Remember when the roadmap to a successful career was a straight line? First, get a degree, then find a 9-5 job, then climb the corporate ladder. Sounds a bit like a dull TV rerun from decades ago, doesn’t it? Ah, but how things change. The modern landscape of careers has drastically evolved, and so should your approach.
Of course, one short article can’t begin to cover all the many different approaches to take to land that dream job or excel in your current career. So we’re focusing on one interesting approach that doesn’t get enough credit. And that’s traveling. So let’s dive in.
A World Beyond Borders: The Intersection of Career and Travel
Imagine a world where your career isn’t just what you do, but also what you experience. Have you ever considered how international travel can serve as a catalyst for career growth? It’s time to open that map and start plotting your next adventure.
Investor and operator Kapish Haldia, for example, credits his international travel to more than two dozen countries for giving him valuable global exposure that’s boosted his career and enriched his life.
Let’s explore some of the ways travel can help you learn or perfect some skills and traits that will help you in your career.
Cultural Intelligence: A Soft Skill for a Global World
Let’s face it; we live in a world more connected than ever before. The internet might make us virtual neighbors, but nothing beats an on-the-ground experience to gain cultural intelligence (CQ), which the Harvard Business Review defines as the “ability to interpret someone’s unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures in just the way that person’s compatriots and colleagues would, even to mirror them.”
While you certainly don’t need to travel to have CQ, it certainly does help. And this enriched worldview not only makes you more empathetic but also a more versatile professional.
Multilingualism: A Multifaceted Asset
It’s a no-brainer: speaking more than one language can be a huge addition to your skill set. Travel pushes you to learn new languages, or to at least appreciate the nuance of communication barriers. And this makes you a better team player and negotiator.
It’s true that you don’t have to travel to learn a language. You’ve no doubt heard about the many language-learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo that can teach you a new language in the privacy of your own home (or anywhere you are, for that matter). But practicing your Spanish in Spain, for example, makes it much easier to learn and perfect their language because you’re immersed in the culture and surrounded by native speakers.
Inspiration Through Unfamiliarity
We’ve all been stuck in a creative rut. That’s where travel can come in. Think of international travel as a kaleidoscope, endlessly shifting patterns and colors. Exposure to new cultures, landscapes, and customs can spark your creativity like opening a new set of water-color paints did when you were a kid.
Let’s be honest, traveling isn’t always smooth sailing — but sometimes that can be a good thing! Missed flights and language barriers are your real-world classroom for problem-solving and adaptability. You’ll return not just with souvenirs but also with a newfound ability to tackle challenges head-on.
The Diverse Rolodex: Expand Your Contacts and Opportunities
It’s not just what you know but who you know. While LinkedIn might extend your reach, nothing replaces the connection made over a shared experience. International travel puts you in the room with people you’d never encounter otherwise—potential partners, mentors, and game changers in your field.
And who knows? Perhaps those new connections you acquire during your travels may lead to a new career abroad. In fact, some adventurous, career-minded individuals find that they don’t have to choose between a fulfilling career and a nomadic lifestyle. They (and maybe you) can have both. What’s more, the growing trend of digital nomadism makes it easier to work from anywhere, offering a blend of career growth and globe-trotting.
Escaping the Work-life Hamster Wheel
Work-life balance isn’t just a trendy buzzword; it’s a necessity. Ever noticed how a short getaway can recharge your batteries? Imagine the positive impact of an extended international trip, freeing your mind and ultimately making you a more productive asset to your team. You can boost your productivity through the detox and rejuvenation that a vacation abroad can deliver.
If your career were a book, wouldn’t you want it to be an epic filled with adventures, lessons, and diverse characters? International travel doesn’t just add stamps to your passport; it enriches your professional narrative. So go ahead—expand that horizon, because your career is a global journey waiting to be explored.