Map out where you're going (but keep your budget in mind)
Obviously, if your dream is to trek around Cambodia, you'll need to save far less money than if you're taking a Eurail across Europe. Figure out where you'd at least like to start the trip, and budget accordingly.
We asked our panel for suggestions on cheaper destinations where you can really stretch your budget and destinations ranged from Eastern Europe (Budapest, Croatia, Serbia, Poland, Prague, Slovenia, and Bratislava) and Central/South America to Southeast Asia and even parts of Spain. If you're looking for ideas, here are a dozen countries you can visit for under $50 a day, the cheapest destinations in the Caribbean, and 12 of the world's most unbelievably cheap paradises.
Quit your job and/or negotiate a sabbatical
These are two very different ways to handle leaving your job, and it of course all depends on your place of employment and whether you want to return. (Also, if you only want to travel for a few months rather than a full year.) But there is one common denominator: be as upfront with your employer as possible, giving them and yourself plenty of time to determine the best plan.