For last year’s inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! national event, I took the train up to Seattle – the closest Meet, Plan, Go! city to Portland – and spent an evening with my Seattle travel bloggy pals. It was great fun to feel the enthusiasm in the room, and to sense the relief on the part of people whose families don’t quite “get” their desire to travel as they recognized a familiar longing in the eyes of other attendees.
In short, my positive experience at the Seattle event last year was one of the reasons I was so looking forward to BootsnAll being a host of this year’s Meet, Plan, Go! – especially since we brought Portland to the list of host cities. I wish I could come up with something eloquent to say about last night’s Portland event, but frankly I’m still pretty exhausted, so the best I can do right now is this:
Last night was freakin’ awesome, y’all.
The room looked big and empty when I arrived early to help setup, and I was worried it would still look big and empty when the event began. I needn’t have been concerned. The room was half-full within moments of the doors officially opening, and anyone who arrived closer to the 6:30 start time considered themselves lucky to find a seat.
We were thrilled to have Chris Guillebeau deliver a funny and inspiring keynote (which he started with an airport code guessing game, for which the prizes were business class airline amenity kits!) before he had to jet off to PDX for a flight out that night.
Our panel provided the audience with handy tips and resources, and they discovered that – oddly – the hardest piece of “stuff” to get rid of for all of them turned out to be the couch.
We were joined by Warren & Betsy Talbot (last year’s Seattle hosts) via Skype all the way from Chiang Mai, Thailand, as they marked one year on the road for their own career break.
Attendees asked some of their pressing questions of the whole panel – I hate needles; how many immunization shots did you have to get? How did you pay your taxes while you were traveling? – and, I’m sure, saved some of their questions for the mingling session afterward.
One attendee told me after the event that although she still has lots of questions as she plans for her eventual career break, she loved just being there and soaking up the energy in the room. It reminded me of the feeling BootsnAll members used to have when they found like-minded people on the message boards – long before Facebook and Twitter – when they could say, “Oh, so I’m not the only person who feels like this? I’m not as crazy as my family says I am?”
It’s an incredibly powerful feeling to realize you’re not alone.
Thanks to all the people who came to the Portland event last night – I look forward to seeing you at future meetups, hearing more about your planning as it progresses, and eventually wishing you a hearty “bon voyage” as you set off.
Then, hey, you wanna be on a panel at a future Meet, Plan, Go! event? Let us know.
Some RTW/long-term travel resources to keep your planning mojo going:
>> Check out some of the fun Twitter updates that people posted from the 17 events in this recap post on the Meet, Plan, Go! site.