The Inside Scoop on Career Breaks

So you’re thinking of quitting your job or taking a sabbatical to travel. If you’re like many Americans, you may not know anyone else who has ever done it. You have this dream, but you don’t know what to do with it. You have questions, but you don’t know who to ask.

Everyone’s story is different – yet in some ways, very much the same.

For many Meet, Plan, Go! hosts, the decision to take a career break to travel came down to dissatisfaction with their careers and limited vacation time – as well as an incurable itch to travel.

“My annual vacations were never enough, and I was always left wanting more,” says Meet, Plan, Go! Chicago host Lisa Lubin. “While I had a great job as a TV producer, I just knew I wanted more than to stay doing the same thing my whole life. So I chucked it all and haven’t looked back since. “

Similarly, Meet, Plan, Go! co-founder and New York host Sherry Ott felt tethered to her desk by a limited vacation policy.  “I didn’t want to wait for retirement to see the world and climb mountains, “she says.

“Retirement and my health were not guaranteed, so I knew I had to make a change.”

Austin co-host Shelley Seale saw her career break as an opportunity to develop a new career. After leaving real estate to transition into a writing career, Seale eventually moved into travel writing. “Since seeing the world is a big passion of mine, I purposely and consciously wanted to build a life that would revolve around that,” says Seale. “A career break was vital to that process.”

For Seale’s co-host Keith Hajovsky, the decision to take his first extended trip in ten years was more personal, coming after a painful divorce. That, in conjunction with the feeling of being stuck at a dead-end job, prompted Hajovsky to hit the road to Southeast Asia.

And for Minneapolis host Katie Aune, it was a combination of feeling bored in her adopted hometown of Chicago, dissatisfaction with her existing career path in fundraising, and a longstanding desire to make travel a larger part of her life.

Confidence: what they got out of their experience

Elaine Masters says her career break allowed her to recognize that her intrepid, courageous spirit would serve her anywhere, anytime, while South Florida co-host Jillian Tobias says it gave her the confidence to step out of the box, be her own person, and do something different.

Ott’s break not only gave her the confidence to pursue a new career path, but she says it also unleashed a creative and entrepreneurial side of her that she had no idea existed.

Ott, Seale, and Lubin were all able to leverage their career breaks into new careers altogether. “It’s been 6 years now and I have yet to go back to a full-time job – at least one working for someone else,” says Lubin. “Now, travel has essentially become my career: travel writing, photography, blogging, and marketing.”

Hajovsky says the biggest thing he got out of his break was the comprehension that pursuing his own dreams and doing the things that he really wants to do in his own life is the best way to experience life.

Number one piece of advice?

Just do it.

“There is never a ‘right’ time to make a big change and shake up your life,” says Ott.”And if you sit around and wait for it, you’ll never do anything.”

Aune concurs, “I kept pushing my departure back, waiting for things to perfectly fall into place. Finally, I realized I needed to just set a date and make it happen or I’d put it off forever.”

However, Tobias cautions, “It’s important to prepare for your career break. Doing it impulsively might sound like fun, but preparation generally helps you not only have a better career break, but also be prepared for whatever the next step might be.”

Toronto host Janice Waugh adds, “Slow down. Traveling long term as one does on a career break cannot be done at the same pace as a two or three week vacation. It is a very different pace and a welcome pace as going slow allows you to experience the culture more fully.”

Want to learn more about how you can take a career break to travel?


Photo credits: Photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

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