Thinking of taking a year off work to travel the world, but unsure about how the career gap will look on your resume? Fear not, as more and more business leaders are recognising the benefits travel has on a career.
And indeed, after two years of travel, I’ve seen my own career pick up in ways I never could have imagined.
It all comes down to life experience – the more you travel, the more life experience you gain. These are skills that can’t be learned in training sessions, nor from studying books. This kind of experience is only gained from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and exploring other cultures.
Even if you’re not taking a year off work to travel, a short break can do the world of good to your work life. According to research from the U.S. Travel Association, 75% of bosses believe holidays improve their personal job performance.
So what are the benefits travel can bring to your career?
Travel makes you more willing to take risks
Travelling can be challenging. Simply quitting your job, picking up your bags and getting out the door is scary enough. But as theologian William G.T. Shedd said, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
When we step outside of our comfort zones, we learn new things. It can be difficult but that’s how we grow as human beings.
Bosses realise that if you’re one to travel, you’re willing to challenge yourself and take risks. These are characteristics managers’ love in employees as it means they’re willing to rise to the challenge of whatever their work life might through at them.
Travel makes you more creative
Travel makes you think in new ways you would’ve never thought possible. It constantly pushes you to think outside of the box.
When you are going about the same routine, day in and day out, it’s easy for your life to become a little monotonous. With this, your creativity takes a small dive. But travel somewhere new and all of a sudden you’ll feel a rush of creative energy buzzing inside of you again.
Being embraced by new cultures continuously when you’re in a foreign country inspires you.
Bringing creativity to the workplace can help with brainstorming sessions, thinking up new ideas and helping the company to innovate.
3. Travel widens your perspective
It’s difficult to feel angry about your one hour train commute to work when you meet a young girl in Africa who walks two hours to get to school each day.
Or when you visit someone in the Middle East who lives without electricity, it puts your first world complaints about the Wi-Fi in your local café being too slow into sharp perspective.
Travel widens our perspective, making us appreciate what we have in life. Travel shows us that we often worry about things that are insignificant. Travel helps us understand that we are lucky human beings who can afford a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on our backs.
When we are thinking in perspective, it makes us less likely to sweat the small stuff and this is a great attribute in the workplace.
Travel can help you manage stressful situations more efficiently
Speaking of stress, travel helps you to manage stressful situations more efficiently. Recently, our scooter got a flat tyre while we were driving through a mountainous area in the Philippines. There was nobody around and we had to slowly drive the vehicle to the nearest village to get the tyre fixed. We don’t speak Tagalog and we had to communicate completely using hand gestures.
Two years ago, this would have been a very stressful situation for me. I would’ve been worrying about the worst case scenarios – what if we became stranded, what if we were robbed, or what if we were ripped off by a dodgy mechanic. It may have ended in tears.
But when the flat tyre happened, both my husband and I were calm. We know that things can go wrong when you travel – just like things can go wrong in your life – and we knew that becoming stressed wouldn’t help the situation.
In the end, everything turned out fine and instead of spoiling our day; we looked back on the story as an adventure. Keeping a cool head is vital in a stressful business environment and travelling helps you to ride through the storm unscathed.
Travel helps you learn new languages
If English is your first language then you may think that learning a foreign language is a waste of time. But this simply isn’t the case. Even if, at your workplace, you will only ever communicate in English, learning a foreign language can have other benefits.
Some studies have shown that becoming bilingual or multilingual can help you to multitask, give you better decision-making skills and even improve your English. These are all benefits that can certainly help you in the workplace.
Plus, learning a foreign language can also make you more employable. Speaking Spanish while working in the US can help your career, or speaking French while working for a corporate bank in the UK can be beneficial, for example.
One of the most important skills you can have in an office environment is to be a good communicator. And yep, you guessed it, travelling makes you a better all-round communicator.
How so? First of all, speaking to someone who has limited English can be a challenging experience, especially if you’re asking for help. Maybe you’re lost in a foreign place and need directions, or maybe you’re simply trying to order lunch in a different country – speaking to locals in places unfamiliar to you can be challenging.
It takes patience and confidence. These two attributes help to develop your communication skills and make you better at getting your message across. Trying to communicate to locals who don’t speak a lot of English also improves your body language skills and helps you to learn how to speak more clearly.
So when you want to ace that next office presentation remember that travelling could help you do it better!
Travel makes you adapt to change
Life is full of changes, and so too is the workplace. New systems, new management and new colleagues are just some of the changes you might come across during your career.
And if you are a frequent traveller, you should find it easier to take these changes in your stride. When you travel your surroundings are constantly changing, and you need to be flexible in able to adapt to them.
Sudden changes in a travel itinerary happen, just as sudden changes in life do. The more you travel, the easier you find it to adapt to changes on the road. These flexibility skills can be seen as a bonus to anyone who is considering hiring you.
Travel improves your organisation and time management skills
You’re in Peru and there’s only one bus going to your destination this week. So you have to make that bus. Or you have a plane to catch to the next place on your itinerary. So you will need to be on that plane or face buying another ticket.
Travelling helps you organise your life because without organisation skills, you’ll never see anything new or travel very far. And if you don’t manage your time properly, it can end up in huge cancellation fees and wasted hotel stays.
Becoming a frequently traveller helps to improve your organisation and time management – two skills that are much appreciated in the workplace.
And there you have it – a rundown of eight ways travelling improves your career.