Does Travel Ruin your Future Prospects?

Like many travellers, we are sometimes questioned by those around us and people we meet on the road about how and why we travel the way we do. Often, I feel that there’s a negative perception of living an alternative, nomadic lifestyle, even for just a small portion of your life. Mostly these people are concerned that we’re damaging our future prospects, jeopordising a secure life with a stable income, job and home. I would, however, vehemently disagree that living a nomadic lifestyle can be detrimental, instead, I would argue that travel can actually enhance your future prospects – here are just a few reasons why.

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The Benefits of Travel

Here are a few of the ways we feel that travel will help, not hinder our future prospects.

Travel challenges you

Back in the UK our lives were safe and comfortable, full of routine and predictability; we had the security of a regular income, we lived our lives in the same familiar places alongside the same familiar faces. We certainly weren’t unhappy with our lives in London, but there was something unfulfilling about it all – we were too comfortable and everything was too easy.  By contrast, while travelling we’re often confronted with the kind of challenges we’d never consider taking on in our ‘normal’ life. A year ago, for instance, I would never have believed I could go caving, hike up a volcano, throw myself out of a plane or camp out with creepy crawlies in the jungle – I’ve done all that and more so far on this trip.

The View of Mount Doom from Mount Tongariro

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

Travel presents smaller, everyday challenges too. On the road we have to constantly find our way around unfamiliar places, we have to search out where to stay and what to eat, we have to research which sights to see and find out how to get from one destination to the next; we have to ask local people for directions, work out prices in unfamiliar currencies, try not to get ripped off and make sure we abide by local customs. Travel can be especially difficult at times for me given that I’m a light sleeper, a fussy eater and I actually like to plan and have a routine; travel really is a daily challenge for me and it forces me out of my comfort zone which I consider to be a good thing.

Climbing Down Rocks into the Sumaguing Cave

Caving in the Philippines

Travel teaches you

Partly because of the fact that you’re constantly challenging yourself, you also end up learning a hell of a lot when you travel. For a start you learn practical skills like how to budget and barter; how to make money as you travel, find your way around and communicate with people in other languages. In our case we’ve also learnt how to live a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle – we don’t have as much money as we used to and can now carry almost all of our possessions on our backs. Everywhere we travel we’re also constantly learning about history and culture; we’re seeing first-hand how other people live and what life is like in other parts of the world. As the saying goes, knowledge is power and all this is helping us to learn about our place in the world and decide how we want to live in the future and what we want to achieve in our lives.

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Travel offers endless opportunities

We may have quit our jobs when we left England but we certainly haven’t stopped working while we’ve been travelling. In fact, travel is allowing us to explore and consider all kinds of different work opportunities we’d struggle to take on while working full-time back home. For example, while I worked as an online content manager and writer back in London, I now get to branch out and explore freelance opportunities as well as create this blog. Although we don’t see much economic benefit from the site (and we never really expected to), I love creating this vivid record of our journey and engaging with other travellers.

Volunteering at the Dog Rescue Project in Thailand

Volunteering at the Dog Rescue Project in Thailand

In addition to this, Andrew is gaining new skills working on the blog too and is planning to enhance his teaching and language skills by taking on different teaching and translation jobs while we travel. After taking part in English conversational sessions with locals in Laos, I’m now also considering teaching English myself when we move to Taiwan at the end of 2014 – a prospect I never would have considered back in the UK. We recently spent some time volunteering at a dog rescue centre in Thailand and we loved it so much we’re planning to spend more time working as volunteers as we travel; in particular we’re hoping to join the disaster relief effort in the Philippines when we return there next May. I’m confident that all these experiences will help us develop our work skills – I also think they’ll strengthen our CVs and create more varied work opportunities for us when we eventually return to the UK.

English Practice at Big Brother Mouse, Laos

Andrew helping Yeelee practice English in Laos

Travel allows you to meet new people

Of course it’s possible to meet new people wherever you live and whatever lifestyle you lead; having lived in London for a few years, for example, we often met and worked with people from all over the world. However, I do believe that back home, in the midst of work and routine it can be more difficult to make the effort to meet new people than it is when you’re travelling.  Back home you can fall into the trap of sticking to your regular friendship groups, whilst being on the road forces you to mix with people of all backgrounds on a daily basis.

Shim Chen, Sri Aman, Malaysia

Me with new friend Shim Chen in Malaysia

Since we’ve been on the road we’ve met all kinds of people; other travellers of all different ages from many different countries as well as local people who’ve been kind enough to share a slice of their lives with us; from the family who invited us to stay in their longhouse in Borneo to the local kids who showed us around in the Philippines.

Our Local Guides in Borneo

Our local jungle guides in Borneo

Travel makes you realise what you have

As I noted in a previous post about the things we take for granted, one side-effect of travel I didn’t foresee was just how much we’d miss home and begin to appreciate what we’d left behind. Travelling, particularly in Asia, has made us realise just how lucky we are to have been born and raised in the UK where we received free healthcare, a (mostly free) education and lived in relative peace and comfort – I hope we will carry that lesson with us for the rest of our lives.

Andrew & his parents in Koh Samui

Andrew and his parents in Koh Samui

Since we’ve been travelling we’ve seen some amazing things and met plenty of people who appear a lot happier with their lives than many people back in England are with theirs, but we’ve also seen people living in difficult circumstances or extreme poverty; we’ve seen children out begging rather than in school learning, we’ve seen abused animals on the streets as well as people who’ve been sucked into the sex industry. I’m not saying all these issues don’t exist all over the world, but I have found them sadly more apparent since I’ve been travelling.

Travel is simply amazing!

I’ve listed above a few of the main reasons I believe that travel will enhance, not hinder, our future prospects but at the end of the day, even if the above weren’t true we wouldn’t change a thing about our trip because we just love to travel.

Even though being on the road for a few years now means we might return back to the UK jobless, homeless and broke, I’ll never regret the experiences we’ve had along the way. As exhausting, frustrating and dirty as it can sometimes be, we both find travel interesting and exhilarating; we love to explore, learn and connect with this amazing world we live in. We’re curious about the places around us and we’re driven by the possibility that out there somewhere, over the next hill or around the next bend in the road, there will be something incredible to discover. I truly believe that there’s no better way we could have spent our time and money over the last eight months; for us it’s true what they say:

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

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So, do you think travel can help or hinder your future prospects?

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37 thoughts on “Does Travel Ruin your Future Prospects?

  1. Brilliant post, Amy! I’m so glad to read this positive and well thought out response to the question of travel being detrimental to career. I’ve definitely had times when I asked this question of myself but I agree with every point you make here. We plan to keep a career moving along a little with some work on the road but life is so much more than career. You grow and learn in so many ways while travelling and the experience really is priceless. You guy have had a amazing trip so far, so I’m so happy you don’t regret it!
    Charlie recently posted..Au revoir, Montreal! Old Place, New PossibilitiesMy Profile

    • Thanks Charlie, I’m glad this post came across positively. You’re right, life is so much more than a career and it’s taken getting out on the road for me to fully realise that; I definitely have no regrets about our trip.

  2. This is a great post and sums up exactly what I have been thinking. My boyfriend and I have been travelling for 8 weeks now with no plans to head back to the UK at any point in the near future. We do worry about what will happen if and when we return home, but I honestly think that travel benefits your CV rather than hinders it. I agree with all your points above and think that if people think travel doesn’t benefit you then they obviously haven’t travelled!

    • Hi Kristin, I’m glad you’re having a great time on your travels. It can be hard for people who haven’t travelled to really see just how beneficial it can be; I certainly never realised all the benefits and opportunities travel would present us with before we left the UK. I hope this article gives people a better understanding of just how great and important travel can be.

  3. Great points on how travel can enhance your life. The quote you wrote sums it up. Travel is an investment that makes you richer. Plus, would you really want to work for someone who doesn’t get it? There are companies who will value having an employee who is willing to take calculated risks, has international experience, and has made the world a better place whether it is volunteering or even teaching a foreign language. Travel experience only opens up more doors. I see more opportunities for growth in emerging markets than the U.S. We can always make money, not get back time. Regardless, who wants to put their job title on their tombstone? Not me.
    Mig recently posted..Kids, Computers, Colombia, Volunteering In MedellinMy Profile

    • Hi Mig, you’re right, I like to think that employers would like to hire someone who is culturally aware, has volunteered for charities or taught abroad and has a range of skills. It is so true that we can always make money but not get back time; it’s the most valuable thing we have and we want to spend as much of it as we can travelling and learning about the world, as well as finding ways to work that hopefully make a difference.

  4. One thing I’ve certainly learned while traveling is just as there is more than one way to take a trip, there is also more than one way to live a life. It’s hard to appreciate this when you’re back home and tend to only cross paths or surround yourself with people who share your world view and are living a similar life to your own, but being out in the world, we’ve come across tons of people living life in their own way. So perhaps for those set on following a very conventional/traditional path, they would see travel as a deterrent or roadblock to that, and I think these people might find it difficult to understand that traveling can actually open up more doors and paths than you had available than before you left.

    Also, I think that just taking a trip of this scope shows that you and Andrew can pretty much do anything. Often the only limitations that really prevent us from reaching our goals are ones we enforce and place on ourselves rather than any real obstacles that we can’t overcome. Truly, very little in life seems impossible once you’ve taken a trip like this. If you want it bad enough and are willing to work for it, do you really believe there’s anything you truly can’t do? The number of things I’d put on that list is probably a lot smaller than before I left!

    • So true Steph, just achieving the huge feat of saving up for this trip and then getting out on the road has given us confidence that we can do whatever we set our minds to. As you mention, while you travel you also meet all kinds of people living in different ways; ways we ourselves couldn’t have fathomed when we were living back in London. It is sometimes hard to explain just how beneficial travel is to people back home – I hope this post helps them understand though.

  5. I look back at our lives before and realize how much time I spent staring at the TV because I was “bored”. I’m forced to find things to do that I enjoy besides letting media entertain me – I’ve been reading a lot more, writing, and sometimes just enjoying the freedom to sit and think. And, although I’m far from becoming a patient person, I have learned a lot about patience…with buses, people, uncomfortable situations, with my husband… We are also learning how to manage our time – leaving enough time to explore, but also enough time to take care of business, like managing the blog, social media, and finances.

    It’s actually even harder than I thought it would be, but it’s becoming more and more rewarding over time as we figure out our path. I think this experience will make me a more confident person because I’ve faced so many challenges and learned to be flexible and comfortable with my decisions.
    Carmel recently posted..REDEFINING EXPECTATIONSMy Profile

    • Hi Carmel, we have also found this lifestyle to be tougher than we expected but you’re right, it becomes more and more rewarding over time. I think you learn the most through challenging yourself and travel allows you to do this on a daily basis. I’m glad I’m not the only impatient traveller too 🙂

  6. Amy you’re completely right about this. We’ve just returned to the UK after 18 months away and have started looking for jobs on the run-up to Christmas which is notoriously quiet for hiring. We’ve been surprised at how many positions are actually being recruited for and every single business we’ve been in touch with has seen our experience as a positive thing.

    The most frequent feedback we’re getting is that a lot of people talk about doing it but not many people are actually brave enough to leave the security and comfort of home, admiration from the people interviewing us rather than concern.
    Maddie recently posted..So what happens now?My Profile

    • Hi Maddie, it’s so nice to hear about the positive job hunting experience you’ve had since returning to the UK and reassuring to know that employers admire you for having had the guts to travel. Good luck with whatever position you decide to take, I hope we have the same experience when we return 🙂

  7. I believe any time we can learn and grow it can only help broaden your perspective on the world and how could that be anything other than beneficial to your future? You’ve already realized you could in fact teach English in another country – something that both you and Andrew could do – that would provide you with an income (and experience) while living in another country. If you ever do return to a 9 – 5 life, you’ll have SO much to offer any future employee because as you say, the learning curve of traveling the world is huge!
    Patti recently posted..Mountain Memories ~My Profile

    • Thanks so much for the support Patti; it’s nice to know that other people can see the benefits travel offers too. We’ve been talking a lot lately about the next phase of our travels living and working in Taiwan and although it’s a bit daunting we’re also excited about the challenge ahead and the opportunity to do something different while immersing ourselves in a new culture. It will definitely be a whole new adventure for us, one that, as you point out, we can only grow and learn from.

    • Great way to look at things Manfred, travel does give you the space and time to really try new types of work.

  8. Exactly! Well done, I just think how travel has allowed us all to blossom and just become. Become whatever it is that we can be and push us just a bit further or in some cases much further than we ever thought. The sky is the limit and dreams can come true if you give them space to grow and soak up all of the learnings.
    Heidi (@WagonersAbroad) recently posted..Thanksgiving in SpainMy Profile

    • That’s so true Heidi, give you dreams some space to grow – in our case strap on a backpack and head out into the world – and see where it can take you. The results will amaze you.

  9. I love this! Especially the part on how travel teaches you. That is exactly why we travel with our kids and I can even imagine that traveling teaches our kids more than one year in the same classroom. We travel 3 or 4 times a year, but it so crystal clear that we need travel to enhance our lives: to teach, to challenge, to meet people, all the things you mentioned. Great post!
    Emiel recently posted..Enjoy the luxury of life at Le Saint Géran in MauritiusMy Profile

    • Glad you agree Emiel! I think it’s great that your kids feel the benefits of travel too, it can only help them grow into more culturally aware people and see history and the world from different perspectives.

    • Thanks so much Gabi! It’s definitely true that we’re gaining skills and experience we wouldn’t from our old lives and jobs.

  10. You know I agree! We did what you’re doing back in 2001, it never did us any harm. I remember getting back to London after our first 12 months away, no job, nowhere to live and everything just clicked into place, it was easy. I think we get even more negativity because we’re further along our life path, we’re parents, home owners, previously in great jobs. But stuff all that!! It doesn’t matter, what matters is living your life to the full, not having the biggest flat screen TV. What you say about travel doing great things for you goes double for kids, ours are getting so much out of this experience, stuff no school could ever give them.
    Alyson recently posted..Our Problems With Food in Sri LankaMy Profile

    • Good to hear that you guys were easily able to settle back in London after your first bout of travel. I agree that having great experiences is worth far more than material possessions – we definitely wouldn’t trade any of our travel experiences for a flat screen TV!

  11. Travel opens a new opportunity for me. Since I can bring my work wherever I want to go, traveling can never ruin my future prospects. I enjoy reading your post about Asia and the photos too.

    • Hi Renee, thanks for the kind words and reassurance; you’re right, we would pay a penalty too if we have to because travel is worth it!

  12. Great post Amy! I think you have hit the nail on the head here and I agree with the comments made by everyone.

    For me when I first went travelling a few years back it gave me the confidence to do things I would never have realised I had the potential for. I learnt more about myself in 18 months than I did in my previous 27years and realised that we are all capable of so much more than what is expected in the daily routines back home.

    Travel challenges you to do more and opens up a whole world of opportunity. The skills you learnt back home don’t suddenly disappear, they are just enhanced by all these new experiences.
    Rob recently posted..Goodbye – The hardest thing in the world…My Profile

    • That’s true Rob, you still have your existing skills and experience but travel does enhance these and offers opportunities to develop further. Travel has also given us confidence, already I look back on myself at the beginning of this trip and I can see how my way of looking at things has changed for the better.

  13. Good points shared about travel benefits here. I have to say that traveling gives us the opportunity to disconnect from our regular life. Another benefits of travel that when traveling with friends or family it creates memories for a lifetime.

    • You’re absolutely right Jaques, it’s great to travel with family and friends as you get to spend time with them outside of the normal routines of daily life.

  14. Pingback: Cruising Halong Bay & Turning 30 | Birthday Cruise in Halong Bay Vietnam

  15. Hi there !

    Thanks for writing this post. I worked in marketing in London for 6 years and studied there for 3 years previous to that, but I have been living mainly in Tasmania (with my French boyfriend who I met here) for the last year and now currently in West Australia. We worked on a farm to gain our second year visa but we loved the freedom of working outside and the reduced pressure of not working in a big city, so we continued and have been working on farms ever since. It’s really opened my eyes to other ways of living, and that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on everything in London ! I was a bit worried about how this would effect my chances of getting back into marketing – if I want to in the future. But I definitely believe that it’s not a hindrance but a huge positive, and I totally agree with everything you’ve said. It’s really good to know that there are people out there that believe in the importance of travel.

    Good luck !

    Emma

    • Hi Emma, thanks for reading and commenting. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and I’m glad you’ve carved an awesome life in Australia. Andrew and I have really come to crave a simple life where we’re time rather than money rich and can work on projects that inspire us – we’re working towards achieving this balance. Good luck with everything too 🙂

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