21 Apr

How Traveling The World Helped Me Find A Job


Photo Credit: Brenda Gottsabend


I have found some unintended consequences to traveling around the world for a year. I knew I would learn about other cultures and maybe pick up a word here and there from other languages; I figured I would learn about bus schedules and maybe would even get better at navigation (I didn’t…); but I hadn’t thought about the confidence that I would gain or the sense of power that would come to me or how these things would help me when it came time to find a new job.

Now, I was lucky and did not have to resign from my job in order to go traveling. I asked for, and was granted, a leave of absence for the year I was away and so returned to my original position once we got back to Canada. However, once Operation Responsibly Irresponsible got underway I started looking for a new job elsewhere in the country and really realized the benefits of long term travel in job hunting.


I have a confidence now that I didn’t have before. I was more tentative; wondering if I could do something, or if I wanted to. Now I know that I can try something new and trust that, whether I like it or not, I will be better for having tried. Most often we succeed at what we attempt and it is only the fear of failure that keeps us from moving forward (and sometimes it is the fear of success!). I seem to have less of that fear now and am more willing to try.


As confident as I am in my strengths I am also aware of my weaknesses; sometimes more acutely aware than I ever wish I was. Traveling definitely put a magnifying glass on all my behaviors and made me look at them honestly. I certainly don’t claim to have beaten them but an awareness can help me play to my strengths and lessen the impact of my weaknesses.


I feel, and understand, my power more acutely than I ever have. I have been more and more aware over recent years of the power that people have on me but it is only more recently that I realize the influence that I carry. Through telling people of my plans, writing OneGiantStep, and encouraging others to live their dream I have been fortunate enough to have people share with me how I have influenced them in doing the same. We all have an influence on those that we know, we just don’t often realize the power of that influence.

Goal Setting

Researching, planning, and executing a long term trip such as this is one huge project. Setting, and working towards, goals is the only way to get it done. I have never done anything as huge in my whole life and I certainly learned that I know how to set criteria and then work toward getting it done.


I now have an underlying belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. I always knew this and have never had any limitations set on me but now I really believe that I can do anything. In fact I now often think ‘If we were able to travel around the world, then surely we can…’

These realizations hugely affected my job search. I found myself willing to stretch farther to find a challenging position and not trying to cover up my downsides but rather working with them. I approached the whole exercise as a ‘fit session’ whereby I was interviewing organizations as much as they were interviewing me. It was about whether I would be a good fit and how would they help me be successful rather than trying hard to fit my square self into their round hole and having to prove that I could be successful.

I decided that I would just show up as myself and that they would have to fit me. And damned if it didn’t work! I would never have believed that the whole process could be so stress free. From start to finish, through a triple interview process, I just kept showing up and last week I started my new job. A step out from my last position; and a challenge for sure; but comfortable none-the-less and I feel stronger than ever before!!

15 thoughts on “How Traveling The World Helped Me Find A Job

  1. Congratulations on finding a job that fits you. A designer lifestyle certainly fits hand in hand with world travel. I like hearing accounts of world travel being a benefit to one’s character and career.

    As you can imagine, in our pre-rtw phase, we hear a lot of warnings that our careers will be ruined by our time off. Personally, I expect our experience to mirror your own.
    Mike Lenzen recently posted..Our Itinerary Released

  2. BRAVO, Gillian!
    Your “power” writing reminded me of my reading the book “Five People You Meet in Heaven.” You never know what kind influence you have on people…
    Wishing you all the best.

  3. Travel definitely gives you life skills that you can use in your career – and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk them up to potential employers!

    Like you, I also took a year off work, and coming home I found employment really quickly – they didn’t seem to mind there was a one year gap in my CV and were interested to hear how my travels had grown my skill set. I don’t think the trip has had a negative impact on my career whatsoever. That’s why I’m heading off again v. soon! :)
    megan recently posted..Afternoon at the Mongolian Museum

  4. Pingback: The Friday Five--Awesome Travel Blog Posts: April 22, 2011 - Aaron's Worldwide Adventures

  5. There are so many great things that travel teaches us. It’s one of the benefits to traveling. So many people go to relax and just see the sights and miss out the the lessons travel can teach us. Congrats on the new job!
    Jeremy B recently posted..5 ways to travel at home

  6. I totally agree. Travel does make you a stronger and more confident person; qualities that are necessary at any job. Goal setting is also developed, since when you’re traveling (especially solo as I do) everything depends on you. So, if you want to achieve and see things, you have to do it by yourself and accomplish those goals.

    Really good post!
    Norbert recently posted..12 Things I’ve Learned from A Year of Blogging

  7. Couldn’t agree more. Glad your experience has been so positive. I also found that taking the risk to follow your dreams will NEVER leave you wishing you would have stayed in a “safe” job you had when you left. We only grow through challenge, and I am glad you found a new one to tackle.

    I will offer my own experience of post trip job hunting here:
    Keith recently posted..To Car or Not to Car

    • Keith, the example you set was definitely an influence on me and my experience! I should have linked to your post as it, too, shows how you can use travel as a plus on a resume. Thanks for including it. Cheers!

  8. Congrats on your new job! It’s so nice to hear that traveling helped you secure your new position. Two questions- did the traveling come up in the interview process (not sure if you had a gap in your resume because of the travel)AND did your new employer know about your blog?
    Kim recently posted..Help Us Travel The World!

    • Kim, the travel did not come up in the interview process. As I was on leave for the year there is no gap in my resume. The trip, however, is not a secret although I did not bring it up either…I had planned on what I would say if it did come up…talk about these strengths and the things I had learned etc.

      The blog is tricky and I’ve struggled with how to handle it. I’ve decided on being open and honest but, having said that, no my employer does not currently know about the blog. As we get to know people on a personal level and learn about each other I’m sure it will come out and that’s fine. My future plans are not a secret, my employment contract is only for 2 years and OneGiantStep is part of who I am so I can’t hide it.

  9. Oh you hit the nail on the head. Travel does build confidence and it does it rather efficiently and to a superior strength than non-travel.

    Also, really relate to what you say about awareness. The magnifying glass and mirror travel (especially long-term travel) provides are quite strong and clear.

    The best part is that you see all this, used it to your advantage so now it’s a strength and wrote about it to share. Thnx.
    Acceleratedstall recently posted..Summer Nights

  10. Congrats on the new job! I agree-travel instills a kind of confidence within us that, for me personally, was difficult to attain by any other means. There is just something about thrusting yourself into the complete unknown and coming out unscathed and….happier.
    Claire recently posted..Change is Good

  11. I’m doing some blog catching up after a crazy 2 months… I definitely know the confidence boost I get from just a short trip, so I can only imagine how much more you can gain from a long term trip. Belated congrats on the new job! And it was great to meet you in Vancouver!

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