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.
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”
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.
“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