This week we delve into one of the great travel cultural divides; adult gap years/career breaks/sabbaticals and how they differ between Americans and the rest of the world. The founders of Briefcase to Backpack, Sherry Ott and Michaela Potter, talk about the traveling career break. They interview Barbara Weibel of Hole in The Donut, an American who took a six-month career break and traveled the world. She provides some travel tips and inspiration for those considering taking a traveling career break.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 110 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Traveling culture

Why is there such a large cultural divide between how Americans, Brits, Canadians, and Australians look at travel? Americans think travel is a two-week vacation, as that’s all their time allows away from their jobs; they don’t feel like they can leave their careers behind for any longer, or it may be detrimental to their future. However, other cultures tend to consider long-term travel a ‘rite of passage’. For the few of us (Americans) who are out there doing long-term travel, it’s rewarding and can be life-changing. It’s Michaela and Sherry’s goal to inspire others that a career break isn’t a career-defeating prospect.

The social hurdles

If you do consider taking a traveling career break, then you must be prepared to face a number of social hurdles. These can include family concerns, financial concerns, feeling like your career is at risk — which all leads to an uncertain future. Michaela and Sherry share the reactions they faced from family and friends when they decided to take a traveling career break.

Inspiring other Americans to travel

Michaela and Sherry created Briefcase to Backpack based on their own career-break experiences. They share their personal experiences and the experiences of others in order to help other adults take the career break leap. The site covers the different stages involved in taking a career break as an adult; including contemplating a career break, preparing for long-term travel, dealing with life on the road and re-entering into the job market again. The site provides stories from a host of other Americans who have successfully taken a break from their jobs and traveled long term.

Interview with Barbara Weibel

Barbara is an American adult career-breaker who is featured on the site. Barbara’s career break came after a lifetime of working in jobs that didn’t satisfy her. As she describes it, she felt like the proverbial “hole in the donut” — solid on the outside, but empty on the inside. She shares the circumstances that led to her career break, how she decided where to go, and how she handled adapting to life away from the office and out on the road.

Share your career break story

Help Americans add ‘career break’ to their vocabulary.

If you have taken a career break and are interested in inspiring others to do the same then consider providing a ‘testimonial’ to Briefcase to Backpack. It’s a great way to relive your experience and help Americans add ‘career break’ to their vocabulary. Or, if you are one of those many people that are thinking about it, but can’t seem to pull the trigger, then visit Briefcase to Backpack and meet others who will convince you that it will be a rewarding, resume-building experience!

The best backpacks for travelling

And if you’re after the best backpacks for travelling with? Look no further.

Your thoughts on "Briefcase to Backpack podcast"

  • Loved this episode! This is my favorite of the most recent podcasts. Thanks again for sharing, Sherry!

    on September 1, 2009 at 3:40 am Reply
  • So glad to hear that Jamie Ann. We're hoping to do more interviews and guest posts like this soon.

    on September 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm Reply
  • It's always good to know other Americans are out there traveling long term. I mean taking career breaks. :)

    on November 24, 2009 at 11:05 am Reply

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