GRIN For all those asking for it in Europe, bah humbug! Keep it here. Do all of them in Chicago, maybe I can convince my boss to let me go! GRIN
Seriously, though, knowing as far in advance as possible would help a lot of people. In my case, I found out a few weeks ahead of time. I was heavily into a project (ok 12 projects, really) and couldn't do it. Had it been on my calendar when the projects got scheduled, it wouldn't have mattered. Taking a day once we schedule or start the project is harder. We schedule major projects by end of first quarter, but if I knew by say May, I could probably arrange things. I assume a lot of others have similar constraints.
And I guess it is OK to take care of our friends in Europe. Sigh. Those SQL people are pretty nice :-)
PS I once worked with someone from South Afica, one of the nicest, most intelligent people I have ever worked with. So I will support a vote for you to travel there as well. As an alternative, and I am not sure if my friend is back in his country or not, but he could teach it for you. Maybe hosting foreign events taught by natives would be workable.