How to Balance Travelling with your Career
Taking time out to go travelling doesn’t have to mean taking a career break. There’s plenty of ways you can see the world and still further your career at the same time. I’m of the opinion that going travelling proves initiative and a willingness to expand your horizons, but I understand when people are reluctant to travel because they’re worried about how the gap will look on their CV. If that’s you, why not try one of these options to make sure you’re still working toward your career goals (and bringing home to the bacon!) while you travel.
Check out the working visa requirements for your chosen destination – you may be able to keep working out there, whether you take on casual work or carry on in your chosen field. I have a working visa for Canada, which means I can stay and work there for up to two years. I’m going to try my hand at a few different things while also looking for writing and journalism opportunities.
The requirements for each working holiday visa differ drastically from country to country, as does the ease with which you can apply for one. Sometimes only a certain allocation are released for each country and it’s first come first serve, and some require a lot of documentation. Just make sure you do your research thoroughly before applying (Facebook forums are often a good place to start – you can talk easily with others going through the same process and they should be able to answer any questions you have). There are companies out there which can make the whole process a lot easier – I went to New Zealand with BUNAC when I was 18 and would thoroughly recommend them.
I recently heard about a program where you pay a lump sum to work remotely and travel across the world with a like-minded group of people through an organisation, and everything is organised for you. It’s called Remote Year. It costs $27k to travel for a whole year with a group of like-minded people, which includes all transport, accommodation and activities. All you need is a job you can do remotely (writing, designing, consulting…) so you can still be furthering your career while you travel.
I’ve never done this so can’t personally recommend it, but here’s a little more about how it works.
Volunteering is a great way to prove to employers that you have passions and motivations outside of purely making money. By volunteering, you’ll learn new skills, meet similar people and develop your character. I’m planning on volunteering when I get to Canada. My ultimate goal is to write for a travel website or publication (National Geographic or Lonely Planet – yes please!) specifically around animal conservation or eco-tourism, so volunteering in a wildlife shelter or rescue project will both be fun for me and help me in a work sense in the future. Here’s a few great volunteering projects and websites to check out: WWV, Go Abroad and Cross Cultural Solutions.
Freelancing means you can keep funding your travels on the go, and also pick and choose projects which will look great on your CV. I’m currently freelancing – it’s a great bit of extra cash and I can easily fit it in on long journeys or before bed.
Some ideas for freelancing and a lot of jobs travel bloggers end up doing include:
- Social media management
- Consulting in whatever profession you already work
- Translation (I’ve even heard of people offering to correct translation errors on restaurant menus in return for free food!)
The only potential difficulties with freelancing are getting reliable wifi. You’ll also need to take time differences into account and be realistic about how much work you can fit in around travelling. You definitely don’t want that nagging “I should be working” feeling to take away from your experience.
Take a sabbatical
If you really want to travel but also love your current job, why not talk to your boss about taking a sabbatical? They’re becoming more and more common as employers cotton on to the fact that travel can have benefits for them, too – you’re likely to come back refreshed, with new skills and a fresh perspective. What’s more, if your employer trusts you enough and gives you the freedom to take a sabbatical, you’re much less likely to leave the company.
Use your travels to learn new skills
Even if you choose not to work while you travel, this is an amazing experience to learn something new. Maybe it’s a new language or a new skill like photography, yoga, scuba diving, rock climbing or even journaling. It doesn’t matter what you do, the important thing is that you’re adding something to your list of skills.
OK, being an amazing rock climber might not exactly help your career as a solicitor but when you go for an interview, who will your future boss remember the most – the girl who spent 3 months rock climbing in Thailand (and is now super healthy and really passionate about it) or the girl who got drunk in Ibiza?
Also, you don’t know where these new skills could lead. A 2 week yoga retreat in India could lead to a whole new career!
Get out of your comfort zone
That comfort zone might be a lovely and safe place to be but it isn’t doing your career any favours. Get out of your comfort zone while you’re on the road and you might be surprised where it could lead. Bungee jumping in New Zealand might seem like an adrenaline fuelled adventure but when you realise you’re brave enough to bungee jump, you’ll realise you’re brave enough to do just about anything.
Asking for that promotion, trying something new, taking the risky route and pitching ideas in meetings suddenly seem like small fry in comparison to travelling the world.
Start a blog
(Monica’s input here!)
One of the main reasons I started this blog was because I was worried about having a 2-year gap on my CV while I travelled. I worked casual jobs but I knew that serving coffee wouldn’t help my career in journalism! I began blogging so I had an online portfolio of written work that I could show to future employers.
I had no idea at the time that I was also learning about SEO, writing for online audiences, social media, online marketing, photography, negotiating with clients and networking. I can honestly say that every single job interview I’ve had was down to my blog. A blog is so much better than a CV because it’s a huge online portfolio displaying what you can do. You’ll also show that you’ve got the ambition, dedication and patience to learn new skills.
Check out all of my blogging tips for more info.
If you’re heading out on your travels soon, I hope this has been helpful! If you have any more tips to add, just let us know in the comments.