Bee Says: My fiancé Nick and I both took the plunge last year to quit the London rat race and our reasonably high flying careers, to travel to the wilds of South & Central America. It was the best decision of our lives. As we prepare to return to the UK (and the dreaded job hunt) we are aware that long gone are the days where travelling is a faux pas on your CV. Instead we wanted to share the incredibly-attractive employable skills that travelling equips you with:
1. Problem Solving: There was a moment about a week into our travels where I scrunched my eyes shut and thought if I can get through this, I will be able to handle ANYTHING else life throws at me. I was in a bus station in one of Venezuela’s more unsavory towns. I was trying to find out if there was a bus leaving, at what time and where it was leaving from. I had to do this all in Spanish (I don’t speak Spanish). I also had a “Welcome to Latin America” stomach bug that had me racing to the loos every ten minutes. Oh… and did I mention it was 10pm at night? Any traveler will have moments like this, which you can draw strength from forever more, as no meeting/deadline/presentation will ever be this hard… or scary!
2. World Perspective: It’s scary how small your life can become when working the 9-5 (or 8-7 is more accurate). Have you ever sat in a meeting and glazed over as the tiniest detail is argued over again and again and again? It is so easy to lose perspective. Travelling brings you back into the workplace a changed person, and that unique view is so valuable in a team scenario of people who haven’t travelled. You will have memories and opinions and thoughts from such a broad range of cultures that you can’t help to bring a fresh perspective to any project without even trying.
3. Multi-Tasking: There is nothing like learning a new skill (White water rafting? Paddle boarding? Making Guatemalan chocolate?), whilst also planning your route to the next destination, whilst also honing your language skills for the part of the world you are in, whilst converting the currency, whilst also booking a bed for the next night, whilst also booking a night bus for a few weeks time because you heard they sell out in advance, whilst also making some new friends to head out for a beer with. Travelling is in many ways more demanding than fulltime work; it certainly isn’t just all lazing about in a hammock (although multi-tasking from a hammock is way more fun!)
Nick Says: I’m actually looking forward to going back and starting a new job – the time away has left me feeling refreshed and energized, things which your new employer is certainly going to appreciate. We think any company would be lucky to have someone who’s back from successfully taking on the world.
4. People Skills: If there’s one thing you can depend upon to get yourself ahead in any career, its good people skills. And your skills need to be brilliant when travelling in a foreign country. Whether you’re making a new travel buddy who’ll watch your back in countless situations, haggling for the best price in a market, or making such good friends with your guest-house owner that they throw you an engagement party and tell you they’ll try and make your wedding, it’s the human interactions which will make your trip, and make networking with co-workers an absolute breeze.
5. Learning to say no: This might seem an odd one, but I’ve found that bosses actually respect you a lot more when you recognize your limits and know when to stand up for yourself in the face of unreasonable requests. It might seem hard when all you know is the working world, but a few months in the wild and you’ll know just how far you can be pushed – whether it’s to touts, or to an offer from a not entirely trustworthy guide to jump 15 metres from a bridge into a Guatemalan river, where you can quite clearly see rocks poking out. As Bee said, I don’t think I could have expected much sympathy if I’d broken something doing that…
6. Independent thought: Also known as accountability. There is no-one who can help you out here, or who is responsible for your decisions. This is both liberating and terrifying, but will make you a brilliant addition to any company. If you can navigate some of the most dodgy cities and countries in the world, as well as some interesting border crossings, choosing who to trust along the way, as well as balancing money and safety, then you can certainly be trusted to take the initiative in a working environment. A key tip here though is to always smile at the Panamanian soldier who likes to empathise his every point by jabbing his machine gun at you.
I think we’re both far more equipped to deal with the working world now, and returning to full-time employment certainly doesn’t hold as much fear as some of the situations we’ve found ourselves in over the last few months. To read about just what we’ve come up against, and how we dealt with it, follow our blog www.twentysomethingburnouts.com
Here at Invasion we’d like to say a big thank you to our GuestBloggers, Bee and Nick, for this post!
For more on their travels then head on over to www.twentysomethingburnouts.com where you will be blown away by their phenomenal adventures across South and Central America!