5 ways travel can boost your development

Gap years might sound like consecutive beach days to some. However, done right they’re actually full of opportunities for personal growth and professional development. Travelling can be challenging, exhilarating and life-changing. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how you thrive in all kinds of situations, which is really valuable experience for potential employers.


If you’ve just finished a few months of island hopping, or you’re about to set off on a year abroad, here are 5 professional and personal skills you’ll be able to include on your CV.


1. Learn to be flexible and independent


Nothing develops your flexibility quite like having to adapt to new cultures, negotiate public transport in a foreign language and budget your hard-earned travel fund. Travelling isn’t a non-stop party; it requires you to adapt to the place you find yourself in, be open to making new friends and seize new experiences. That takes resourcefulness, planning skills and open-mindedness.


Several months of travel in foreign countries will pose a lot of challenges, as well as present plenty of fun experiences too. It’s how you deal with the tough stuff, and make the most of the fun stuff, that matters.


2. Build more confidence


There’s a good reason why travel has often been a priority for school and university leavers. It helps you to grow up much faster. Becoming more flexible and more independent gradually builds confidence.


While abroad, try new things and find out what you’re good at. You’ll feel a lot more equipped to deal with the difficult things that come up in life, both personally and professionally.


Employers are always looking for people with maturity and experience beyond their years. With growing confidence, you’ll be more equipped to tackle a new job role, challenge, or opportunity.


3. Gain international work experience


As well as sightseeing, travelling can include working abroad. This could be casual work to fund further travel, volunteering for a local cause, employment with a foreign company or a secondment from your regular employer.


Like all work experience, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about a new industry and work in an international setting. Learn and develop your skills such as teamwork, management, working to deadlines, customer service and many more. There will also be the added experience of adapting to a new culture, meeting new people and building friendships in a brand new setting.


It also doesn’t hurt that living and working in a different country for a few months will give you a lot to talk about in an interview.


4. Improve your social skills


Friendships are bound to form when you’re thrown together in a hostel or crowded train carriage. Travelling will help you make lifelong friends, as well as network in and around your future career path. Doing all this in a different culture, and potentially a different language, will ‘level up’ your communication skills too.


Employers are always looking for people who mix well with others and can adapt to new social situations and challenges. No one ever truly works on their own, and that makes emotionally intelligent, sociable candidates the most employable. Any future employers want to know that you’ll get on with new people and build strong relationships, no matter where you are.


friends in a cafe


5. Learn a new language


Learning a new language either before or during your travel experience will make it easier to get the best out of your new location, as well as improve your employability. You could even take a vocational language course, so you have a tangible qualification to add to your CV upon your return home.


Language skills are very desirable to employers, even if they don’t work directly with foreign language speaking clients and customers. On a practical level, you can communicate with more people and build relationships across language barriers. Learning a language also demonstrates you can apply yourself to learning something new and have the drive and initiative to learn a new skill.


Travel is a great way to make your CV stand out and pack it full of valuable skills. Exploring new places and cultures is full of benefits, both personal and professional. If you needed any more encouragement to go travelling, this is it!


Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.

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