“Hey Lillie,” said Sherry by Skype yesterday, “I met someone last month in Sri Lanka who knows you!”
“What?!” I gasped?
I almost swooned from happiness. Last year when Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter founded the “Meet, Plan, Go!” extended travel movement and asked me to coordinate the Boston chapter of the 12-city event on September 14, 2010, I had no idea how many lives it would transform.
The concept of “Meet, Plan, Go!” is simple: MEET experienced extended travelers to get the resources to PLAN your own career-break travel adventure, and finally GO live your world dream! Who knew this movement would start gaining the attention of USA Today and the New York Times, not to mention thousands of people across North America?!
Now, how does this relate to YOU, if you’re someone who dreams of travel? Because “Meet, Plan, Go!” is back for 2011!!! And I am over-the-moon thrilled to announce that I will be coordinating the Boston chapter again… and there will now be SEVENTEEN cities across North America involved! Mark your calendars for October 18, 2011.
But don’t just take my word for how exceptional this movement is… Let’s read the email I got today from “Meet, Plan, Go!” Boston 2010 attendee, Brooks, who has now moved on from Sri Lanka to Nepal.
From Brooks, “Meet, Plan, Go!” Boston 2010 attendee and now world traveler:
So, here I am, sitting in a dingy guesthouse in the Thamel district in Kathmandu preparing a trek up to Everest Base Camp and I’m as scared as I was 7 months ago when I was contemplating taking a career break. What I wouldn’t give right now for a room full of people who had hiked to base camp and would let me pepper them with questions. How the fear would melt away in the face of that understanding and acceptance. There are just some decisions that are simply better made with the advice of other, more experienced people.
That’s what “Meet, Plan, Go!” was about for me. When I was contemplating taking a career break, I didn’t know anyone who had done it. Everyone in my life that I spoke with about it was skeptical that it was a wise move or mocked me for having the ability to even think about it. When I heard about MPG, I was thrilled to find that there were not just other people that had taken a career break, but there were a lot of them and they were eager to share and help. Walking in to MPG in Boston was when my fear and trepidation started to fade away and my career break officially started.
After the event, I promptly walked into work the next day and asked my boss for a leave of absence. While I had really been thinking about it for over a year, I didn’t have the confidence to take action until then. I was a bit stunned by my boss’s reaction, but apparently it was obvious to him (and others) that I was burned out and needed some time away. He was surprisingly understanding and told me that while he couldn’t guarantee the same job when I returned, I’d be welcomed back with open arms. My thoughts about his reaction had always been a deterrent to me, but I had miscalculated them as during our conversations he revealed to me he was a bit jealous and had always wanted to do the same, but had just kept working and working.
In the past 5 months since I’ve left the US, nothing glamorous has happened to me and there have been tough times, but I can easily say, already, it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life. It’s also almost nothing like I’d imagined; this break has turned from discovery in the geographic sense, to discovery in the philosophical sense. At some point it shifted from outward to inward and it’s now more about finding my place in the world and discerning what’s important to me as well as how I want to engage and operate in my life. Every step along the way has provided me with some challenge or opportunity and I’ve often been surprised at the results: a hike up to Everest base camp that will test my mettle, a cockroach in Sri Lanka that stretched my sense of humor, a two-week stint with my father in Vietnam that would tax my organizational and planning skills, and so much more!
In addition to being able to visit some amazing places, meet some pretty wonderful people, and experience things I never thought possible, this trip has been a pretty big mirror with countless opportunities to gauge my personal and cultural values.
This trip has given me the classic opportunity to discover what makes me laugh and cry, how I interact with people from all different walks of life and how I handle challenging and difficult situations.
Lastly, I’ll simply say that there’s no way I’d be here in this dirty little room in Kathmandu scared out of my mind if it weren’t for MPG. So if you dream of adventure like me, you should Meet, then Plan, and then GO!
Thanks, Brooks! You are living proof of the value of this career-break travel movement! We can’t wait to hear about your Everest hike!
Though I was nervous at first about the daunting task of coordinating Boston “Meet, Plan, Go!” 2010, I now kiss this greasy computer in thanks that I said yes to lead. Not only was the entire planning experience one of the most educational and fascinating experiences of my life, but the actual “Meet, Plan, Go!” 2010 Boston event TOTALLY ROCKED! We had nearly 200 attendees, 10 amazing panelists, a host of star company partners, tons of giveaway prizes, and so much fun and inspiration and useful information that I would have popped from joy if my Ghanaian dress hadn’t held me intact.
This rocket ship is taking off, baby, so hop aboard before it gets so popular that we have to nunchuck people away from the doors. Here’s how to connect with “Meet, Plan, Go!” and stay updated as each detail of this movement unfolds, from informal meet-ups in the next few months, to panelist announcements, to ticket sales, to giveaway prizes:
- Click this link to follow MPG on Facebook and keep abreast of the fun, casual meet-ups that we will coordinate leading up to the big October 18 “Meet, Plan, Go!” event!
- Click here to sign up for our Career Break Newsletter which is sent twice a month.
- Click here to meet all of the 17 city hosts: some of the best career break and extended travel veterans around the country!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!