The Girl Who Always Meets But Never Plans

China Town London

Lisa Lubin, the host of the Chicago Meet Plan Go annual event, knows me pretty well—mostly, because she can’t seem to get rid of me.

I first discovered Meet Plan Go in 2010, not too long after I just graduated college with a degree in magazine journalism, which honestly, feels like it was a  waste of time and money. Mostly money, because you guys, that was a lot of money—probably more than the average student has to pay back. Who came up with the bright idea to attend a ridiculously overprice private art school, anyway? And, on top of that, live in the dormitory for a year adding to the ridiculous pricing?


I Decorated My Dorm Bathroom With Internet Slang

I Decorated My Dorm Bathroom With Internet Slang


And Decorated My Closet Door With A Little Mariah Carey

And I Decorated My Closet Door With A Little Mariah Carey

(Dad, if you’re reading this, which you’re probably not, I did not get the traditional college experience from my one-year dorm experience like you wanted—especially, since you called me every weekend wanting me to come home because you knew that it was only a short bus ride away. We are not rich white people, dad. We don’t have money for dorms or private art schools, or have the luxury to get a new toothbrush every three months like the dentist industry recommends. It is three months, right?)

(No offense to rich white people, I still love you guys. And I’m not just saying that because I really want one you guys to buy me a pony.)

Where was I? Oh, right. MPG.

I was at home during the day, jobless and broke, watching the WGN Midday News when Lisa came on as a guest. MPG was fairly new during this time, if I’m not mistaken. Lisa shared her travel adventures with the city of Chicago—the ones who were at home during the day on a weekday watching the news in their PJ’s, anyway. Lisa let us know about an upcoming Meet Plan Go event. The idea is to meet like-minded people, plan your trip(s) and then go. And they provide  a ton of information, too. I should probably start paying more attention to the talks about money and banking stuff instead of the pretty pictures.

Anyway, I thought, this was exactly what I want to do. Travel, and then travel some more. And then when I’m done with that, maybe I’ll do a little traveling. But the question then is still the question now, how?

I was intrigued by Lisa’s story and this travel network. She was an ABC producer for ten year until she decided to take a sabbatical to travel the world, which turned into a near 4 year adventure. Who is this lady, I thought. And how can I be more like her?

Lisa had me at meet.

Lisa Posing In A Picture I Made Her Take WIth Me

Lisa Posing In A Picture I Made Her Take WIth Me

I waited for a spot to open up on the sold out event, and as soon as one opened up, I RSVP’d. I attended the event, not knowing what to expect. Needless to say, it inspired the crap out of me. THE CRAP OUT OF ME. I mean, aside from Lisa’s story and the stories of the travel panelists, there was an introduction video. It was kind of like a slideshow of pictures of different travely places with the song, Dare You To Move, playing in the background. I had goosebumps, and I almost cried.

I told my dad that night I was going to quit my job and travel the world! He gave me a crazy look and said, “You don’t have a job.” This, I guess, was true because it kind of was true. He also said he was going to come to the next MPG event to tell these people to stop putting crazy thoughts in his daughter’s head.

After the event, I sent Lisa an email saying something dorky like, “Blah, blah, blah. I want to travel but have no money.”

And this is how I became the girl who just meets.

I attended the Chicago event the following year. And I’ve attended Lisa’s causal events that she occasionally hosts at a bar of some sort, which is more like a networking event and meeting people who all have the same interest in travel. I go to these events as often as I can, and they’re always fun and inspiring. I attend so much that Lisa calls me a MPG alumnus because she always manages to see this face.

crazy hair

Sometimes, I wonder, will I always be the girl who meets but never plans?

People I meet at these events always have amazing stories about where they’ve been or where they’re about to go. Whereas, I, on the other hand, always have the same story.  It pretty much goes like this: Well, I want to travel. But I don’t have money. And I don’t know where to get said money for this travel thing that I want to do or where to begin.

I know, lame, right?

Though, we usually talk about travel, we talk about other things, too. Like, when I met Diana at the last event I attended. Sure, we talked about travel, but we mostly talked about speed dating and Sex and The City.

See, I told her about my awful experience when I tried speed dating one time—and one time only, and she seemed disappointed because she’s always wanted to try speed dating even though she’s kind of married now. And I told her that she should do it anyway. But instead of just going alone and possibly risking divorce, she should go with her husband and they should pretend like they don’t know each other and then at the end of the night, they’ll realize that they’re the only ones meant for each other and those other losers will watch them walk out of the speed dating event hand in hand. It’s really a great idea.

However, we agreed that it’s more likely for us to see the third Sex and The City movie when and if it ever comes out even though we don’t see that happening any time soon since the second movie was kind of a bust.  But we’ll still watch it anyway. Because that’s what devoted TV fans do.


Really, you guys, that’s what travel talk is all about anyway—speed dating and Sex and The City. But when I do talk about travel with people at MPG events, it’s not always “Blah, blah, blah. I want to travel but have no money”.

Like, when I keep running into Katie, I almost always put in a sentence like, “I’ll probably end up living under a bridge in Australia.” Because, you guys, not to brag or anything, but Australia has some nice bridges. Not that I’ve ever been to Australia so I can’t really say that with true confidence.

Erm, anyway. After attending like 50 million MPG events, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be the girl who just meets. I don’t want to be the girl lying awake at night wondering what if?

I don’t want to always wonder, what else is out there—a discovery unmade, a world unseen, a life not lived. I don’t want to be the girl who always meets.

I think it’s time to start planning, you guys. And, then go.

What do you think?

Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” -Barbara Sher


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  1. How is your Pushy Friend thing going on btw?

    I (almost) got a very similar degree. Anthropology of culture. Which wasn’t a waste of money since studies were free in our country, but it was definetely waste of time. Sort of. I mean, I feel now super hipster-y talking about Lacan and post-colonial discourse, but for some reason people don’t want to pay for me talking about Lacan and post-colonial discourse.

    My plan is to move abroad, to Norway and save up there doing shitty jobs. It’s been a long tradition for young, educated, ambitious, well-read people (akhem) to go abroad after graduation, to become babysitters, bartenders, waiters and workers. Simply because a waitress salary was 2 to 3 times bigger than a salary of an employee of marketing and media industry.

    So… this is my decision. I give up (for now!) working for big corporations in shiny skyscrapers for bringing food to other people. I give up prestige for money. And I need money to get a financial stability and savings for traveling. End of story.

    I’m telling you the story of my life, because I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. Maybe the way to go may be just looking for a job in different places. Looking for different jobs. Maybe looking for not-so-cool jobs. I know a girl who was working in a fishing industry in Sweden for 3 months. She was waking up at 4.30, peeling fish every day for 10 hours for 3 months and eating the cheapest food. But this way she earned money for her 6 months trip. (Yeah, I realize that for Americans working in Sweden or Norway is much more difficult than for us, but still, maybe there are jobs like this in the US)

  2. Awwww, you’re the greatest Priya. I’ve definitely slated a night for SATC3 (because damnit, the movie will happen!). Ha ha ha, and speed dating – we must make this happen!

  3. Priya!!! Loved this post. You are a fun writer. Keep doing that.
    You will get there. I know it. It took me 10 years or so of dreaming and knowing I wanted to do ‘something’ like travel until it actually materialized. There were no blogs, no MPG, just some great books about backpacking or traveling RTW.
    You know my own video makes me cry every time. It actually feels, in some way, like I’m watching someone else’s life.
    See you at the next meet-up! 🙂

    • Thanks, Lisa! Thanks for the inspiration! I want your life! Let’s trade lives. It’ll be like a really cool Freaky Friday Moment.

  4. So happy Lisa told me about this post – I was smiling the whole way through! Please, please let us know when you start planning…you have indeed started planning…right? 🙂

    • Hi Sherry! Thanks for the comment! By “planning” do you mean the crazy conversations I have with myself in my head? If so, then yes, I have started planning 🙂

  5. Stop meeting. Just go. There are too many blogs and articles telling us HOW to do the money thing, so it’s honestly no longer an excuse. And you’ll get as tired of saying it as people are of hearing it. If you wait for the perfect circumstances, it’ll never happen. Just jump in w/ both feet, plan a budget, give yourself a deadline…AND GO!!!!

    That’s what I did, and I’m leaving in mid-Sept. to spend the rest of the year in Europe.

    Go. And good luck!! 🙂

    • I really do need to go. We are ( I am) always waiting for the right time to go but if you keep waiting for the right time, it will never come. Days turn into weeks, and weeks into years. Thanks for reminding me! Glad you enjoyed the post! Congrats on your upcoming trip!

  6. I see your point about having no money and it taking time to save money. So if that’s your biggest obstacle, what about getting a Working Holiday Visa for another country? That way you won’t need to to save as much money before you go as you’ll be able to legally work there. Most countries cap these at age 30 (not sure how old you are) but some are available up to age 35. I’m headed to NZ on one later this year myself. Just a thought!

    • I’ve been thinking about getting a working visa and moving to Australia as a starting point. I’ve found a a program that will help with the job/ housing finding process. However, I’m unsure if I should sign up with them or do a little extra research and figure it out on my own.

      That’s awesome you’re going to NZ!

  7. I just wrote a post about this … I think you might … just might want to also redefine how you see travel. I met a lovely young woman not too long ago that was going on and on about how she had never traveled. What she really should say was she had never been out of state. In truth she had traveled. She had been to so many beautiful cities, small towns and fantastic – gorgeous – places in her own “backyard”. Sometimes just a 2 hour drive away can be a wonderful experience. She in return ended up becomign a local guide for folks travelign to her area.

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