Category Archives: Fellow Travelers

Why You Should (or Maybe Shouldn’t) Date a Traveler


Photo by JD via Flickr

Recently a number of stories based on the topic of why you should date a girl who travels have been floating around the web. These pro-dating pieces are on mark but to be fair there can also be counter arguments.

Trust me: I’m all for being with someone who is all about seeing the world. I would want that for the guy I’m with and I automatically expect the same thinking from him about me. Yet the reality is that the people we’re dating might have a hard time with our long-term traveling. Or trying to be a good sport about it.

These realizations should be kept in mind too. Heck, even the best travel writers can relate to the delicate balance between maintaining relationships while being on the road.


So here are some factors to keep in mind about why you should–or maybe shouldn’t–date a traveler:

  • We need – or feel the need – to keep going. Whether for business or for pursuit, travelers are always in motion: making sudden or long-term plans. If we see a mistake airfare sale or a travel opportunity such as conference or event that’s too good to pass up, we don’t. And like with just about any evolving career, if you work in the travel sector in some way, shape or form you have to stay current on what’s happening. And life is short, so we don’t want to dwell on “what ifs.”
  • We could be a part from you for a while. This is a biggie. From a week or two to even a month, or in between weeks, we might be heading out. Or we might be back home for a few days and then be taking off again. With professional travel writing, our assignments with publications or business agreements with companies require us to get the job done. We don’t mean to sound, well, mean but we have to shuffle off. However, we also know when it’s necessary to stay or come home (much desired rest, catching up on routines and projects or when our loved ones need us).
  • Technology can keep us connected. Just because we can’t be there with you in person doesn’t mean we can’t talk to you. As long as there is a good Wi-Fi signal, the beauty of Skype and FaceChat enable us to have conversations wherever we are. Even IMing through Facebook or Google Chat works fine. If we’re posting pictures, it’s for social media reasons along with a bit of excitement in being there.
  • Please don’t get jealous. Yes, we know it sucks to hear when we’re off to a wow destination like Italy or Australia or any place that you’ve always wanted to go (but can’t or haven’t just yet). Note that in many cases our travels involve a lot of planning (research and financial) and preparing (looking at resources, weather or even availability) on our part. My story: An ex of mine assumed I hit up my folks for the cash I would need to go to London. Nope! I did a lot of budgeting, saving, watching flight/hotel prices, and taking on odd jobs for getting extra cash. With press trips, it’s work. Fun, but still work.
  • Maybe you come join us. Depending upon our arrangements, it might be possible for you to come along on our ventures. But remember, if it’s a business arrangement we there to work. Especially with press trips, daily itineraries are made with set times for outings, departures, and arrivals. It’s not likely or even a good idea for us to blow off our work (don’t even suggest it). If all else fails, perhaps we can meet up when we get back or post-press trip in our destination. Or if timing and location are in both our favors, perhaps you can come meet us.

Be assured that we still go places together, unless you don’t like to travel.

Taking a Career Break to Travel: a Q&A with Meet Plan Go

Yes, there are days when we want to quit our jobs instantly and leave our cubicles behind. But with some advance planning, would you go ahead and do it?

If you seek to find your way in this world, while fulfilling a dream of seeing it, consider taking a career break or sabbatical. Recently, I had a virtual Q & A with Sherry Ott of Meet Plan Go – a leading career break movement in North America – on planning and taking this time off and about their upcoming conference in New York City.

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How did Meet Plan Go start?
The idea for a career break resource came into my mind when I was initially planning my trip in 2006 because I struggled – a lot.  There was no information out there about how to do long-term travel or an adult gap year from the American perspective.  I found a few books from the UK but it wasn’t the same. I was really frustrated and nervous about taking the leap but felt very alone. I mainly used the only resource out there to help plan at the time –

Meet Plan Go actually started when I met (co-founders) Michaela Potter and Michael Bontempi in New York City after they had also recently finished a three-month career break. We decided to take our passion for the benefits of a traveling break and create a website. It started as Briefcase to Backpack and launched in 2009 and has taken off since then. Via our website and events, you’ll meet like-minded, supportive people, get tools and tips to plan your career break travels, and find inspiration to go by hearing/reading other career breakers’ stories.

How does taking a career break help a person?

Career break benefits are numerous. Most importantly, getting away from of our day-to day-routines is essential for effective thinking. Combine your career break with travel and reap even more benefits. Exposure to cultures that function differently from our own – from language to social customs to public transport – awakens the brain, alerting it to a much broader range of possibilities for being, living, and creating. You will come back to the workforce with skills other peers won’t have.

What factors should a person put into planning a career break?

That’s different for every person. But one of the first things to consider and figure out is budget. Figuring out how much you have to spend or how much you want to spend sets the other decisions in motion; where to go, how long to go, what to do. Next you’ll want to consider what you hope to get out of your break. Are you looking for time away to contemplate a career change, want to knock things off your bucket list, travel before you settle down, etc. All of these things are factors.

We have articles about the various planning choices, a free online 30-day course, and an in-person workshop on September 20 in New York City. But be careful to not get too caught up in planning. We normally recommend that you plan the first third of your trip, then leave the rest open so you can take your temperature and see what it is that you want to do next. Often when people get on the road, their desires and needs change so you need to leave things open to accommodate those changes.

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The current economy might make people hesitant to leave their jobs. Why would one still consider taking a career break?

Look, there’s never going to be the perfect time to leave your job and take a risk. Never. So stop waiting for one. You either have the desire to make change and travel or you don’t. If you have that desire, then you’ll want to check out Meet Plan Go, as we are good at fueling it. But if you want warm fuzzies and security in your decision all I can say is that I’ve NEVER talked to anyone who regretted their decision to take a break and travel – NEVER.

I recently wrote an article about how a career break actually enhances your career and learned a lot by interviewing people who used their break as career defining. You can use the time to figure out a career change or focus, or simply revitalize. You will come back with additional skills and you will stand out in a crowd of applications as someone who isn’t afraid to take risks and someone who knows what they want.

What issues might someone face when taking a career break and what can they do to handle and avoid them?

The big fear is always money. But you don’t need a lot of money to travel.  Where there’s a will there’s a way. Traveling long term is actually cheaper than living day to day in our current lifestyles. And it’s certainly cheaper than taking vacations. If you don’t have much saved up, then you explore ways that you can work on the road – which can be a really rewarding cultural experience. You can teach English, consult, teach yoga, work at a farm, house sit, and even be a tour guide.  Anything is possible, and by traveling slower and more locally, you’ll keep costs down and meet a bunch of people who will connect you to opportunities to make money if that’s what you are looking for.

Meet the Ladies Behind WHOA Travel

whoa1When Danielle Thorton and Allison Fleece met while planning a trip to Kilimanjaro in 2012, the ladies realized that they had two major things in common: a zeal for adventure and a high energy level to pursue it. After going on their life-changing excursion, these fast friends founded WHOA (Women High On Adventure) Travel, a boutique business that brings women together through Bucket List itineraries to provide transforming travel experiences.

Recently, I had a virtual Q & A with Allison about WHOA travel and how females can venture more into adventure travel. Here’s what she said to say.


Why does WHOA focus on adventure travel?

There is something very exciting about adventure travel, that forces you to physically and mentally step outside of your comfort zone.  We believe in the idea of women coming together to meet challenges that sustain other women.  Our model has been  to connect women to take on adventures together while simultaneously connecting with and giving back to women locally in the regions we visit.  This has been an amazing way to combine physical activity with culture and sustainable travel all at the same time.

From your perspective, how does adventure travel appeal to women? Also, what misconceptions do you think women may have about it?

Women want adventure just as much as anyone.  Sometimes people are held back from taking on adventures that are outside their comfort zone because they may not have friends or others to adventure with or there is an innate fear of the unknown.

But, WHOA really brings together like-minded women, women who should know each other, but their paths haven’t crossed and that makes these adventures more comfortable for people.  Some misconceptions that we’ve heard women have about adventure travel is that they don’t think they are fit enough to do some of the trips we do.  But in actuality, we stand by the notion that our trips are 90 percent mental.

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a triathlete to hike Kilimanjaro or to hike to Machu Picchu.  You just have to have a little drive and will. We love the expression, “Mind over Matter” because that really is what it’s all about. Where there is a will, there really is a way.


What advice would you give women interest in giving adventure travel a try?

 You have to go for it.  If you have any desire to push yourself and experience the world in a new and different way, you just have to do it! We have a really supportive group of women who come together to take on adventures, and that creates such a positive energy on our trips, we promise you it will be worth it. Also, there may never be the perfect time, but you have to make it a priority and try…Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back, because you will regret the chances not taken.

How can they physically prepare themselves for these types of trips?

 We always say the best training is to just get out there and walk, hike, run, do anything you can to get on your feet and stay on your feet! Break in your boots, and wear your backpack (daypack) that you will be using on our trips.  Stairmasters are great and taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a plus too, to get used to the vertical trekking.

What’s next for WHOA Travel?

We are heading to India at the end of the year to do research and exploration for a WHOA trip in 2015. We have big plans to turn WHOA into more than just adventure travel, but for now we are looking to have an adventure on every continent… and we are almost half way there!


5 Reasons for Going to the New York Travel Festival

Got bit by the travel bug? Want to see more places but not sure where to go next? Then spend next weekend (April 26 and 27) at the New York Travel Festival, to learn more about seeing around the world from those who are already doing it.

At this two-day event in NYC, the who’s who of experts in both consumer and industry travel will be on hand to give straight-up advice minus the sales pitch. The festival opens on Saturday, April 26, at Bohemian National Hall, at 321 E 73rd Street, and then on Sunday, April 27, switches over to Hostelling International-New York, at 891 Amsterdam Ave.


To firm up your travel plans, here are five good reasons for going to NY Trav Fest:

1) Have One-on-One Time
Seeking personal travel advice? An “Experts’ Corner” gives NY Trav Fest ticket holders the chance to pre-schedule brief meetings with participating experts. This college of travel knowledge will cover just about every destination (including Antarctica) and travel type (family, solo, budget, gay-friendly). Experts include “Nomadic Matt” aka Matt Kepnes; adventure filmmaker/TV host Ryan Van Duzer; Tawanna Browne Smith of “Mom’s Guide to Travel”; and Associated Press travel reporter Scott Mayerowitz.8701129516_a423200acd_z

2) Let’s Be Technical

From apps to maps, technology keeps changing how we travel. Mostly for the better. Open to everyone, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” is a special daylong seminar with sessions highlighting the direction that travel tech is heading. Talks will focus on how mobile and social media are influencing travel such as one led by Google employees Ting Ting Yan and Sarah Robinson. Held in conjunction with Travel 2.0, a networking group for travel startups, innovation and technology, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” will also welcome area travel startups that will showcase their products and services as well.


3) Get Down to Business
From travel agents to tourism board members, Saturday’s portion of NY Trav Fest will have specific content just for you. In industry-only tracks, learn more about hot business topics and trends on improving business and customer relations. Masterclasses and workshops also are part of the weekend format, with sessions also covering the professional side of travel. Learn how to market your brand wise or get better at reaching out to niche markets. Bring along extra business cards, as Saturday ends with an industry/media networking reception.


4) Listen to Travel Innovators
Sunday’s program will welcome two world travelers that have made names for themselves yet still want to help others travel too. At noon, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world, will deliver the Sunday keynote. Then at 4 p.m., Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the tour company, G Adventures, will tell how “Transformative Travel” has made him the entrepreneur he is today.


5) Find Inspiration
Need more? During a session called “Travel Babel,” attendees will be able to hear neat stories from travelers – either in person or through a pre-recorded video – who will describe what was their A-Ha moment on the road. As every traveler’s story has a beginning and the journey goes off in many directions, there will be plenty of tales to tell. And with breaks throughout both days and a closing party on Sunday night, go ahead and swap stories with fellow attendance.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit All ticket holders receive discounts on NYC tours offered before, during and after the festival by a selection of New York City–based tour companies in partnership with the NY Trav Fest.

Ticket prices are as follows:
Consumer Weekend Ticket: $45 in advance ($60 at the door)
Industry Weekend Ticket: $100 in advance ($150 at the door)
Sunday only: $15
For tickets, visit

Editor’s note: I am on the Planning Committee for the 2014 New York Travel Festival. Photos courtesy of the New York Travel Festival.

Ladies, Get Set for Inaugural Women’s Travel Fest

Ladies, want to meet and learn from like-minded female travelers? Itching to hit the road but need a push on doing so? Then make a date to attend next year’s inaugural Women’s Travel Fest.
Created by Go! Girl Guides, this one-day conference on Saturday, March 8 in New York City is a fit for any woman who wants to travel but needs a self-confidence boost. The event schedule will feature discussions on how to handle common concerns that females often face on the road, directly by women that have experienced them. And these experts can provide you with sound advice.
Discussion panels will focus on specific travel needs, ranging from going solo to health/safety issues and LGBT and voluntourism.
WTF jump
As each lecture will be led by an incredible woman, so far for me two offerings really stand out. First, one of the main speakers is Sarah Shourd, an author and activist who spent 410 days in solitary confinement as a political hostage in Iran. The second highlight is a planned talk on a women’s “how-to” for traveling through the Middle East and Africa, as these places are often “dream trips.”
In addition to these talks, a travel marketplace will feature different vendors and giveaways. Lunch is included in the admission price, and the day ends with a festive happy hour!
Hours for the Women’s Travel Fest will be from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for Contemporary Art at 172 Norfolk Street, near E. Houston Street in New York City.
Early-bird tickets go on sale tomorrow. For ticket prices and more information visit this link.

Here’s Why I Go Places… And You Should Too

July starts this Monday (in the U.S., that is) and I’ll be getting ready to leave for upcoming excursions. While I’m going to keep quiet about where I’m heading for now, I want to use this post to encourage you to get out there too.

Maybe you want to explore Europe by rail or go backpacking through Southeast Asia. Or even trek off the map to remote places (I don’t know if even I could do that). Or perhaps you’re content with seeing more of your home country. To all of you, I say, “Just. Go.”

Doing it? Great!

Hesitant. Why?

Can’t. Why not?

399710_4325971780202_280524651_nIt’s understandable that many of us are putting off the idea of traveling right now, or not even considering it. The job market is still shaky, layoffs still happen, and wallets are getting tighter. I know and have met many people who have been impacted by the current economy. And I have been too.

So, why still encourage travel? Well, first, travel is not only about taking week-long vacations or booking a hotel or flight reservation. Or feverishly surfing through third-party search engines for discounts and package deals (well, it’s a good idea). Rather, travel can be about exploring your surroundings or discovering new venues or locations. It’s just that simple.

And also that’s why I decided to name my blog, “She Is Going Places.”

Here are my other reasons for “going”:

– You learn more about the place you live in. How many people actually see much of their town, city, or even state/region? It’s like living in New York City and never going to the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building.

– You can recharge your batteries. When you’re unemployed or in a rut, being out and about can be good for your well-being.

– You develop a better sense of direction. For me, it’s a work in progress.

– Your self-confidence gets a boost.

– Most often, you can choose where, when and how you want to go.

– Your possibilities are limitless. Going to festivals, shows and other events counts.

– You discover new venues or attractions and/or give longtime places a second look.

– You have a great reason to get together with friends or relatives. (Having someone that is open to trying new things with you is best.) However, don’t be afraid to venture out on your own.

So, please get out there. Thanks.

A Nomadic Shares $$$-Saving Tips for Seeing the World

Similar to many career circles, travel writers and bloggers mix and mingle. While we take pictures, post words, or shoot videos of our destinations, it’s common for us to be working on a few side projects too. Like books.

MattA while ago, I befriended blogger Matt Kepnes, who is also known by his blog name, “Nomadic Matt.” He recently released his paperback “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day. Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter” (Perigee Trade, 2013), and, like other budding travelers, I wanted to get his advice.

Kepnes told me that his book came about from hearing the same story from people he meets: how they would love to see the world like he does, but can’t because of money, time, and so on. He sums up his work as “an outgrowth of people asking me how they can do travel too. This book is the answer to that question.”

With the motto, “travel cheaper, longer, smarter,” Kepnes is quick to dismiss the notion that travel requires a lot of dough.

A three-part guide, this book first breaks down the basics on getting the groundwork ready before your trip. Kepnes addresses often-searched topics such as saving on flights and accommodations. He also tells how to shop around for the right travel credit card and purchase travel insurance (which he highly recommends).

Book Cover1Section two offers additional tips for cutting down on expenses on activities, dining, and transportation. The book’s final part gets specific on being savvy with your Euros, Pesos, or whatever currency is used in your overseas destination. It goes by region, highlighting where Kepnes has been in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Central America and Southeast Asia. The $50 amount in the book’s title is based on his experience with budgeting his money as he traveled worldwide.

Kepnes’ own big adventure began in 2003 with a two-week trip to Costa Rica, which he credits as giving him the “travel bug.” Then the following year on a trip to Thailand, he began rethinking about what direction he wanted his life to take.

Back in the U.S., he put his plan for traveling the world into action. In July of 2006, he took the money he had saved from his job as a hospital administrator and headed off on a yearlong trek. This “year” led turned into 18 months on the road, and then six years.

When he returned home for a while in 2008, he started his blog to share his insights and advice. And, of course, he continued his journeys.

With first-time travelers, Kepnes finds they often make the mistake of not planning well. They neither budget properly nor realize the extent of what things can cost at their potential location. “Everyone has their own splurge that makes them happy,” Kepnes noted. “It’s up to you and how you want to budget your money.”

Kepnes, who presently lives in Manhattan, hopes his book will inspire others to get going. “You only live once, so definitely spend time traveling.” I agree, Matt!