« Older Entries We know that realizing a career break takes a lot of planning.
We’ll provide the tools and resources to assist you in making your career break decisions – from Where to Go, to Letting Go, to actually Going.
The Briefcase to Backpack community will cover destination ideas, how to leave your job and commitments behind and putting your ‘regular life’ on hold.
During your preparation we’ll help educate you on travel safety, packing tips, language barriers, booking flights, choosing insurance, as well as helping you through the struggles and anxieties of taking the ‘big leap’.
Check out articles in the following categories: Where to Go | What to Do | Let’s Go | Letting Go 5 Reasons to Incorporate a Group Tour into Your Career Break Monday, October 3rd, 2016.
Take a break from your career break and try a small group tour Taking a career break to explore the world is a tremendously freeing experience, during which you’ll have the chance to learn much about other cultures – and yourself! However, planning a long-term trip can be a daunting process.
Solo travel is rewarding, but also nerve-wracking, and while on your travels you may find yourself needing to take a break (from taking a break!). This is where a group tour can provide some relief.
Guided tours provide an opportunity to let someone else take care of all those pesky logistics: like accommodation, tran sport ation, and daily itineraries.
You may be wondering “but group tours are so limiting.
Will I get to see everything I want?” The short answer is: “yes!” Group tours are often different than people expect.
Particularly those who tend to travel independently.
You may be surprised by how much independence you actually have during your tour.
Sherry Ott, who took a solo career break in 2006 notes of her own experience: “If you choose the right companies, small group tours can be some of the most rewarding travel you do on your career break – it was for me.
The group tours I did arranged all of the logistics (transportation and hotels), but the rest was really up to me.
I could eat with the group or go alone, do the tour or explore on my own.
But the best part was that you always had a local guide with your group that traveled with you, ready to answer questions.
It was a way to get much closer to the culture of the country than I could have on my own.” Here’s 5 reasons to consider a group tour during your extended travels:.
Easily Socialize with Others.
You’ve been on the road for a while.
You’ve met people along the way, but everyone is transient, on their own adventures around the world.
It starts to wear on you a bit.
Though it’s still exciting, you begin to wish you had more than a few hours here and there with new friends, to really get to know your fellow traveler.
On a group tour, you’ll have a lot of time to meet and get to know like-minded travelers.
And some tour companies even provide ways to pre-meet each other in forums or local city meet-ups.
While you might not be life-long friends with everyone on your trip, you will likely find a few people that you automatically click with.
A group dines in Morocco together on a small group tour of the country 2.
Though some may argue that true cultural immersion only comes from striking out on your own, many tour operators give you the opportunity to venture deeper into local life.
This is especially true of more dangerous destinations, where solo tourists are advised to stay in very specific areas.
But with a tour, oftentimes your guide will have connections in the area.
And you are granted the unforgettable experience of dining in a small local restaurant, meeting local families, and getting a true glimpse into a new culture.
This is especially true if you join a small-group tour, where group sizes are usually 10-16 travelers maximum.
Some destinations require you to be on a tour.
Then of course, there are some places where you simply cannot visit on your own.
Interested in seeing the diverse wildlife of Africa.
A safari will get you up close and personal with the animal residents of the Savannah.
Although tourism regulations to Cuba have been greatly relaxed, a tour is still a good idea – it will help guarantee accommodation, and you’ll be able to explore the farther reaches of the island.
Want to check that 7th continent off your list.
Antarctica is only accessible by tour (unless you’re a scientist!).
Go with a group to Antarctica 4.
Getting to know a destination through the eyes of an expert is an incredible way to have a deeper travel experience.
They bring the boring plaque next to the landmark to life, provide context to a famous building, and introduce a new way to think about cultures and customs.
Many tour companies employ only local guides, so it’s sort of like traveling with a friend who knows the best places to eat and find that perfect gift for a loved one back home.
Maximum bang for your buck.
Busy days, covering long distances, checking off famous sites.
On a guided tour, you will have the opportunity to see a lot more in a condensed period of time.
This can be helpful for those wanting to take a break from the “slow wander” and pick up the pace, participate in activities, watch demonstrations, and get special access to landmarks and attractions.
Often times, tours will save you money over solo travel since operators get deep discounts on things like accommodation.
When considering group tours, there are so many options you’re sure to find the perfect one suited to your personality.
Let your sabbatical be enhanced and made easier by incorporating a fun guided trip into the experience.
About Samantha Scott Samantha Scott is the Content Manager for Stride Travel, a marketplace where you can search among thousands of trips, read reviews, and find the perfect guided travel experience for you.
Posted in , , , | No Comments » Saving for a Life of Travel Tuesday, April 26th, 2016.
“Are you guys millionaires or something?” That’s often the response when we tell people we’ve been traveling the world for the past four years on our HoneyTrek.
We aren’t rich, but we are diligent savers and big dreamers.
After working in New York for ten years and putting away as much money as possible, we decided life was short, the world is big, and there would never be a better time to travel than now.
Averaging under $40 per person per day, we’ve explored 44 countries (and counting) across 7 continents.
Here is our strategy and a few tips you can employ when saving and planning for your own lifetime of unforgettable travel.
Outline Your Itinerary.
Determining where you’d like to go and for how long will largely determine your budget.
Remember, there are plenty of extremely beautiful and affordable regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Central America, Eastern Europe, etc), and you don’t need to visit them all in one shot.
Laying a linear path from one place to the next will reduce your transportation costs and stress level.
To help figure out your required budget, based on your travel speed and destinations, check out this handy RTW Country-Cost Calculator we built.
Evaluate Your Funds.
Now that you have a ballpark cost for your dream RTW, you need to compare that number to the balance in your savings.
If your bank account is a bit light you can swap out some of those expensive countries, travel slower, and start an intense savings plan until you reach your goal.
Follow our small-dose savings strategy in the next section and you’ll be on the road in no time.
If you save just $10 a day for two years you will have enough money for a 6-month RTW.
Save $13 a day for three years and you can globe-trot for an entire year.
To help yourself stay on track and keep your hand out of the cookie jar, open a separate travel savings account ASAP.
If you don’t have a steady paycheck and financial flow, check out DigIt.co which will automatically fill your travel savings account when you have extra cash, and scale back your contributions when times are tight.
And if you have complex questions on saving, you can always reach out to the financial planning pros for some advice.
Ways to Cut Expenses.
First, you will need some basic self-restraint, like going out less and avoiding impulse buys (yes, that cappuccino counts).
Go through your monthly expenses and see where you can cut or switch to cheaper services.
Swap your $150 cable bill for a $0/month digital antenna, switch to a cheaper phone plan (ours went from $100 to $40 a month with AT&T’s Go Phone Plan), and find more ways to trim your bills.
Make Extra Cash.
Make money using the skills and the things you already have.
AirBnB the extra room in your home, sell excess stuff on Ebay, rent your car on a peer-to-peer sharing site like GetAround, pick up part-time gigs like babysitting, dog walking, or driving for Uber and LYFT.
Check out CompareAndShare.com for more opportunities in the sharing economy.
Be diligent and get creative.
Budgeting on the Road.
Prices vary greatly between countries so you will have to adjust your daily budget accordingly.
Just because a place is cheaper, doesn’t mean you should splash out.
Be as frugal as possible on expenses (food, lodging, transportation) so you are able to splurge on the things that are unique to the region (a base camp trek, scuba trip, safari, cultural outting, etc.) and the occasional treat.
Before you start negotiating, learn the local prices on typical goods and services so that you have a benchmark to work from.
Vendors in developing countries usually start 2-3 times higher than the price they are willing to accept.
Remember to save where you can and spend when it counts.
Becoming a Life-Long Saver.
Managing a finite amount of money for an extended period of time is similar to that of retirement.
Getting this practice earlier in life, teaches you to be creative, resourceful, and prioritize your spending for unforgettable experiences.
We realized we didn’t need a million dollars to explore the world and that we won’t need a fortune to retire…travel has taught us how to live a simpler and richer life and that you don’t need much to be happy.
By Mike & Anne Howard, Founders of & Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Disclosure: This post was brought to you via Fisher Investments, however all opinions expressed here are the author’s own.
Tags: , budget travel Posted in , , | No Comments » Top 10 Reasons to Try Experteering Monday, February 22nd, 2016.
When you look back on your life will you regale your friends and grandchildren with “that month you were slightly more productive at your corporate job”…or that time you “helped a Brazilian non-profit save a virgin rainforest from a logging company”.
Are you an engineer, lawyer, graphical designer, or IT professional thinking about taking a Career Break.
Now you can finally volunteer in your area of expertise around the world! Experteering allows you to make the most of your career skills by volunteering for causes that matter to you, while exploring exotic places in ways most travelers could only dream.
Enter our Experteering Contest Use your professional skills on your career break.
Sign up to win a MovingWorlds.org membership in partnership with Meet Plan Go
and Experteer around the world for FREE.
Make your career break count.
Enter here Here are ten of the many reasons you should seriously consider Experteering for your next adventure.
Travel the world.
See Experteering Opportunities around the world.
Finding a project in one of your bucket list countries will allow you to combine two of the best experiences: travel and making a difference in the world.
Experteering gives you the reason and road to get the places you’ve dreamt of exploring.
No donation required.
While volunteer opportunities like building a house or volunteering at an orphanage can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, Experteering rarely costs any money at all, and some even provide travel stipends.
MovingWorlds’ organizations desire your skills and passion much more than your money and connects you to immersive local experiences in exchange for your skills.
You will make lasting change.
No matter what your skill set, from accounting to graphic design to finance to copywriting to social media to engineering to blogging, you can help make an organization stronger than you found it.
MovingWorlds has a multi-pronged approach to help you make the most of your Experteering opportunity, and removes any unnecessary stress from the process.
Integrate with the local community.
Photo by MovingWorlds.org Unlike a traditional vacation or even a backpacking trip, you will be fully immersed in your destination.
You will get to know your local grocer, barista, bus driver, and co-workers and undoubtedly be welcomed into the community.
It’s the fast track to truly “live like a local!” 5.
Build your resume.
Anyone who has been on a job interview in the last 10 years knows that it’s all about differentiating yourself from the other candidates.
Come to the table with a unique and memorable story…and what better story than your experience Experteering half-way around the world, making a positive change while honing your various skills.
Make wonderful friends.
Experteering and volunteering are naturally self selecting, so you will be interacting with like-minded folks who love travel, altruism, and thinking outside of the traditional social confines.
Change things up at work/life.
Sometimes a little stir of the pot will bring out a bunch of new flavors, and life is no different.
If you are going to work thinking “what am I really achieving here, am I making anyone’s life better selling more X, Y or Z?” then maybe it’s time to try something fresh and fulfilling.
The gift that keeps on giving.
Work with business peers in other countries.
Photo by MovingWorlds.org When you realize that your skills can make a supremely positive change on an organization, and you get to explore a fascinating region of the world, you will want to repeat the experience.
The good news is MovingWorlds allows you to sign up for unlimited future projects, without any extra admin fees.
Learn a language.
You will have the opportunity to practice the region’s language as much or as little as you wish, and undoubtedly come away with improved communication skills.
Life is short.
You only live once.
Follow your dreams.
The list of clichés could go on and on…and you could share them all on your Facebook wall, pin them to your Pinterest inspiration board…or you could put a plan in motion to make your dreams your reality.
*CONTEST* Meet Plan Go is giving away a MovingWorlds membership to someone who would like to try Experteering in 2016.
If you are interested you can enter the contest here.
If you would like to learn about the opportunities available for career breakers, simply visit the MovingWorlds website, enter your skills and the regions of your world you would like to visit.
There is no cost to browse the website and review the numerous opportunities, and the projects do not require any monetary donation.
The only cost is a one-time administration fee when you decide to start an application so that the MovingWorlds team can guide you through the Experteering process and provide you personal support as you need it (and even that is discounted for MPG members at checkout).
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.
– Mike Howard, Ambassador, MovingWorlds.org Founder, &.
Tags: , Posted in , Cultural, , , | No Comments » MovingWorlds March Giveaway Sunday, February 21st, 2016.
What is MovingWorlds.
If you’re looking to make a real difference on your next trip, and you don’t like the idea of having to pay to “volunteer,” then it’s the perfect time to check out MovingWorlds.org.
MovingWorlds connects people who want to travel and volunteer, with social impact organizations around the world.
They selectively source and qualify social impact organizations working in the field so you can be confident your skills will make the most impact.
“Experteers” have access to MovingWorlds exclusive training, resources, and planning guide to help ensure safe, high-impact engagements.
What is this giveaway.
Meet Plan Go has partnered with MovingWorlds.org to share the awesome work they are doing in the volunteering space around the world.
They have given us one Full Membership (with unlimited phone support) to giveaway to the Meet Plan Go family.
Explore MovingWorlds.org: If you would like to check out the various opportunities on MovingWorlds, they have provided us a link that allows you to review the complete details on every single opportunity they have available (and if you don’t see the perfect opportunity, they will reach out to their global partners and find one that fits your criteria).
Follow this link, , click “Join Now” on the top right, and you will have unfettered access to the site, and never be asked to pay a thing until you find the perfect opportunity (and when you do find that perfect opportunity MPG members simply pay an administration fee of $112).
Everyone who would like to enter should email with the following: – Your First Name, Home Country & the Email you used in your MovingWorlds profile – Link to your favorite 1 (or) 2 MovingWorlds “Experteering” opportunities – A few sentences telling us why you would like to volunteer for this organization in 2016 – Confirm that, if you win, you are willing to share your experience with the Meet Plan Go audience via a few blog posts The email you send will earn one entry in the contest, and is mandatory for anyone who wishes to enter.
Optional: If you would like to earn a third entry in the giveaway, head over to , and leave a comment that includes a link to your favorite MovingWorlds opportunity, along with a few sentences about why you want to Experteer there.
Please prior to entering.
Questions: If you have any questions about MovingWorlds or this contest please email Mike Howard, Tags: , experteering, giving back, , Posted in , , , , , Websites | No Comments » Traveling the World With Teenagers Monday, December 7th, 2015.
This idea first came about several years ago when I read a book called.
It tells the story of two parents who take their three children on a one year trip around the globe.
It was mesmerizing and inspirational and at once I decided we needed to do it.
Staci and her family are currently traveling the world for several months enjoying good food, incredible sites and the best of company.
You can follow their madness on or on Facebook at Blame My Wild Heart.
Tags: , Posted in , , | No Comments » Valuable Skills to Learn Before Hitting the Road on a Career Break Wednesday, October 28th, 2015.
Haggling is part of everyday life in some countries, such as India, Vietnam, and Egypt.
Vendors are known to inflate prices for tourists and are very skilled in getting foreigners to pay more than they would charge other locals.
This goes for everything from backpacks to t-shirts to fruit to tuk tuk rates.
Knowing how to successfully negotiate prices will help ensure you aren’t taken advantage of and overcharged.
Creating a backup plan or two before you start haggling is important in case your first strategy doesn’t work.
Plan A could be basic price negotiation.
Should that fail, you enact plan B, which could be walking away or threatening to go to a competitor.
Plan C could be more creative, like having a travel partner step in or offering to buy multiple items at a set price.
You can haggle for a good deal at the Luang Prabang night market.
While walking down a small side street in Fethiye, Turkey, we came across a table set up with bottles of perfume and cologne.
There was a wide variety, like you would find in an airport duty free shop.
Mike stopped to look at the selection while Tara stood uninterested a few feet away.
The Turkish vendor manning the table came up to Mike and offered cologne suggestions and prices.
His initial offer started high, as street negotiations do, and Mike showed hesitation upon hearing the price.
This caused the vendor to lower the initial price without Mike having to say a word.
He landed at 50 lira, which was still too high for Mike since he knew they were knock-off products.
Mike counter-offered with 10 lira.
Of course that’s a laughably low number, but the key to agreeing on a price you want to pay is to start low to bring the seller’s offer price down (this was plan A: plain negotiation).
After a couple minutes, Mike got him down to 25 lira, but it didn’t seem like the seller was willing to drop below that.
That’s when plan B kicked in, and Tara stepped in to the conversation and offered to buy two bottles for 30 lira.
As Americans who never haggle for goods at home, we went through trial and error until we got used to negotiating.
It’s a skill we wished we had developed or even researched a little before leaving for our 14-month RTW trip.
As we traveled, we discovered many other skills that also fell into the “wish we knew about that” category.
It’s easy to overlook or not even consider learning these skills when you’re planning your career break.
After all, you become consumed by figuring out how to save more money, sell your possessions, and plan a smooth transition from working 9-to-5 to a life of full-time travel.
That’s why we included a whole chapter on these skills in the travel-planning book we just published, called Create Your Escape: A Practical Guide for Planning Long-Term Travel – because you don’t have time to think of everything yourself when you’re planning your big trip.
There are a lot of skills you can and should learn before leaving, but we’ll focus on a few other important ones here.
Accidents happen even if you aren’t the clumsy type.
You might wipe out on a bicycle or trip and scrape your knee while hiking.
Knowing how to properly clean and bandage wounds will help ensure you don’t get an infection.
And, just as important, you should know which first-aid items you should pack in the first place.
Sure, you can purchase antiseptic and bandages on the road, but it’s a good idea to have a starter kit in case you need it in a remote area or after hours when shops aren’t open.
Drive a Manual Car and Motorbike.
Tara not really driving a motorbike in Kampot, Cambodia (more like posing).
She never learned before the trip so Mike was the driver – just to be safe.
You don’t want your skills (or lack thereof) to hold you back from cool experiences while traveling.
You might have an opportunity to rent a car or motorbike for a day trip or coastal drive, and you shouldn’t attempt to drive either vehicle if you don’t know how.
When we were in Southeast Asia, a local said to us, “You see all the foreigners with bandages or casts.
Those are likely the result of a motorbike accident.” It’s true that many people underestimate motorbikes and scooters and think they can drive them with ease.
Fully automatic motorbikes might be easier to drive, but many rental companies only offer semi-automatic and manual options.
You have to be skilled in driving this type of vehicle to be successful, otherwise you risk endangering yourself and others on the road.
Likewise, many rental cars around the world are manual, and it takes practice to understand how to drive these vehicles.
You could ruin the engine if you incorrectly use the clutch and don’t know how to properly shift gears, and that might cost you a pretty penny to replace.
Plus, stalling out in the middle of a street (at a light or stop sign) could cause a traffic jam or even an accident depending on the flow of traffic.
A new country with different road rules than your own is not where you should learn to drive a motorbike or manual car.
Sign up for a class at home so you feel confident using the vehicle and learn how to be a defensive driver.
Doing this will not only ensure you don’t have to pass up an opportunity to rent a vehicle, but it may also help you in an emergency situation where you have no choice but to get behind the wheel.
Learn to Swim.
Tara swimming in the Mediterranean off the coast of Turkey.
The underwater world is incredibly beautiful with its colorful coral and curious fish.
You’ll likely have at least a few opportunities to snorkel or even become SCUBA certified if you want.
You could see the majestic Great Barrier Reef or even watch manta rays swim inches below you.
Even though you could use a life jacket or inflatable tubes to help you stay afloat, you really should be confident in the water and know basic water safety if you’re going to splash around in it.
Being a skilled swimmer isn’t just important for water-based experiences, but it could also save your life in the event of an emergency.
If you’re not comfortable in the water, take lessons before you leave until you feel confident enough to float, tread water, hold your breath under water, and swim to safety.
Be an Exceptional Photographer.
Mike taking photographs in Iceland.
You’ve probably perfected your selfies, but leave the selfie stick at home and turn the camera around to capture the incredible and inexplicable moments of your trip.
These are images you’ll be showing others and looking at for the rest of your life, so you should know how to take a sharp, well-framed, and interesting shot, as well as edit the files to enhance them even more.
The first step is learning to take great photos, which you can do through an online course or by reading a book and then practicing every chance you get.
Then take it one step further and learn the basics of Photoshop or another photo editing program so you can make your images look even better.
You’ll want to understand resizing, color correction, and working with shadows, midtones and highlights.
Those are very basic concepts, but they’ll help you create a more vibrant image than your camera may have captured if the lighting was poor when you snapped the shot.
To know what else you should learn before hitting the road, check out chapter 6 in Create Your Escape.
It’ll give you good ideas of what to expect in foreign countries and make you an even savvier traveler.
About Tara and Mike Tara and Mike are the original Two Travelaholics.
In 2012, they quit their jobs to travel the world on their extended honeymoon, racking up 40,000+ miles in their first year and a half of marriage.
When they aren’t traveling, they’re on the lookout for pugs, craft beer, and great bands.
They are the authors of Create Your Escape: A Practical Guide for Planning Long-Term Travel, which teaches other travelaholics how to prepare for extended travel.
Check it out at http://createyourescape.today Posted in , , , , Travel Tips, | No Comments » Get Help Planning your Career Break Friday, July 10th, 2015.
Russ career breaking in Petra based on tips from other career break veterans Starting in 2006, I started taking all of my vacation time in a big chunk from Thanksgiving to New Years.
That’s not only what worked in my business, but it was also a wonderful way to travel.
When I was on the road, it normally took about 10 days to shed the office and then, about 10 days before heading home, thinking about work started to creep in again.
But, that middle part – that was bliss.
I wanted to get to that place again, but for longer, so I started to consider taking a career break.
Career Break Hurdles.
But this was 2010 and the recession was still in full swing and quitting a job to travel was lunacy.
My friends and family all responded the same: “Are you mad.
Why would you quit your job when the economy is in the toilet?” No one could understand where I was coming from or what I was feeling.
And then I stumbled across Meet, Plan, Go.
There was an event in Boston when I’d be there and I couldn’t wait.
There was a panel with half a dozen career break veterans sharing their experience.
I soaked it up.
It was the first time I’d spoken with anyone about taking a career break and they didn’t think I was crazy.
I peppered the career breakers with questions and connected with a number of them after the event was over.
It was exactly what I’d needed to pull the trigger and to make sure I got the most out of my trip. Planning my trip by talking to others who’ve ‘been there, done that’ ending up being the best motivation there was to get me over the hurdles of taking a career break.
Are Guidebooks Dead?.
On my career break – I traveled 11 amazing months around the world – I continued to reach out to bloggers, writers and other travelers to get advice and recommendations as I visited each country.
I soon ditched the guidebooks and relied on word of mouth recommendations.
Frankly, there wasn’t any resource as valuable, and that got me thinking.
Last week, I launched a new startup that’s designed to help you do the same, it’s called Exploring.is. The idea behind , is to connect travelers directly with professional writers, bloggers and others who are experts on a specific place or an activity.
If you are in the process of contemplating a career break or sabbatical, there are a number of career break experts that you can chat with about: How to negotiate for a sabbatical or leave of absence.
What to do if you have a mortgage.
How to plan and save for an epic round the world trip.
What to possibly pack for such a trip.
Or our experts can help you with: Where to go.
Budget travel tips.
How to market your travels back into your job hunt.
We even have Meet Plan Go Co-Founder, Sherry Ott as part of our expert travel curators. Whatever it is, you have specific needs and questions about your career break and you don’t want to miss the best of what’s out there.
How it Works.
lets you book time (via chat, phone or video) with us so we can give you insider advice, answer your questions and help you plan your ideal vacation.
Time can be booked in 15 minute blocks, with most people buying 30 minutes for $50.
My team and I launched our Beta last week and I’m really excited to be able to help out other prospective career breakers since it had such an impact on my life.
Sign up today and we’ll make sure to get you scheduled for an appointment.
We’re looking forward to helping you plan your big trip.
Russ Brooks is the founder of Urbanful.org and Exploring.is.
An avid motorcyclist, scuba diver and photographer, Russ has visited 40 states and 40 countries since taking his first trip to Mexico at age 13.
He’s lived in Japan, Costa Rica and Ecuador and is always dreaming of the next place he wants to go.
Posted in , , , , | No Comments » How to Set a Travel Budget and Stick to it Thursday, April 9th, 2015.
Earlier this month was my first-ever travel-related speaking gig at the first Meet, Plan, Go.
New York City meetup of 2015, and the topic was how to set a travel budget and stick to it when you’re on the road.
Here are the questions I was asked, along with my answers – most focus on the lessons I learned while planning my fall 2014 trip to Southeast Asia.
1) What was your original budget.
What were your final expenditures.
And how long were you traveling?.
My goal was to keep my total trip under $4,000 for two months in Southeast Asia – approx.
$2,000 in hard costs (including trip insurance, flights, a tour and visas) and $2,000 in spending money (including lodging, food and activities).
I know that sounds high for the destination, but that included all of my prep expenses – including a new iPad and camera, shots/medication at a travel clinic, and even getting copies of keys and documents made.
And I actually used only a little more than $1,000 of my spending money, so – fortunately – there were no real surprises, and I stuck to my budget.
2) What determined/influenced your initial budget thought-processes?.
I’ve traveled extensively, and always on a tight budget, so I know many tricks to making my travel dollars stretch pretty far.
I knew, of course, that Southeast Asia is pretty cheap, so I was even able to jump on an Intrepid Tour for the Cambodia leg (which was definitely worth it!), since it still fell within my budget.
I also ended up taking flights within Vietnam, instead of long-haul buses or trains, because they were only a few dollars more and saved a lot of time.
Sometimes I decide to pay for convenience and then make up the cost elsewhere (usually by limiting food/alcohol and choosing cheaper lodging).
Visas are also an important consideration – I eliminated China as a destination because of the $150 fee.
Local dishes are often just a fraction of the cost of Western dishes, and often push you out of your comfort zone (This is fish amok in Cambodia).
3) What tools did you use to help determine your budget?.
I consulted various blog posts for suggestions and searched various sites for average costs for hotels/hostels, food, transportation, etc.
4) What were some of your unique budget “line items”?.
I decided to purchase a refurbished iPad2 before traveling, and I also upgraded my camera, which I found on eBay for around $300 (a savings of about $700).
I also visited a travel clinic, and that was way more expensive than I thought it would be – it came to $230 for the visit and the shots/medication (Insurance didn’t cover anything).
5) What is the most important piece of advice you would give in determining a budget for a large goal such as career-break travel?.
Location, location, location.
Also – an important learning for me – you need to factor in how much time you will be traveling solo vs.
with a friend or significant other vs.
in a group.
I discovered that meeting up with friends at different points during my trip killed my budget.
I did WAY more eating and drinking.
6) Once your budget was determined, how did you go about saving?.
I cancelled my gym membership and Netflix, downgraded my cable and my cell phone plan, and discovered I could actually freeze my cell phone plan while overseas (saving about $200!).
These were all pretty easy/painless decisions, although more challenging now upon re-entry (I miss cable!).
I also opened a new checking account with no ATM fees and a new credit card with a chip and no foreign transaction fees.
(See my Tips page for more details.) Public transportation is a great way to save money while interacting with locals (Here is the “lady car” I rode to Batu Caves in Malaysia).
7) Did you simply cut back or take on another job?.
I took on an extra freelance project that provided some extra cash, and I rented my condo out on AirBnB for five weekends leading up to my departure.
I also found a renter to cover a portion of my mortgage.
8) Was it a drastic undertaking.
As my financial planner says, I “run a really tight ship,” so budgeting and saving is a way of life for me.
Traveling always has been how I choose to spend my disposable income, so I maintain a very simple lifestyle and have worked hard (taking on second jobs) over the years to pay off school loans and my car loan, so my only overhead is my mortgage.
Also, I started early – I had known I had wanted to take this trip for about two years – so it did not seem like a drastic undertaking.
9) What tools did you use to assist in saving?.
I use the Mint app to regularly track my overall financial picture.
I also maintained a very detailed spreadsheet with every expense incurred during the planning process, as well as estimated expenses for the trip.
I did splurge on a one-night cruise of Halong Bay during my time in Vietnam, which was definitely worth it.
10) Did you build in a cushion for emergencies?.
Not really, but I did purchase emergency medical insurance for the first time (which really made me feel like an adult).
11) What is the most important piece of advice you would give re: saving for a large goal such as career-break travel?.
Start early and start small – every little bit helps.
If travel is important to you, you need to make investing in your passion a priority and sacrifice, if necessary, to make it happen.
It really all boils down to choices – I have always equated every purchase I make to how much travel it could buy me (i.e., that new coat is ¼ of a ticket to Europe).
Brianne’s first trip overseas was to China at the age of 13, and in the years since, she has been to 40+ countries – mostly solo.
She recently returned to her home base of Boston from five months on the road – first traveling throughout Southeast Asia and then working in India for an adventure travel company, The Travel Scientists.
She coordinates Meet, Plan, Go.
Boston meet ups, and enjoys sharing travel tips, photos and stories on her website, A Traveling Life.
Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Posted in , | No Comments » Recharge Your Soul with a Career Break Monday, February 16th, 2015.
When I quit my job in 2013, my soul was pretty dried up.
I had become a cog in the machine and needed something to remind me my heart was still beating.
Travel filled that void in the past when I’d take my two-week vacations, but I was looking for something more.
I wanted to… brace yourself for the ultimate cliché… make a difference.
Or maybe it was more selfish than that and I just wanted to smile at myself in the mirror again.
I’d been a Kiva lender for a few years and absolutely love the organization
In fact, it took me about 20 seconds to run back to my office and look for my first borrower after initially hearing about them from a co-worker.
I later learned they also have a volunteer fellowship program.
That changed everything.
Who is Kiva?.
If you’re not familiar with Kiva
it’s a non-profit whose mission is to alleviate poverty through lending.
You select a borrower from the website and lend as little as $25 (also known as a microloan).
Over the course of a year, your money is paid back.
While you don’t earn interest, you are empowering people to create a better life.
Putting your faith in another person gives them a vote of confidence, an added incentive to succeed.
This endorsement contributes to Kiva’s astonishing 99% loan repayment rate
Ask any bank what theirs is.
Learn more about how Kiva works
What’s a Kiva fellow?.
The Fellows Program started in 2007 as a way for volunteers to be Kiva’s “eyes and ears” on the ground.
Because they are non-profit and their network of partners around the world continues to grow, they simply can’t visit each of them as often as they’d like.
Instead, they send carefully selected fellows who are interested in using their skills in exchange for a unique learning opportunity.
Each fellowship is different, .
But you’re essentially a liaison between Kiva and their global network
You may help train a new partner, perform borrower verifications in the field, scale-up new initiatives, or fill any number of needs.
My fellowship experience.
In April 2013 I was poking around the Kiva website while planning my corporate escape
It was there I discovered the fellowship program and was instantly sold, so I applied.
I didn’t have experience in international development, but I did teach English in Japan and traveled in developing countries.
Over the next three months I had two Skype interviews and ultimately an offer to go to India.
It felt like the process took forever, but once the wheels were in motion, it all happened very quickly.
Instead of working five days a week for a paycheck, I worked six days a week for free.
BJS was a brand new Kiva partner, so I trained them on Kiva processes and procedures and helped them write compelling borrower profiles for posting on the website.
I had the opportunity to meet loan recipients in rural areas and attend presentations on financial literacy with them, which is one of the services BJS provides.
Watching women huddled together in colorful saris, absorbed in learning about saving money in a bank and how insurance works, was transformative.
My brain could barely absorb everything I was experiencing while the empty part of me was quickly filling up.
On my last day the staff of about 15 gathered for a good-bye party where they each went around the room sharing a special moment or something they learned from me.
Soul successfully recharged.
Post-fellowship I traveled around Asia and Latin America with a newfound focus on contributing locally.
There are a number of social enterprises that support communities, from village artisans to at-risk youth.
I have Kiva to thank for changing the way I travel and interact with locals
Now I work as a location-independent marketing consultant and freelance writer.
While my break wasn’t temporary, you don’t necessarily need to quit to have a life-changing travel experience.
Who is a fellowship good for?.
People looking for a break from corporate life and can take a four-month sabbatical.
Grad school students before or after their program.
Job quitters (like me) or the unemployed.
What are the requirements of a Kiva fellow?
Previous experience with international development or a background in finance will work in your favor, though not requirements.
What they do want to see is time spent in developing countries, and ideally some international work experience.
It’s not like a trip to Paris, so they want to be sure you’re comfortable in places where you can’t drink the water, living conditions may be sparse, and business etiquette is totally different.
Naturally you need to be adaptable and willing to work outside your comfort zone.
You’ll also need to show you’re able to fund your trip yourself or through fundraising.
It is a volunteership, after all.
Kiva has recently expanded their program to include media fellows- those with a background in photography and/or videography to help build Kiva’s library of assets.
Read more about the requirements.
How much control do you have over your location, and what is housing like?.
They ask for your preferences, but nothing is guaranteed.
For each fellowship class.
The Kiva team receives requests from the field
and those spots are filled based on the applicant pool.
Language requirements can also narrow your options.
You must speak Spanish for Latin America, and French for Francophone Africa, but there are a number of countries where English alone is sufficient.
Of course additional languages are a bonus and may assist in placement, but not necessarily required.
You may have your own apartment, stay in a hotel or guesthouse, or have the opportunity to live with locals.
The choice is yours based on what’s available.
How much does it cost?.
The program itself has no fee, however you do need to cover your expenses for the entire fellowship.
These include: Travel to/from San Francisco and accommodations during training week (This is a requirement, regardless of where you live).
Flight to/from your assignment.
Accommodations during your fellowship.
Personal travel (weekend or holiday trips), shopping, and other expenses.
Is there an “alumni” network?.
There are private LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
And alums will receive periodic email updates from the Kiva fellows team
including job opportunities throughout their network.
Plus it’s not a bad addition to your resume.
How do you apply?.
Visit the Kiva fellows page to apply
There are three classes per year, each lasting about four months, with approximately 25 fellows per class.
A Kiva fellowship is not a “voluntour” where you pay exorbitant fees for the privilege of working for free.
Kiva invests a lot in training its fellows yet doesn’t charge for their program, so the application process is selective.
If you’re looking for a fill-up in the soul department, have experience working, living, or traveling in developing countries and can commit to four months away, a Kiva fellowship might be for you.
Bio: Shelley Graner is a former Kiva fellow who likes to travel slowly and support local communities.
She left the corporate world and now spends her days as a location-independent writer and marketing consultant.
Read more about her travels and Kiva experience via her blog.
Posted in , , | No Comments » Preparation: Budget Concerns Thursday, October 30th, 2014.
A concern many career break-dreamers face is that they can’t afford to do it.
But if you believe enough in your dream, you will find ways to make it happen.
It’s all about prioritizing and budgeting: even on a non-profit salary, you can make it happen.
See what some of our career break experts have to say about budgeting for long-term travel: Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday) Travel requires savings but not much; you can travel for less than you pay on New York rent, and you can always save more by indulging less at home.
Money and time are commodities with an inverse relationship, you can only acquire one by spending the other and travel taught me free time is more valuable than additional money.
Jennifer Baggett (The Lost Girls) Since I made the decision to travel about a year and a half prior to departure, I was able to properly budget and save for the money I’d need in order to spend a year on the road. And I was definitely not making that much money considering I was paying Manhattan rent and living expense (about $65K – I’m happy to be completely transparent) nor did I have financial help from anyone else.
The biggest money saver, honestly, was that I literally stopped purchasing anything frivolous (clothes, shoes, electronics, expensive dinners, etc.) and socked away a percentage of every pay check (including 100% of my annual bonus), cashed savings bonds from childhood, even sold books/CDs on Amazon and most of my furniture on Craig’s List.
Amanda, Holly and I also chose to visit predominately third world and developing nations where you can easily live off of $20-$30 per day. Of course traveling as a group definitely helped as everything from lodging, taxis, food and other items (travel guides/books, some toiletries, etc.) could be split up and shared.
Other big ways we saved: Round-the-world plane tickets (ours took us from Kenya to Australia – with multiple countries in between for only $2200), eliminating almost all bills/expenses back home (rent, cell phone, electric bills, cable, etc.) penning the occasional travel article while on the road, crashing at friend’s (or friends of friends) places overseas and keeping costs fixed by doing a structured volunteer program/staying in one location for multiple weeks.
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