Many young people who undertake an extended period of travel worry that it will hinder their ability to find a job and kick off their career when they eventually return home.
The truth is that the skills and experience you gain while travelling can make you a hugely desirable candidate for potential employers. A recent study showed that 80% of employers think travel makes you a better candidate for a job. We’ve written before about how to talk about your gap year in a job interview, so this time we’re focusing on what job skills travelling gives you and which careers you might pursue.
Allow us to state the obvious for a moment: having travelled the world makes you a great candidate for working in a travel-related industry. So many roles revolve around having detailed knowledge of specific destinations and the practicalities of travel, which are much harder to teach than the technical aspects of a job.
Consider a travel agent, for example: a key part of their job is being intimately acquainted with destinations around the world so they can pass that firsthand knowledge and reassurance to their customers. This gives you the pleasure of sending others to the places you’ve loved (and you might get travel discounts to continue your own adventures).
Nikita Panchal of G2V Recruitment tells us why they are keen to hire travellers returning home:
“When travellers return to the nine to five life they are recharged and ready to hit the world of work. Travel gives people communication and life skills. Travel opens your mind to the endless opportunities the world has to offer, and the saying ‘the world is your oyster’ becomes more than just a metaphor.”
She tells us recruitment is an ideal career path:
“You don’t need experience, you can hit the ground running and go from zero to one hundred really quickly unlike many other career paths. As long as you have a can-do attitude, ambition and drive, you can have a very rewarding career in the recruitment sector! Obviously former travellers like to continue traveling the world, and a salary in sales allows our employees to earn lots of money and still travel the world during their well-earned annual leave in nothing short of luxury and style.”
Similarly, you might seek work writing about your travels. Equally important to writing ability is having the experience to know what you’re writing about. Every writer for us here at Gapyear.com has travelled extensively and visited the destinations they write about.
There are also plenty of jobs that directly involve travelling. You could work as a tour leader, guiding the same tours you took during your travels, as a flight attendant, cruise ship crew, or teach English as a foreign language abroad. Any employer in these fields is likely to look positively upon your travel experience when considering you for the role.
Careers that follow on from your travels
If you plan ahead, you can dedicate a portion of your travels to a job or volunteer role that will directly help you pursue your chosen career when you return home.
For example, if you’re interested in becoming a teacher, you can spend six months teaching English as a foreign language in China. This experience may give you the edge in landing a teaching assistant role or a place on a PGCE course.
If you go skiing for a portion of your gap year, you might turn this into a job at a ski resort. If you’re interested in eventually pursuing a career as a marine biologist, you could join a marine volunteering project. You get the idea. There are countless opportunities while you travel, each of them amazing experiences in their own right, and each of them a potential foot in the door of a potential career.
These travel experiences alone might not be enough to land a dream job, but alongside the right qualifications they can make you stand out from the pack, and prove your dedication to the field.
Ryan Chitty of Skiworld has this to say about hiring former travellers:
“As a travel company focussed on winter ski holidays to mountain ranges all over the planet, our best staff tend to be those with some worldly experience. People with an intelligible grasp of how different societies operate gives them a greater understanding of communication in general. This often equates to more compassion and understanding in team situations and when speaking to colleagues, clients and guests.
“Any kind of travel will teach lessons in budgeting, communication and planning – crucial skills for careers in travel and tourism. But the independence gained from an extended trip away encourages more lateral thought processes which make individuals better problem solvers, either alone or as part of a team.
“As well as being tangible advantages in terms of personality, these are all reasons why Skiworld thinks people with travel experience make good employees for both our ski season jobs and roles in our London head office.”
Non-travel related careers
Even if you’re not interested in a travel-related career, you should never shy away from discussing your gap year in a job interview. Obviously you want to be selective – no employer needs to know about the time you passed out and wet yourself during a Full Moon Party. Instead, talk about the organisational feats of acquiring visas and crossing borders, how you met people and made new friends, stayed with locals, and stepped outside your comfort zone to try new experiences.
These all speak of traits that are desirable to any employer: strong organisation, good communication, independent thinking, confidence. Every candidate for a job will claim to possess these skills in abundance – you will have clear examples of how you’ve demonstrated them in the real world.