Your University days are over. Your cap’s flying somewhere up in the air and your degree is in your hand. Now what?
Get a job? It seems obvious considering you just donated 4 years of your life studying for a career.
But, what about that little spark of desire within you that wants to do more. You’ve been locked up in study halls and tiny dorm rooms for so long; you don’t want to transfer that limitation to a cubicle. You want to live a little, see what the world has to offer and return in a couple of years to the corporate lifestyle you feel you have to sign up for.
But do you?
What about if you took the travel and then upon return created your own dream lifestyle, a business focused completely on what you love and are good at? You know one where YOU made the rules. For most, the fear of missing out and falling further behind the corporate ladder race is too much, so they head for the nearest job interview. This is the wrong fear to pay attention to.
The fear that you should be paying attention are global financial crisis, stock market crashes, and corporation downsizing as jobs are outsourced to those who can work from anywhere with a lap top and internet connection. It’s actually exciting, opportunistic times for you. You can create a business and lifestyle you love.
So, do you go start up any old business, go back to college to learn how, or take up that travel dream and learn how to become an entrepreneur at the same time?
15 years ago I chose the latter, without even realizing I was choosing it. Not only was the journey amazing fun, but it taught me the skills and mindset needed to create my own dream lifestyle and be successful with it. Let’s look at what travel teaches you:
How to live your passion everyday
When you travel long-term you have a lot of downtime to do what you love. Is it hiking in the mountains, sketching, surfing, writing, or strumming on a guitar? Travel gives you the outlet to live your passion every day. There’s no one demanding you stop the doodling and get back to work. It’s the doodling that often leads to the creative ideas. Businesses that work usually evolve from the founder’s passion.
How to value freedom and use it as a motivating force
Jobs don’t offer enough scope for freedom. You have set rules, schedules, meetings, policies and office hours, and limited vacation time. You hit the travel road and the only thing demanding of your time is the odd flight schedule.
Your choices are based on wants: I want to sleep in tomorrow, I want to eat lunch on the beach, I want to hike that mountain, I want to hit the local bar on a Wednesday –a school night—just.because.I.can.
Entrepreneurs are fueled by this intense desire for freedom: the ability to say where, when, why and how. Creating your own business doesn’t take away hard work; it just means you control the output to suit your lifestyle.
How to become aware of your strengths
Travel is an amazing journey of self-discovery.
You often only have yourself to rely on as you organize, plan, cope with loneliness, and deal with challenges that arise and leave you with no back door. You’re more often than not experiencing new things, and with that, talents you never knew you had.
You discover who you really are and where your strengths lie. Once you hone on this, and combine it with your passion, you have a business that can sky rocket you to success and change the world.
How to develop effective and empathetic negotiating skills
Bartering is a normal part of life in many countries. You go back and forth with a local merchant until you settle on a win-win price.
This is how businesses work. You’ll be negotiating your own prices, terms, content, contracts, marketing plans, and employees. You’ve got to know how to have a conversation that doesn’t give away too much, but gives you enough room to move so you can benefit.
With travel you are often bargaining with those who are far less privileged than you, which helps you to develop empathy. Empathy is important in negotiation as it prevents you from being cut throat. You think from the other person’s shoes, which brings sharpness to your negotiation, but also humility to ensure you both walk way smiling.
How to plan, implement and solve problems
Travel costs, schedules, itineraries, time, money the list goes on with what you will be planning when travelling.
How do I get from Ohio to Sierre Leone? Is it better to do five months in Africa or 3 months in Europe? What are my travel goals and how do my plans fit with them?
With travel you are continually planning, re-evaluating and learning how to be resourceful.
What do you do when the wheel of the ute you are travelling on falls off on a dusty road in the middle of Africa? Or, when you lose your passport or you arrive in Dublin with only $70 in your pocket?
Dig deep and find the solution. Travel puts your back up against the wall, a position you’ll often find yourself in in business. Lucky for you, you can rely on those skills you learned in Africa to pull yourself out of trouble.
How to budget, spend wisely and learn new work skills
Travellers are incredibly sharp at budgeting and stretching their dollar further. They know how to find deals, how to get more bang for their buck, and find ways to bring extra cash in. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty and try something new.
For example on my travels around the world, I have taught in elementary schools and English as a foreign language, worked in bars and restaurants, tutored a monk, done door to door sales, and did hard labour working on a pearl farm. All of these have given me skills I can now apply to my own business.
How to become flexible and adaptable
Travel is one constant movement where every day is different. One minute you are in Germany, the next in Thailand. You have to quickly switch your thinking to a new language, customs, climate and road map.
I know I can be dropped in the middle of Siberia and I’ll find my way around- travel has given me that level of confidence to be flexible and to adapt.
In your business, things will be always moving that you have little control over. You have to quickly adapt and move with it in order to survive. Technology rapidly changes in the business environment, travel will help you to easily and willingly let go of the old in order to master the new and improved.
How to improve networking skills and your ability to read people
When you are travelling you are often communicating in gestures, smiles, and funny impromptu games of charades.
Who said you needed to speak a common language?
Despite being a whole lot of fun, these interactions help you sharpen your ability to read another person. You don’t need words to understand what lies behind a person’s eyes, the way they move their body, their facial expression and energy.
What a gift in business to be able to read the other person without hearing their words. It will help you to feel who is best to work with and who should be given “Not this time but all the best.”
How to be courageous and confident
Travelling the world can be scary (until a few weeks in and you realize it so is NOT).
You have to learn to take risks and be confident that you can handle the outcome no matter which way it falls. And if it is not the way you want it, you have to get back up and improve.
Going out into business by yourself can be extremely scary. Think how both are so similar. It is just you and your dreams. There’s no escape plan or anyone who can catch you when you fall.
Travel first and learn how to be courageous and confident. You will need these two traits if you are going to survive in business.
How to open your mind and think in new ways
You can’t be a black and white thinker in business. You have to be open to learning new ways and taking on new ideas. Otherwise progression will be difficult.
Likewise, you won’t last long on the travel road if you don’t journey with a mind that is open to learning and accepting. Opportunities abound for lubricating your mind—sometimes in extreme measures.
You’ll also learn that while the new way of thinking might not be something you wish to take on, it can be something you can respect, and perhaps learn something from.
When you go into business for yourself, you will have to take on the ideas from other people, particularly those who you will be working with.
You will also have learned so much through your own travels that some of these new ideas you have been exposed to will help you to innovate and stand out from your competition.
I never realized that travelling the world for 15 years would eventually lead me to this place where I control how my life looks. I signed up for travel because I wanted the adventure. In the process I learned an incredible amount about myself, what I am capable of, and just how easy it was to turn my passion into a profitable business.
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After 15 years living and travelling around the world, Caz Makepeace decided to share her stories and travel tips in order to help others travel more and create better memories. She now has one of the world’s biggest travel blogs and has created a business and lifestyle she loves with her husband and 2 children. They are about to travel around Australia for 1-2 years, blogging on the road.
Image Credit: traveliciousdee.wordpress.com