The travel bug is easy to catch – once you start exploring all that the world has to offer, you’ll most likely never want to stop. Unfortunately, not all of us having the luxury of traveling the world as our full-time profession. We have other careers and real-life responsibilities to attend to. But what if I told you that taking some time off to travel can actually benefit your professional life?
It’s true – traveling can expose you to experiences that translate into excellent career advice.
I recently spent four months traveling all over Europe. Over the course of four months, I visited eleven countries and twenty-two cities. Those four months were filled with so many unforgettable memories and experiences. Sadly, my wanderlust-filled days had to come to an end eventually- so I packed up my bags and moved back to San Diego, California to finish up my Senior year of college and begin life as an adult in the real world.
Shortly after moving back to San Diego I landed an internship at an Internet marketing firm. I’ve traded in strolling the avenues of Paris and indulging in gelato in Rome for late nights in the library and early mornings at work, but I still think about my time in Europe every day. I utilize what I learned while traveling to improve my skills as an intern and future marketing professional.
If you’re looking for a way to get a leg up in your professional life, consider these six ways that traveling can benefit your career:
1. You’ll learn to keep an open mind.
The world is a wonderfully diverse place – no two countries are exactly alike. Visiting foreign countries will expose you to an array of different languages, customs, cuisines, and social norms. Some things may come as a shock to you at first. When I was in Berlin I was originally repulsed by the thought of the city’s specialty cuisine, currywurst. After some strong convincing from the locals, I decided to keep at open mind and try the dish. As it turns out, it was delicious!
Some of life’s best experiences are the most unexpected. This experience taught me to keep an open mind at work. It’s important to listen to the ideas of your colleagues – your own ideas won’t always be the best ideas.
2. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively.
One of the most exhausting and frustrating aspects of traveling is the language barrier. While visiting a foreign country, it’s likely that you’ll experience miscommunication more often than not. Not everyone speaks the same language – and that’s okay. There are ways to work around it.
The same goes for how you communicate in the office. If a coworker is not receptive of what you are saying, don’t get frustrated and give up, try reaching out in a new way that they can understand.
3. You’ll gain global competence.
Traveling opens up your world beyond your immediate neighborhood, city, and country. It will give you a deep level of understanding and appreciation for international issues. It will also provide you with the ability to work with people from all different cultural backgrounds. As the business world transitions into a more globalized system, it is essential that you learn to transition with it.
4. You’ll have the opportunity to learn a new language.
Having bilingual skills is a sure way to set yourself apart from other job applicants or employees. It is much easier to pick up a language if you immerse yourself in the country’s culture rather than learning from a textbook or computer software.
5. You’ll develop stress management skills
I never realized how demanding the United States’ business culture is until I traveled abroad. Relaxation, family time, and quality meals are all highly valued by European citizens and underappreciated by Americans. By observing other cultures you can learn ways to create a balance between your own work and personal life.
Perhaps you’ll decide to set aside an hour a day to practice Yoga, or maybe you’ll spend quality time with your family every Sunday. However you choose to relax, it’s important to take the time to unwind from your busy work week.
6. You’ll cultivate creative thinking skills
The sad truth is that we lose a portion of our imagination as we grow older. There’s not much time for activities that exercise our creativity when you’re busy balancing a full-time job, family, and friends. Traveling is an excellent way to inspire your creative thinking skills.
Whether you choose to travel to India and admire the Taj Mahal, or wonder in amazement at Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona, it’s nearly impossible to not become inspired. After cultivating creative thinking skills, you’ll be able to provide your company with more innovative ideas and suggestions.