In response to a blog post I read a couple of weeks ago (I cannot really remember where the post was), I left a comment talking about the fact that my wife and I currently have enough cash saved to cover 14 months worth of living expenses in our “emergency fund”. It’s actually more than this if you consider the things we could cut out in a true emergency, such as IRA contributions and other non-mandatory spending.
Later that day, and several times since then, I’ve thought – what would I do if I really could just take a year off? Of course, there are all kinds of complications to actually doing this:
- We’d almost completely deplete our savings
- We’d essentially have to start our careers over
- We wouldn’t have enough money to do everything we might want to do with a full year off (such as extensive traveling) – we’d only be able to cover our current monthly expenses
But outside of the fact that doing something of this sort would likely severely disrupt your current career path, it’s really fun to daydream about what you might able to do with such a long break from the grind of a job. Workers in the US have less vacation time and other time off than almost every other industrialized nation in the world. Where we usually enjoy 2-3 weeks of vacation per year while our European counterparts typically receive 6 to 8 weeks of vacation time per year. This is a huge difference.
Long, road trip style vacations for us in the US are pretty much out of the question, unless you want to use all of your vacation time at once. Essentially the only people in the US that can take these extended types of trips are college students on summer break, retired people, self employed people, or other folks who are in either in between jobs/careers, or wealthy people who don’t really work anymore at all.
Despite the fact that I do not fit into any of those categories, it’s still fun to daydream about. Here is what I would do if I could take an entire year off from work:
- Embark on an extensive West Coast trip. I’d like to visit Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, etc. Preferable I’d do this by car, and see plenty of interesting places along the way
- I’d work on developing a couple sustainable and money making side businesses (this might require some additional funds for investment, but it might not)
- I’d spend an extended period in the Florida Keys (I’ve been through the keys once, and spent a couple days in Key West – I love the laid back vibe this place has)
- I’d play quite a lot of golf
- I’d exercise more (although for the past couple months, I’ve been working out 3-4 days per week – getting better for sure)
At times I wish I had the guts to pursue a lifestyle that allowed me this type of flexibility. But where I come from, lifestyles are very traditional. You’re expected to go to school, perhaps move on to college, then after that, get a good job and pretty much work for the rest of your life. So far, I’ve pretty much fit that bill. I’ve become accustomed to the security and the predictability that this lifestyle provides, but there are plenty of times when I wonder if there is something I am missing. But it’s hard to find the time, resources, and guts to actually investigate to see what I might be missing.
What would you do with a year (or at least an extended period) off from normal work?
Do you ever wonder what you might be missing out on because of the lack of available time off to pursue lengthy adventures/hobbies?