9 Benefits of Travelling That Will Help Your Career
I always hear the old argument of “do I travel or focus on my career?”
I’ve never understood it. Why are these stated as though they’re on opposite sides? It’s as though one will suffer if you choose the other, which puts people in a tough spot. Some, who love to travel, may feel pressured into ‘focusing on a career’ because that’s what society expects of them. Which, by the way, is in no way a bad thing whatsoever, as planning your career path (if you know it) can be a very good idea. But this doesn’t have to be at the expense of your dream of traveling.
It’s drilled into us that they’re mutually exclusive.
They can go hand in hand and actually benefit each other. The benefits of travelling are more than a stamp in a passport and an Instagram-worthy picture. Plus, having a career path can also guide how you travel and what you’d like to achieve from it.
So let’s get over the outdated “travel or career” belief. Let’s get both.
The benefits of travelling far outweigh the drawbacks and listed below are a few aspects on how travel can turbo-charge your career:
1. It develops your network
Professionally, it’s not just about the direct reference you’ll get. You’ll be meeting many professionals, with different backgrounds and different futures. You never know, further down the line, you could end up in the same industry, or even the same role. You’ve got a wealth of information available to you, if you maintain good professional relationships. This opens up more doors and more networks, so make it a priority.
If you’re not already, get yourself on LinkedIn. For those who are unsure of what it is, the best way of describing it is a professional Facebook. You can keep in contact and connect with fellow professionals and it acts as a social and jobs platform, all in one. Getting recommendations off your network is the new ‘providing references’ and can give your CV a real boost. This needs to be your new professional online network.
Yes, you’ll also make mates who you’ll reconnect with about ‘the good times’ and that personal network is great to have. But don’t forget, these friends will go on to achieve all sorts of great things in their own respective industries. So even by accident, you would’ve grown your professional network; by becoming mates. This is one of the major benefits of travelling, so bear it in mind.
2. It displays versatility and adaptability
If there’s one thing that helps develop your versatility and adaptability, it’s travelling.
You’re going to be pushed out of your comfort zone. A lot.
You’re going to come up against some real challenges and they’ll test you. Your ability to deal with fresh, unexpected twists will grow and how you respond will become more refined. Travel is not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s a good thing. Dealing with these issues is a transferable skill that you’ll be able to carry over to the professional world.
Moving to another country is already enough to display these characteristics. You’ll display a willingness to embrace the unknown head-on and to jump straight in. If an employer sees that you’ve worked in America, or Australia, for example, it displays a lot about your character.
Don’t undervalue how much of an impact these travel moves can make.
3. It gives you experience in new countries
Like the point above, seeing another country on your CV speaks volumes to employers and is a huge benefit of travelling.
Your CV will display the fact you’ve worked in different countries and in such a connected world, that’s a huge bonus. Larger corporations have hundreds of offices around the world, with opportunities arising everywhere. By displaying a willingness to move abroad and travel, you’ve already shown you could handle such an opportunity if one ever popped up again.
Yet as we all know, every country is so different, from its people to its culture. Your experiences will vary everywhere you go. Getting this mix of experiences and perspectives through travel helps shape your own approach, based on what you’ve learnt. You’ll be bringing so much more to any table, so it’s important to take it all in when you are working abroad or travelling.
4. It helps make your CV stand out
Put yourself in an employer’s shoes for a moment.
The number of CV’s they must see on a weekly basis is borderline ridiculous. For our age group of between 18-30, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, when the crowd have all been doing the same thing. Although we may have the skills needed for the job, it’s our experience that sets us apart.
Everyone can write ‘versatile’ or ‘outgoing’ on a CV, but to be honest, each job will expect you to bring those sort of characteristics to the role anyway. The best way to show it is through what you’ve done. If you work in hospitality, what says you’re more versatile to working in new environments; writing 'versatile' down as a bullet point, or the fact you’ve worked in travel hospitality roles in New York, Sydney and London?
Stand out by doing (and travelling), not saying.
5. Travelling can further your background in a specific industry
This one is much more targeted, but it can pay off the most.
Certain roles are considered desirable, especially if they’re linked with a hobby. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get paid to do something they love? But such travel jobs can be limited and in short supply at home.
Let’s use outdoor specialists as an example. This can range from rock-climbing instructors, to those that teach wakeboarding. There’s not a huge amount of roles going within these industries, and the ones that are available fill fast. It's understandable, as these areas are a passion for people.
This can mean it can be hard to get a ‘foot in the door’ in these industries. But if you’re willing to broaden your horizons, you’ll find that there are areas crying out for staff. Summer camps are desperate for people with a passion relating to outdoor roles and they’d love to recruit the right people to then train up.
So not only will you have a summer of a lifetime through travelling and gain essential qualifications, but you’ll gain relevant experience doing something you love.
6. It helps you gain new technical skills
This is a standard when joining any new business.
Everywhere does things different. Whether the software they use, or the processes they have, you’ll end up adapting and picking up these new skills.
There are many employers out there who take training up new staff to be of the utmost importance (and so they should). Provided the staff have the right background and passion, they can also pick up new skills and qualifications on top of their experiences. When I worked at a summer camp through Camp Leaders as a water ski instructor, the camp ensured I trained up as a Red Cross lifeguard. They also put me through my lessons to ensure I could legally drive a powerboat in Wisconsin. I left from my time there with incredible experiences, yet new qualifications and licenses to boot.
Look at your time travelling as a way to pick up new skills and you’ll be able to put them to good use when you’re back.
7. Travel helps you develop your soft skills
This is a massive benefit of travelling.
No matter what you plan to get out of travelling, your soft skills will develop. Soft skills are highly sought after by employers, because they’re as, if not more, important than technical skills. They include things like your interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, your ability to work in a team, your problem-solving abilities and more. The mix of people, social and professional skills, coupled with emotional and social intelligence is becoming well valued. Although beneficial for dealing with the public, it also helps how you interact and integrate with fellow staff members.
Your experiences through travelling will cover the lot.
You’ll be interacting with new people and new experiences on a daily basis. You’ll have your ups and downs, which is standard for anyone who travels. They will test and push you, but at the end of it, you’ll get a huge amount of benefit from travelling.
8. Travel will make you a global citizen
In a world where certain areas are closing their doors to others, it’s more important than ever to be a global citizen.
According to Oxfam, a global citizen is “someone who is aware of and understands the wider world - and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.”
By experiencing new cultures and interacting with new people in different areas through travel, you’ll form a more rounded knowledge on what others go through. Instead of closing our minds to people because they come from a different area, we should embrace our differences and learn from each other. Only then can we work together to ensure we make a wider positive impact. This is not only something to apply personally, but professionally too.
With how the world is, this could be the biggest benefit of travelling going.
9. Travel itself IS an industry
Travel and tourism is one of the world’s biggest industries.
By travelling, exploring and experiencing the planet, you are gaining direct experience to set you up for a role within the sector. What better experience for a travel role, than travel?
Tour guides, adventure leaders, activity specialists and drivers are just some of the roles available, doing activities you love. You then have the larger travel companies, who have sales roles, administrative roles and account/project management roles, amongst others. All operators need a consistent, all-star team of travellers. Not only manage other people’s journeys, but to share their own and inspire the next generation of travellers.
From tour operators, to cultural exchange companies. From luxury travel brands, to corporate travel management. There are thousands of paths you can take, depending on what works for you. Travel doesn’t have to be about only you seeing the world, it could also be about helping others do exactly that too.
So let’s get rid of the ‘travel versus career’ argument. The benefits of travelling far outweigh not travelling. Let’s realise how both are incredibly important, but also how they complement each other.
You’ve got time on your side to experience and see the world, which in itself is massive for your self-development. Growing as a person through travel will aid your career, as you take across transferable skills and networks you’ve built up. You’ll not only pick up memories, but a rounded skill set, which is becoming sought after in modern workplaces.
How you grow will help set you apart, and the benefits of travelling can give your career a boost, in whatever direction you want.
About the author
Mike is the Editor-at-Large at Smaller Earth, and the founder of The Lost Lot, a self-development platform helping young adults find direction when feeling lost in life.
He focuses on the bridge between travel and growth, highlighting how both can be a catalyst for positive change in your life.