Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.
~Charles Kuralt, CBS news reporter
If you are accustomed to working 50 weeks per year, the tendency, even after creating the mobility to take extended trips, will be to go nuts and see 10 countries in 14 days and end up a wreck. It’s like taking a starving dog to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It will eat itself to death.
I did this three months into my 15-month vision quest, visiting seven countries and going through at least 20 check-ins and check-outs with a friend who had negotiated three weeks off. The trip was an adrenaline-packed blast but like watching life on fast-forward. It was hard for us to remember what had happened in which countries (except Amsterdam), we were both sick most of the time, and we were upset to have to leave some places simply because our pre-purchased flights made it so.
I recommend doing the exact opposite.
The alternative to binge travel – the mini-retirement – entails relocating to one place for one to six months before going home or moving to another locale. It is the anti-vacation in the most positive sense. Though it can be relaxing, the mini-retirement is not an escape from your life but a reexamination of it – the creation of a blank slate. Following elimination and automation, what would you be escaping from? Rather than seeking to see the world through photo ops between foreign-but-familiar hotels, we aim to experience it at a speed that lets it change us.
This is also different from a sabbatical. Sabbaticals are often viewed much like retirement: as a one-time event. Savor it now while you can. The mini-retirement is defined as recurring – it is a lifestyle. I currently take three or four mini-retirements per year and know dozens who do the same. Sometimes those sojourns take me around the world; oftentimes they take me around the corner – Yosemite, Tahoe, Carmel – but to a different world psychologically, where meetings, e-mail, and phone calls don’t exist for a set period of time.
Excerpted from The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.