When you tell people that you're going to take a leave of absence you can tell that they're thinking you might be dying. So then you feel obligated to tell them you're going to South East Asia for 3 months and you can tell they're waiting for an explanation. "I'm going to teach orphans to read." "I'm studying to be a Buddhist monk." "I'm having a penis crafting from the skin of my inner thigh." All reasonable explanations. So when I offer up my standard explanation of "See a few temples, hang out on the beach." you can tell that they're thinking that I'm insane. Insane and super rich. But I'm not.
I'm going to South East Asia for 3 months and you can too!
I'm not just the 3 month vacation club spokesperson I'm also a member!
It's a 3 month vacation and I helped!
Consider this your How To.
Let's start here: South East Asia is really cheap. Our budget for the trip is $35/day each and we're pretty sure we've over budgeted. Mid range hotels are $20/night. Beers are $1. So.. you really only need $21; we're using the other $14 on 3 massages per day.
"But I have bills at home" you say, "Those don't just go away!"
Actually, they do. I'm turning off my phone, I'm killing netflix and emusic and I'm subletting my apartment. Subletting is by far the most painful part of this whole process.
Allow me to digress. Occasionally I'll be working really hard at some Sisyphean task and bemoaning the fact that progress seems to be out of my grasp regardless of how hard I work, how nice I am, and my complete willingness to show a little cleavage. And then suddenly I'll be overtaken by deja vu and think "fuck, this is exactly like dating." I have felt this way about job searches, finding a knee high boot to fit over my (apparently) behemoth calves and now about subletting. If subletting started a business and decided to go with an incredibly honest tag line it would be "Subletting: Almost as painful as dating."
When you live in a nice neighborhood in New York in a nice apartment with nice furniture and no roaches or bongo playing neighbors (http://www.flickr.com/photos/45569186@N07/) people tell you that subletting will be a cinch. And you believe them because why wouldn't anyone want to live in your awesome place? You have an ice cream maker! And a tivo! And all of the toilet paper they could ever need (thanks, Costco)!
Well, it turns out that people are a huge pain in the ass. They ask crazy question like if you can ever hear outside noise("Well, we live in NYC so there is the occasional bum getting shot but that's usually just one quick scream, no big deal."), or if you can find them a roommate, or if you know what bus their kids would take to get to school. They make low ball offers and when you accept them they diddle around for days and then eventually decide not to take the place. They make you get in really petty fights with your significant other over if his socks would like to sublet the place since they seem to have taken up permanent residence on the coffee table (and hell, because those socks are a close friend I'll even cut them a deal!).
But despite the weeks of pain and suffering subletting is doable. You'll keep the place spic and span for weeks, you'll meet with a lot of wishy washy folks and a few creepy creepers and eventually somehow someone will actually give you money and start sleeping in your bed. You'll feel super rich for a day or two and then you'll remember that you actually have to give that money to your landlord.
"But. My job."
Ok, this is a real problem. Honestly, if you want to go on a 3 month vacation you might have to get ok with the idea of quitting your job. That said I think companies are learning that retaining good employees is worth granting the occasional leave. It can't hurt to ask. And if that doesn't work: you can get another job. It might not be the job you want. It might not pay as much as you'd like. But I think it might be worth it. I'll let you know when I'm sitting on a beach somewhere with a $1 beer in hand and a sweet young thing rubbing my feet.