A college degree is good, but how well-rounded is your education without travel? Nothing builds character or broadens your perspective like making your way in a foreign land with limited knowledge of its language, terrain, customs and currency. And the skills you learn from traveling can be applied not only to every day life, but also to the workplace.
So don’t feel obligated to pass over that backpacking excursion through Asia this summer in favor of a more practical pursuit. There are plenty of reasons why your experiences abroad can help you stand out as a desirable job candidate. Here’s what a well-traveled background says about you.
Perhaps the main trait that separates those who love travel from those who don’t is curiosity. Travel is usually motivated by a desire to see the world through the eyes of others and compare their lives with yours. It’s driven by a curiosity of history and the way humans have lived through the ages. Being curious requires imagination, a characteristic that’s often difficult to quantify in job experience alone.
Having a better grasp of the world is a real bonus for most jobs, especially if you live in a city with lots of cultural diversity. Knowing a second language, even marginally, can be a great advantage in many jobs. Having an understanding of different cultural nuances and customs can also prove extremely helpful in most workplaces. And there are many jobs—in finance, business or politics for instance—where having an understanding of the world is a necessity.
You’re Organized and Goal Oriented
Planning a trip, especially a long one, can be a complicated and involved project. It requires a tremendous amount of foresight, research and organization, including budgeting, arranging passports and visas, researching accommodations and transportation, and navigating various currency exchanges. Anyone who has ever traveled abroad knows that organized planning can make or break a trip.
People who like to travel, especially to places off the beaten track, are by definition adventurous. You’re leaving your comfort zone for an experience that you hope will broaden your horizons and open your mind. Travelers often crave change and seek out new experiences. This suggests to employers that you aren’t afraid to take chances and think out of the box, that you’re fun and innovative.
Being well-traveled suggests an ability to adapt to unique and changing situations. If you’ve ever found yourself in a third world country facing less than stellar accommodations or have had to find your way around a city without being able to read street signs or ask for help, you’ve developed coping skills that your less traveled peers haven’t. Being adaptable is a trait that is highly prized in a workplace environment, where a company depends on teamwork to thrive.
Employers are human. Sure, they’re looking for the best-qualified person for the job. But they also want to work with interesting people. And travel makes you interesting for a number of reasons. You have interesting anecdotes and have seen fascinating things. You have a wider knowledge of the world, politics and culture. And by nature, you’re interested in more than just yourself, which is an advantage in any situation, workplace or otherwise.