The Puritan work ethic will bite you in the ass.
One of our neighbors has some friends visiting who are in the middle of a year-long trip around the world. One of them is just beginning, and a couple of others have been traveling for about half a year now and they're about to move to Whistler for the winter season. It sounds like they've gone just about everywhere. They look really, really tired, and I'm really, really jealous.
I have one American friend who used to just take contract jobs so that he could take scheduled time off for travel (Ben?), but he's the only American I've ever heard of to do so. These friends of our neighbor are Australian. And so I started thinking why it is that so much of the rest of the world, whatever their resources and opportunities for travel, takes time for vacation in a way that we just don't. It's not just because we typically only have a couple of weeks of vacation a year; I think that's effect rather than cause of some kind of weird Puritan work ethic that's gotten culturally imprinted on everything, everywhere. Even where we try to get out of hard work on a day-to-day basis and congratulate ourselves when we are able to, we feel sort of guilty about being perceived as societal slackers. We currently have a spate of reality shows in which entrants compete to show who can work the hardest, the smartest, and the most relentlessly.
It would never occur to me to take a year just to travel... and yet it should, because what a great idea.