For the second year in a row, travel-lovers convened in 17 cities to confab about career breaks at MeetPlanGo. In MSP, I was annointed chief host and bartop-washer, and was again humbled by our attentive guests and talented panel. Such events become a blur—even before the after-party. Yet many observations remain vivid…
Who’s going to show up? You never know til they walk in. I was surprised by two skews: Young and hungry; and older and restless. The youth have toured and yearn for more—while relishing the decades that await them like mysterious paths.
The older crowd surprised me. Theory: The economy has severed strings in some golden parachutes and retirement remains uncertain. Yet they trust their final years aren’t all work, save, fret—but also include ample travel and leisure.
One dominant demo in the career-break crowd runs female, 25-40, single, and educated. They were there too. But they were surrounded by diversity–confirming that you’re never too old to rock and roll, and never too young to aim high.
I so wish there would have been time to chat with every guest. But the hours disappeared like, well, sands in an hourglass. After the group had dispersed, I found myself virtually alone at the bar, snarfing a midnight supper and reflecting over (and into) a glass of Zinfandel that, as Sly sings, “Everybody is a Star.” To wit…consider:
- One young fashion student graduates soon. Her dream is to get to New Zealand, see the land known as “Godzone,” and become a period-costumer for movie-makers.
- One couple has realized retirement isn’t yet around the corner. So they’ve started up an online business that allows them to work on the move; they just happened to be in town.
- A young photographer surprised me by being able to share affection for the islands of St. Vincent and Bequia. Stateside, I’ve met no other person who’s spent time on both of those West-Indian gems.
Big ups and thanks go out to my panel, an impressive crew who willingly gave of their time, knowledge, and passion.
- Leif Pettersen remains a walking, talking travel encyclopedia—with 47 countries under his belt, to say nothing of his Lonely Planet books and successful blogs.
- Julie DuRose charms with yarns and pics of love lost in faraway lands, friends found everywhere, and the singular bliss attained when globe-hopping.
- Kara McGuire embraces her role as money mentor, and shares insights about everything from credit card bests to retirement angst. Her big BreakAway lies ahead, but she DOES use all her vacation time—and…who knows?
- Finally, Layne Kennedy dazzles with chronicles and photos from the world over. As if to remind us that good photography is more eye than gear, he proudly announced his new book, Snap, shot entirely with an iPhone and apps.
Snap? Appropos! The career-break tribe has been buzzing about Meet, Plan, Go for a year. And then, Snap! It’s over. Like a BreakAway itself; these things can take years of patience and months of planning. And then, Snap!
But the way of life carries on. The memories live on. And the stories have endless characters, but no ending.
Thanks again. Keep the faith. And happy sails.