They Met, They Planned, They Went
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered. This quote has often been credited to Julius Caesar after he conquered Pharnaces in Asia Minor in five days. I thought about these words at the conclusion of last week's Meet Plan Go event. Meet Plan Go, in its first year, took place last Tuesday, September 14th in 13 cities across the U.S., bringing together people around the country to learn about taking career breaks to travel the world. Over 1,400 people came to the various events to learn from other travelers about the implications of taking a career break and how to do it. This included networking opportunities, discussions and panels with travelers who had done this themselves. I was very fortunate enough to be a part of the New York City Meet Plan Go. I spent the afternoon with two of the hosts, Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter. I had briefly met Sherry at the Travel Blogger's Exchange in New York City in June, but this was really the first time I had spent time with either, although I had heard so many good things about both. Even that afternoon was such an enriching time and I was like a sponge hearing the stories and experiences of two people that had done this for years. What made it all the sweeter, was that I myself, four days prior, walked into my office for the last day to hit the road and become a full-time travel writer.
Meet Plan Go in NYC was held at one of my favorite bars, Professor Thom's, providing somewhat of a small, intimate atmosphere that fostered more networking opportunities. After some time of ordering drinks and meeting people, the headliner was the panel that included both Sherry and Michaela, as well as Michaela's husband Michael Bontempi, Jennifer Baggett of the Lost Girls, Brook Silva-Braga from the travel documentary A Map for Saturday and Freelance Writer Marie Elena.
I really liked how the panel at Meet Plan Go really tackled a lot of people's fears. There are fears about safety, money, language and the list could go on and on. The question really isn't why should you travel, but it's why shouldn't you? Jennifer from the Lost Girls stated that taking a career break to travel completely flipped her worldview upside down. She traveled as one person, and came back another. The panel discussed things like traveling on a small budget and choosing to spend time in cheaper destinations, such as Latin America or Southeast Asia. I could really relate to Marie Elena, who is a freelance writer like myself and has used that to travel. I've never been in a position where I could save tons of money; however, I'm now in a position where I can writer regularly for travel websites and publications and it gives me the freedom to support my travels, while also working from anywhere I want.
As the first Meet Plan Go has now concluded, if anything, it confirmed that this was what I was meant to do. There was a reason that as early as age 8 I could fearlessly board a plane by myself. Travel has always been a part of my life and I cannot imagine ever being without it. As I've thought about what took place on September 14th 2010, I thought about what a statement it would be if months down the road as preparations are made for the next Meet Plan Go event, if hundreds of people who attended this year's event could at that time say: "We met, we planned, we went". Talk about a story that is worth telling and even more worth living. I went, now almost two weeks ago and already my life is better for it. As I think about it, I can't help but remember some of Mark Twain's greatest words:
“20 years from now, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did. So throw off the bowlines; sail away from the safe harbour; catch the trade winds in your sails. Dream. Explore. Discover.”