9 Ways Travel Can Help You In The Workplace
In many American companies, there is a culture to work as often as possible and take very little vacation. Americans love to complain that we don’t receive as much paid time off as our European or Australian counterparts, but the truth is that the majority of Americans are still leaving vacation time on the table at the end of the year. 52%, in fact.
Whether a company culture is not conducive to improving time off, or we trick ourselves into believing that things will fall apart without us, we aren’t giving ourselves the time off that we deserve and need. Statistics show that vacation time used has no correlation to career advancement or salary increases. In fact, we are so much more effective at work when we have adequate periods of rest and relaxation.
Here are nine ways that travel can actually help you in the workplace.
The law of diminishing returns is highly applicable to our productivity at work. When is the last time you pulled an all-nighter? Or even stayed out too late the night before work. How productive were you the next day? Our brains (and bodies) need rest.
Most of us don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, but we also need those recharging periods that a vacation affords. You just can’t be “on” for months on end without seeing diminished productivity. Most people return from a vacation refreshed, recharged and reenergized, ready to tackle new projects.
Most travels don’t go off without a hitch, and the worst travel experiences tend to make the best travel stories, after the fact. While traveling, you tend to face unexpected dilemmas, problems or decisions that you don’t face on a daily basis back home. The problem solving skills that you develop while traveling can help stimulate areas of your brain that you don’t use on a regular basis at work or at home.
Whether it’s problems that you experience while traveling, or just observing other lifestyles and cultures, traveling really helps put everyday life into perspective. Things that really bug you at work, or seem like a really big deal, may not seem so critical in the grand scheme of things once you are returned from travels.
If you never get out of your bubble of work, you may never realize get a unique perspective that allows you to walk away at the end of the day and turn your brain off.
Many of us fall into a routine rut, where nearly every decision of our day is predetermined. Travel inherently forces you to make decisions, and endure the consequences of your decision making. In many corporations, decisions are batted about and passed along the chain because nobody wants to make the call. You can’t do that when you’re traveling, or you’ll never get off the ground. Making decisions, and enjoying the fruit of those decisions, can help you make faster, more efficient decisions in the workplace.
Traveling is a creative undertaking in itself. Pulling together an itinerary and deciding where to stay, where to eat and what to see all require some creative decision making skills. You may decide to try something you’ve never done before, like snorkeling, or eating something exotic while traveling.
Being rewarded for your creativity with a fun experience, or a delicious meal, will spark you to be creative more often at home and at work. Having a new perspective will also allow you to take more risks and be creative with your work.
Networking is regularly touted as the most important business skill, yet many of us avoid it like the plague. Whether it’s an aversion to conversation, or fear of promoting your strengths to potential contacts, networking is not natural for everyone. However, it’s a must when traveling.
Whether you have to ask a stranger for directions in a foreign city, or you’re thrown into a tour group with strangers for the day (or week!) traveling most often forces you to meet and interact with new people. And what you will learn when traveling is that networking can actually be fun! You’re likely to meet like-minded people in the places you travel, and travel can even become a networking tool once you are back in the office. Throw up some postcards on your office wall; you might be surprised at the conversations it sparks.
As with networking, you will rely on others to help your travels go smoothly. If you are traveling with others, whether it’s a spouse, parent or strangers on a tour group, traveling will teach you to compromise and make decisions as a team. You learn to identify strengths and weaknesses within your “travel team” and leverage those to optimize the experience for everyone. One person may be great at navigation, while another is good at organization. How you interact with others while traveling will have a direct impact on how well you work with your team at the office.
This holds true especially for solo travelers, but traveling around the world can raise your confidence immensely. Knowing that you successfully researched, planned and implemented a vacation itinerary will give you the confidence to take on new responsibilities at work. By developing all of the skills mentioned previously, there’s no way you won’t be more confident upon returning to work after travels.
Lastly, your travels make great conversation fodder at work. Whether it’s gathering around the water cooler, or chatting before a meeting, people love hearing travel stories. You may find you share travel interests with another coworker who becomes a new friend you compare stories with, or you may become a travel resource that your coworkers seek out for advice and inspiration. And if your boss knows how much you love to travel, you just might get tapped for a new project that involves travel.
Are you ready to put your boss on notice and start planning a vacation? Check out my travel tips to get started!