Long term travel can often be seen as a ‘career killer’, but taking a career break could perhaps be the best thing you could ever do for your career! Here’s why.
1. You have time to think
It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life at home. We are often so busy that we don’t have time to sit back and look at the big picture. Between work, family, sport, volunteering, friends – do you ever have a spare couple of hours to just… think? Probably not! Back in Australia, I was so busy just getting stuff done that I didn’t have time to think about the big picture. Taking a career break to travel was the perfect chance to reflect on what I really wanted in life and work.
Long term travel involves a lot of long bus, train and plane rides. You will have little else to do than listen to music and stare out the window… thinking. Sometimes you have so much spare time to just think that it can become a bit overwhelming. We’ve met a few people who have had their ‘quarter life crises’ while travelling, because you finally have a chance to stop and reflect.
While you might not have a groundbreaking epiphany while you are travelling, you will have plenty of time to think about what you really want from your career. At the end of your trip, hopefully you have worked out a career that truly excites and inspires you. You can work towards a goal, rather than just living day-to-day to pay the bills.
2. Travel broadens your horizons
Broadening your horizons and experiences is a great move for your career. Employers want employees who are able to ‘think outside the square’. Narrow-mindedness is rarely seen as a positive! As a traveller, you are constantly being challenged by new ideas, cultures and people. It is the perfect way to broaden your horizons and open your mind to new possibilities.
You will also meet travellers from all kinds of backgrounds and careers. You can learn about life in other countries, and working in different fields.Perhaps you will even find a place you fall in love with, and decide that you want to live and work overseas rather than at home. I found that talking to other travellers made me reflect on my own career. Was I proud to tell people what I do, or was I embarrassed? Did I sound passionate about my work? Would I like to try something different? Did I speak fondly of home, or negatively?
3. You gain life experience
In Australia, you often hear of young people being rejected from the army or emergency services because they need more ‘life experience’. But how do you ‘experience’ life? It’s hard to define, but I think it is having experiences that push you out of your comfort zone, and force you to stand on your own two feet. Long term travel definitely fits this bill.
You will have tough days where you think about going home, but you don’t. You will be forced to think quickly in difficult situations. No doubt you will experience a number of confrontations, whether with a taxi driver or fellow travellers. You will have to stand up for yourself and be responsible for your own actions (and money!). Employers don’t want an employee that have to babysit. They want someone with initiative and resilience who takes responsibility for their work. Long term travel definitely instils these values.
4. You learn practical workplace skills
While on the road, you can learn plenty of practical workplace skills. You can learn a new language, or volunteer doing something you are interested in. If you are interested in trades, you can volunteer to help with building or plumbing overseas. If you are interested in teaching or childcare, you could volunteer to teach English or work as an au pair. When explaining your career break in your resume, don’t forget to add other ‘soft skills’ you may have learned. For example, skills in problem solving, communication, organisation, independent thinking and conflict resolution.
5. Long term travel gets the ‘travel bug’ out of your system (at least for a while)
The travel bug bite is a hard one to scratch. But a good stint of travel can get the travel bug out of your system (for now at least). While I make no guarantees that one career break will be enough, it might keep the travel bug at bay for a little while!
Do you think travel would be good for your career? Tell us your thoughts below!