Have you ever considered taking a break in your career to travel? If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably the type of person who has. In 2008/2009, my wife and I acted on a long-time fantasy and took a one-year trip around the world trip with our two young boys–an experience we’ll never forget or regret.
Since returning to the U.S., I’ve been inspired to encourage others to travel more. It doesn’t have to be for a whole year; taking six months, a summer, a week, or even a long weekend is fine, as long as you get out there and go. To borrow the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
As I’ve learned from traveling across the country to speak at various consumer travel shows about my family’s experience, there are many people out there who are serious about taking time off from their jobs to see more of the world. In fact, last October I came across an article in the New York Times about a company called Briefcase to Backpack that actually coaches people who want to turn this dream into reality. Intrigued, I reached out and contacted two of the founders, Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter to find out more about what they do.
Despite being common in many countries such as Australia and the U.K., career breaks, life sabbaticals, “gap years,” and other forms of extended travel are not exactly considered an American birthright. Sherry and Michaela are on a mission to change that. The best way to get people motivated, they told me, was to set up local events where like-minded travelers could meet individuals who have already fulfilled their dreams of traveling around the world, or are currently in the planning stages.
These events, which they call “Meet, Plan, Go,” have become forums for people to connect with inspirational speakers and a place to receive all the necessary resources to take concrete steps towards planning their own adventures.
Last year, Briefcase to Backpack hosted Meet, Plan, Go events in 13 cities, where experts answered questions about their travel experiences. More than 1,500 aspiring travelers attended Meet, Plan, Go events and in some locations, hundreds more were on a waiting list. At each event, the host and selected panelists shared their real-life stories about the unique challenges that all long-term travelers must overcome in order to claim their freedom on the road.
Because of its strong success and growing community of interested members, Briefcase to Backpack is adding more locations to this year’s line-up, events which will all be happening concurrently on October 18, 2011.
Given my first-hand knowledge of how incredibly life-changing a sabbatical like this can be, I didn’t hesitate in applying to host this year’s New York City Meet, Plan, Go event. Much to my delight, I was selected, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to gather a group of experts who will share their wisdom with others who are considering taking a career break to travel. So if you live in the New York City area, or want to join one of the other events in San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Orlando, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Austin, Washington, D.C., Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Portland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and New Orleans, you can meet me and other “extended travel” veterans around the country by going to the Briefcase to Backpack website.
If you can’t make the event or don’t live near one of the selected cities, you can still sign up for the Career Break Newsletter, which is delivered twice a month. So if you’re ready to realize your travel fantasy, stop dreaming and start packing! Maybe we’ll even see you on October 18th.
- Nat Geo Expeditions