We should always strive to make time for adventures.
The prospects of embarking on an eventful, globe-trotting journey seem to be likely while you’re still in school. Better yet, many students decide to take a gap year and travel the world after they’ve finished with their academic career. It’s a precious interval between college and employment that offers an abundance of opportunities for those that want a transformative experience.
Travels boost your confidence, increase your social skills, and under the right circumstances, they can change your perspective of the world and your place in it. This proves to add invaluable confidence and resilience to your character, among other things, which often translates to better opportunities in the ever-evolving job market.
However, what about individuals that have already settled in their career paths? The wanderlust is pulling you away, but where does that leave you with work?
Modern employees often fear to leave work
The 21st century appears to be offering a whole different dynamic of engaging work, and millennials, in particular, appear to be obsessed with toiling away their days.
The proliferation of an IT industry and software development is an especially good example of a competitive beehive, and there are upsides and downsides whether you are a freelancer or a full-time employee. In thriving industries such as this one, employees are wary of missing out on professional development, putting their career path at risk, or even losing their job over an elaborate vacation break.
This fear might not be justified. Yes, it’s true that you can hear more stories than ever before about corporate malpractices and mishandling of employees. But it also holds up that the employment market has never been bigger, and that we’re oversaturated with news that is often sensationalist.
Therefore, at the end of the day, it mostly comes down to you and your business performance. Should you decide to embark on a four-week-long journey to a far-off land that you always wanted to visit, you’ll hardly be left behind when compared to your workplace peers. In fact, the rewards you might reap are worth the time-out.
Becoming an organized traveler
The trick is not to waste time on extraneous activities. You probably won’t be surprised to read that too many people need at least two full days to properly prepare for a trip and at least two more to wind down after they’ve returned. That’s more than half a week of wasted time!
Pretty much every experienced traveler will advise you to book a ticket in advance – possibly six months ahead of the trip. While this leaves little room for spontaneity, it will put you in the right mindset, since the trip will be etched in stone. Not to mention that you’ll have a lot more options to choose from, and with more reasonable price tags too.
The logistics of packing is where most people lose their heads, and one of the stressors that even turn people away from traveling more. But when you consider the way carry-ons are designed today, it really shouldn’t! With the high standards of lightweight luggage pieces and a wide range of luggage brands to choose from, you should be able to pack as much as you can with as little time wasted.
But you can consider even a better idea: always keep in your wardrobe a pre-set range of outfits and accessories ready for a blitz-trip. And you can try this for a litmus test: if you’ve suddenly been allowed to travel onto the other side of the globe and leave for the airport in two hours, can you be fully ready in the allotted time?
If the answer is yes, then you have mastered the art of packing efficiently and saving time on extraneous activities. Apart from that, it is all about the journey and what it brings to you as an individual.
Where does the work stand in relation to traveling?
Self-improvement is one of the ultimate buzzwords of today. Appropriately, the importance of all things related to ‘self-improvement’ has translated to the business realm as well.
As a result, employers tend to value employees that invest time in self-betterment, as long as it doesn’t conflict with work-related tasks. This is where the key to a successful balance between traveling and work lies: do your absolute best at work, always show a willingness to learn, and your excursions will be justified, no matter how long they take.
When you think back months in advance and consider your work-related tasks, does your conscience remain clear? What would your colleagues say?
Travelling adds to your value as an employee
Have you ever been to a job interview where the question of travel was raised? Believe it or not, but the majority of work-capable adults, both employers and employees, think that traveling around the world makes individuals more employable.
A study has recently revealed that more than 80% of employers take this stance. The same study also concludes that the skills you can learn during travels contribute to employability as well. 38% of surveyed individuals claim that traveling has boosted their confidence, and 37% of them say that their skills have increased across the board.
But what sort of specific skills are we discussing here, and how does traveling affect them directly?
1) The fish out of water story
A large part of this improvement stems from a circumstantial factor.
Whenever we find ourselves in a completely unfamiliar environment, one that also has a different language and its own culture, our brain lights up and the learning mechanisms, often long-forgotten, begin to turn once more.
This is why we often have vivid memories of travels to vastly different places and why, in retrospect, it seems that we spent a longer period in this environment than we did.
Like a fish out of water, you’ll have to engage with your surroundings, communicate effectively, and learn new rules.
2) You will manage stress better
Humans are creatures of habit. We love to have our private rituals in familiar environments, as well as a predictable schedule. When you find yourself in a foreign place for a prolonged period, the emerging feeling of stress is unavoidable.
And no, that feeling is not necessarily negative. Excitement is also a form of stress. However, you will probably start to feel untethered after a while, and if you don’t feel anything worse than that, you’ve found yourself living through the best-case scenario.
In the worst-case scenario, you’ll feel too anxious to go from point A to point B. However, you’ll have to do it sooner than later to meet with the group, visit the landmark, check-in at the hotel, or visit the currency exchange hotspot. You’ll have to learn the local etiquette and code of conduct to get the required information or food.
It’s a form of building immunity to stress through a healthy dose of exposure, and you’ll come out of it beaming with confidence and enthusiasm. It will certainly show at the office, business meetings, or during the job interview, plus you will also acquire confidence and skills to de-stress at your workplace.
3) You will be more confident and sociable
As we’ve mentioned, you’ll have to learn the local etiquette. Quite possibly, you’ll introduce yourself to more new people during a hypothetical three-week trip than during an entire year at home.
This will improve your rapport both in and out of the workplace. After you’ve returned home, the social engagements that you previously found daunting will become a piece of cake. This is why travels are so often recommended to natural introverts.
Naturally, this sharpened ability to articulate your thoughts translates to a productive and efficient conversation at work. Promotions come quicker to people that know how to communicate their gripes and satisfactions in a sensible manner.
You’ll also become more confident to put yourself out on the market and take risks with interviews for positions in other companies. After you’ve met so many new people (and possibly friends), networking within your professional niche becomes a smoother ride.
And as a bonus, you’ll have picked up new phrases from a completely different language.
4) Responsibility and management
With all the points we’ve listed so far, it isn’t a stretch to conclude that traveling improves your problem-solving abilities and makes you a better manager.
First of all, you will learn how to manage yourself. Especially when it comes to finances, it’s a lot easier to behave irresponsibly when you’re at home. After all, you probably have at least several ‘safety-nets’ in your hand’s reach. For example, you can borrow from your family or friends when unexpected expenses come up.
This is rarely an option half-way around the world or, at the very least, it becomes a point of shame as it never does under home-bound circumstances. In other words, you learn how to save money, divide it according to function, and manage it.
This is a skill that most people typically retain after they’ve returned home, and it helps them create a new set of safety nets that don’t burden other people. These safety nets can also come in handy if you decide to quit the old job and start searching for a new workplace that respects your work-life balance more.
5) You will be open-minded to new ideas and circumstances
Above all else, travels will make you more open-minded. They will teach you to be open to ideas and adapt to shifting circumstances without giving in to stressors. This is an especially important set of skills in today’s business market, where your career path is determined by so many people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
A lot of work is conducted online, and it comes in handy to understand the colorful range of mentalities in a multicultural team. It increases your ability to empathize and show solidarity for your colleagues, which is vital in a digital environment just as it is in a physical office.
A team of peers that works intensely on solving a work-related problem will do it quickly and efficiently if everyone is open to new ideas.
Overall, the question of how traveling can boost your career and make you more employable comes down to a singular answer: the experience will teach you to draw a clear line between what you want and what you don’t want. It will solidify your sense of self and the idea of what makes you tick.
You’ll notice that people with rich life experiences have beaming, clearly defined identities. Don’t be surprised if you discover that they invest their time in globe-trotting trips.