Dear All,

At the age of 30 and after working for 5 years for the same company as a software engineer and manager (almost an eternity in IT!), I've just had a change of circumstances and am considering putting my IT career on hold for between 6 months and a year to go backpacking and travelling in Central Europe, Asia and Australia. Although I do travel in my job occasionally (Western Europe and North Africa), some extended travel to see places, learn skills and experience new things is something I really want to do before I get older and have commitments.

While I will be looking for opportunities for contract and temporary work placements while abroad (and where legally possible) to pay my way - and plan to learn at least one other language to go along with my English and French, I still fear that upon my return IT employers may take a dim view of 6 months - 1 year away. In my research I've seen forums where supposed HR staff and recruiters recommend that returned travellers omit all but the most brief reference to their travel, stating that since gap year travel is so ubiquitous now noone would care and at worst you would be seen as frivolous and privileged. Others have been more accomodating to backpackers and travellers, seeing the cultural experience, soft skills and language skills gained as a real asset.

I wish to know what you think. Is a career break for travel (and possible occasional contract work) a good or a bad thing in IT?

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I would definitely hire a traveller!
But, again, depends on what IT field are you in. If you're in mgt, good to go. If you're a PHP extensive developer, I won't; you missed PHP5 lol
Good luck.

6 months to a year, does on the face of it look like a long time. However I think most people (the boss/company) realise that occasionally people have to follow their dreams/desires. As such I think that your desire to quench your travelling thirst shows maturity and is logical. Why carry on doing something for the sakes of it, when you really want to be on the road (broadening your horizons and developing additional skills) that will enhance your abilities as an IT manager. Additionally once you have completed your travels, you will return, refreshed and enthused, ready to further develop your career... (GO FOR IT) (Work to live) (NOT LIVE TO WORK)

Happy travelling :)

I think the key point here (as far as potential employers are concerned upon your return) is that you don't plan to just let your skills vegetate while you're abroad.

You've indicated that you plan to suppliment your travel costs by freelancing while you travel which means that you'd still be in touch with the industry to a degree. You've also indicated that part of the purpose of the trip is to broaden your skills and your cultural horizons (possibly a new language skill) which realistically only benefits a prospective employer on your return.

As long as you manage to keep in tune with the current tech while you're gone and don't allow your skillset to become obsolete I can see no negative to taking the time to recharge your mental/spiritual batteries as it were :)

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