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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meet, Plan, Go!

When I first met with Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter of Briefcase to Backpack earlier this year, they were toying with the idea of hosting a night in San Francisco and New York that explored career breaks and travel sabbaticals for the masses.  The events would be open to the public and the discussion would attempt to answer the burning questions of regular folks who were contemplating travel breaks of their own.  They would rely on those that had made similar travel choices in their lives to fill out the panels, hoping to put sabbaticals on target for national discussion.  A former publicist, the idea started my PR juices flowing.  “It’s going to be huge,” I told the ladies.

Fast forward.  Present day.  Clearly, there’s a growing travel momentum out there.  The population is restless; a listless economy has left people unmotivated.  I understand the feeling.  I struggled with it for a long time, and when I finally left to travel in 2005, I got more than a few wayward glances.  Questions were hurled at me with amazing speed.  “You’re leaving your job?”  “What will you do with your apartment?”  “Who are you going to hang out with in Asia?”  “Aren’t you scared to be alone?”  My friends and family were both excited and curious, but they were also nervous for me.  I was doing something they would never do.

Nowadays, many of my friends have since left their corporate jobs – whether by choice or by economy – to answer the call I heard in 2005.  Get out of here!  Hit the road!  Explore the world!  Take some time off!  And the best part is, they’re heeding it.  Because of such widespread interest, Meet, Plan, Go mushroomed into a 13-city event, including 1400+ people across the country.  The dialogue took place in public spaces, on Facebook, on Twitter, and continues today. 

I was part of the New York City panel, a diverse group of seven travel soldiers.  One lost his job due to the economy; another traveled with her two girlfriends, another with her husband.  One of our panelists made a documentary about the art of backpacking, all of the panelists have travel blogs; I sell my travel stories as a freelance travel journalist.

I had never been on a panel before, but as I quickly realized, Meet, Plan, Go was an apt introduction.  Our panel was talking about our passion – travel – and how to help others join our nomadic team.  Dream material, I tell ya.  For two nights, Professor Thom’s, a sports bar in the East Village, was 100 people deep in travel contemplation until sometime after 10 PM.  Everyone stuck around past the requisite Q&A, peppering our experts with questions and considerations.  At the end of each night, I was on a travel high.  “You have to do it again,” I told Sherry and Michaela at the end of night two.  I truly hope we get the opportunity.

Since, I’ve received many emails from those in attendance, and those who have found me online.  Their gratitude for Meet, Plan, Go is bountiful, and their fascination with our travel choices resonates deeply.  I’ve tried to answer all their emails, hoping to inspire another courageous soul to take the leap.  As we said over and over again at Meet, Plan, Go…there’s no such thing as travel regret.

*For more information about Meet, Plan, Go (and their Travel Boot Camp which begins in January) visit the website at  To learn more about career sabbaticals and travel breaks, visit Briefcase to Backpack at or Three Month Visa at

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