If we all travelled more, no doubt we would also have much better work lives and would, in turn, be more connected and engaged to what we do. How so? Well, in many more ways than would be instantly apparent.
Travelling has not only been associated to decreasing the chances of developing certain diseases later in life, particularly heart disease, but its profound emotional impact has a direct positive effect on how efficient and open-minded, flexible, accepting and adaptable to change we can become at work. Yes, really, this is not just another ploy to get you to book one of our excellent holidays; which, by the way, are really great; but to enlighten you on the many ways you can become a better employee also healthier and smarter too, by travelling and seeing more of the world.
Extensive research has repeatedly backed up the fact that travel is good for body, mind and soul, and not just from a personal perspective but from a professional one too. Frequent travellers are not only more versatile, flexible, creative and more easily inspired; after all, travelling to different destinations does feed the imagination; but they're also more empathic, better team workers and more effective communicators, whether or not they speak more than one language. As it happens they also tend to be healthier and smarter; yes, science does seriously back this up!; and happier overall. Do all these benefits to travelling sound too good to be true? Just keep on reading and you'll see how travel can literally help you become a better person, a more fulfilled individual and a better worker.
In light of a recent interview with Hollywood actress Maggie Gylenhall in which she claims travel definitely makes her better at work, we decided to look further into the issue and explore the links between travel experiences and work satisfaction levels.
According to expert psychologists, scientists and researches here are some of the ways travel makes you better at work:
A different setting gives way to creativity
There's little doubt that travelling somewhere inspiring and otherwise stimulating is not only a treat for the senses but can help foster creativity in virtually any context. Escaping the mundane and jetting off somewhere different, it doesn't even have to be outside your country but definitely outside your city or region at the very least, will get those creative juices flowing. Being in a foreign environment and in contact with a different culture opens your mind to creation and innovation.
The destination doesn't have to be super exotic or remote, although in some cases it definitely helps. It just has to be different and inspiring to the person embarking on the experience. While a beach holiday somewhere warm and sunny, however cliche, is indeed appealing to most, this is not everyone's dream travel experience; some would draw more inspiration from a trip to the desert or the North Pole. Whatever rocks your boat! The bottom line is that travelling, wherever that may be, will boost your creativity. Period.
A proper break resets the mind, the stress-reducing factor
Everyone knows that an overstressed, overworked employee is like ticking time-bomb that could implode any second. Instead of approaching with caution, an employer should just say; Hey, maybe it's time you took a break and booked yourself in for some time off? And if that time off involves travelling, all the better!
This isn't just about taking a break from work. But also a break from the daily routine and the daily atmosphere that surrounds you. Only travel can take you outside your daily living environment and do so for the better. New sights, new places and having a more relaxed attitude for a few days can do wonders to relieve stress. They say stress is today's silent killer and many are quick to link it to cancer. Whatever the case, it's obvious that a travel break is among the most effective stress-reducing therapies. And the even better news? According to studies, travellers report that upon coming back home from a trip abroad, this stress-free and light-hearted feelings lasted for several weeks.
Living in the moment improves self-awareness and mindfulness
Before you go and think this "mindfulness" malarkey that seems to be on the mouth of everyone these days is another hippety-dippety idea made up by some yogi or life coach, let's look at it from a different perspective. Let's look at the facts and about how self-awareness is key to managing emotions and workload in the workplace.
Self-awareness and mindfulness can help clear your head at times of maximum stress so that you can make the most of a situation and handle things in proportion. Often, at first, a problem seems too huge or overwhelming to solve, taking a mental step back to reposition yourself and the situation can help resolve matters quicker. Travelling is all about little moments, captured with your mind or with your camera, often both. The fact remains that travelling makes you more self-aware, gives you time to think and ponder on every aspect of your life and helps you gain a better understanding of who you are as a person and how you relate to the world in which you live. Travel also makes you mindful of the place, time and situation where it puts you. In short, being more self-aware means better recognising your strengths and weaknesses and being able to manage them more efficiently in the workplace.
Better time management skills
Considering that when you travel you have limited time to enjoy your destination and do whatever it is you plan on doing, seeing, touring, etc., many travellers quickly become expert time managers. With time management often being a critical skill to master when travelling, in a scenario when making the most of your time is essential to getting the most out of your hard-earned money, unfortunately travelling isn't cheap, most travellers eventually become very good at time managing. To avoid ending up in dead ends, ghost neighbourhoods or missing important flight connections, avid travellers can make time work for them in fruitful ways and squeeze every minute out of their holiday.
And every boss will want your time management skills to be at their best and sharpest, with time wasting; either in the form of procrastinating, poor planning or plain laziness; at work being repeatedly identified as one of managers' harder to deal with issues in the office.
Learning to embrace the unexpected and thinking on your feet
Travel setbacks teach you to think on your feet and come up with quick solutions or responses to given situations. At times such solutions have to be thought of instantly, which improves your ability to deal with the unexpected and be brave in the face of adversity. This kind of perspective transcends into your daily life back at home and your work life.
Like in travel, where things sometimes don't go to plan, at work, the unexpected can happen and being able to think on your feet and quickly adapt to a new situation instead of wasting time fretting about it and wringing your hands can make you up to 100 per cent more efficient and resilient. And what boss doesn't value that?
Openness to trying out new things. Fostering fearlessness and spontaneity
If you want to be an innovative leader or at least the kind of person your boss would trust to come up with new ideas and be fearless about shaking things up a little, then travel is your friend. When embarking on a travel journey not only does the experience expand your horizons as you learn about other ways of living and doing things, it can also inspire you to be more spontaneous, add a healthy dose of self-confidence and do things differently when back at home.
Whether it's trying fried crickets on a stick, tucking into chicken feet or joining a hula dance, travel gives you an edge in being experimental and can help you lose your inhibitions. There are countless situations when travelling that can trigger spontaneity and fearlessness, and being spontaneous can not only help you get out of a rut in your personal life but also get unstuck at work, develop new ideas, think outside the box and dare to make more proposals to your boss or co-workers. Whether you're advocating for change in your office or presenting new ideas, this new found fearlessness and confidence boost can be very rewarding. If it turns out that you struck gold with either of these new ideas you developed as a result of losing your inhibitions and being more spontaneous while on holiday, then you could justify more time off to your boss, especially if it gives way to the creativity and fearlessness you need to keep things fresh and innovative in the workplace.
Better team-working abilities
When you're out in the world facing strangers from different cultures and you try to make yourself understood beyond the language barriers you gain communication skills that may have otherwise remained dormant in you. Not only that, travelling puts you in contact with the most varied array of people whose idiosyncrasies, way of thinking and stance on issues may be very different to yours or total opposites, in fact. While in some cases this may prove a shock to you, in the long term it may give you a new appreciation for others and teach you lots about respect and tolerance.
Therefore, it is highly likely that after travelling around a fair bit, at work you will end up developing new levels of patience and tolerance, which can only help you get along with others who might not work at your pace or see eye-to-eye with you on some issues. You'll be a more valuable and valued/respected team-member given your ease to adapt to others' characters and flow and will likely not find the experience as challenging.
If you're a control freak who needs things done a certain way or who doesn't easily trust in others doing your job, travel also helps you learn how to unclench a bit and rely on others as well ask for help when you need it. In other words, it will help you tone down your own sense of self-importance in a very positive way.
Improved planning and organisational skills
This goes hand in hand with what we said about time management earlier. In the same way you'll have to efficiently time manage to make the most of your trip and make sure you don't miss flight connections, you will be better at planning and organising things as when one travels more often than not one makes sure to plan ahead and organise your time effectively so that you can see and do as much as possible or at least make sure to devote enough time to what's of interest to you. Just think of your next holiday as a very necessary and long planning exercise that will hone your organisational skills in ways that your boss will thank you for. So, maybe next time he/she could pinch in a little for your next break. After all, planning and organising are essential workplace skills!
Better stress management skills
We've already talked about stress and how travelling helps a long way towards alleviating it or often completely eliminating it - at least when we talk about work-related or home-related stress. However, being in a new, unknown does sometimes trigger some stressful situations, and in this case, this is about how travel forces you to deal with it in a more effective, productive way.
When something on your holiday doesn't go to plan you're forced to deal with the stress face to face instead of avoiding it or ignoring like we often do in our day-to-day lives. This kind of stress management skill that comes out when we need it most, in a foreign environment where we feel less in control and more vulnerable, can help a long way towards addressing stress in our day-to-day routine, and especially at work. It can help us look at it in the eye and deal with it instead of putting it in the back of our minds and pretending it isn't there. It also helps us focus better and approach situations with a clearer head instead of letting stress overcome us and cloud our judgement. Like I said, they should give travel discounts at work! They help you be better at it!
Improves flexibility and adaptability
This one doesn't need over-explaining. The more we travel and get accustomed to new places, new food, new ways of doing and new cultures, the more flexible and adaptable we will become as individuals. It's that simple. Really. And, of course, that does apply at work. Flexible, adaptable people who can be easily re-trained or who are open to change are the ones that a company relies on when things go tough or when a change of tactic is needed.
Improves confidence and self-esteem
Another one that's pretty self-explanatory. People who travel a lot will almost always end up having a higher regard for themselves, even if only for the satisfaction that discovering new things gives you and the confidence boost that comes from exploring somewhere out of your comfort zone. This is heightened if you travel solo once and then, as venturing out there on your own forces you to be self-reliant and often innovative. Flying solo also gives you wings to take off on your own once back in the workplace, giving you added confidence to take the initiative or lead the way where others would hesitate. In the office, you will be regarded as one of the most dependable, confident people around. A real asset that every boss will be pleased to work with! So long as you don't let it go to your head and get too cocky - that's annoying!
Seriously, time away from the office can seriously boost productivity levels upon your return. This is backed up by research commissioned by the US Travel Association for "An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the US", a report that found that taking time off work led to higher productivity and an overall boost in employees' morale, which, in turn, contributes to greater employee retention and job satisfaction. Also according to said report, those workers who succumbed to job pressures, self-imposed or not, were wrongfully considered to be ahead of the game when in reality they were worn out, jaded, unmotivated and working at a slower pace without the promise of rewards like holidays to keep them going.
The boost in productivity as a direct result of travel is well documented, even when if it's a business trip. If not ask Alex Moore and Mike Chin, the couple who founded Boomerang in 2011 and who found that bringing their team on week-long trips not only boosted employees' satisfaction levels but also contributed immensely to company growth. These trips helped generate innovative ideas and motivated the conceptualisation-to-creation process
But a personal non-work related trip abroad can also do wonders to help boost productivity at work, albeit temporarily, as research does show that this productivity boost does wear off over time. Just tell your boss that to keep it up you need more frequent breaks!
A healthier body and a healthier mind
This positive effect of travel is less visible and noticeable but its impact is profound and possibly more important than all the above-mentioned ones. Science backs the fact that travel can make both your body and mind healthier in more ways than you probably were aware of.
Among women, more specifically, a lack of holiday time is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. But it's not just women whose hearts benefit from travelling. According to a study carried out by the Global Coalition on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, women who went on holidays at least twice a year showed a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who did every few years or so. In the case of men, those who didn't use annual leave to travel showed a 20 per cent higher risk of death and 30 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease. Just look at those numbers again to see what a game changer travel can be for longevity and good health.
By improving your mood and easing up tensions travel can help you look after your heart and this emotional booster and improved heart function linger for weeks after you've returned home. And the heart isn't the only organ that benefits from travel, the stress-reducing effects of travelling improve your mental health and help keep your brain healthy. Not only that, travel actually boosts your brain power, as a poll conducted by the US Travel Association discovered that going on trips helped prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
The bottom line is that people who frequently travel are overall more satisfied with their physical health and mental well-being, and at the end of the line that's what really matters. Personal fulfilment and contentment lead to a well-balanced life and travel has been proven to make people happier, more positive and with a better outlook on life.
A little inspiration can go a long way
Travelling is about so much more than being better at work and most of us who travel don't really do it thinking how it will impact our job performance. Yet the two seem to be correlated in very positives ways.
Switching off helps you switch on. Travelling reignites your passion in life, awakens your curiosity and desire to keep on learning. And that can only spell positive things in the workplace.
Above all, travelling is an investment in yourself, in and out of the workplace. So do make the effort to invest more of your time and hard-earned money in escaping the mundane and expanding your horizons. We at The Holiday Place know full well the amazing effects our holidays have on our customers so can only encourage you to use more of your paid time off work to travel more and see more of the world. Remember, it will make you a better person, a better employee and a healthier and smarter one at that too!