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People often email me and share their concerns about going traveling, which is entirely understandable – I did exactly the same thing before I set off in 2006. A common concern from Generation ‘Y’ers, whether directly out of school/university or career-breaking in their twenties, is that when they return to the ‘real world’ that potential employers will shun them and their vagabonding ways. I always tell them that the truth is probably quite the opposite.

does traveling hurt my career prospects?
Traveling doesn't hurt your career prospects, if anything it enhances them

Ok so you’ve got your degree or you’ve worked in an industry for 2, 3, 5 years but you’re itching to see the world. You’ve heard the rumours of Thai whisky buckets at a full moon party, or the bums on show on Copacabana beach. You’re fed up seeing your mates’ skydiving videos pop up on facebook and you want some of that lifestyle yourself! BUT… you have that nagging doubt…

  • “I can’t quit just my job”
  • “what if I cant get another job when I come back”
  • “who’s going to want to give me  a job when I tell them I’ve been unemployed for the last 15months”
  • “I can’t just have a blank space on my resume/CV for a whole year”
thinking about traveling
This time next year you could be seeing sunsets on the other side of the world!

Right, time to get serious guys. First of all – traveling is awesome, I mean really awesome. Of all the people I have ever met traveling (well in excess of one thousand people) only one (ONE!) has regretted traveling. More than that, the vast majority has said it was the best time of their lives. So before we even deal with the fear and worry about employers, jobs, resumes lets just take a second to appreciate that. Here you have a chance to potentially have the best time of your life, something you’ve wanted to do for years, something that perhaps in the near future may not be possible (mortgage, young kids, car repayments etc), a chance to experience cultures and see sights that you’ve only ever seen in the movies – where you wake up in the morning and don’t know what country you’ll be in that night, every meal time is an adventure, it’ll positively change the lens through which you see life, help you appreciate what need and, more importantly, don’t need. Ok stop digressing Johnny! Lets deal with the employer situation.

traveling vrs career
A stint overseas may be exactly what you need to reinvigorate your career

“You can’t just quit your job”. So politely yet firmly ask for a sabbatical, explain your situation with them. If they grant you your career break/sabbatical, thank them profusely and pack your bags. If they deny your request, and your heart is still fluttering from continent to continent, then do you really want to work for a company that would hold you back. . If the job isn’t enough to keep your mind from wandering overseas, then is it really the job for you? Remember: – that’s only your job (of which you’ll have many) BUT this is your life (of which you’ll only have one).

 

So, you don’t want to “leave a gap on your resume”? You don’t want to seem as if you’ve “been unemployed for a year”? Completely understandable, so don’t! When you’re home, and applying for jobs write your corporate experience and then write, with pride, what you’ve been doing for the last 6, 12, 18 months. You’ve been white-water rafting the source of the Nile? Wow! Teaching English in Korea? Awesome! Volunteering in Peru? Amazing! I challenge any employer not to be impressed by that. These are the things that set us apart from our rivals, nobody wants a grim, grey, drab employee – they want the youthful candidate who has the work experience, then the life experience, and has returned with a renewed vigour in the workplace – sell it to them, because it’s true!

 

Passion is the lifeblood of our youth so let’s live our lives with passion, do what we want, be impulsive and enjoy the consequences. Do it while you can because you’ll never be as young as you are tonight. Good luck and happy travels J

 

 

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0 thoughts on “Is travel harmful to my career prospects?

  1. Great posts. I just returned from a 15 month trip which was AWESOME! Definitely no regrets whatsoever. I’m starting to look for jobs but can’t figure out how to fill in the gap on my resume. Do I just put “Traveller” as my job title and “The World” as my employer? lol I guess I’m just trying to figure out the formating side of it. Any advice would be great. Thanks

    1. i love a bit of creative writing so be free with it! Personally, this is what i would do (up to u mate!) – i’d reduce the traveling time to 12 months (nice and compact, ‘i needed to find myself for a year bs’, employers will love that). Then, i’d leave your employment history with the 12 month space, but at the top of your resume or wherever you put your personal strengths – prominently include your travel, with one or two small highlights. In my experience your employers, if they like you, will spend as much time talking about that as your eligibility for the job! Everybody wants to travel – your prospective employers to, so don’t worry about it mate 🙂

  2. There’s another key aspect to this: If your employer isn’t impressed by those things, it’s probably not somewhere you want to be working anyway!

    1. hey kelsey – couldn’t agree more, and if you’re gonna sell your soul to a corporation the least we can do is find a nice one to sell it too!

  3. I definitely think that traveling for a year or more makes a person more whole and universal, especially if you do it alone. I can now understand why many Europeans and Australians take a gap year prior to university or after graduating from university.

    1. fidel – i think you’re 100% right on the traveling alone thing. That takes a lot of confidence and is a scary decision to take but if you can go through with it, it helps in more ways than you can ever dream. Once you get over the initial fear, you realise a backpacker is never truly alone 🙂

    1. hey andi, i really think (hope?) it’s true, but i guess there must be a tipping point after a couple of years where the employer may stop seeing the benefits of travel and start looking at the fact that we’ve been ‘unemployed’ for years lol! :S

      1. One of the solutions to that is to include some experiences in your travel that might appear to a potential employer as something other than just a vacation. Volunteering, publishing, etc, can all help your resume during a lengthy stay abroad.

  4. As someone whose’s on her last week of being employed, I really appreciate this post. We always have doubt in our choice but have decided to take the chance anyway. We’ll see how it goes 🙂

  5. I can’t count the times peeps have said “I wish I could do what you guys are doing?”. I tell them that they don’t have to wish, they have to choose to. If it is their passion they will make that choice, but they have to overcome the fear and break the warm security blanket. And as far as it affecting their career paths, I personally think that if for some reason I was to ever go back to corporate life (but I won’t) my CV would be even stronger than it was with the experiences I have gained.

  6. You’re absolutely right, sometimes the American side of me comes out and I start stressing about my future and job prospects, but my Spanish friends remind me I’m young and this experience will only enrich my CV later on. Great post!

    1. hi christine, what u trying to say – the spaniards are more fun than the americans?! 😮 lol, you’re right in what u say, we’re only young once and we GOTTA make the most of it 🙂

  7. Excellent read mate. Indeed, when I came back to the states and I applied for jobs, the employers were all impressed with what I had been doing by traveling. They were envious and wished they could do the same. I ask them, “Why don’t you?” and that usually leaves them thinking long and hard.

    1. hey shawn, hahaha yeah mate i can imagine that going down like that! It’s great to hear that your traveling experience actually helped tho – did u get a good job in the end?

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