There are various reasons why someone could have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time:
Long periods of travel
We know first hand what it is like to raise children. If they can afford it, most parents want to have one partner at home to nurture a child during their early years. Most commonly this is the mother but increasingly, fathers are assuming this role.
When a child goes off to school, the parent that has been at home ends up with a void in their lives. Unfortunately a number of things may have occurred to sabotage their return to work:
Their skills may be out of date
Their confidence or self-esteem may be low
They may still not be able to work full-time because of the disparity with school hours
Often after severe injury, people are often unable to return to their original occupation - usually as a result of physical limitations. In these cases retraining is usually required but it is still important to find a job that will provide you with emotional satisfaction.
Its great to get out and see the world - travelling around doing odd jobs to get by. However, when you come home to reality, you need to refocus and set some realistic goals especially in relation to your career.