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Escaping to Sri Lanka and Meet, Plan, Go

Swimming with Dolphins

Swimming with Dolphins (photo: Dave Rudie)

[I] didn’t plan on going to Sri Lanka.

We’d escaped the chill of our home in the rain forests of Juneau, Alaska and got as far as London before realizing it was nearly as cold and wet there in February.

A friend had suggested checking out ‘bucket shops’, the discount airline ticket agencies in the back pages of Time Out magazine.

At the agency we selected all matter of seats were available over the next two days. We wanted a warm tropical setting and to help us acclimate to this start of 6 months of back-packing, an English-speaking land. The spice islands of Madagascar were rumbling with a revolution so Sri Lanka it was.

At the time flying across the world on a Russian airline seemed thrilling. Dealing with the 24 hour journey was less so. We’d left our winter woolens with friends in London to lighten our packs.

The author (Elaine) boarding a small airplane

The author (Elaine) boarding a small airplane

It didn’t seem like such a good idea when we had to deplane in St. Petersburg via a frozen stairway to a tarmac shuttle and wait in the concourse for hours.

Had we known about Meet, Plan, Go all this would’ve been so much easier.

Being a bit impulsive is fine most of the time, but with more preparation we’d have saved ourselves a lot of angst, expense and perhaps met a few fellow travelers to share their experiences with jet lag and budgeting for a long trip.

That community didn’t exist until Meet, Plan, Go was founded about 5 years ago.

Sherry Ott, one of the co-founders of MPG, was a dissatisfied cubicle dweller when she hatched the plan to escape New York City and explore the world.

During her first year on the road she realized there was no place like home and she didn’t want to be there.

The lure of living on the go was inspiring and she discovered many like-minded nomads but few Americans.

In the intervening six years she’s set up her blog, Otts World and then co-created Meet, Plan, Go in an effort to get more North Americans to take career breaks and enjoy long-term travel.

Today there are over ten cities sharing that mission, all planning a big event on October 16th. Each city is featuring travel experts, authors, bloggers and photographers – all experienced long-term travelers.

There’s inspiration for everyone with panel discussions, opportunities to dig deeper at round table dialogues and other resources.

Several companies are sponsoring gifts and free trips. Hosteling International, Intrepid Travel and TEFL, the ESL academy, will be there. It’s going to be a one-stop shop to help travel dreams come true.

Last year’s attendees have shown that they’re more likely to actually take a big trip once they have the MPG guidelines and community spurring them on.

On my big journey, I could’ve learned about our wintry, Russian layover if I’d asked the right questions, but not about the unscheduled stop in Karachi, Pakistan where I surreptitiously shot pictures of machine gunners cruising the tarmac.

We might have discovered how much easier, cleaner and cheaper it was to stay in guest houses than hotels outside the capital of Colombo. Once we’d found the heat and realized how our blood, thickened from years in chilly climes, would make us comatose in the tropical villages, we ventured up into the mountains and temples of Kandy to acclimate.

With a bit more preparation that transition would’ve been so much easier. There’s no way you can prepare for every eventuality when you travel and I wouldn’t want to try. If the road beckons, you can go, you can make it happen or turn back to the everyday routine.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken on hosting the big Meet, Plan, Go night on October 16th in San Diego.

If I can’t be traveling, I love trading stories with adventurers. America needs its lay ambassadors to counter the world’s assumptions based on TV network models, media headlines and to temper our global, military entanglements.

Perhaps your boss will see it that way if you lay it out for them. Meet, Plan, Go can help you with that dialogue too.


Elaine at Seward Glacier, Alaska

Elaine at Seward Glacier, Alaska

About the Author:  Elaine J. Masters is a travel writer, speaker, scuba diver, yoga teacher and the award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga.

She also brings travelers together with three meetups in San Diego: Travel-Well, Meet-Plan-Go-San-Diego, and Travel-Massive-SD.


Podcast: The Gathering Road on WRN

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Friday 28th of September 2012

Have you watched on TV a dolphin who gave birth? My first to time to watch such like that. It is really amazing.

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