When I was growing up I never traveled outside of the United States. As an only child, growing up in a sheltered community and being late to mature into adulthood, I avoided foreign travel. Now that I’m older, I’ve been traveling to many different countries from Thailand to Spain to Israel. As I type, I’m already getting ready to venture to Peru, which is my fourth country this year alone. You learn a lot from traveling as you experience different cultures, food, people and historical landmarks. Then, you come back home to your own country and better appreciate all the freedoms and privileges that we have here in America.
The world is more connected today than ever before. When there’s a terrorist attack, or the stock market goes down, in America, the rest of the world is affected by it. In order to truly understand economic and sociopolitical changes, you need to experience them in multiple countries. As more companies become decentralized, there is an even higher demand to travel, learn new languages and have a deeper understand of other cultures. Part of the benefit of traveling now, compared to when I was a child, is that I’m more mature, open and can start making new connections between my upbringing and theirs.
Companies want to hire people who have travel experience and even have programs for entry-level employees who can experiment in different roles in different countries where the company operates. Part of a company’s recruiting value proposition is the opportunity for employees to travel abroad. Young employees are especially keen on traveling, working in multiple countries in their career. In a recent study between my company and Randstad, we found that 71 percent have only worked in one country so far in their careers yet 60 percent aspire to work in more than one in the future. Those that want to work in more than more than one country are more likely to say that their company is performing well financially with better employee satisfaction scores.
Traveling can really have a powerful impact on your career because it creates new opportunities and opens your eyes to new possibilities. I’ve noticed that recruiters are searching more and more for candidates that have foreign work experience. If you just live in the same city your whole life, think of how many opportunities you are passing up and the potential growth you could endure. Foreign travel experience can help you relate better to other people from different backgrounds at work. This is increasingly important as the workplace becomes more diverse and when your biggest opportunities come from the relationships you cultivate with others.
Every year, I set goals for the upcoming year and include both personal and work related goals. In the personal section, I add both domestic and foreign travel destinations that I’m committed to going to. For this year, places included Austin, Nashville, Israel and Tokyo. The best way to force yourself to travel is to make a list of places you want to go, then either commit to going by yourself, with a travel group or with a friend, and then lock in your flights. Once you have your flights, it’s the biggest commitment you can make to going. Putting your own money down forces action, whether it’s traveling, going to an event or going on a date.