As a woman trying to build a career, it can often seem like any detour will completely derail your forward momentum. So while of course you’d love to travel the world, the prudent thing to do is keep your head down and stay on your career path, right? Not necessarily.
A survey by Brightspark found that over ninety percent of American business leaders thought being well-travelled gave them a competitive advantage at work. For women, solo travel can benefit your career by helping you develop skills, knowledge and perspective that you can only gain through travel experience. Here are three of the many ways solo travel can enhance your career and three tips to start traveling in an affordable way.
PR Professional Sarah Elson wrote in CommuniquePR that one way traveling by herself enhanced her career was by sharpening her decision-making skills. When you travel alone, you are forced to make many decisions, some that impact your safety, often very quickly. Every day that you that you travel, you’ll have to set your own goals, gather information, weigh alternatives and make choices. This kind of decisiveness is a desired leadership skill and your ability to operate under pressure will translate directly to success in the workplace.
Communications Executive Yvette Huygen told the non-profit Career Girls that through solo-travel she learned to take risks and trust herself. These skills translate to the often intangible, but much sought after quality of self-confidence. Successfully navigating a new environment in a culture and language that is possibly very different from your own will help you learn to trust your instincts and gain confidence in yourself.
3. Cultural Awareness
Yvette Huygen found that travel helped her “appreciate all people and all cultures.” By immersing yourself in a different culture, you are forced to check your assumptions about other people. The global economy means that having knowledge of and sensitivity around other cultures is a required skill in almost any workplace.
How to Get Started
1. Explore budget destinations. When deciding where to travel, keep an eye on the affordability of the area, keeping in mind how much it will cost to get there. The website Solo Traveler compiled a list of the best budget destinations for solo travelers based on affordability, cost to get there, cultural interest and safety. The shortlist includes Belize, Crete, New Orleans, Buenos Aires and Quebec City.
2. Plan far in advance. Planning your trip in advance will allow the time to research your destination and give you the best deals on flights, lodging, transportation and even entertainment. For domestic flights, the optimal time to buy, according to a study of over 1.3 billion airfares by CheapAir.com, is 54 days in advance.
3. Pack Smart. Once you’ve chosen your destination and made your arrangements, the last step, and one that stresses many new travelers, is packing. Look for affordable, good quality travel products, like backpacks or travel locks, that will last throughout your trip (and hopefully on many more). Wondering what to pack? Writer and avid traveler Susan Shain put together a great packing list for women, covering everything from essentials to shoes, toiletries and clothing.