We all know that the benefits of traveling include seeing the magic of our world and experiencing new cultures, but did you know that traveling also provides you with skills and experiences that will help you in your career? In this instance we are not talking about travel as 2 weeks by the pool on a tropical island or an all-inclusive resort on a Spanish Costa. The benefits of traveling I’m going to highlight relate to round the world trips, adventure trips and vacations of longer than the standard 10-14 days.
1. Social and Communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively is an essential life/career skill. Losing all your cash when the nearest ATM is 100 miles away, getting lost, or even just being able to converse with those around you means finding ways to communicate and be understood. One of the benefits of traveling, especially to areas where English is not widely used, is that you learn how to communicate to achieve what you want/need.
2. Stress Management Skills
Traveling, especially on adventures to exotic places or on round the world trips, can really push and pull you out of your comfort zone. Realizing your passport is lost/stolen while you’re in the wilds of the Thar Desert in India, or being left stranded in a remote village where you don’t know a word of the language, can really push the boundaries of stress management. Learning how to deal with these curve balls in a level-headed manner is going to hold you in good stead for stressful situations in your life and career back home.
3. Organizational and Planning Skills
Not having these skills could cost you dear in the professional world. You could screw up and even lose a job. Being organized and planning in advance, being detail-oriented and taking precautions are also essentials of traveling. Serious traveling involves a great deal of planning involving practical considerations, including scheduling and budgeting. You also have to be prepared to change plans if things happen during your trip. The organizational and planning skills needed are benefits of traveling that are transferable career skills too.
4. Time Management Skills
It really is quite surprising when you think of the things you can learn from traveling. If you are going on the trip of a lifetime, you want to maximize every little aspect of it. It may seem at odds with the whole idea of a vacation for it to be time-managed, but it is a clever trick to be able to cram as much in as possible without feeling short-changed. It means you employ the classic time management techniques of prioritizing, goal setting and scheduling.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply if you are a solo traveler, but if you’re going RTW with a group of friends, there is going to be a major teamwork factor. And the benefit? How many job ads do you see where teamwork is among the skills or attributes required? It is sometimes difficult for gap-year students to demonstrate relevant experience when they try and enter the world of work, but teamwork is a skill you can show demonstrable proof of, if you think of the collaborative elements of your travels.
6. Decision Making Skills
In its most basic form, planning an extended trip or a multi-stop trip is the very essence of decision-making. You are faced with a plethora of choices – what route to take, where to go, how to get there, what you want to see when you are there, how long can you spend at each place, etc… Again, as with teamwork, for those who’ve had a gap year, whether new to employment or not, travel planning is a terrific example for demonstrating decision making skills.
7. Self-awareness and Management
Ok, so it is a bit of cliché that you can find yourself through traveling, but remember, clichés are born from fact or acceptance of an idea. One of the great benefits of traveling is that you do have time to think, you do have time to connect with yourself and yeah, cliché or not, many people do find that they ‘find themselves.’ Traveling can help you reach self-understanding and self-awareness, and usually, gives you a much better idea of where you want your life to lead you. There’s nothing wrong with a little spiritualism every now and then is there?
Other things that traveling can teach you are problem solving, creative thinking, visualization, adaptability and of course, languages. It really is up to you. Keep an open mind and the world’s your oyster – so they say! What have you learned from traveling?