Portland was just one of 17 cities nationwide to host the 2011 Meet, Plan, Go! Event, aimed at inspiring, motivating and educating people to take a break from their careers and travel the world. Here in Portland, the small event space The Cleaners, located in downtown Portland, filled quickly with a crowd of locals eager to drink beer, eat pizza and discuss world-wide adventure.
Chris Guillebeau, global traveler and author of The Art of Non-Conformity, gave the comical and entertaining keynote address, beginning with the Airport Code Challenge game, where he flashed the three-letter airport codes on the screen and the audience had to shout out the answer if they knew it. Some were pretty obscure, like Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Bali (DPS) and Tocumen International Airport in Panama (PTY).
Chris made an interesting point about the commonalities between people who travel and explore the world. They generally possess two qualities: the enthusiasm for adventure, also described as a desire to be pushed out of his or her “comfort zone”, and the willingness to make it happen—to go beyond the dream of travel and to actually put a plan into action. This can be in the form of applying for a job/internship abroad, taking a semester off of school, or quitting your job, selling all your possessions (aside from what fits in your backpack) and hitting the road. However travel fits into your life, it is always meaningful, you always learn something, and you rarely (probably never!) wish you had stayed home instead.
After Chris, we moved on to hearing from a panel of four Portlanders in all stages of the travel process. One woman had traveled around the world alone for a year in 2008, one woman is planning an indefinite trip around the world with her husband starting next summer, and one couple is in the midst of biking around the globe, one continent at a time. Sean, the emcee and co-director of the event host BootsAll Travel, asked the panelists a series of questions having to do with planning, preparing and implementing a huge travel adventure. We discussed everything from how to quit your job, how to sell your couch, and how to pay taxes while abroad. The panelists were insightful, genuine, and honest, and they threw in some funny travel anecdotes to keep the crowd entertained.
Based on the excitement of the attendees and the genuine enthusiasm from the panelists, I would guess most people came away from the event inspired and eager to plan a trip of their own. Meet, Plan, Go! showed that everyone who has a desire to travel, can travel. Period. You may have to sacrifice owning that house and taking that promotion, but if global adventure and cultural exploration is something that you can’t stop dreaming of, don’t let anything stand in your way. As John le Carré once said, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
More information on Meet, Plan, Go! can be found on their website at meetplango.com.