Having brought the world to its knees, redundancy-hit city workers are suddenly heading off to actually see some of it, and they're taking their pay-offs with them. Many newly redundant "extrava-gappers" are putting down their P45s and picking up their passports for long, expensive breaks, says lifestyle management company WhiteConcierge.
Expensive locations such as Japan and Italy are proving popular, rather than the normal gap-year student trails. WhiteConcierge's managing director, Will Holroyd, said: "Over the last nine months we've seen a surge in clients asking us for advice and support in organising extended career breaks and we expect this trend to continue well into 2009.
"For many professionals finding themselves out of work or dissatisfied with their career progression, this is a great opportunity to take stock and to experience other cultures and lifestyles. The majority of these extrava-gappers have the resources to enjoy a comfortable trip as opposed to backpacking around the regular student trails.
"Extrava-gappers are able to enjoy the luxury of time while visiting some of the most desirable travel destinations at an affordable price.
"As the recession grips the UK harder, we expect to see many more clients turn an unfortunate experience into a positive and exciting one before returning to work when the economy eventually picks up."
One such extrava-gapper is Rick Brigdon, 27, from Essex. He took voluntary redundancy from his job as an associate director at a leading global investment bank last year and headed straight to the Americas, starting with six nights in Manhattan's achingly trendy Hudson Hotel at $230 (£145) a night. After spending many months and many thousands of pounds making his way through central and South America, New Zealand and Australia, he has just finished 10 days' scuba diving at one of Jacques Cousteau's favourite dive sites off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. And he's in no hurry to come back: "It's a tough choice, but spending your morning swimming over the top of a 600m limestone wall with a family of hawksbill turtles is marginally more enjoyable than fighting to get your nose out of someone else's armpit on the Northern line."
In some ways, he was lucky that the global downturn occurred when it did: "The downturn couldn't have happened at a better time. I went straight from school to university, straight from university to the City, and after five years I was wondering, 'Is this it?' Now I know it isn't."