One of the most visible aspects of the upcoming Meet Plan Go events around North America is to highlight who actually engages in long-term and career break travel. There is a lot of speculation about who the stereotypical long-term traveler or career breaker might be. And, most of the hypotheses put forth are, frankly, wrong. Even in the travel blogosphere, big travel media sites which I would expect to be the most educated about who we are, get it wrong.
Long-term travel is a very specific and yet amorphous niche within travel within the US and Canada. Our friends in the UK, New Zealand and a few other European countries have a much better handle on long-term travel because, for a variety of reasons, it plays a much bigger role in their national culture and dare I say, national identity. “Travel happens” as it were.
Who We Are
So, forget what you know or think you know about long-term travel and those that do it. Here is a summary of the different faces of the long-term travel segment that are involved with Meet Plan Go. There are other segments (like the mini-career breakers) and some are more prevalent than others. What I want you to convey is that the long-term traveler is not one type of person but a diverse group of people all passionate about the potential that long-term travel has to enrich one’s life in a way that no other activity can. And we feel that way because of the effect it’s had on our lives and the interest we’ve seen from family, friends and strangers in what we’ve done, what we’re doing or what we’re about to do. That’s not to say that this type of travel is appealing to everyone. But for us, the experiences that we’ve had traveling are part of what defines us.
I focus here on the hosts of Meet Plan Go. But, look below the surface at any event and you’ll see an even wider circle of diverse travelers helping make it happen. It should also be noted that many of the hosts fit into other categories in addition to where I placed them. This list is certainly not complete, nor scientific.
The Enablers: Atlanta hosts, Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano; and San Francisco Host, Tara Russell. These folks are in the trenches daily talking to companies and individuals about the benefits of taking a long-term break. They make the business case to companies of offering a sabbatical benefit. And they work with individuals to figure out how a break fits into their lives. But, these women and others like them are key to increasing acceptance in the business community of people heading out to travel and pursue their personal passions.
The “Back to Work” Breaker: Washington, DC Host, Sonia Zamborsky. Sonia represents 70% of the career break segment – those that literally just wanted a break and then go back to their career. While she is still an avid traveler, she’s melded back into her corporate life…but this time around, she’s maintaining her balance.
The 20-Something Breakers: Boston Host, Lillie Marshall; Philadelphia Hosts, Michael Tieso and Teresa Gotay. These travelers are on the front-lines of rewriting what a career looks like. By taking a break early in their careers, they are rending the notion of what a “typical” career looks like obsolete.
The Soloists: Toronto Host, Janice Waugh; Dallas Host, Alisha Robertson; and Chicago Host, Lisa Lubin. These women highlight something that I noticed while I was traveling: there are many more single, female travelers out there than gets noticed. And they show all travelers, male and female, that traveling solo doesn’t mean traveling lonely.
The Traveling Duos: Seattle Hosts, Betsy and Warren Talbot, and Philadelphia Hosts Keith and Amy Sutter. One couple is getting ready to leave and the other is just coming back. Doing the big trip together might scare some, but not these dynamic duos. Both couples have downsized their life in the US to make it possible to fulfill their dream abroad.
The Family Breakers: Dallas Hosts, Marc and Danielle Hoffmeister; and Orlando Hosts, Mike and Catrell Cooney. If you think education only begins outside the classroom, then these travelers might be your heroes. Breaking all conventional norms about how to raise a family, these travelers took their kids around the world to give them insight on how the world works through first-hand experience.
The Ex-Corporatists: New York Host, Sherry Ott, and Austin Host, Jeff Jung. Burned out and looking to recharge, Sherry and I left the corporate world to write the next chapter of our lives. Wanting to literally get away from it all and reconnect with our personal passions, we knew that being defined only by our career wasn’t the path we were meant to be on.
The Multiple Breakers: Minneapolis Host, Kirk Horsted, and New York Host, Michaela Potter. True world travelers, Kirk and Michaela are veterans of several career breaks. Their examples show that if you liked your first career break, there is always a way to take a second one, or third, or fourth!