Meet, Plan, Go!
In January, the three founders of Meet, Plan, Go! realized this and had a crazy idea to “jump-start a national dialogue about Americans and career breaks, life sabbaticals and long-term travel.” The initial dialogue happened on September 14th among 1,500 people in 13 locations across the U.S., and I was a part of the conversation in San Francisco.
Three panelists and a handful of inspirational career breakers sprinkled throughout the audience answered questions about overseas tax filing, physical and political security, voluntourism, family travel, and how to approach an employer about taking time off or quitting. All around the room, the varied crowd was enthusiastic, engaged, and busily taking notes. Whether via online blogs, twitter and facebook, or personally knowing someone breaking their career to travel, more people are realizing that it is possible for “I wish I could..” to become “I can.” With a little work, dreams can be made true.
My own career break was forced upon me almost a year ago, leaving me to join over 10 percent of the U.S. workforce affected by the loss of jobs due to a depressed economy. After a number of months spent looking for high tech project management employment in the Bay Area, it became clear that we needed to cut our monthly operating costs. Instead of moving to a smaller place, we’ve opted to sublet our Fruitvale apartment to some nice folks from New Orleans and be homeless for awhile. After a month of housesitting, couchsurfing, and going to Burning Man, we leave for Southeast Asia next week for the next three months. We hope to live comfortably on less than $25 per day, which you just can’t do in San Francisco.
In a recession, a life sabbatical traveling to a cheaper country can be a way to pass the time until economic recovery. Rather than simply being a constant worry, “waiting it out” can be a learning opportunity with a chance for personal growth.
A common fear upon returning home from long-term travel is “what employers might think.” People might be surprised to know that in many cases, the qualities of independence, creative problem solving, and resourcefulness that vagabonders cultivate can be appreciated by potential employers.