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I traveled a lot in 2010-2011. My travel blog is at

I volunteered in Cambodia for nine months at Angkor Hospital for Children, which provides free or low-cost health care in Siem Reap. I worked as a web applications programmer on their patient medical record system, thanks to a posting on Idealist.

When preparing to go overseas, I went to Meet, Plan, Go, an event that encourages people to do long-term travel. I won a month-long home stay in Lyon, France in the sponsor raffle. My French family were welcoming and gracious hosts. I'm deeply thankful to them for opening their home and giving me a glimpse of everyday life in France.

Part of the fun of travel is new languages. I'm a language nerd too- I majored in in Latin and Ancient Greek (archaic syntax - great training for a software career), with a couple semesters of Japanese for variety. I learned a little Cambodian in Siem Reap, but with my terrible accent, it was more useful for entertainment than communication. I learned some French at the local Alliance Française before going to Lyon. French was much easier, with the head start from Latin, and I've gotten farther with it than any other language.

Long-Term Travel

Looking for inspiration or tips for extended travel? Meet, Plan, Go holds an annual evening event in a dozen cities, as well as free local meetups. The website has how-tos on practical topics.

Career Break Secrets also has good articles on planning a break.

Volunteer Travel

Volountourism is a tricky business. Our good intentions can cause harm by undercutting local businesses or encourage unhealthy practices that we wouldn't allow in our own communities. It's difficult to tell from a distance whether an organization is on the level.

Here are some tools to help you make the best choice.