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?