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It is not unheard of for employers to question gaps in employment history.  Not long ago, I was at work when a department manager approached me to discuss an applicant.  The applicant they were considering had quit her last job to travel.  They were very concerned about this choice, and at her lack of skills after missing one year in the workforce.  They might not offer her the job because of her choice to take a year off to travel.The applicant’s choice didn’t seem odd to me at all.  Hooray for her is what I thought!  While this is not uncommon, it got me thinking about travel, work, and life, and maximizing those transferrable skills somewhere in between.  I disagree with employers who do not feel those who travel possess incredibly valuable skills to be used in the workplace.

Personally, I think travel is one of the best forms of education a person can get!

Readers of this blog know that we are a couple who work full time and maximize our travels each year.  We do not believe people should be forced to be absolute slaves to the workforce.  Instead, we believe in balance.  Because of my professional background in human resources recruiting and workforce training, I figure this is a great opportunity to shed some light on this type of issue and provide a few tips too.  When I considered the scenario of a well-qualified applicant being disqualified for a position because she chose to travel, I was bummed out.  But, this happens more often than many of us would like to admit.  So, where does all of this meet and how does it all mix together?

Surely there are more than enough skills people obtain and master while they are traveling which translate perfectly into the work world.  Traveling is an engaging experience where new things are always being learned and practiced.  Exploring the world can be very challenging – forcing people to think on their feet, step out of their comfort zones, and expand their horizons. Employers should want a candidate who brings that to the table!

With that in mind, here are 20 travel skills you can add to your work resume right now!

  1. Communication
  2. Problem Solving
  3. Interpreting Information
  4. Creative Thinking
  5. Math Computation
  6. Organization
  7. Time Management
  8. Decision Making
  9. Language Acquisition
  10. Cultural Diversity
  11. Planning
  12. Multi-tasking
  13. Flexibility
  14. Teamwork
  15. Operating Technology
  16. Respect
  17. Risk Management
  18. Following Directions
  19. Ability To Function Independently
  20. Prioritization

There truly are so many ways travel skills turn into work skills

Lets face it, travel is one of the most customer service oriented industries out there.  There’s a reason it’s interchangeably referred to as the “hospitality industry”.  When you travel, spend some time observing the professionals you encounter on the road.  Its amazing to watch the standards they set which you can learn from and can easily take these examples with you to your job.  Really, I don’t know of many industries where employers want their customers treated poorly by their employees.  So travel, watch, and learn!

Cruise ship passengers mingle with officers and executive staff members aboard a Celebrity Cruise.

In addition to that, many employers today struggle with employees who are dependable.  By consistently arriving at the airport on time or checking out of the hotel, you are learning what it’s like to show up on time and being ready to go.  If you think traveling doesn’t involve math computation, think about all the times you’ve had to exchange currency, calculate your mileage, or work on your travel budget.

Travelers learn to communicate not only through language, but also non-verbal communication methods and gestures.

You learn to function as a team and independently.  And between electronic boarding passes, requesting rides through Uber, or using Google Maps, technology is always present in travel.  There are so many ways travel skills can translate into work skills.  Really, unless you spend your entire time lounging on a beach doing absolutely nothing else, travel gives you invaluable work experience.  Heck, even the beach scenario can translate into stress management techniques.

So the next time you decide to update your resume, be sure to include some of the skills listed above.  Even if you have been traveling for awhile and its time to return to work, always remember you have acquired plenty of skills on the road.

You’re never too old to stop learning. Here some travelers are learning about local flora in Costa Rica!

Many millennials are changing the workforce.  As a millennial myself, I truly believe in finding better work/life balance than generations before me.  If you want learn about ways you can travel more while still maintaining a full time job, we have plenty of ideas on that too:

How to travel more with a full time job

What travel skills have you learned on the road and applied to your day job?  Tell us about them in the comments below!

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49 Comments

  1. Excellent post! Very interesting to read the many things involved in traveling – things most folks likely do not think about.

  2. This is so important and helpful – it’s about time employers recognize the enriching value a new skill set acquired when traveling for long periods of time. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have had a few gaps in my CV/Resume over the years due to travelling, and always ensured this was written on my CV, but never actually considered writing any skills as well. It never occurred to me that an employer may not consider me for a role because I had taken a “gap year” or whatever, so this is excellent advice, thank you so much for sharing. Pinned! #feetdotravel

    1. Unfortunately, some employers just don’t like when people are out of the workforce. But, they still are learning so much!!

  4. I never thought to add my travel skills to a job resume. What a great idea and your suggestions are perfect. You’re right that traveling teaches us so many skills and affords us lots of learning opportunities. Pinning this in case I need it later. #WeekendWanderlust

  5. I agree with your 20, and we could probably add so many more. I saw my 20-year-old daughter blossom as we traveled through Europe and she got more comfortable talking with people on the train, in restaurants. And she navigated us through undergrounds and train stations. So many skills were honed in a 2-week trip!

  6. This is a great post; love the idea to add all your skills aquired through travel to your work resume. I agree with you, you learn so much from travel; and adding all of it to you rresume is the best idea I’ve seen in a while. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a great idea for a post and so very true. To see all the skills it takes to oraganise travel is very impressive and I think we somethimes forget it doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of skill and effort to arrange the perfect trip.

    1. I keep telling my non-traveling friends, “it’s not as easy as it looks”. There is a lot of work that goes into traveling and many skills that are put into place.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you too faced this challenge. There is plenty to learn from traveling that applies to the work world!

  8. This is an excellent post which really highlights some of the great benefits of travel. Although I’m long past an age to be in the workforce I found this helpful as it clarified for me the enormous amount I’d honed my skills by being on the road. My husband and I travelled continuously and independently for years and we sure learned about time management, and being organized. Oh and really really paring down to the absolute minimum that was needed.

    1. I think these skills are taken for granted by employers. They should capitalize on this instead of turning their back on it!

  9. Same thing happened to me. I went traveling for a year and it took me ages to get a job. So many companies are reluctant to take a chance on employees who have gaps in their resume. When I became a manager I made sure to give people who’d gone traveling a chance to reenter the workforce. Travel has some fabulous life skills as well as practical skills.

  10. Yes to all of this! I find it incredible and so narrow-minded when potential employers can’t see this point of view. It seems so obvious to me that travel is educational and skill-building. Great idea for a post.

  11. I couldn’t agree more! In my years as a manager in a big corporate company I would seek out employees who had shown initiative & independance which travel can give you in abundance. As you point out so eloquently it’s how you frame your experience that makes all the difference!

    1. I love that you sought these skills out instead of running from them. Thanks for giving those travelers/workers a chance!

  12. These are all great skills. Traveling can help us improve our decision making skills, problem solving, time management and organizational skills. These can really be helpful for future jobs

  13. This list is SO HELPFUL. Coming from a corporate background, I’ve really struggled with how to present myself as a travel professional now that I’ve started my full time travel business. Thanks for the great buzz words 🙂

  14. a lovely idea shared to add & empower the resume for travel lovers, bever thought of this
    thanks & am gonna start by adding to my resume, yeah!!
    cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  15. What a great idea for a post! My international experiences have been so beneficial to my professional life and its great to get more ideas about how I can explained the benefits I’ve gained from these.

    1. Agree – many people will be looking for work. These skills can be applicable for travelers and non-travelers alike.

  16. I love this! I’m lucky I work in a place that is supportive of time off for any reason. The problem I still have to learn is how to not return with a mountain of issues that have been left for me to solve!

    1. That’s a struggle for sure! I have a post in the queue that discusses this very issue and am hoping to publish it once thing return to “normal”.

  17. So true! I wish more employers recognised this! When I came back from a year of travelling it took me 2 months to get my first interview as no one wanted to hire a travelling teacher even though it had given me so many skills!

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