Traveling is one of the most amazing ways to get an education. Not only can you learn about history and social sciences (through experiencing other cultures, languages, foods and lifestyles) but you can also learn an awful lot about yourself. This self knowledge can turn into skills that are transferable to your career/profession.
1. Consider Your Timetable
There are numerous ways travelling helps your career. It broadens your horizons, makes you more tolerant and teaches you to be self-reliant, confident and assertive. Always bear in mind that a well-prepared traveler is a happy traveler. Familiarize yourself with bus and train time tables and learn to be punctual, when meeting up with tour guides.
Career Benefit: Shedding your fuzzy student habits will help you to impress your first boss - only royalty is fashionably late: ordinary mortals have to be on time for their Monday morning sales meeting.
2. Become Part of the Scenery
So you can't help your foreign accent, but you can do something about the way you integrate with locals. Appear knowledgeable about the place you're staying at, recognize local landmarks, not just tourist attractions. Don't pick out random words from your foreign dictionary; learn some useful phrases that locals will understand and familiarize yourself with local culture. Chat to people you meet in supermarkets, on the train or bus. You will earn their respect and begin to feel less of an outsider.
Career Benefits: Being open to new ideas and challenges is a sought-after trait in new recruits. Great communication skills are essential if you wish to succeed in your chosen career. Learn the office lingo, study news reports relating to your industry. You'll feel more confident and your boss will see you in a new light.
3. Not All That Glisters is Gold
It is tempting to stay in glitzy hotels and dine out in trendy restaurants, but you'll soon discover that most will serve you an international hotchpotch instead of authentic cuisine. To really get to know your host country means eating where the locals eat and staying where ordinary families would live. Pick private accommodation or a comfortable hostel, where you can chat to people and make personnel connections.
Career Benefits: When you land your first job with a multi-national company you'll impress boss with knowledge of foreign customs and traditions. Knowing the real thing when you see it is an important step on the road to adulthood.
4. Don't Be Shy
Learning a new language can be difficult but you won't ever master it, if you never utter a word. Don't be shy to express yourself in another language. People are far more tolerant and understanding than you think and most people will appreciate that you're making an effort to communicate with them in their own language, even if you get some of the words wrong.
Career Benefit: What are you going to do when you're faced with a new challenge at work, if you can't overcome your embarrassment of speaking in public or in another language? Say yes when a new challenge comes your way - you can always ask somebody for advice and figure out the rest as you go along.
5. A Little Smile Goes a Long Way
Leave your frown at home and smile your way to the top of your chosen career. There are many ways travelling helps your career, but even Marco Polo would have remained an armchair traveler if his charming ways hadn't open doors for him. You won't make new friends or gain business contacts by scowling. A radiant smile directed at your fellow train travelers will kick-start conversations. Somebody might recommend a cheap hotel or great place to visit just because your smile broke the ice!
Career Benefits: Adopt a positive attitude and you'll be able to build up lasting relationships in all your business endeavors. Managers remember a smiley face far better than a frown.
6. Take the Bull by the Horn
Try something new once in a while, even if it's a little scary. Why not go paragliding in the Alps or go kite surfing in Brazil? No head for heights? It's about time you overcame that! Some of the greatest thrills lie in trying something new, something frightening and out-of-the-ordinary. That's the stuff the best travel memories are made of.
Career Benefits: Conquering your worst fears is the only way to forge a lasting career. Your boss won't promote you if you cannot show initiative or embrace the excitement of a new challenge.
7. Keeping Your Mind Active
There are many surprising ways travelling helps your career, but the most astonishing of them all is that travelling allows you to explore yourself, while discovering another country or continent. Engaging with people along the way will help you to become a more balanced and tolerant individual. Travelling is not just about seeing new sights, eating different food or trying out new leisure activities. It's about keeping your mind active and learning new things.
Career Benefits: Share an office with a bunch of people every day and you'll be eternally grateful for the diplomacy skills you picked up in Peru! Learning is a life-long process and the more you embrace this concept the better you'll get at understanding new things. Find out what people in your department can teach you or enroll in evening classes to learn new skills. If you're bored at work because there's nothing left to learn, it's time to move elsewhere.
If you’re looking for reasons to justify taking a gap year to travel, all of the above underline the benefits of seeing other places. Same goes if you’re thinking of taking a sabbatical – you’ll receive such a boost when you resume your career. And there’s no right or wrong time to travel – mentally and emotionally stimulating, travel is a fabulous experience.
What other amazing benefits do you think travel adds to your career/work skills?