Traveling is typically high on the list of desired things to do for most people. Not only does traveling allow us to make memories, gain experiences, and rest and recharge, but it can also benefit your career.
Traveling can teach you many great skills applicable to everyday life, including job skills.
So if you need another excuse to travel and put your paid time off to good use, classify your next big trip as a business expense and work on the job skills you need to succeed.
How Traveling Benefits Your Career
Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected and location-independent. Not only does traveling help you learn the job skills we’ll be discussing below, but with more jobs involving travel or allowing for digital nomads, travel experience may just give you a leg up when applying for your next position.
Here are 15 job skills you can learn while traveling.
15 Job Skills You Can Learn From Traveling
Planning is an integral part of having a great trip. Not only must you decide where to go and what to do, but you must secure accommodations and how you will be getting to your destination.
If you’re traveling internationally, the planning becomes even more complex. In addition to finding flights and accommodations that won’t break your budget, you’ll need to research any visa or other requirements and navigate currency exchanges.
Depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there, your trip could include dozens of moving parts that you’ll need to plan.
While you don’t need to plan every last second of your trip, having a general plan for how you’ll spend your days will help ensure there are fewer hiccups and you’re able to do everything you want on the trip. Many experienced travelers also develop contingency plans in case something goes awry.
The complicated planning involved in travel translates very well to jobs that similarly involve multiple moving parts and attention to detail.
A huge part of planning a trip involves research. You must know where to get the information and tools you need to help you hack your trip to avoid spending a fortune. You’ll also need to discern credible sources so that you don’t run into trouble. Many people spend weeks and even months researching a trip before developing their final plans.
Similarly, many jobs require research skills, especially the ability to source credible information. Even if your job doesn’t directly involve research, the ability to find information when you need it is a valuable skill for any job.
3. Time Management
It doesn’t take much before realizing how necessary time management skills are to a successful trip. From booking your transportation and accommodations to making your flights on time to seeing everything you want to while on your trip, time management will make or break the experience.
Excellent time management is also one of the most important job skills, especially with deadlines and projects. No matter where you work, you’ll need to appropriately budget your time so that you complete your work promptly.
Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. Any frequent traveler knows that you must prepare for whatever comes your way.
Not only do you have to adapt to a new environment and potentially a different culture altogether, but you must be able to deal with setbacks. Flights get canceled, and the fantastic hotel you booked online can turn out to be completely different in reality. Whatever the issue, the most crucial aspect is reacting and recovering.
Issues can also arise in the workplace that requires you to think on the fly and quickly pivot to solve problems. Someone who has experienced adversity while traveling and managed the issue successfully has learned valuable job skills that easily translate to most work environments.
This one may seem slightly out of place on the surface, but the reality is that most people travel with family or friends. With two or more people involved, you’ll need to collaborate and compromise so that everyone is happy and gets what they want from the experience.
Teamwork is a highly valued job skill because many jobs require collaboration between several people. Traveling with others teaches you to collaborate, communicate, listen, and compromise, which are all essential skills for most jobs.
Have you ever been to a place where you couldn’t speak the language or where the culture was completely different from your own? These situations quickly demonstrate the importance of developing communication skills while traveling. It’s easy to be misunderstood or misunderstand someone else, so learning to listen and communicate through other means will be crucial.
While it’s less likely you’ll find yourself in situations where no one else speaks your language in your job, you will find yourself working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Therefore, the active listening skills and exposure to other ways of thinking and communicating that you experience while traveling will be particularly important when working in a diverse environment or with a company with an international presence.
The more you travel, the more people you meet. Often, the people you meet become lifelong friends or close connections that could come in handy down the line.
In both travel and your career, the ability to network will be helpful and perhaps even essential. The more connections you build, the wider the network of people available to you should you need something.
Humans tend to gravitate toward what is familiar. If all you’ve ever known is what you grew up with, then chances are what is familiar is very similar to you. While that may feel safe, it won’t be beneficial when thrust into a job with people from different backgrounds.
Even traveling to different parts of your home country can significantly increase your exposure to others different from yourself. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds exposes you to different ways of thinking and behaving, leading to more tolerance and open-mindedness.
With more businesses desiring diversity, working with people from different backgrounds will be essential to most jobs.
9. Cultural Awareness
Along with exposure to more diversity, travel helps you become more culturally aware. Understanding how our own culture might differ from one individual or group and accepting those differences is being culturally aware.
Having the ability to work with those from other cultures is useful in any workplace because it’s doubtful that you’ll only have coworkers that think and behave as you do. In addition, depending on your job, you may also work with clients from other countries and cultures, so having that awareness will be critical.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Being exposed to more diversity and gaining cultural awareness develops empathy for those different from ourselves.
It’s easy to remain detached from those different from ourselves, especially if we have no real-world interaction with them. Traveling forces interaction and allows us to develop that empathy, which is critical for successfully working with different people in the workplace.
11. Problem Solving
As already mentioned, traveling tends to throw all sorts of challenges your way. Especially when in a foreign country, you’ll need to utilize all your skills and resources to find solutions to whatever comes up.
Navigating issues while traveling is a job skill that directly translates to almost any work environment and demonstrates that you are resourceful and able to handle anything the job throws at you.
12. Stress Management
While you may be able to problem-solve issues while traveling, that doesn’t mean that navigating those problems is easy. Especially in an environment utterly unfamiliar to you, it can be highly stressful to deal with roadblocks. However, if you can manage the stress of travel mishaps, you can likely manage whatever comes your way in the workplace.
Those with extended time abroad are bound to pick up at least some of the local language. Speaking multiple languages is highly valuable and increasingly crucial for working with diverse clients in such an interconnected world.
For those that have studied another language but want to build their fluency, there is no better way than to immerse yourself in a country that speaks it.
14. Global Perspective
We tend to only focus on the things that directly impact us, such as our community and country. However, as a traveler, you are exposed to the plights and triumphs of communities around the world, which gives you a global perspective.
A global perspective is critical when working for companies with an international presence. It’s also essential when working in a capacity that could impact others outside your own community or country.
The final important job skill you can learn while traveling is listening. Active listening involves making an effort to hear, understand, and retain information given to you. When traveling, you will need to learn to be an active listener so that you have the information you need to make crucial decisions and successfully navigate your trip.
Active listening is also vital in the workplace to get all the information you need and better understand your colleagues and clients. There is nothing better than feeling like someone is listening and understanding you.
Aside from being fun, traveling is also a great way to learn and practice critical job skills that will make you a highly desirable candidate in the workforce.
Whether it’s learning to think on your feet to problem-solve, honing the ability to plan and organize, or becoming more culturally aware and diverse in your thinking, these critical job skills you can learn from traveling will help you become a more balanced and better person.
Where will your travels take you next?
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.