How Travel Really Can Help Your Career

Career is definitely high on the list of factors that hold people back from traveling more. It’s understandable. No one wants to fall behind their peers, make a major career misstep, or loose direction in life.

A few weeks ago, I was hired for my literal dream job reviewing hotels for Oyster.com. I’ll be traveling around the world, staying in hotels, writing, and taking photos. I’ll essentially be getting paid to do things that I love doing – that I would do (and often have done) for free anyway.

I never would have landed this fantastic job if I hadn’t decided to quit my dead-end job three years ago to go traveling. So let’s talk about how taking time off to travel can actually help you achieve your goals and advance your career.

It Gives You Time to Think About What You Want

Lamenting “the system” is pretty much a cliché at this point (especially among travel bloggers) but it’s nonetheless true that passing robotically from one standard milestone to the next – from high school to university; from university to work – never gave me the opportunity to think about what I really wanted for myself. I did everything I was supposed to do and I ended up with a life I didn’t remember ever actually choosing.

I think the only way to look critically at the way your life is unfolding is to step outside of it and shake up your usual routine. It’s better to realize in your twenties that you’re heading down the wrong career path (or confirm to yourself that you’re on the right one), than to realize it a few decades from now.

When I started traveling, I was removed from everything familiar and everything I thought I knew. It was the first time I was able to clearly understand what really mattered to me and what I truly valued in life. That’s when I realized I had been settling for a career that was just “good enough”, instead of one that brought me real joy and satisfaction.

It Exposes You to Careers You May Never Have Considered

When Brent and I first left on what we thought would be a year-long trip, I had never read a travel blog and I honestly thought we were pretty much the only people crazy enough to do something like this. Once we hit the road, however, I realized that there were countless other people all over the world who had decided to take time off to travel.

Not only that, I met people doing things I had never even heard of before: Online entrepreneurs, full-time bloggers, digital nomads, and hundreds of other people who had found creative ways to earn a living doing things they loved.

The people I met on the road were constant proof that anything was possible, and that there was no reason for me to return to a job that I wasn’t excited to wake up for each day.

It Really Does Impress Employers

 

People always told me that travel looks great on a resume, but I never really believed it. I thought it would be a bit like highlighting my GPA in university or the activities I was involved in – no one in the real world would really care.

I used to feel like I was putting on a show at interviews; wearing clothes I wasn’t comfortable in and trying to figure out what I was supposed to say. My interview with Oyster.com was different. For the first time in my life, I went to an interview knowing exactly who I was, what I wanted, and why I was an awesome candidate for the job.

I knew my travel experience would be an asset since this particular job involves a lot of traveling, but what I didn’t expect were all the other wonderful qualities my interviewers associated with traveling. They saw someone independent, resourceful, and open-minded (things I strive to be, and sometimes maybe even am).

Plus, you know those behavioral interview questions that involve telling stories about past experiences? Those kinds of questions used to stump me, but not now. Now I have a whole lot of stories to share.

Jessica Dawdy

Jessica Dawdy is a serial expat who has been slowly working her way around the world since 2011. She’s lived in 7 different countries, doing everything from painting houses to teaching English. Catch up with her travel stories and expat adventures at Ways of Wanderers. Read more about Jessica here.

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20 thoughts on “How Travel Really Can Help Your Career”

  1. You brought up some very interesting points. But I ask myself, if there’s a point, sort of an invisible line where one may have traveled too much, and makes it not look so impressive to prospective employers. Or even it can negatively affect that you moved around too often. I’d really like to know!

    1. Anecdotally, when my husband started job searching after 5 years on the road he was initially met with some skepticism (how come you want to be tied down NOW? What if you just leave again?). Fortunately he was able to find a company that actually embraces travel- it’s 100% remote so they don’t really care where he is as long as the work gets done. I can definitely see potential challenges, but I think it’s also about finding a company that’s a good fit.

    2. That was definitely a concern of mine too, but I imagine if you can explain why you started traveling, how it has helped you develop as a person, and how you achieve a balance between work and travel, it would alleviate the doubts most employers could have about your commitment to the job.

  2. I’m (obviously) a huge advocate for travel and its benefits in *normal* life… Most notably, I have taken some serious time off from school to go travel, and some people think this is a bad idea but doing this has done nothing but serve me well and give me time to process and grow. I think more people should be open to this!

  3. Loved this post! I just started a blog and my goal is to take a year off when I get my degree (July 2017). It seems so far away, but it’s very exciting for me. Now I’m not dreading to wake up in the morning anymore

  4. Yes, yes, yes. While others (family) are finding it hard to believe, I know that this year of traveling and volunteering abroad is going to help me in the long-term, especially as I want a job that involves international work.

  5. Hi Jessica,

    I’ve never heard of Oyster.com and now, thanks to your post, I am applying for a freelance photographer position in Ft. Lauderdale with Oyster! Their positions sound absolutely amazing and so perfect for what I’d like to do for living – travelling, writing, taking pictures.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Katya

  6. We always tend to miss on something worth learning, as we are more focused on the set goal and do not cherish the moments of how your path to reach there was. You tend to stay calm and approachable than what you really were. Improves your communication skill making your journey more enjoyable. More over your organization skills definitely are improved and adaptability to an unfamiliar circumstance helps you get out of the comfort zone.
    I believe this is how it helps the career!

  7. Totally agree that a career break for travel does not have to be negative gap! After I took a year out from my accountancy job, instead of me having to actually look for a new job I was contacted by a previous client who had followed our travels around the world then wanted to offer me a great job as he actually admired and respected our adventure, and in particular our travel blog. After roughly 6 months of working there, I cheekily asked for another few months off to do some more travel then returned to work and got a promotion! Go figure that! Perhaps I was also a little bit lucky with my timing, however this also shows that good employers respect travel! 🙂

  8. “For the first time in my life, I went to an interview knowing exactly who I was, what I wanted, and why I was an awesome candidate for the job.”

    This resonates so, so much with me. I just landed my dream job last week and felt the EXACT same going into my interview. Funny how life always seems to work out 🙂

    Congrats!

  9. That’s really amazing! Sounds like a great opportunity. I know many people, like me, who have entered into a life of travel and aren’t sure exactly what the right career move is. There is always the option to go back to that thing that you used to do but weren’t in love with, with hopes that it will be better the next time around, but it’s also great to know that with traveling, the experiences you have and people you meet will lead to better, different opportunities in the future that are more in line with who you are. Definitely inspirational to hear and I agree that those people you meet on the round are always proof that other lifestyles exist and can be successful. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Word! We always hear our friends say that they could never just take off and go travel because it has nothing to do with their careers. Obviously, we find it completely bogus for someone to say that! We feel like we really became who we are today BECAUSE of traveling, learning languages, and immersing ourselves in cultures and in fact, every interview we’ve gone in, traveling tends to connect us with the interviewer that much more. Basically, loved the post! PREACH!

  11. “It really does impress employers” is very true. I can’t say how many times, for better or worse, interviewers have been more interested in our trip instead of previous jobs!

  12. I’m glad you have found yourself, usually people that do this are insecure of themselves and have gone through some sort of unhappiness, or trauma in their life. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I guess it’s just
    Iike having a fantastic job, not everyone scores that either. I hope that I don’t offend anyone, but it’s my opinion. I wish everyone well who decides to do this, and best of luck!

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