All of our local kick-ass Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the time leading up to our National Event in October we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team. This week we are featuring one of our DC panelists and co-organizers – Alexis Grant – a journalist who is writing a book about backpacking solo through Africa. She blogs at The Travel Writer and tweets as @alexisgrant.
Meet our Kick-Ass DC Panelist: Alexis Grant
It’s Easier to Leap with a Network to Support You
When I left my reporting job in 2008 to travel in Africa, I had no idea there was a career-break movement. In fact, I didn’t even call what I was doing a career break. I wanted to take a long-haul backpacking trip, and quitting my job was the only way I could see to make that happen.
I didn’t read travel blogs. Instead, I relied on books like Edward Hasbrouck’s The Practical Nomad (my favorite independent travel planning book), A Journey of One’s Own, and Lonely Planet guides checked out of my local library. I didn’t know anyone else who had taken time off to travel, and honestly, it never occurred to me to find them. I focused on blazing my own path.
I was eager to learn about cultures that were different from my own. And see how much my mind could soak in when I was able to live in the moment, without worrying about returning to work on Monday. I wanted a challenge, a chance to sleep under the stars, rough it in a bush taxi and meet other travelers who, like me, believed that living meant more than earning a paycheck from behind a desk.
So I was thrilled to discover Meet, Plan, Go!, which is more than an event – it’s a community. For much of the year, that community is virtual, but it morphs into in-person network when we all meet at events around the country in October. Here in Washington, D.C., where I’m helping to organize, we’re getting started with a series of pre-event meetups.
These events will no doubt be helpful for wannabe career-breakers and travel evangelists. But you know who I think will most benefit? Anyone who has dreamed about taking time off to travel but hasn’t yet made the decision to do it. Because hearing other people’s stories and learning about the logistics involved and realizing you could actually do this will light a fire under you. Or, hey, maybe you’ll see all the planning it requires and say nope, it’s not for me. But more likely, you’ll walk away from that night feeling super excited about taking your leap, with a network of supportive friends ready to help you make it happen.
Even after my six-month backpacking trip, I need that inspiration. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in career and family and working our way up the ladder, that sometimes we forget the benefit of taking a detour. Just three years after taking off to travel, I’m already scheming for my next getaway – and I’m counting on Meet, Plan, Go! to kick me into gear.