What’s stopping you from taking your Big Trip — that one you’ve been dreaming about?
Maybe you want to backpack through Asia. Or volunteer in an African village. Or go “tramping” in New Zealand or wine-tasting in France.
If you long to see the world, why aren’t you doing it?
For some of us, the challenge is money. For others, it’s convincing our family that we’ll be OK traveling around the world. But for most Brazenites, the answer is probably your career. You’ve only recently started working, so how can you possibly take months or even a year to travel?
It’s normal to worry about creating a gap on your resume or leaving your job only to face finding another when you get back. But what many dreamers don’t realize is that with a little planning, traveling abroad can enhance your resume, not ruin it.
Here’s how to take your Dream Trip AND boost your career:
Decide on a mission
Perhaps the strongest way to make your career break an asset is by choosing a Travel Mission. This is what you’ll accomplish or learn during your trip, an overall goal or focus for your break.
Though getting away from the grind of your job can be a goal, your mission should be bigger than that. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s about maximizing your potential for personal growth.
During my backpacking trip through Africa, for example, my main mission was to freelance for newspapers and magazines. Not only did I enjoy reporting those articles and earn some extra cash, the assignments also landed on my resume, complementing my work experience. “Freelanced from Africa” doesn’t look too shabby on a resume, right?
While this mission didn’t take over my trip – I had plenty of time to bask in the backpacker lifestyle – it gave me something to talk about with potential employers when I returned. It showed initiative and professional growth, and it made me a better writer.
Employers want to hire do-gooders. So why not use your trip as an opportunity to volunteer in a local community?
Doing unpaid work will help you gain skills, make new friends and contacts, and immerse yourself in a new culture. Plus, volunteering can give structure to your days, which can be comforting to independent travelers.
Just like your mission, volunteering can make your trip more meaningful. And guess what? If you spin it right, it might be meaningful to hiring managers, too.
Consider other career paths
Think of your career break as an opportunity to reflect on what you really want out of your job. After all, just because you left a job in one industry doesn’t mean you have to return to the same type of position.
Through your Mission or volunteering or simply having time to reflect, you may discover a new passion or develop the necessary skills to switch industries. In fact, if you’re stuck coming up with a Travel Mission, try using your trip to test drive aspects of a career you suspect you might enjoy.
For example, if you’re interested in working with kids, volunteer at an orphanage or school. If teaching intrigues you, try tutoring English in another country. Look for people who are doing what you want to do, and ask to tag along for a day.
Market yourself strategically
Upon returning from your trip, be creative about marketing your career break as a positive experience. Add your trip to your resume, but don’t simply write, “traveling” – and certainly don’t leave your travel time as a gap on that personal marketing document.
Instead, make your Mission the line item on your resume, and turn your experiences into tangible skills. Remember to go beyond soft skills, like maturity and perspective. What did you learn that will help the company you want to work for?
So don’t let your career stand in the way of your Big Trip. Go ahead and travel – and use those experiences to take your career to the next level. With a little creativity and a lot of planning, a break from the traditional workforce can help you see even more career success.
If you could go anywhere on a career break, where would it be?