Taking a break from the US of A might be a very smart move. Or one of the biggest mistakes of your life.

Are you thinking of abandoning the American Titanic for a lifeboat abroad, traveling overseas to spend a year or two teaching English in Japan, blogging from Buenos Aires or just bumming around Laos on $5 per day? Here’s something to consider before you take the plunge.

Apart from his well-intentioned and misguided attempts to sustain the unsustainable U.S. economy, President Obama has sent two strong messages in his short time in office. Both of these messages have implications for people like me, who struggle to balance extended overseas travel with the desire for a more stable lifestyle that is grounded in one community.

Americans Welcome!

The first message, directed to the global community, is that the Bush era of bellicose foreign policy is over. Obama is determined to usher in a new era of international cooperation, and has even reached out to Iran.

These diplomatic overtures and the change of tone in Washington mean one thing for travelers: After 8 long, shameful years, it’s once again OK to be an American abroad. Even in places like Iran, strangers are greeting Americans with hospitality. Job opportunities are opening overseas, and even the State Department is hiring. Vibrant countries with low costs of living look like great harbors to weather the economic storm.

What an opportunity for American travelers! But don’t buy that one-way ticket to Tehran just yet…

Better To Put Down Roots?

The second message from the new administration suggests this may be a time to get grounded. An organic vegetable garden is being planted on the South Lawn of the White House.

The symbolic gesture of the White House vegetable garden demonstrates the importance of getting back to basics, renewing our connection to the Earth and nurturing healthy, local and self-sufficient economies.

No matter how you break it down, jetting off to another continent in search of work or adventure is not a sustainable activity. Shouldn’t we learn to grow our own potatoes instead of sampling an international buffet? Shouldn’t the recession be a time for reflection?

What say you, readers? Please leave a comment below.