The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. (New York: HarperCollins, 2006). This story is really a beautifully told parable that will provide anyone with the inspiration to embark on a personal journey. Through the eyes of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd who leaves his flock to pursue his dreams of treasure in Egypt, we learn what it truly means to embark on not just a journey, but a pilgrimage. Highly recommended reading.
Authentic: How to Make a Living By Being Yourself, by Neil Crofts. (Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley, 2003). Part memoir, part how-to, this book will inspire you to examine the difference between what you are doing and what you want to do. An excellent book to take along with you on your journey.
The Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures, Internships, Summer Jobs, Seasonal Work, Volunteer Vacations, and Transitions Abroad (Paperback) by Michael Landes. (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2005). This book is an excellent resource for those truly needing a career break, but don’t have a clue where to start. With over 1,000 opportunities to try something totally new, you’re bound to find some inspiration here.
Do’s and Taboos Around the World, edited by Roger E. Axtell (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1993). This oldie but goodie contains a treasure trove of information designed to prevent you from making embarrassing gaffes while exploring new cultures.
Europe’s Monastery and Convent Guesthouses by Kevin J. Wright. (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 2004). A complete guide to monasteries and convent guest houses throughout Europe.
Healing Centers and Retreats by Jennifer Miller. (Santa Fe, NM: John Muir Publications, 1998). Includes a directory for all fifty states and Canada as well as international locations.
International Directory of Voluntary Work by Louise Whetter and Victoria Pybus (Princeton, NJ: Vacation-Work, 2007). A comprehensive guide to a plethora of volunteering opportunities.
Peterson’s Learning Adventures Around the World, edited by Peter S. Greenberg (Princeton, NJ: Peterson’s, updated yearly). Excellent resource for finding unique travel, volunteer, and work experiences around the globe.
Sanctuaries: The Complete United States. A Guide to Lodging in Abbeys, Monasteries, and Retreats by Jack and Marcia Kelly (New York: Harmony Books, 1996).
So You Want to Join the Peace Corps by Dillon Banerjee. (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2000). For those considering unplugging for longer than one year, this book provides a frank look at the process and benefits of joining the Peace Corps.
Teaching English Abroad, 7th Edition by Susan Griffith. (United Kingdom: Vacation Work, 2005). All the information you need on everything from training to finding a job. Also provides an extensive country-by-country listing of language schools.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Richard Howard. Written as a children's tale, this book can offer all of us important lessons on what it means to search, and when it's time to stop.
The Sabbatical Coach - Clive Prout, Lifestyle Entrepreneur Coach
SunCoach -Sunny Schlenger, Professional Organizer, Speaker and Author
Clothing and Equipment for the Traveler
Unplugging in the Movies
Get inspired to unplug with the following films.
Life or Something Like It (2002, PG-13). This quirky movie stars Angelina Jolie as a materialistic news reporter with aspirations of grandeur. When a psychic predicts her impending death, she undergoes a life transforming change of heart. Ed Burns plays her cameraman and love interest, and teaches her to live a more unplugged lifestyle.
The Holiday (2007, PG-13) A modern day tale of recovering from unrequited love and infidelity, this movie showcases the advantages of unplugging through a home exchange. Stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet.
The Matrix (1999, R). This film can be viewed in one of two ways: purely as a science fiction story, or as a parable for our current lives…living within and feeding the consumer driven matrix of our society.
The Motorcycle Diaries (1994, R, English subtitles). This film shows one of history’s most famous personages, Che Guevara, as he unplugs and finds his true calling. Regardless of your political affiliations, this is a truly inspiring film that aptly illustrates the joys, hardships, and lessons involved when embarking upon a personal journey.
Now, Voyager. (1943, UR) This Academy Award winning film stars Bette Davis as a woman who leaves it all behind to find love, fulfillment, and meaning on an oceanic voyage. A multilayered gem with multiple messages to inspire you.
General Travel Resources
These insurers offer travel insurance, trip cancellation protection, and coverage for lost baggage and travel accidents. Medical coverage for short term trips is also offered.
Access America, Inc. PO Box 90315 Richmond, VA 23286-4991. (800) 284-8300.
Travel Guard International. 1145 Clark Street, Stevens Point, WI 54481. (800) 782-5151.
Traveling with your pet? Check out www.petsonthego.com for information on domestic and international travel requirements as well as a comprehensive directory of pet friendly destinations. (Note: don’t think that if you are staying within the United States your pet is allowed to travel freely. Restrictions and regulations also apply to you.)
You can also check out the USDA’s website link for pet travel at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/pet_travel/pet_travel.shtml
International Travel Resources
Whether you are a US citizen wishing to travel abroad or a foreign citizen wishing to visit the US, the first place to start planning your trip is the State Department’s website: www.travel.state.gov Here you’ll find information on passports, visa requirements, and a country by country index.
When it comes to passports, make sure you apply for a passport at least three months ahead of time in order to avoid hefty expediting fees. If you already have a passport, make sure it will be valid for at least six months after your return to the U.S. (this is a requirement of many countries).
The CIA World Factbook is your best source of information on a country’s history, politics, and economy.
Upon arriving in a country, check in with the local embassy. For worldwide listings of embassies, visit www.embassyworld.com
Keep abreast of the latest travel restrictions at the Transportation Security Administration’s website: www.tsa.gov.
Download the free booklet, Know Before You Go, from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service at www.cbp.gov. This booklet is an excellent resource for understanding what you can and can’t bring back from your travels, and includes several other useful checklists and resources.
Driving overseas? Check out this site for information on whether or not you’ll need to obtain an international driver’s license.
The Centers for Disease Control website is an excellent travel resource. Here you can find information on everything from country-specific vaccinations and outbreaks, to general tips for traveling with children and pets. Two highly useful links on this page are the traveler’s health kit, and a section devoted to pre- and post-travel general health recommendations.
A word about vaccinations: it’s important to begin researching required immunizations at least six months before your intended departure. Many immunizations require booster shots several months after the initial injection, or must be given in a series. Your local county health department is actually your best resource for these types of questions, even if you live in a small town. Ask for the travel desk when you call.
If you’re considering joining a volunteer project, choose your program with care. The following are highly reputable and well known organizations, but there are literally hundreds of others to consider. When choosing an organization, it’s advisable to request contact information for previous volunteers. It’s also important to determine whether or not the organization has actual representation and staff on the ground as opposed to being simply being an intermediary.
Cross Cultural Solutions Whether you have a week or a month, CCS offers you the opportunity to transform a simple vacation into a life-changing experience. Of particular note are their Insight Abroad trips, which are ideal for those with only one week at their disposal.
Doctors without Borders Whether you are a doctor or an administrative professional, you can help save lives overseas. Field work positions are available for both types of volunteers, with preference given to those who can commit to at least six months. (Most administrative positions require a one year commitment.) Conversational ability in French is currently in high demand for former French colonies in Africa.
Global Vision International Whether you’d like to volunteer with indigenous communities or with wildlife, GVI has a program for you. Specializing in longer term programs, (usually at least one month in duration), this private organization is funded entirely by volunteer donations. Although you will pay a significant fee for your participation, the organization offers unique experiences that are not otherwise available to the general public. NOTE: DISCOUNTS APPLY. Mention Nancy Whitney-Reiter when booking!
Green Volunteers Website and guide for over 500 different volunteering organizations dedicated to wildlife and conservation projects. Organizations have been vetted by Green Volunteers, and free updates are available by emailing email@example.com. Also has links to Archaeo-Volunteers (archeological and cultural heritage volunteer opportunities) and World Volunteers (humanitarian volunteer projects).
Habitat for Humanity This organization offers a multitude of opportunities, from meaningful vacations to disaster relief. Once you’ve returned from your trip, you can continue to volunteer in your own back yard as well.
The Peace Corps For those interested in longer term travels: the minimum assignment is 27 months.
Volunteer Abroad Directory Searchable online directory of hundreds of volunteer opportunities. Most are fee based.
Retreats and Outdoor Adventures
Online directory of nature retreats: www.retreatsonline.com/nature.htm
Nurture Through Nature: Retreats and custom getaways for women. www.ntnretreats.com
Outward Bound Wilderness: www.outwardboundwilderness.org. This organization offers wilderness courses from one week on up, with a focus on personal improvement and mastering challenges.
Sierra Club: www.sierraclub.org/outings Choose from a wide variety of active, outdoor focused getaways.
Other Useful Websites
The Compact: A Bay-area group dedicated to proving that "more isn't better" and doing their bit to disengage from the prevailing consumerist ideology.
Conscious Planet: This website is dedicated to providing an easy to use directory of consumer-reviewed, "conscious" and environmentally friendly products.
Escape Artist: Comprehensive information on traveling and living overseas, including tips from expatriate residents
For solo travelers: check out www.1yearout.com. This site was created primarily as a resource for those taking a gap year or career break on their own. The site includes a comprehensive listing of hostels, budget accommodation, campsites, sporting activities, tours, and events for planning your adventure. Telephone numbers are included where available, as are websites. 1 Year Out.com believes you should "make sure you experience everything on offer first time round. The world has so much to explore, chances are you might not travel to the same place again, no matter how much you intend to go back."
If you own your home and don’t want to abandon it while you are unplugged, you might consider one of the two major home exchange programs. This option is great for those with pets, plants, or other obligations they can’t easily delegate.
HomeLink: Home Link has been offering international home exchanges since 1953. It has been featured in Time, the LA Times, and Fodor’s guides. An annual membership is currently $90, but their online directory is free for searching. Maintains offices in over thirty countries.
International Home Exchange Network: Offers both international and domestic home exchange programs. Includes over 15,000 worldwide listings.
Teach Abroad: Includes links to online teacher training, TEFL placement, and a personal assessment test to see if this is a good option for you.
Vocation Vacations: An organization that allows people to "test-drive" their dream job for short-term stints.
Know of another great resource? Use the contact tab on the left to send along your suggestions.