Overheard at Meet, Plan, Go!

San Francisco, Trip Planning — By on November 2, 2011 4:30 AM

“You mean to tell me there are people out there as crazy as you?” my father exclaimed in disbelief when learning about Meet, Plan, Go! Finding comfort in numbers, I was pleased to report that there are indeed at least 150 people in San Francisco (and 1100 Nationwide) that  should be put away with me if being crazy means following your dreams and desiring to experience the world for longer than 2-weeks at a time.

The event was timely in helping to ease the reverse culture shock I had been feeling since my recent return to “the real world” after traveling for a year. I learned I am not the only one who has found re-entry to be quite challenging. Transitioning from sailing the South Pacific to cubicle entrapment has not been easy for me and I welcomed an evening devoted to inspiring long term travel.

Attending the event was a mix of experienced long term travelers, those pondering a big trip, and those actively planning their first career break. Many see a career break as risky and unconventional. Discussed and BUSTED! were the most common Career Break Myths:

Myth #1: It’s too expensive you must be rich
Myth #2: A gap in a resume will ruin a career
Myth #3. It’s not safe to travel abroad
Myth #4: You can’t travel with a family

My overactive wanderlust does not need encouragement, but was inspired in the presence of like minded travelers sharing stories and offering support and understanding of my desire to continue wandering the world. I realized that I have actually traveled more than I have worked in the past 3+ years.

Having taken two long career breaks to experience the world, my perspective on career has forever changed. I no longer think of long-term travel as a career break but instead I see my career as a break from travel and the means by which I will fund my next big adventure!

With that being said, I also understand that not everyone desires to travel for years at a time. The five panelists chosen to speak  had very unique travel styles, demonstrating that there are many ways in which we can choose to take a long trip. They shared their personal experiences and answered a range of questions from what to pack, where to go, how much money to bring, and addressed a question on re-entry … “I just got back from a year of travel … now what?”

Meet, Plan, Go! co-founder Sherry Ott started the event by comparing long term travel to jumping off a cliff.

“We can either take the leap or look humbly over the edge and kick a few stones.”

Being a “by the seat of my skirt girl”  I am always taking the big leaps and wish more people would jump off a cliff because I did!

Sherry has been living a nomadic lifestyle since she left her job in Corporate America five years ago.

Kristen of  Take Your Big Trip,  says traveling has made her more employable. She discussed the skills learned on the road like communication, negotiation, adaptability, can transfer into real world skills that employers desire. I could most relate to Kristen’s “travel style” as she and I both choose to travel, work for a while, and then travel again when we have the money.

Kristen wrote and excellent post Planning the Big Trip: Questions and Answers from Meet Plan Go 2011.

The Traveling Philosopher – Spencer came full circle after speaking at the same event a year prior just before he embarked on his big trip. Spencer is a professional writer who has been successful in getting paid while on the road by writing about his travels. He inspired in many the idea of finding work while on the road.

In hindsight he said “I honestly don’t remember much about what I said last night. I remember saying something about “pura vida”, but what I do remember is that I saw a room full of people from all walks of life who were ready to turn their talking into doing and blaze a trail.”

Sarah & Morgan took their family on a year long around the world trip teaching their children while on the road. The Runners Trip is an inspiring blog showing that extended travel is still possible even when you have kids. I absolutely believe that you can learn more through experiencing the world than you can from a book or classroom setting.

“The biggest motivator for taking our big trip was not going, but thinking about our life if we didn’t go.”

She spoke about how to make due with less stuff while on the road and her realization that “life should not be about the stuff you have but about meaningful experiences and relationships.”

Proceeds from ticket sales for the San Francisco event were donated to the AFAR Foundation, which is the philanthropic affiliate of AFAR magazine. Co-founder Greg Sullivan, co-founder of the organization, told the audience that the idea for AFAR was generated during a career break of his own.

Other notable quotes overheard at Meet, Plan, Go! nationwide  2011 ~~~

“I never met a traveler who said they shouldn’t have gone on that trip…” – Sean Keener

“My career break was absolutely the best year of my life.” @cogentlegal

You never know the work your going to get abroad until your boots are on the ground!

Listening to talks of career breaks and stories of long term travel really makes me miss living out of a 35l backpack.

…wish we’d had MPG before starting! So great to spend time with like-minded folks who “get” the work, sacrifices, choices that go in to making travel a priority…and the great results!

“The idea of traveling alone as a woman is scarier than actually doing it.” Olivia @whygo at #meetplango #pdx

When traveling solo, can be much more interesting says @lisanapoli -people offer more, help more, show more.

Talking about peer pressures of long term travel, Ryan and Jen say that “nobody else has to be ok with it, just you”

You’ll come back from travel more creative & a risk-taker, and this makes you a more appealing employee!

“I don’t look at other countries as ‘those people’. We’re all the same. That’s what travel has taught me.” @takeyourbigtrip

Careers will work out. Any hiring manager will want to hear about a #RTW trip. @cogentlegal

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  1. Julie says:

    I’d love love love to see! I understand the reverse culture shock – big time! I may have been back longer but it seems like in some ways it’s still an issue I face.

    When can I see your lovely face? Can income cs with you sometime!! Hugs

  2. Kristin says:

    Thank you for the mention Kelly. Your blog post is a great recap and you are inspiration for all those out there who want to get out and travel!

  3. Loved this Kelly! This was such a great recap and really brings the idea of MPG together so nicely. You’re an inspiration yourself in the way you’re making leaps and traveling.

  4. San Fran had 150? That is great. We were part of the Denver host group and had 65 or so there. Great to connect with fellow travelers around the country. Awesome recap of the inspiration I think everyone felt being a part of this event.

  5. Rebecca says:

    PS…after my break, I never went back!

  6. Ms. Cathy says:

    Hi!!! I just recently quit my full time job as of Dec. 30th and am now couchsurfing all over western Europe. And I’m glad I did it! It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Having a choice in life – always?!?


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