. In my case, the next step is to head down to South America (I leave this week!). The boyfriend and I are making a documentary about technology and travel. After that, who knows?

I'm not writing all of this to brag, although my life IS pretty sweet. I know that most people who take a career break end up returning to the traditional work force and not becoming free-wheeling backpack hippies like myself. Even so, nobody comes back from a year of travel exactly the same. That's a scary thought, but also kind of an awesome one.

I now know what all that fear was about -- it was about change. Change is scary, but it was absolutely what I needed in my life. Massive change was the only thing that was going to get me on the right track, the one where I belonged.


Stephanie YoderStephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She blogs about her adventures at Twenty-Something Travel and tweets a LOT at @20sTravel. You can read more about her documentary project at Everywhere Connection.





Meet, Plan, Go! DC on October 18

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27 September 2011
40 days till 40
in which our heroine gets all philosophical-like

Today a countdown began.

I don't typically put much stock in age or birthdays. Many years back, I recall a coworker freaking out because she was turning 25... a whole quarter of a century! Silliness. That being said, the big four-oh is something of a milestone, and seems like an opportunity not to bemoan the passage of time but to regroup, contemplate, and clear some space for what's to come.

too many candles

I got the idea from Britt Bravo's blog, Have Fun Do Good. Last year she wrote about creating a daily practice for the 40 days leading up to her 40th birthday and it seemed like an interesting thing to try. I particularly liked her idea about letter-writing. Who sits down and actually hand-writes letters anymore?

I was also inspired by the Holstee Manifesto, which I recently purchased as a poster. Its simplicity is brilliant and profound.

Holstee Manifesto

And finally, I've been reminded a lot lately of one of my favorite quotes:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
-- Albert Einstein

So, in an effort to shake things up a little bit, maybe restore some of my recently-depleted mojo, and slide headfirst into 40 with as much zest as I can muster, I've decided to spend the next 40 days on the following practices:

* Connecting. I don't know about one letter a day like Britt, but I am going to take this opportunity to write, with an actual pen, on actual paper, some notes of appreciation. What a fun way to connect, and in a more in-depth way than the typical text message or Facebook "like."

* Clearing. This is the big one. I feel compelled to clear away space, mentally and physically, for new projects and new possibilities. Clearing away distractions.... So many ways to clear out clutter.... There's the digital version, a la Chris Brogan's "Great Unfollow Experiment". There's more concrete activity, such as clearing out closets or stacks of unread magazines. (Marks shifts nervously in the other room. Don't worry, I'm not going to toss out any of your stuff without your permission!) There's also a more abstract idea of clearing out bad habits that hang heavily like stale cigarette smoke. Hm. I'm not sure what shape this will take, but I feel there's great potential here.

* Nourishment. Massage. Yoga. Drinking more water! There are a number of ways to nourish the physical self. Play. Creativity. Meditation. And then there are ways to nourish the spirit. I already do most of this stuff, but not usually with sustained focus.

Quite by chance, smack in the middle of this will be Meet, Plan, Go! on October 18. It's an inspiring event anyway, but I'm wondering if the confluence of timing will yield a little extra somethin-somethin this year. Hm.

OK, enough navel-gazing! Thanks for indulging me, faithful readers. I may check in from time to time on this little experiment, but probably not. ;) We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog topics of mostly-travel with a dash of gardening-cooking-wining. I also have a few more fun guest posts lined up in the coming weeks, so don't change that channel!

RELATED LINKS:
* Britt Bravo: Have Fun, Do Good
* The Holstee Manifesto
* Chris Brogan's Great Unfollow Experiment
* Come join us at Meet, Plan, Go!
* Vote for me in Tripping's contest (ok, totally not related, but there's just a few more days left, so I had to get one more plug in there!)

win a trip with Tripping!

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20 September 2011
Raising Travelers


Today's guest post is by #DCTravelTweetup regular and Meet, Plan, Go! Ambassador Jennifer Parker (bio below). If you'd like to meet fellow travelers like Jennifer who have great advice, tips, and tricks to share, come out and join us for MPG DC on October 18!

If you’re a traveler and a parent, there is no doubt you struggle to manage your love for both. Balancing that trip to Europe against the rising costs of day care seems a daunting task. Not to mention the plain day-to-day monotony of life…soccer games, piano practice, school work, etc. I know how you feel. I did it for 23 years and have just recently come out the other side with my youngest now in college.

Bottom line, you should make every effort to remain true to your passions (travel and your children) and make it happen! You will want this for your kids; they will thank you for it later. Personally, we raised our kids traveling their entire lives. Exotic destinations and visiting new places was how our family spent our time. Whether it was local or international, my kids were traveling. As an individual, I have traveled to over 14 countries and many, many of those were with kids in tow (and sometimes in lead!).

TulumIndulge me for a few minutes while I share the fabulousness that comes out of raising travelers. My kids are the most socially adjusted kids you will ever meet; they don’t know a stranger and adjust to all levels of conversation. It’s beautiful to hear them order food in Spanish and then watch them plan trips with their friends. Our daughter, now 23, is taking a year off to live abroad before moving to New York after college. I might add that she knows absolutely no one in New York. She has targeted Paris for that year in between. Knowing how expensive Paris can be and how dirt poor she is, she still has no hesitations, “I will just make it work, Mom.”

Our son, upon graduating from high school, decided to travel through Europe for 2 months (on his own dime I might add) prior to beginning college. He is not traveling with companions; he is comfortable that he will meet people abroad traveling through local hostels. And, of course he will. I came home from work one day to find had planned his entire trip, day by day.  He is starting in Portugal, on through Spain, then up to France and finishing with a stint in Germany. All planned out down to the Euro rail stop in each city.  He put together a budget of the costs (breaking it down to the daily meal level and Euro pass costs) and determined a monthly savings plan for himself between now and his departure.

Another example of the beauty of raising travelers is an Italian exploration story. I am divorced (now remarried for 11 years) and the kids traveled with their father to Italy last year. They were 22 and 17. I will never forget receiving that call, “Mom, we are in Venice!” As the conversation progressed I realized the group they were traveling with had decided to stay in for the day. My kids, realizing they only had one chance to experience Venice, took off on a train to conquer it alone. Hearing this, I literally must have fallen out of my chair and immediately went into “mommy” mode. Do you have a jacket? Do you have a map? Where are you going? Do you need me to google anything? They laughed at me and said, “Mom, we got this!” And, so they did. They called later to talk about all of the places they visited and the bar they drank in…uh-hum! They had discovered Venice together, like a sister and brother should. I remember hanging up the phone and thinking that I have never been more proud of them!

ChicagoAs a traveler and parent, this is absolutely what you want for your kids. And, you already know they learn through our guidance. Therefore, it is almost your job to introduce them to the world so that they learn the skills and get comfortable in a travel setting.

So, what next, money? Yes, the big thing is the cost. I am not going to say it’s easy, because it isn’t. It takes a bit of planning, prioritizing, budgeting and watching the specials. You will have to budget at home during the year to make travel happen. And, you may have to cut things out. Don’t think of it as “cutting,” think of it as trading.  Trade a little shopping, a few nice dinners stateside for dinner in Belize….it’s worth it!

Yes, there is more airfare involved when the whole family travels together, but hotels are the same cost for one king versus two doubles. Meals can be somewhat reasonable by finding bargains. Eat from street vendors; it’s typically cheaper and tasty. Consider getting a VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) or house swap, instead of a hotel. If you buy groceries, after you land, you can eat breakfast before leaving each day and occasionally, after a long day of exploring, make a dinner or two. 

ZorbOther ideas of how to not break the bank are to have picnic lunches on the mountainside and hike around town instead of going to the theatre. Lay on the beach with crackers, cheese and wine (for the parents). Also, enjoying some of the little local amusement parks in Europe always brought us tons of joy at a reasonable price. We ended up meeting really great people and explored funky rides like a flying Panda bear ride in Germany or large water filled orbs that bounce down the side of the mountain in New Zealand.  

At the end of the day, you may not be able to attend all the plays, eat at every restaurant and take in all of the guided excursions. However, you are doing something so much bigger. You are introducing future travelers to the world.
When your kids are married and have children of their own, just think of the amazing experiences you can have together raising another generation of travelers!

Enjoy and relax – you and your kids deserve it!

Austin

Jennifer ParkerJennifer Parker is a recovering corporate executive who loves to travel the world with her family. She has reviewed hotels and writes travel related articles for various sources. Her passion is expanding the minds and educating people to explore the world outside their own front door. She has traveled to 14 countries and over 440 cities around the globe. Jennifer is an endearing wife, loving mom, travel addict, friend to many, wine enthusiast and a career gal who has never met a stranger. Catch up with her on Twitter at @jenniferparker3 or via her blog Traveling Through Life.

 
 

Meet, Plan, Go! DC - Oct 18, 2011

 

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08 August 2011
Meet, Plan, Go!: meet the kickass DC panel

Meet, Plan, Go! in DC on Oct 18

Meet, Plan, Go! tickets went back onsale today, so it seems like a good time to introduce you to our stellar line-up of panelists for the DC location.

- - -

Alexis GrantAlexis Grant is a journalist and social media coach who's writing a book about traveling solo through Africa. She left her reporting job in 2008 to backpack through a handful of French-speaking African countries, freelancing along the way. Now she covers careers and job-search strategy for US News & World Report.

Alexis writes about taking leaps in life on her blog, The Traveling Writer, and she's author of the e-guide, How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business. A resident of Washington, DC, she spends her free time running, hiking, reading non-fiction, baking cupcakes and learning about entrepreneurship.

- - -

Kimberly PalmerKimberly Palmer, the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back (Ten Speed Press) and personal finance columnist at US News & World Report, is a money expert on navigating adulthood. She helps young people master their own finances, from spending and investing to earning and giving back. As a young professional herself, she’s experienced the challenges (and joys) of parenthood, home-ownership, and job juggling first-hand.

Based in the Washington, DC area, Palmer has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CNBC, CNN, and local television and radio shows across the country. She has also written for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Asahi Shimbun/International Herald Tribune in Tokyo as a Henry Luce Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in history from Amherst College. She can be reached at www.generationearn.com.

- - -

Coley HudginsColey Hudgins is mercurial, impatient, temperamental and often moody. On the other hand, he's passionate about stuff he likes, creative, non-traditional and loves taking risks. Hudgins has traveled extensively throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. He lived and worked in Sierra Leone in the ’90s in the middle of a civil war where he ran a commodities business exporting coffee and cocoa to Europe. He's run roadblocks in Liberia manned by drunk soldiers, traded cigarettes for safe passage to a coffee farm at the end of a barrel of a stoned teenager’s gun, and was once arrested and threatened with a severe beating by a Nigerian solider for taking photographs at a military landing strip. The $100 bill he kept in his sock for just such an occasion saved the day.

He used to be a partner at a large public affairs firm in Washington DC but chafed under the authority and routine. The daily grind of wearing a monkey suit and witnessing the griminess of the Washington political scene didn’t help, existential crisis ensued, and he sold the house, car and most of the family’s possessions and moved to Panama with wife and two young children where he lives today. His day job consists of running a small consulting business while traveling hither and yon building his personal investment portfolio. Hudgins also co-founded the blog TheResilientFamily.com to catalog his experiences living, working, and investing abroad and outside of what most would consider the mainstream. The goal is to hopefully instill in others the excitement, confidence, and ultimately peace-of-mind that comes from radical self-reliance and living and traveling abroad.

- - -

Kinnari PatelKinnari Patel graduated from the University of Maryland in Physiology/Neurobiology. Before beginning med school, she took a year off to visit India, her homeland. This led to a decision not to pursue medicine and instead she went on to work in internet technology for almost 10 years, for companies such as Marriott and Conde Nast Publications. After surviving the rat race in NYC and the economic downturn in 2008 she left to travel the world. On her journey she explored Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Boliva, Chile. She also spent a month in Nepal volunteering at an orphanage and traveling through Tibet. She lives a spiritual life, practicing meditation and yoga, and believes in self realization and making life choices that fulfill your own personal truth. Currently, Kinnari is the owner of Be Healthy Vending, a company that provides natural, healthy food options to schools and gyms in the DC metro area, a cause she is very proud of. And, as always, she continues to realize her bliss.

- - -

Nancy BeargNancy Bearg has a distinguished career in national security, leadership, and human capital, primarily in the government and non-profit sectors.  She is a founding partner of Reboot Partners LLC, which conducts individual and corporate workshops and consults with corporations on Reboot Breaks.  The four Reboot Partners principals authored the book Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and Life by Taking a Break on the whole process and benefit of taking sabbaticals. (April 2011, Beaufort Books).    

Ms. Bearg’s former positions include National Security Advisor to the Vice President of the United States, National Security Council staff member, and non-profit President/CEO.  In her current consulting career, she applies her extensive experience in practical and innovative ways to non-profit, for-profit, and academic endeavors. She holds a BA from Willamette University in Oregon and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.  She teaches a graduate course on leadership at George Washington University and lives in Washington, DC.

- - -

Wish you were here? Meet, Plan, Go! on Oct 18

Join us on October 18, in DC or one of 16 other locations throughout North America, to:

    * MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers in your area.
    * Get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime.
    * And start taking concrete steps forward to get ready to GO!

Meet, Plan, Go! on Oct 18 - buy your ticket today

Stay updated on the latest happenings by following MPG on Facebook and signing up for the Career Break newsletter. In the Twitterverse, follow @CareerBreakHQs and watch the hashtag #meetplango.


RELATED LINKS:
* Meet, Plan, Go! ...it's baaaaaaack!
* follow Meet, Plan, Go! on Facebook
* sign up for the Career Break newsletter
* meet 2011 MPG hosts
* information about all 2011 locations 

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04 July 2011
Declaring my independence, and a blogaversary

I was reminded the other day that this July 4th marks my fourth anniversary of travel blogging! Wow. Tempus fugit.

celebratory but shaky
celebratory but shaky... that about sums it up

Four years ago, I was watching the fireworks on the Mall on the eve of my first career break. Unfortunately, technical issues prevented me from actually posting anything until I was a week or so into the trip. By then I was already playing catchup (some things never change!) so my first few blog entries aren't particularly brilliant or introspective. Rest assured, I was freaking out. I'd just quit my job, was planning to travel solo for 10 weeks through Central America, and then come back and sell the house so Mark and I could take "the big trip." In my head I knew I could do it, and I like to think I was putting on a pretty good game face, but somewhere deep down, doubt and fear were gnawing into my spleen. What if I was making a huge mistake?

Tabacon Hot Springs, Costa Rica
Tabacon Hot Springs, Costa Rica

I managed to get through that shaky July 4th, hopped on a plane the next morning, and had an amazing trip. As most of you know, the rest didn't quite work out as I'd planned. For more details on that, check out a piece I wrote for Briefcase to Backpack called "Making Other Plans." Bottom line: I don't regret a second of it! And I continue to encourage other folks to take the plunge, by helping organize events like Meet,Plan,Go! and also by telling my story whenever someone seems open to hearing about it.

This July 4th, I'm working on another big project and hope to share more details in the coming weeks. It has the same familiar "holy crap" fear factor that's been waking me up in the middle of the night. What if I'm making a huge mistake? Fortunately the four-years-older-and-wiser me knows I can take whatever life throws at me. And the scarier something is, the bigger the opportunity. Bring on the fireworks!

How are you declaring your independence this year?


RELATED LINKS:
* Making Other Plans
* browse all "fond farewells" pics from 2007
* browse all July 2007 blog entries
* Meet,Plan,Go! ...it's baaaaaaack!


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17 June 2011
Photo Friday: DC in the hizzouse

@middleseatview and @landlopers
@middleseatview and @landlopers

turns out @nerdseyeview isn't a big fan of oktapodi
turns out @nerdseyeview isn't a big fan of oktapodi (hey, nobody's perfect)

It took a trip to Vancouver to bring together some of the usual suspects from our monthly DC Travel Tweetup. During Sunday's TBEX lunch recess we gathered at The Mill on the waterfront to break bread with our East Coast comrades, plus maybe even an interloper from "the other Washington."

@wheresandrew and @nerdseyeview show off their tats
@wheresandrew and @nerdseyeview show off their tats

@laurably and Mark
@laurably and Mark

@marilyn_res needs a bigger mouth
@marilyn_res needs a bigger mouth for that massive salmonburger

up close and personal with @20stravel
up close and personal with @20stravel

Want to meet these tweeps in person? Come hang out with us at next week's joint DC Travel Tweetup and Meet,Plan,Go! social, hosted by Hosteling International. On Wednesday June 22, we'll convene, as we do each month, to talk travel and swap stories of our latest adventures. It'll also be a chance to hear a bit more about what's in store for this year's MPG DC event on October 18. C'mon out, and bring a friend!

The meetup event is free, but we're asking everyone to RSVP in advance so we know how many people to expect.
Register for Meet, Plan, Go! - Washington DC meetup 6-22-11


For more great travel snaps, check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

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24 May 2011
Get your earlybird tickets to Meet, Plan, Go! DC

Meet, Plan, Go! earlybird tickets

Normally the early bird gets the worm, but this time it also gets to follow its travel dreams! After last year's standing room only crowds, this year we're giving you a chance to sign up early and secure your spot. And until June 8, earlybird tickets are on sale for the bargain price of $10. Get 'em while they're hot!

Alongside my fantastic planning team of Coley Hudgins, Alexis Grant, and Kelsey Freeman, I'm cooking up some good stuff for this year's DC event. We're kicking things off with an informal happy hour on June 22, so stay tuned for more details on that. Or better yet, sign up for the Career Break newsletter and don't miss a thing.

Are you ready to be inspired? If you're looking for a way to make your travel dreams a reality, join us on October 18 for Meet, Plan, Go! We'd love to see you in DC, but there are 16 other locations across North America to choose from.

 

RELATED LINKS:
* Meet, Plan, Go! ...it's baaaaaaack!

* Get your tix to MPG DC
* So You Want to Write a Travel Memoir by Alexis Grant
* Preparing to Move Abroad by Coley Hudgins
 

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13 April 2011
Meet, Plan, Go! ...it's baaaaaaack!
Ready to realize your travel dreams? Stop dreaming and start packing!

Meet, Plan, Go!

I'm thrilled to announce that once again I'll be hosting the DC location of Meet, Plan, Go! We had so much fun last year that we're coming back, bigger and better than ever.

On October 18, 2011, dreamers and experienced travel veterans alike will gather in 17 cities across North America to learn more about career breaks and extended travel. The idea is to:

* MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers in your area.
* Get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime.
* And start taking concrete steps forward to get ready to GO!

Wish You Were Here? Meet, Plan, Go! Oc 18, 2011

I'll admit it, I love it when travelers get together to swap stories. It's exhilarating and motivating, and it's the main reason I help organize monthly #DCTravelTweetup events and try to attend TBEX each year. Travelers have an infectious enthusiasm and we love to share tips on how to get the best deals, give advice on finding the best-kept secret spots, and inspire others to get out and go.

But what do you do with all that excitement when you're not sure how to make your travel dreams a reality?

If you've been bitten by the travel bug but remain in a state of overwhelm about how to make it happen, do we have the event for you. It doesn't matter whether you want to ditch it all and become a digital nomad, take a career sabbatical to recharge your batteries, or just find a way to work more travel into your existing lifestyle. You'll get valuable advice at Meet, Plan, Go! At every event will be individuals who have fulfilled their own dreams of traveling around the world, or are currently in the planning stages. Their real-life stories include an understanding of the unique challenges that all long-term travelers must overcome in order to claim their freedom on the road. They want to share their experiences and inspire you to live your dream.

MPG DC 2010 panel
last year's dynamic DC panel

Meet, Plan, Go! is happening simultaneously in 17 locations, so if you can't make it to DC there might be another one somewhere near you. Each city's host brings their own flavor and experiences to the event. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of people last year, and look forward to adding some new Kickass Hosts to the group. Get to know the fabulous folks who will be hosting in 2011.


OK, are you jazzed?? So now what?

Online registration will be available in the coming months, but in the meantime stay updated on the latest happenings by following MPG on Facebook and signing up for the Career Break newsletter. In the Twitterverse, follow @CareerBreakHQs and brand-new @MeetPlanGo and watch the hashtag #meetplango.

 

RELATED LINKS:
* a recap of last year's DC event
* New York Times article about Meet, Plan, Go!
* follow Meet, Plan, Go! on Facebook
* sign up for the Career Break newsletter
* meet 2011 MPG hosts


 

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07 December 2010
Career Break Boot Camp
realize your extended travel dreams!


Today’s guest post is by Sherry Ott (bio below) and provides some info about the upcoming Career Break Boot Camp. You may recall that I helped host one of the inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! events in September. In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I’m part of the Boot Camp affiliate program, so if any of you sign up, I get a spiff. Regardless, this is something I heartily believe in and would encourage folks to do, no matter what!

Career Break Boot Camp - sign up today!

Sometimes preparing to leave is the hardest part when it comes to extended travel. The to-do lists, the questions, packing, itineraries, and insurance decisions…it’s hard to know where to start. However, I think more people struggle with the hidden ‘monsters’…the ones that question your motives and moves. The little guy that sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, “Are you crazy, what are you doing this for? Why are you causing yourself all of this stress? Are you REALLY going to do this?”

Even more important than the planning details, you should ask yourself: why are you doing this? What is it that you want to really get out of your extended travels?

Career Break Boot CampThese are all the typical hurdles a career breaker or extended traveler goes through. It’s amazing any of them actually leave at all as it sometimes feels like the bricks of societal pressure and doubt are stacked against you.

We want to relieve the pressures, and make the travel planning process fun again! The people who brought you the in-person travel events, Meet, Plan, Go! are now bringing you another way to motivate you to take a career break and do extended travel! The Career Break Boot Camp will kick off in January 2011.

For those seeking a career break or sabbatical, it’s not just about the trip planning – it’s about the life planning. Boot Camp is an online course and social learning platform where people with the dreams of taking a career break or sabbatical to do extended travel can come together in a community learning environment. Michaela Potter and myself, the founders of Briefcase to Backpack , teamed up with certified travel coach Tara Russell to design this one-of-a-kind 8-week course. These travel experts will provide inspiration, structure, community, resources, tools and motivation.

Registration for our Inaugural Course starts on December 8, 2010 and class begins on January 9, 2011. Because we believe so much in the community aspect, spaces are limited. As an added incentive, the first 20 people who register will receive a $100 gift certificate towards the Unconventional Guides by Chris Guillebeau and every person who registers will receive a free copy of his book, The Art of Non-Conformity.

To learn more about the course, community, curriculum, and instructors, go to Meet Plan Go Boot Camp and report for duty!


Sherry OttSherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of Briefcase to Backpack, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice. She also runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat experiences at Ottsworld. She is one of the driving forces behind Meet, Plan, Go! events across the country to inspire more people to get out and travel.


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20 September 2010
In a word: confidence
Meet, Plan, Go! DC a grrrrreat success

Policy's Liberty Lounge hosts Meet, Plan, Go! DC
Policy's Liberty Lounge hosts Meet, Plan, Go! DC

Nearly 100 Washingtonians gathered on Tuesday September 14, to discuss travel hopes, dreams, fears, roadblocks at Meet, Plan, Go! The energy in the room was phenomenal, and our stellar panel provided lots of solid advice. The recurring theme for the evening: have confidence. Whether it's during the planning phases, while trying to explain your trip to friends and family, or during your re-entry into the workforce, the more confidence you can summon, the more successful your experience will be. And the reverse is true, as Sherry Ott pointed out in a recent post: travel will give you back that confidence in spades.

spirited audience participation
lots of questions for the experts
spirited audience participation

panelists speak to a packed house
huge round of applause to our DC panelists!

Rich talks about using ATMs abroad

Rich Carlson of Ameriprise Platinum Financial Services encouraged us to "plan out how much you think you'll need to spend on your trip, then double it!"

Kathleen: travel builds valuable career skills

Kathleen Duffy of the GW School of Business advised the group to not be ruled by "practical" experiences only. Even creative trips can yield valuable career skills when you return to the workforce.

Tara discusses WWOOFing and working abroad

Tara Cavanagh of InterExchange gave advice about finding work abroad, including targeting countries with less Visa restrictions (like Australia) and WWOOFing.

Nicolette: have conviction about trip's purpose

Nicolette Pizzitola of Compass Point Associates cracked us up with stories of her family's reaction to her career break ("you're killing your mother!") But she also provided sage advice about projecting, with bold assurance, the reason behind your trip.

Stephanie warns not to overplan

Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something Travel gave us a sanity check about not overplanning. Be flexible! After all, they have computers in other countries.

And Kate Chandler of Away.com, moderator extraordinaire, kept things moving by feeding juicy topics to the panel and taking audience questions.

Jennifer & Tim of STA travel give out door prizes
Jennifer Apple and Tim Fegan from STA Travel were on hand to provide travel advice and help us give out door prizes. Yay, prizes!
yay, prizes


A few of my favorite tweets of the night:

@nicpiz: Fabulous night at #MPGDC - what an amazing group of global nomads, world citizens and free spirits - thank you all for showing up!

@adamkarlin: A big trip shouldn't be seen as a departure from, but continuation of what you should be doing w/your life.

@RichCarlson3: Loved @statravel's comment that the amount of preparation needed is inverse to the amount of time you'll travel!

@ctilley7: If a prospective employer can't appreciate your travel break, perhaps they aren't the best choice!

@gogastronomy: Cool, I just won a book: Two Laps Around the World @ #MPGDC. Exactly what I want to do. Fate?

@pulpologist: What about travel fatigue & trying to cram in too many countries? @20sTravel: be flexible & don't be afraid to go slow.

@weekendretweat: Learn languages with tv, in churches & bars....bars usually have American music :)

@JohnicaReed: #MeetPlanGo Tip: Just like students should study abroad, adults should take travel sabbaticals. Makes you more interesting.

@jtemplerobinson: Talk about your dream with confidence. It is a shift when people get that you are going to get your life out of it.


a lively panel discussion
a lively panel discussion


Special thanks to Jim Bourg for taking these awesome photos; to Mark for being such a great booth-babe and working the reg table like a pro; and to Marilyn Terrell & the Nat Geo folks for sponsoring the extra chairs.


And, finally, much gratitude to our spectacular sponsors, who made this event possible across 13 simultaneous locations:

Briefcase to Backpack Three Month Visa

BootsnAll   Career Break Secrets gap adventures GeoVisions Globejotter Tours Hostelling International Mango Languages National Geographic  STA Travel  Unconventional Guides Your Sabbatical



RELATED LINKS:
* view all posts and recaps from MPG events
* keep the discussion going on the
Meet, Plan, Go! Facebook page
* be sure to sign up for the MPG mailing list to stay on top of future announcements
* check out the
Career Break Boot Camp, coming in January 2011

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
08 September 2010
Guest post on Briefcase to Backpack

Briefcase to BackpackWe're still making our way home from Burning Man (I'm typing this from 10,000 feet, courtesy of some free WiFi coupons I got at TBEX... thanks Gogo Inflight!) and you can expect many many many stories and pics in the weeks to come. In the meantime, though, I wanted to invite you to check out my guest post on Briefcase to Backpack: "Letting Go: Making Other Plans."

Thanks to Sherry & Michaela for giving me the opportunity to post. And big congrats to them for getting coverage in USAToday's travel section about Meet, Plan, Go! The nationwide movement marches on!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
10 August 2010
Join us for Meet, Plan, Go! on Sept 14

Meet, Plan, GO! in DC on Sept 14

Registrations are rolling in! I'm so excited to report that due to the overwhelming response, we've had to move to a bigger venue. (Woot!) Meet, Plan, Go! DC will now be taking place at the very hip Policy DC, in their upstairs Liberty Lounge. I was just there for a @Sisarina tweetup last week and can confirm that this is an excellent space, with plenty of room to mix & mingle, and a plethora of $5 happy hour food & drink specials.

Policy DC's Liberty Lounge
Policy's Liberty Lounge

Special thanks to fellow DC travel blogger Matt at LandLopers for giving me the opportunity to do a recent guest post about Meet, Plan, Go!: Get Out & Go: Make Your Travel Dreams a Reality.

Have you registered yet for this free and fabulous event? Don't wait until it sells out a second time!

Register for Meet, Plan, Go! in Washington, DC on Eventbrite

Not in DC? Not to worry, MPG is happening at over a dozen locations throughout the US and Canada.


RELATED LINKS:
* Meet, Plan, Go! site
* MPG Facebook fan page
* MPG Twitter feed
* LandLopers guest post
* DC registration
* all MPG locations


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09 July 2010
PhotoFriday: TBEX10 in pictures

TBEX is a full-contact sport!
TBEX is a full-contact sport!
@AOBDolce got her tongue pierced mid-weekend


I'm still trying to synthesize my whirlwind weekend at TBEX10 (this year's Travel Bloggers Exchange conference, held June 25-27 in NYC) into a coherent written post. But in the meantime, here are a few pics that summarize the experience:

SocMed + travel bloggers = ha-yuge!
SocMed + travel bloggers = ha-yuge!
@myessis & @jimbenning of WorldHum kickoff the opening session


one word: vuvuzela!
one word: vuvuzela!
it was so excellent to meet @CareekBrkHQs & @ottsworld and the entire MeetPlanGo crew


oh, maybe THAT'S the word
oh, maybe THAT'S the word
@everywheretrip tells it like it is, as always


TBEX'10 was allllll about the peeps & personalities
TBEX10 was allllll about the peeps & personalities
@savvytravelblog samples some of NY's finest fare
 

and if the all that weren't enough, 'twas also Pride Weekend!
and if the all that weren't enough, 'twas also Pride Weekend!

I swear I'll write more soon, once my brain fully recovers. In the meantime, there's a great recap roundup here.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all TBEX10 pics
* check out more fabulous travel photos at Delicious Baby's Photo Friday


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14 June 2010
Meet, Plan, Go!
join us in a nationwide movement to realize your travel dreams

Meet, Plan, Go! on September 14

The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love is coming out later this summer, amidst great hoopla. Fans of the book are excited. Fans of Julia Roberts are excited. Fans of chick flicks are just about beside themselves. And the travel community is psyched for an entirely different reason: yet another mainstream outlet is helping legitimize the concept of a career break.

Back in 2007 when I quit my job to travel through Central America, I didn't realize I was taking a "career break." I just knew it was time for a change! Inspired by superstars Rolf Potts and Rita Golden Gelman as much as "real" travel bloggers out there living the dream like Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless and Sherry Ott of Ottsworld, I was able to find lots of support and inspiration among the online travel community. And I was fortunate to have been raised in a family where international travel was always highly valued. So while it wasn't all that tough for me to make the leap, it was still a pretty big leap to make. Knowing in your heart that you can do something, and convincing your rational brain that it's a good idea, are two totally different things!

Which is why I was so jazzed to hear that the folks at Briefcase to Backpack are planning an event this fall to connect future cubicle escapees with the resources and encouragement to make it happen. Meet, Plan, Go! is a nationwide event happening simultaneously in a dozen locations on the evening of September 14. Despite being common in Europe and Australia, taking a break for extended travel is still anathema to our workaholic US culture. This is a chance to make the leap from "I wish I could do that!" by MEETing with like-minded travelers so you can PLAN to make that dream trip a reality and get out there and GO! Speakers will discuss practical topics like how to financially plan for a big trip, share inspirational stories about how they made the leap, and provide helpful advice on how to capitalize on your experience when you return to the job market.

sign up for the MPG newsletter by June 18 to win a copy of The Big TripInterested in learning more? Sign up for the Meet, Plan, Go! newsletter by June 18 for a chance to win Lonely Planet's "The Big Trip," a guide to career breaks. Event registration will be up and running soon. This event is free and will be held in cities around the US and Canada, so check the site to see if it's coming to a location near you. One lucky attendee will win a trip from Gap Adventures. I'm honored to be hosting the DC event and am working on lining up speakers and sponsors. If you're interested in helping out, drop me a line.

So, let's review:

    * You get to come to a free event and learn about traveling the world
    * You get to network with other people who have traveled the world
    * You get the chance to win a free trip somewhere in the world

What are YOU waiting for???


RELATED LINKS:
* Meet, Plan, Go!
* MPG Facebook fan page
* MPG Twitter feed
* Gap Adventures
* Eat, Pray, Love [the book]
* Eat, Pray, Love [the movie]
* Rita Golden Gelman's site
* Rolf Potts's site
[for other great travel blogs, check out our blogroll at right]

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments