The Career Break – Your Definitive Moment to See the World

Breaking down your travel optionsA couple weeks ago I wrote a post called Doing Difficult Trips in which I talked about how traveling on complicated itineraries was getting a foothold in the public’s conscious, challenging the aging mentality of there-and-back-again travel. Of course, in order to do “difficult trips” you’ll need some extra time, for which the available solution is to put your location-dependent career aspirations into the freezer and buy an extra calendar to accommodate your travel dates.

People that are or were involved in long-term traveling wholeheartedly advocate this style of seeing the world. Entire communities have sprung up around the concept of the career break developing memes, Twitter hashtags (#rtwsoon and #rtwnow) and embrace it to the end. A backlash has even arisen in its wake, so enthusiastic are those that do it — probably because they promote it to the point of zealotry.

To the community of travelers and travel bloggers who’ve realized that having a job was their last obstacle to traveling the way they really wanted to, it was an obvious choice. And now, with an Internet that can facilitate it people can hit the road with accessibility they never had before, thereby enjoying the spoils of full-time travel while actually remaining productive.

Briefcase to Backpack

"Spring" into actionProbably the most outspoken advocate of career breaking is Briefcase to Backpack, moderated and administered by perennial travelers Sherry Ott, Michael Bontempi and Michaela Potter. They’re doing all they can to give form to the shapeless idea of what it means to step out of a business suit and into backpack straps, helping people accept the idea that this is not as difficult or antisocial as you might think.

Career Break Secrets, an offshoot of a contemporary of Briefcase to Backpack, just this month helped organize Meet Plan Go, a nationwide planning event held in 13 different cities across North America to motivate individuals and teach them that dropping everything and getting on a flight isn’t such an insane idea. Tickets to every one of the events were unavailable come event day and many of them had huge stand-by lists as well. In a post-Eat, Pray, Love world there’s bound to be more of this movement as people realize they may need something to reintroduce themselves with the idea of living.

Who’s doing this?

The best way to illustrate what’s happening with career breaking is to show examples of people that are doing it. I’ve already told you about Steph at Twenty-Something Travel who is leaving for her extended trip presently, Adventurous Kate just bought 7 months worth of tickets, Never Ending Voyage and The Traveling Canucks are  on career breaks as we speak and Uncornered Market has already been on the road for almost four years. And there are hundreds of not thousands more of these kinds of stories as well. These are folks who decided to move away from a life of urban commutes and into another way of navigating their life. Kristine from Almost Fearless has assembled a small empire around her successes at the nomadic life.

Shasta Teardrop Travel Trailer: Right/Front

How it’s done

The real science behind initiating a career break trip is less science than it is a matter of diligence. Keeping your eyes on the prize of bettering your life through travel takes focus and a disregard for that which leads you astray from the goal.

Two articles I really like about how to save for your career break, certainly no small task, starts with Steph’s, see above, and concerns shifting your desires from instant to delayed gratification. To summarize, she considers why your desire to buy stuff only gets you to Best Buy, not on a plane to foreign lands, which is what you really want and actually achieves your travel goals.

Kathryn and Daniel at Two Go RTW, a husband wife team, have resolved to do the deed as well. And in light of the fevered pitch of travelers’ launching day they wrote about the same topic, staying motivated to travel while saving for it. They by no means think it’s easy. The Never Ending Voyage duo saved 75 percent of their income before they even set out.

And what of working while you’re traveling to keep afloat? Almost Fearless has a guest post by Emily Gerson from Maiden Voyage with tips on how to freelance from the road.

Finally, an older post on the Art of Non-Conformity blog explains why you should quit your job and travel the world.

The conclusion

Should you listen to what’s in essence a popular Zeitgeist that says you should drop your carefully outlined lifepath and travel the world? In other words can public opinion be relied upon to tell you what’s important? No. It
can’t, and shouldn’t. But in this case yes, people telling you a career break has changed their lives actually know what they’re talking about — they speak from the heart.

The mainstream shouldn’t usually be relied upon for good advice but the more people invest their money and time in long-term travel the more the travel community, and even the world at large, will come together to embrace their decision. Travel is good for you. Travel is good for the world. And while your career may be what makes you “successful”, you will no doubt at some point be confronted with a choice between what makes you bank account rich and what makes you rich in the soul. Whether or not you think you’re ready, the option will be there until you are. With all the resources available, why not the present. Better sooner than later.

Take the first step and click on red link below and plan out your nomadic path around the world with Trip Planner.

photos: woodleywonderworks, turtlemom4bacon, Bill Ward’s Brickpile

15 responses to “The Career Break – Your Definitive Moment to See the World

  1. Thanks for helping to bring the focus of career breaks more to the American audience! We’ve been working at this for many years and are excited to see so many people actually taking them to travel!

    I just want to clarify that Career Break Secrets is its own company/website, not an off-shoot of Briefcase to Backpack. In fact, Meet, Plan, Go! is the off-shoot of B2B and we were proud to have Jeff Jung of Career Break Secrets on board as our host in Austin as well as a sponsor! He’s a great supporter and has a great product and story to share as well.

    • Thanks, Michaela, for the clarification about Career Break Secrets, I’ll make the change in the post. And you’re most welcome. This change in travel ethics is truly amazing to behold. I’m glad of all the people out there advocating it! And oh yeah, doing it.

    • Thanks for including us in the post, Nico. And, great job putting career break travel in context. For the record, I smiled when I saw you listed us as an offshoot of Briefcase to Backpack. I took it as a big complement! All the best.
      Jeff

  2. Thanks for including me Nico – it seems like the awareness of RTW and career break travel has really taken off even in the last two years since I started my travel blog. The community is huge and there is so much amazing information out there now.

    • Not to mention welcoming. I’ve never seen an online community that so actively embraces new people. They’re writing about it, tweeting and retweeting them, commenting on their blogs and generally supporting their choice to travel.

  3. Nico, thanks for including us as an example of people choosing to live deliberately and incorporate travel and online work into their lives. This type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it’s great to see that more and more people are looking at their values and trying to create a lifestyle in line with that.

    • Good point, Audrey. Long-term travel certainly isn’t for everyone. But contrarily, it may be for people who didn’t think it was. And the more encouragement there is, the more that may test the water for themselves.

  4. Nico – thanks so much for this great article – we do hope that we are opening people’s eyes to the value of a career break no matter what age you are! Were you able to attend the Meet, Plan, Go! event in San Francisco?

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  9. If you feel like taking a break and just getting back to nature, look no further than Tuscany. Nestled in picturesque surroundings that have a generous helping of natural splendor, this is one area that can satiate the needs of even the most demanding traveler.

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