Whether it’s in your personal life or your professional life, you should constantly be reaching outside your comfort zones and striving to improve yourself as a person. Believe it or not, there’s a way you can achieve professional growth and enhance your personal life through one of the most fulfilling life experiences a person can have: travel.
I’m blessed enough to have the opportunity to travel far and travel often in my life, and the experiences I’ve gained and the connections I’ve made have helped shape me into the woman I am today. Travel has helped me gain global perspective and has revolutionized my worldview by exposing me to people, places, cultures, and things that I may otherwise never have experienced. Here are some of the ways travel has helped my professional life and how it can help yours, too.
- Traveling makes you a better creative thinker. When you travel, you broaden your perspective and learn how to think in ways other than how you’re accustomed. The more places you go, the more people you’ll meet who can share their thoughts and ideas with you and spark creativity within you. You can use this creativity to apply to your work life and your everyday life.
- Travel can help you manage your emotions. Sometimes there are frustrating and unplanned circumstances that arise when you travel. Sometimes flights are delayed or cancelled; sometimes luggage ends up on a different flight. In these situations, you can’t control the reactions of anyone else, you can only control your own. I make sure to heighten my people skills during times of high stress because it’s my responsibility to keep myself calm in light of the stress of others. I always try to put myself in the shoes of others and remind myself that other people are feeling stress, too. It helps me keep my head in difficult situations.
- Traveling forces you to improve your communication and social skills. As you travel, especially internationally, you will encounter new people with whom you’ll need to communicate. If you travel to a land where English is not the primary language, you’ll need to hone your communications skills beyond language to get what you need. Whatever situation you may find yourself in, travel helps you develop your ability to connect with other people. I know that when I travel to other countries, it takes a lot of confidence to walk up to people whose language you don’t speak and try to communicate what it is you need. But every time I successfully communicate with someone in a different country, I’ve sharpened my communication skills a little more.
- Traveling makes you a better negotiator. Undoubtedly due to the adept social skills they learn, travelers are excellent negotiators. They can use their knowledge, charm, and cleverness to help them get better deals — be it on hotels, flights, or local nightlife— a skill that’s directly applicable in the professional world where you’re bound to run into negotiations. Sharpening these skills out in the world can help make you more confident when you negotiate back in the office.
- Traveling can make you more self-confident. An important trait in leadership is being confident in yourself and the decisions you make. Traveling provides you with experiences that force you to be confident. Be it climbing the highest mountain in a country or even asking a stranger for the time, each little accomplishment as you travel helps boost how you view yourself.
- Traveling helps your problem-solving skills. When you travel, you’re apt to run into roadblocks and snafus. However, each obstacle you encounter only increases your knowledge of how to solve problems effectively and efficiently, a trait that is absolutely applicable in your professional life. I oftentimes find myself with a delayed flight or weather problems — just last Sunday I was rained out on a trip to Atlanta! To help avoid frustration and keep myself productive, I always bring a little work with me so that I can use the unplanned downtime to get stuff done!
Traveling the globe and experiencing new cultures is one of the best ways that you can enhance your life. By widening your perspective, you widen the lens through which you see the world and other people. Traveling can make you more accepting of others and more receptive to new ideas, both of which are imperative traits to have in life, both professionally and personally.