I have been in a rush to accomplish academic goals since I remember myself. Started my PhD right after undergrad and did my Masters on the same time. Now I am about to submit my thesis and feel kind of burned out, having spend so many years in a far from perfect working environment.
Academia has always been my goal (I like both teaching and research and I am not interested in industry), which is why I started a PhD on the first place, but I really feel I need a big break to think clearly of what I really want before applying for a post-doc. I also read this somewhere: "The rest of your life you are going to be a scientist. This could be your last chance to be something else. Take it."
So I thought a "late gap year" would be ideal for me. I would get to travel, which I love, volunteer in wildlife conservation and in schools of developing countries and take some time to clear my mind, so that when I am back, I can take the right decision for a post-doc and be totally dedicated in it.
Up to now I have a decent resume with a 5th paper in preparation (including first-authored) and several international conferences, fellowships and awards. However, I am very concerned on the impact such a gap would have on my CV, since I want to apply in high reputation universities/institutes, where competition is fierce.
Should I tell a future PI I did a gap year and if not, what would be the appropriate excuse for a year off? Also would this gap have an impact in future job-seeking (mainly for positions in academia)? Finally, I am also worried about the reaction of my current PI (who has been asking me lately, which lab I am planning to apply for a PD) when I tell him my plans. The last thing I want is a reference letter from an angry PI.
*EDIT*My field is Molecular Biology. I performed my PhD research at several European countries and I am flexible with post-doc positions (Europe/Israel/US/...) depending on the projects available.