Why travellers make the best employees

A version of this was published on the Huffington Post on 02 Feb 2016.

Reader Question: Dear Trisha, today I woke up and said, “I can pull off a Trisha.” I was convincing myself that like you, I can also do a 6-mo to a year sabbatical and discover more of the world. I am not like you though — I love working in the office and having a career (a steady 9-5 life). I am very happy with my current job but these days, I am feeling like I need a break. I will talk to my boss about it in the hopes that (a) I will be approved to travel for 6 months; and (b) still keep my job despite of the 6-mo leave. I don’t know if this is possible (or if they will allow me) but it’s worth the shot, right? Some of my workmates agree it’s a good idea but I need to convince my boss that it will be worth it! I like to stay in this company for long. What advice can you give? How will I approach my boss? — Pamela, Singapore

I cannot relate much on working in an office environment because I only did it once in my life but let me tell you a story about me applying a job after traveling for a long period of time. I do not have any school credentials nor any office experience yet I dreamt of working in a big fashion magazine in the Philippines. Unlike most countries, the Philippines require an impressive school record and a diploma. It is your ticket to big and multi-national companies and your credibility is based on this.

I chose not to be one of those people. I chose to believe I am successful in my own way.

On the day of the interview, I sat down and the Human Resource person looked at my resume and slowly turned her head to me: “If you were not working, what were you doing for the past few years?” she asked. “I was traveling.” She can see that clearly because it was all over my CV. I think she was also puzzled on how animated my resume was.

VELARMINO_Trisha_CV There, I showed it! You know all about my life now! I don’t use it now because I don’t apply for jobs anymore but I am keeping it for reference.

I am not sure if she was convinced with my answer. She wrote something on my resume and said, “what’s the earliest date you can start?” I cannot believe what I heard. The interview wasn’t long. That’s the only question she asked and I got hired right away. The next day, she was telling everyone about my blog and why she thinks I am a very good addition to their creative team.

Reasons why travellers make the best employees

So Pamela, if you have doubts on how to ask your boss for a ‘short’ leave, I will give you a few reasons why you should point that travellers make the best employees.

1. Travellers are always willing to try new things and step out of their comfort zone.

This is the main factor for everyone who likes to travel. You think this is an overrated skill but this, unfortunately does not fit everyone. Traveling is not for everyone, too! If you are one of those people who have the urge to travel, congratulations, you also belong to the group of the brave. Having the initiative is the first step in changing the way you live and how you look at things. Getting out of the comfort zone can be as simple as booking a ticket to somewhere you’ve never seen before and boarding that flight. Again, not everyone have the courage to do this. This makes travellers pitch creative ideas in the workplace — ideas that only them have experienced.

2. Travellers have more confidence and independence.

Employers, I am sure you see this whenever you interview someone for a job. Travellers are very confident and independent because they are now more comfortable of who they are. They present themselves well and they are always up for any challenges given to them in the workplace. Sometimes, they even go overboard and they do things beyond their capacity. This is very obvious most especially to those who travelled by themselves. They’ve been challenged. They’ve been tested to their limits. They’ve lived life over the edge by traveling and they always feel that they can do anything. Nothing can stop them from doing what they want!

3. Travellers are people people.

They’ve met a lot of people from different parts of the world which opened their minds to possibilities and new ideas. They are not shy being around other people even if it’s a culture so much different from them. Their sense of empathy and the ability to understand others are honed. With full confidence, they can speak to any kind of people you ask them to. If you are a multi-national company and you ask your traveller employee to present something in an international meeting level, they will do it. They can do it.

4. Travellers can work under pressure, with grace.

They barely panic because when they are traveling, they are often faced in situations that they need to solve on their own. Whether it’s navigating the metro system in Singapore, crossing the borders by land in Argentina and Uruguay or the need to hitchhike to go from point A to B, they’ve been in that situation. This is not different from situations in the workplace.

5. Travellers love learning.

As time goes by, travellers’ goal go deeper into learning how a culture cooks, eats and sleeps. Through time, they even ditch the required tourist spots to visit because they are eager to learn something more. Their brain activities never stop. They always have the urge to know. This love for learning also leads them to being self-taught. In my first and last office job, I was asked if I know how to use Adobe Pagemaker. I said “not really but I can try.” I realised saying “I don’t know” is a dead-end and there is no such thing as “I don’t know.” Of course, we know! Some are just too lazy to Google and learn it themselves. But travellers? They are always willing to learn new things. They have the initiative and you will never find this in another employee.

What I highly recommend to employers

Change the way you run the workplace. Companies who are willing to experiment in terms of hiring are the ones who thrive. It’s 2016! More and more people are liking the idea of travel but their jobs make it difficult for them. Why not try to give your employees a travel vacation for a month and see what it gives you? Or if you can afford it, give them a paid vacation! If you are worried who will take their place while they are away, figure it out. Maybe you can hire another person on a short-term employment as long as it won’t affect your company’s productivity.

I make it sound really simple but I think it is really doable.


Are you a frequent traveller who has a full-time job? Has traveling helped in making you more creative and productive in the workplace? Leave your comments below!

THE NEW YOU

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • January 24, 2016

    I am absolutely loving the look of your CV. Mine looks so utterly boring compared to yours. Maybe I should update mine even though I’m not gonna need for a long time.
    And I completely agree with all of the reasons you’ve stated. Pamela should go for it and see what happens 🙂

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  • January 24, 2016

    I love this and agree on how travel enriches your life and makes you a better employee – I’ve had more mishaps on the road to solve on my own that makes problems in the office not that bad. I was laid off and took a three month sabbatical because for the first time in 23 yrs I had time.

    In the UK my friends expected a gap however employers in the US aren’t always warm toward the travel gap with a few during interviews questioning me about it and not understanding it at all. Not quite a highlight for most I’ve encountered nor for those I worked when I was recruiting/interviewing with that never understood my travels.

    So while I agree with you sadly I’ve not seen many US employers embracing the travel gap. I’d look at companies that provide sabbaticals and encourage a work life balance with holiday time when looking at a new job

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  • January 24, 2016

    You just inspired me to make an animated-looking resume. 🙂 And yes, we, travelers make so much better employees.

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  • Sky
    January 25, 2016

    Hey Trisha!

    This post resonates a lot. You had a good points how to sell oneself effectively to employer why they should hire a traveller. I may use the same on the list when I sit for interview soon. As an HR person this is refreshing and could be win-win situation.

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  • Glen Reniel
    January 25, 2016

    Nice read. A soon to be IT grad here and thinking of ways to get paid (of course working in the office) and do what I dreamed of (to start traveling). Would definitely consider playing with my resume on interviews soon. Thanks Trisha!

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  • January 26, 2016

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Travelers are problem solvers, lifelong learners, and can talk to anyone. These are a few of the reasons I was so puzzled when my company cut vacation time in half. I’m a much better employee because of the person I become through travel. Thanks for sharing!

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  • JEN
    January 27, 2016

    Hi Trish!
    I really want and love to travel. I believe it can do so much good to enrich me as a person. Oh how l much I dreamed of travelling the world. However, just like your sender, I’m working full time and I haven’t heard any employee taking a month long leave for the reason of travelling. Another reason is that I’m already married and travelling has become the least priority now.
    Your posts inspires me a lot to still pursue travelling. Thanks

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  • Sam
    January 27, 2016

    Hi Trisha! I really love how honest you were in this post.

    And to Pamela, I’ve also applied for a foreign internship, even if I was working already for nearly a year. My boss consented and even waited for me to get back. She really respects that I’m such a “freedom fighter” as she calls it, and even as I leave the company, she continues to hire me for freelance writing and PR work, and congratulates me for the gigs I get.

    Point is, when you travel you get to discover who will be supportive of you — be it friends, family or your employer. If your employer really values your growth as a person, I’m sure they will see your pursuit of travel as a welcome (and brave) change. 🙂

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  • January 27, 2016

    Great post Trisha! I think employers should be more open to let employees travel, especially if it can benefit the company too. Things are changing especially in the office space where it’s more often than not, possible to do a job from a remote location. Hopefully Pamela was able to get a sabbatical and enjoy travelling!

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  • January 30, 2016

    Let me show this to my boss… Haha.

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  • Bob
    January 30, 2016

    I think people that have traveled a lot bring a different perspective to employers. Having seen and witnessed different cultures and been exposed to different things is a trait often under valued by employers.

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  • January 30, 2016

    Your sparkling personality just jumps out of your resume! So unique! And all your reasons are definitely great justification. I hope employers continue to evolve so that these strengths can be more utilized and change the workplace.

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  • January 30, 2016

    Great list of things to think of to say if ever in an interview and they ask “tell me about yourself.” You can really show off your personality and life outside work yet show how those skills go back to your job! Luckily, I am my own boss and I don’t need to convince myself that traveling makes me a better person 🙂

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  • January 30, 2016

    Cool CV, Trisha! Just one page, simple, direct and genuine that reflected who you are. 🙂 I don’t have a full-time job; just freelancing as I am taking my MA now, but I need to agree all your points! Why do employers should hire travellers? WHY NOT!? I had two full-time jobs after college graduation and was lucky enough to landed in two decent companies (one was in a major PH TV Network), given that I am not from the ‘top’ universities in the Philippines, and I should say, my wandering soul highly contributed to both industries where I need to come up with different real-time stories of people, places, etc. in a short period of time. Hats off to those companies which have travellers in their group – I am sure they are one of their assets! 🙂

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  • January 31, 2016

    Totally agree with you trisha! I was always worried that taking a year off would leave a gap in my resume, but then I heard my boss one day say to someone that the only thing you need to say to a potential employer about a resume gap is that you were off traveling. No questions asked!

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  • January 31, 2016

    Nice post! I am now traveling for 11 months. I don’t think I could go back to normal office jobs, I want to create my own job as soon as I am back home. But, I do think it’s never a disadvantage to travel a lot. It shows you can handle so much and you have a lot of experience. You’ll be of high value for the company and more of them should appreciate it.

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  • January 31, 2016

    I really adore creative resumes like this! Mine’s animated as well yours is more stimulating and colorful! I think if you’re gunning for a creative and/or design job, it’s best to present your resume in a not-so boring way. Good job, Trisha! 🙂 I think there’s a growing acceptance among employers about the importance of travel or taking a break in developing one’s strength or career at work, especially now that more and more millennials are entering the workforce. Personally, travelling is a great refresher! When I come back from a long vacation, I feel a renewed sense of energy and creativity for my work. 🙂 Feels so good! #GalaPaMore

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  • January 31, 2016

    Oh my god this post speaks to me on a deeper level! This is exactly what I’m talking about on my blog! I think travelling makes you a great employee (and makes you an interesting person in general)! You learn SO much through travelling – teamworking, because you learn how to engage with individuals of different backgrounds. Traveling can also teach you to find creative solutions to new problems and it teaches you a lot about self-management. Going to share your post on Twitter as well!

    P.S: I love the style of your CV.

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  • January 31, 2016

    Love this post, but I was stuck on your impressive CV and thinking to myself. Great post! Hopefully I will get a job in jiffy when I apply. Oh wait I have applied for 13 jobs where I am located and nothing. Sadness. Oh well maybe in our next location.

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  • January 31, 2016

    What an excellent post, Trisha! I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head about travellers: we are an adventurous bunch who like to try new things and are not afraid of challenges. We love people and we are grateful when things go smoothly, although we don’t necessarily expect them to.

    Love your CV. You’ve done a great job with it. And good luck with the new job!

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  • January 31, 2016

    I can so relate with your post, and I totally agree why travellers make the best employees. I must say when I was looking for a job, most employers could not see a positive thing in travelling long term.

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  • February 1, 2016

    I agree with you for sure! Its always a bit off to apply to normal jobs after traveling…explaining how and why you did it. But Im pretty sure I was pushed to learn certain skills traveling that I would not have otherwise

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  • Mar
    February 1, 2016

    I think travelers are great employees because basically, they are resourceful. They are able to find solutions and get out of whatever issue and theya re open minded and have seen various ways to address the same day to day problems, so they can come ip with great ideas. I recently saw someone with a cv exactly like yours in format and I thought it was a great way to present herself and to the point, i loved it

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  • February 1, 2016

    This is indeed an interesting perspective. I am taking a career break in a couple of months. Its true that travelers tend to have an open minded approach towards many things which would make them an asset to their employers. Moreover, when you travel around the globe you tend to blend with people from different parts of the world, which in my belief is quite essential to be considered as most of the companies these days have a multi-cultural environment.

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  • February 1, 2016

    I could not agree more with this post! Travelers are creative, quick-thinking and generally out-of-the-box thinkers so it makes complete sense that they have a bunch of skills that most people who are used to life in one place and a routine lifestyle would be missing. Oh and not to forget the ability to adapt to any situation- that is a huge skill at the workplace.

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  • February 1, 2016

    I would add travelers are flexible and can improvise. Seriously in Australia employees are encouraged to travel. Taking a year off is not uncommon and there is long service leave which is 12 weeks (but most employers will let you take it at 1/2 pay and make it 6 months.) The government even ran a campaign “non leave, no life” to encourage people to use their leave!

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  • February 1, 2016

    This article is indeed a good read!

    I can super relate since I am a traveler as well who decided not give up my career, and I do agree that travelers make the best employees! Thankful as well to have a boss who understands my passion. 🙂

    Love your resume by the way! <3

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  • February 1, 2016

    It’s so true. I really wish that more employers would start to think this way. Allowing your employees to travel is making an investment in the personal growth of your employees, and they will as a result, be happier and make better workers. As for the time off…it doesn’t hurt to ask!

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  • Rujuta
    February 2, 2016

    Well, first of all thanks for coming up with this website. I can’t express myself in words how inspiring this is! I accidently came across this site and just fell in love with the same. I thoroughly loved every bit of it. The outlook, the navigation bar and everything. The experiences shared by other people made me contemplate the things I am doing. I love travelling. I seriously do. But the financial conditions and the responsibilities rarely permit me to pursue my passion. I really would love to get the suggestions, if you could. Thank you so very much for inspiring me!

    All the best for your next adventure..
    Alles Best!

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  • February 7, 2016

    Great for reading and I agree 🙂

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  • April 4, 2016

    I agree! Travellers gain skills that we learn from experiences on the road, and not many realise that we can apply it in the office too. Definitely doable!

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  • July 12, 2016

    It really is a speical USA thing that paid vacations are not required. For all the reasons you mentioned, that is a real loss for employees and employers. Here in Germany, the minimum vacation allotment is 24 days.
    Needless to say, Germans are expert travellers!

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  • November 20, 2016

    What an excellent post, Trisha! I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head about travellers. I wish in my country also it’s considered cool. Things are changing but slowly.

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P.S. I'm On My Way is a blog by Trisha Velarmino. She didn't
quit her job to travel the world. She made a job out of traveling and you can do it, too.

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