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Handling a Gap in Your Résumé (Travel experience)

Assume a software developer who mainly pursues contract work, spends time working and living frugally with an intent to afford a sabbatical upon each contract's end. Let's assume that person loves traveling and leisure and simply compromises continuous employment for the sake of enjoying life or simply do other things on the side like charity work in a 3rd world country for prologed periods of time. I have been in a similar situation in the past, mostly afforded thanks to a generous severance package upon a layoff.

Assuming that reasonable measures are taken to keep one's professional credentials up despite having formal employment, which, in the world of software dev should not be difficult because one can always be developing own applications, what are the best ways to explain irregular employment record once the new job is needed and not be considered a slacker, which I suspect is the general perception in a relatively workaholic system of values? I am especially interested in hearing from those who have successfully marketed themselves in precisely this kind of background/lifestyle.

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