In 17 cities across North America this past Tuesday, nearly 1,250 adults gathered for “Meet, Plan, Go!” to learn how to make their extended travel dreams a reality.
As the Boston coordinator for the second year, I had the honor of leading a crowd of 100 fantastic people. Here is a small sampling of the photos and happenings from our life-changing event.
Doors opened at 6:15pm, and our team of 15 hard-working volunteers was hard at work for hours before then, readying the room. People began trickling in at first, and then pouring in! The check-in team guided each guest to make two name tags: one with their name, and one with their dream destination. As people mingled, they started conversations like, “So, you want to go to the Maldives, eh?”
At 6:45pm the official program began. We showed a great video from “Meet, Plan, Go!” National about how important this movement to inspire and assist more North Americans to undertake extended travel is. Then we launched the panel!
During the panel, seven great career-break travel experts (Chris Christensen of Amateur Traveler, Robin and Tim Botto of On the Banana Pancake Trail, Brian Peters of No Debt World Travel, Janet Riley (winner of last year’s “Meet, Plan, Go!” free trip), and Jessica and Tim of Hedgehogs Without Borders) told their personal travel stories in 5 minutes, and then took brief questions from the moderator (me!) about basics the audience should know about extended travel.
Promptly at 7:45 we started the Breakout Session small group discussions: a new feature this year that grew out of ideas generated during our casual monthly “Meet, Plan, Go!” dinner meet-ups. We led into this section of the evening by explaining that each of the 8 round tables around the room would have 1-3 travel experts seated there to answer specific career-break travel questions.
We explained that in addition to the panelists, we also had extended travel expert “Ambassadors” (Ryan and Liz of PauseTheMoment.com, Maria Guircan of VeganWorldTrekker.com, James Galvic of “Travels of an Ignorant Man”, Ryan Ansin of Ephas.org, and family travel expert John Battye) along with representatives from Hostelling International and InsureMyTrip.com and literature from Intrepid Travel to create even more fruitful conversations.
The small-group discussions were excellent, though it got pretty noisy with all the ideas flying to and fro! We gave attendees three suggested times to get up and move tables to another expert, but guests were able to get up at any time, or stay put, as their particular interests dictated. People were scribbling down notes, leaning in intently, and gathering lots and lots of ideas, advice, and inspiration on how to make their travels a reality.
At 8:35pm we came back together as a group for closing thoughts, thank yous, and next steps (including the Online Career-Break Bootcamp created by “Meet, Plan, Go!” National). I also asked the crowd to share out their reactions, thoughts, and emotions after this event. It was so clear that people had gotten the message: “We are not crazy for wanting to travel the world for months, and there is a huge community out there to help us do it!”
“Meet, Plan, Go” Boston 2011 was phenomenal, and I send a huge THANK YOU to the planning team and wonderful attendees who made it so great. If you want to see a ton more photos and get involved in our monthly meetups, join our active Facebook group at www.facebook.com/MPGBoston. We look forward to seeing you there, and to inspiring and assisting you to make your career-break travel dreams come true!
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!