San Francisco 2012

MPG 2012 San Francisco is complete. Check out a full listing of all of our local meet ups here.

2012 San Francisco MPG“It was incredibly inspiring and encouraging just to meet people who have actually taken this ‘crazy’ leap I’ve been thinking about for so long, and also it was amazingly easy to network with others in the same boat!”
– 2011 Attendee

If you are tired of two weeks of vacation time and want to break away from the cube to explore the world, then don’t miss out on this event!

Date: Tuesday, October 16th | Doors: 5:30pm
Sports Basement | 1590 Bryant Street

Not sure? Read Why You Should Attend Meet, Plan, Go!

NOTE: There are no refunds once tickets are purchased. If you wish to transfer your ticket to someone else, you will need to update your attendee information (including all survey questions). Upon registering, create an EventBrite login in order to access your account information later.

Keynote Speaker: Jeff Greenwald

Jeff GreenwaldJeff Greenwald is an Oakland-based author and activist with six books and hundreds of print, radio and Internet features under his byline. His journalism career began in 1979, when he reported on his experiences as a water engineer at the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp on the Thai/Cambodian border. Since that time he has traveled throughout the world, reporting on prison labor in China, female circumcision in Africa, human rights in Tibet, Nepal’s environmental challenges, wildlife stewardship in Vietnam, and coral reef conservation from Belize to Palau.

His books include Shopping for Buddhas, The Size of the World, and the newly released Snake Lake, set in Nepal during the 1990 democracy revolution.

Website: Jeff Greenwald & Ethical Traveler | Facebook: Ethical Traveler

Keynote Speaker: Don George

Don GeorgeDon George is the Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications and has published eight books including Lonely Plant’s Guide to Travel Writing and the anthologies Moveable Feast and The Kindness of Strangers. Don was also the Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and edited’s travel site, Wanderlust. He writes the monthly Trip Lit column for National Geographic Traveler and is Features Editor for He also edits Geographic Expeditions’ online magazine, Recce: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. A highly respected and pioneering travel journalist for more than two decades, Don has written more than 600 articles for magazines and newspapers around the globe, and has received dozens of awards for his writing and editing. He has taught travel writing at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, and is co-founder and chairman of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.In a quarter-century of wandering, Don has visited more than 65 countries. He has worked as a teacher in Athens, a translator in Paris, and a TV talk show host in Tokyo. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife.

Website: Don’s Place & Don on Gadling

Meet Your Host: Kristin Zibell

Kristin ZibellIn 2008, Kristin Zibell left marriage and corporate life to begin living her travel dreams. She traveled around the world over the next two years to India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe—volunteering, touring, trekking, photographing and blogging along the way. To pay for her adventures, she used her past life’s professional experience to consult between trips. Traveling long term has changed her forever and now she writes the blog Take Your Big Trip to inspire others to live their travel dreams. After her last big trip in 2010, Kristin chose San Francisco as her new home and travels around the city discovering its treasures with her Treasure Map Project.

Website: Take Your Big Trip | Twitter: @takeyourbigtrip | Facebook: TakeYourBigTrip

San Francisco Panelists

Ted BeatieTed Beatie
Born with the soul of an adventurer, Ted Beatie is happiest when he’s off the beaten track. His favorite places include the Sahara desert, 100 feet underwater among the coral reefs of Fiji, and Burning Man. In the fall of 2010, he took advantage of an involuntary career break and a favorable exchange rate to explore Southeast Asia with his wife, spending three months on planes, boats, buses, trains, and tuk-tuks. While he calls himself a diver, firedancer, technologist and cyclist, his true passion is photography and writing. He maintains a travel blog and photo gallery at The Pocket Explorer, and is managing editor of Rolf Potts’ Vagablogging, where he curates Vagabonding Case Studies of real people going on, currently on, or returned from long term travel. His latest adventure is learning how to be father to a newborn baby girl, named for a Moroccan desert sunrise.

Website: The Pocket Explorer | Twitter: @PocketExplorer | Facebook: ThePocketExplorer

Kelly WetheringtonKelly Wetherington
Kelly Wetherington has been traveling “by the seat of her skirt” since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 34 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. She recently returned from the Sahara after completing an off-road rally through Morocco in a clunker she named “Honey Badger”. Her other epic adventures include kitesurfing wherever the wind blows, motorcycling through the Alps, driving a 4WD through the Aussie Outback, and sailing across the South Pacific while crewing on yachts. A serial career breaker, Kelly works contract jobs in between travels to fund her next trip. She always says “Why Not?” and hopes to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone with an open mind and a leap of faith into the unknown!

Website: By the Seat of My Skirt | Twitter: @seatofmyskirtFacebook: BytheSeatofMySkirt

Francis TaponFrancis Tapon
Francis Tapon was born and raised in San Francisco, California and has traveled to over 75 countries. He co-founded a robotic vision company in Silicon Valley and consulted at Hitachi Data Systems and Microsoft. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail and in 2007, he became the first person to do a round trip on the Continental Divide Trail. He’s walked across Spain twice. He wrote Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. After spending three years in Eastern Europe, he wrote The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. He plans to visit all 54 African countries in 2013-2016. He has a degree in Religion from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Website: Francis Tapon | Twitter: @ftaponFacebook: Francis Tapon on FB

Spencer SpellmanSpencer Spellman
After life came to a screeching halt after losing his dream job, followed by a divorce, Spencer packed his backpack and set out on a 9-month trip around North America. With no money saved up and only outfitted with a thick southern drawl, Spencer used his work in the travel industry as an editor to begin a career as a freelance travel writer and blogger on the road. After spending most of his trip in Central America, the final stop was in San Francisco, where he has called home for the last year. When he’s not traveling, you can find Spencer curbing his travel addiction at Irish pubs and food trucks around the Bay area.

Website: The Traveling Philosopher | Twitter: @spencerspellmanFacebook: The Traveling Philosopher on FB

Molly LastMolly Last
Molly is a avid traveler and has a severe case of wanderlust. As a veteran of the teaching profession, Molly has made full use of her summer vacations to travel to such places as Peru, Italy, and South Africa. She takes many volunteer holidays from working with South African Blackfoot penguins and archaeological digs with Earthwatch to ESL summer teaching positions in Italy and Thailand. Molly first realized her wanderlust when she was a teenager and worked for the National Park Service in Utah. Her first teaching position was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In July 2011, Molly began a trip of a lifetime after being awarded a paid sabbatical from her school district. The mantra of her wonderful trip was “Living Life With Arms Wide Open”. This past year she went to India and Nepal, studied the restoration of frescoes and had an internship at a restoration studio in Florence, Italy, visited Egypt and France, and volunteered in Thailand, Bali and Mongolia. Molly has just returned from her magnificent RTW adventure with a renewed enthusiasm for teaching and can’t wait to share her adventures with her new 4th grade students.

Rachel SternRachel Stern
Rachel Stern is a Bay Area-based journalist and travel writer. Her reporting projects have taken her around the globe, from Buenos Aires to Berlin. She just returned from a 2.5 month sabbatical in the latter, penning stories from throughout the country for prominent European and U.S. media outlets and failing to master German grammar. She’s been a big proponent of solo-travel since 2007, when she extended a plane ticket from a two-week volunteering trip in Argentina on a whim, spending several weeks backpacking in Patagonia. She chronicles her travel adventures and advice on a Huffington Post blog, and hopes to encourage people to pursue their travel ideas, no matter how “unrealistic” they initially appear.

Website: Rachel Stern on HuffPo

Robin and Pierre DevauxRobin and Pierre Devaux
In early 2011, Robin and Pierre Devaux traded in their corporate jobs for a couple of backpacks and hit the road. Prior to their departure, Robin worked as a litigator with a large law firm in San Francisco while Pierre worked for a consulting firm and dabbled in winemaking at an urban winery in Oakland. The work routine had become a little stale, so they decided to take a break to see the world. They spent the next eleven months visiting and sampling the local beers of 24 countries on five continents. They saw places they had only dreamed of, they learned more about each other as a couple, and they (mostly) figured out what they wanted to do next. Now that they’re back home in Oakland, Robin is working at UC Hastings College of the Law and Pierre is jumping into the tech startup world. They’ve also adopted the best dog ever, Bruno.

Website: Traveling BonesFacebook: The Traveling Bones on FB

Fran WicknerFran Wickner
Fran Wickner recently returned from a three-month career break living in Italy.  She loved the idea of going off-season to a small village so she could really get to know the locals.  Her love of “living local” started when she was 20, living for a year with a Danish family outside of Copenhagen. Traveling with her husband and sons, they went to small communities to get the feel of the local culture. Fran is a Ph.D., MFT psychotherapist in private practice in Albany, CA, specializing in helping individuals, couples, families and teens reduce stress in their life as well as leading stress management seminars.  Fran feels one of the best things anyone can do to de-stress is to take a career break and helps her clients find ways to make this possible.

Website: Fran Wickner

Molly MitomaMolly Mitoma
Molly Mitoma has traveled through 25 countries on five continents, independently, with a backpack and a budget. Many of her travels have been solo, including India, South Africa, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Colombia, Nicaragua, Morocco, and Senegal. Currently she is head of marketing and communications for the Northern California region of Hostelling International, where she’s part of a team welcoming backpackers from around the world to San Francisco, Sacramento, and coastal State and National Parks. Within the local community, she leads Women Traveling Solo workshops and produces HI’s new event series, Travel Tavern.

Website: Hostelling International: Northern California

Ashley FraserAshley Fraser
Ashley’s thirst for travel started as a high school student when she left for a month to travel up the coast from Sydney to Cairns with a group of 20 other students. After graduating from college she taught English in Tanzania for 3 months and spent time volunteering with sea turtle rescue in Costa Rica . Since then she has been working for Intrepid Travel. In 2010 the company shipped her off to Australia to live and work in the hustle and bustle of Sydney for a full year. Ashley’s favorite part of travel is the random moments you find yourself in thinking “is this really my life??”. In the last 4 years Ashley has been to Ecuador, Guatemala, China, Belize, The Galapagos, Mexico, and Thailand. She is now working as the Marketing Coordinator for the US Intrepid Office in Santa Rosa.

Website: Intrepid Travel

Britt-Marie AlmBritt-Marie Alm
Born to European parents who taught her that home is where you make it, Britt has long sought crafty ways of planting roots in far off lands. Though her love of travel has taken her from Guatemala to New Zealand, her life-long crush is on the Himalayas. Over the past two decades, she has repeatedly abandoned daily routine and cell phone contracts to live and work on the Tibetan Plateau: she has lead treks and study abroad programs to remote corners, landed a dream fellowship to write about the life of spirit medium healers, braved two years in wire-tapped dorms at Lhasa’s Tibet University to learn Tibetan language, and got her MA in London to return to Tibet for her thesis. Her most recent adventure found her braving extreme temperatures in China with a development organization focused on Tibetan nomad communities. She now continues to work in the world of philanthropy in San Francisco as a Senior Program Officer for the Global Philanthropy Forum – one of the few desk jobs satiating enough to make her stay put (for now).

Website: Way Up High

AFAR Foundation

Learning AFARFounded in 2008 as the philanthropic affiliate of AFAR Media, the AFAR Foundation provides experiential travel to youth through its flagship program, Learning AFAR. Born from the idea that travel is the best form of education, Learning AFAR grants international travel scholarships to students who would not otherwise be able to explore our world.

Learning AFAR provides a global education by emphasizing leadership, service and cross-cultural exchange before, during and after an international expedition. Through the AFAR Media team, all participants are introduced to the world of travel writing as a means to not only tell their travel story but to also learn the components of self-advocacy in the telling of their own story. Our end goal is to inspire responsible global citizenship — to help students understand they are part of a larger, interconnected world and that their actions have an impact on the world around them. For more information or to help support the program, please visit the website.

A portion of the proceed from the event will be donated to AFAR Foundation.

Website: Learning AFAR

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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