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Big News About “Meet, Plan, Go!” Travel Conference 2011

Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam. Tempted to go?

Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam. Tempted to go?

“Hey Lillie,” said Sherry by Skype yesterday, “I met someone last month in Sri Lanka who knows you!”

“What?!” I gasped?

“Right!” Sherry laughed. “This guy, Brooks, is out traveling the world now because of your “Meet, Plan, Go!” 2010 Boston career-break travel conference!”

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?!

Brooks's photo of Vatadage in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

Brooks’s photo of Vatadage in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

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.

Brooks being investigated by a turtle in the Maldives.

Brooks being investigated by a turtle in the Maldives.

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.

An Orangutan and her baby eat breakfast in Sumatra.

An Orangutan and her baby eat breakfast in Sumatra.

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!

Get psyched for "Meet, Plan, Go!" 2011! You know we are!

Get psyched for “Meet, Plan, Go!” 2011. You know we are!

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:

Thanks, Brooks, for your fabulous photos, and for your exhilarating email. Readers, spread the word: “Meet, Plan, Go!” 2011 is coming!


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Aoife (Efa) Callinan

Monday 15th of October 2012

Wow, I loved reading his email and I bet it's a fantastic feeling to know you have inspired another person. "Meet, Plan, Go" sounds like a brilliant idea and right now sitting at my desk (in Ireland) I'm so envious I can't go! Do you think in the future you will ever hold an online "meet, plan, go" or variation of it?


Monday 15th of October 2012

So glad it touched you! Here is the online course for MPG: I think there's still room to join if interested!


Thursday 26th of May 2011

wow the Vietnam and sri lanka pictures are really beautiful...

Rachel Yee

Wednesday 4th of May 2011

That is so cool! You basically changed this one person's life and now they can go explore!

Mohamed Abdelrahim

Wednesday 27th of April 2011

If Brook's boss had said no and if he wanted to take a break he would have to quit or get laid off, what would Brook do? Would he quit or keep working?


Monday 16th of May 2011

Excellent question... The answer would certainly vary by person, but from most people I've talked to, they usually do not regret following their travel dreams, even if it means leaving their job! A lot of times travel will provide a positive boost to a resume and allow the person to get another job when they return.

Niti :)

Tuesday 26th of April 2011

I personally love to travel, so I think it's great your helping provide other people with this great opportunity! The pictures are gorgeous and I am definately tempted. :) That baby orangutan is so cute!

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