travel

"Taking a break from work makes you a better employee. Seriously."

I am going to take a wild guess and assume that because you are a human living on this incredible earth, there is a 99.9% chance that you like to travel. I like to travel too, no actually, I love to travel. As far back as I can remember, I have had a strong desire to explore the world. I love the research and planning and even the gruelling long haul flights that you have to take to get anywhere from Australia, right through to the adventures, the good and the bad – this is what sets my soul on fire.

But how do I balance this passion with that of having a career that I love and enriches my life in so many different and important ways? A career that I want to continue to grow in but keeps me in one place for all but 4 weeks of the year?

I’m sure you have heard the quote “not all those who wander are lost” and not all those who take a break from work are disenchanted with their jobs either. I love my job, but as an avid traveller, I wanted the flexibility to see more of the world and my recent three month trip to Central America was more of an escape to something rather than an escape from something.

Luckily for me, I work for a company that appreciates the value of having a life outside of work and understands how these experiences can benefit the workplace. No one does their best work when they are stale and stressed. Travel, whether it is for a couple of days or a couple of months, makes you a smarter, happier and a more well rounded person. I would also argue that it makes you a better employee; returning to work revitalised from all you have seen and done and with new enthusiasm from all those experiences.

Hammock on the beach, Nicaragua

1. Gaining fresh perspective

So often we live our day-to-day lives with tunnel vision, our problems can seem monumental and it feels like we are the only ones experiencing them. Travelling can give you the opportunity to experience different ways of living, cultures, languages, traditions and customs.

It teaches us to look outside of ourselves and our own little corner of the world. It is here that we realise that in the grand scheme of things our lives are pretty damn good. By replacing your usual routine with new and uncharted experiences, it gives you a different view of the world. Forget what you have heard from other people or seen in the media, first hand experience will give you a healthy reality check.

2. It makes you more humble

How could you not be amazed by the beauty of the world when you are camping on top of a volcano, amongst the clouds and witnessing the active volcano next to you erupt?

3. Meet new people and learn to be more trusting

When you work an 8-5 job it can be hard to find the time and energy to go out and meet new, like-minded people. When you are travelling, you will inevitably meet and get to know interesting people from all over the world and from all walks of life. For the most part, people are friendly and willing to help and seeing all of the good that exists in the world makes it easier to trust and realise that mostly, we are all just trying to do the right thing.

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4. Teaches you to value experiences instead of things

It seems logical that spending money on something we can see, hear, touch and keep will deliver the best value but research has found that experiences actually deliver more lasting happiness than things. Not only will you probably have to sacrifice buying ‘things’ while you save for your trip or when you are first back at home and only see negative signs in front of those numbers in your bank account, but travel experiences are proven to be a better long term investment.

We are a sum total of everything we’ve seen, done and the places we have been. So it’s no surprise that our experiences become part of who we are, part of our identity. Buying a fancy new car isn’t going to change who we are, but taking a break from work to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu definitely will.

Llama selfie, Inca Trail in Peru. Photo source: supplied.

5. Helps you to rejuvenate

It is so important to take time out to give your mind and body a rest. This is something that many of us don’t place enough value on when we’re caught up with the daily grind. It’s pretty much the norm to hear people say they're exhausted and bang on about how hard they’ve been working and how hectic their work and social life is, like it is some sort of badge of honour.
Taking a break can remind you to slow down, enjoy life and spend time on the things that are really important to you such as health and relationships.

6. Challenges you and makes you more patient

The safety net is strong at home. You know the streets like the back of your hand, the good spots to eat and the areas to steer clear of after dark. Travelling will without a doubt burst the warm, cosy bubble you were so comfortably living in. It’s more than likely you will get into situations that you would never usually find yourself in at home and while at the time they can feel seriously scary or stressful, the racing heart and clammy palms are all part of it. Even those bad experiences make for some of the best stories later on...much, much later on when you can look back and laugh at how crazy it really was. It’s these situations that prove to yourself just how capable and strong you can be.

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You will learn to be resourceful, live in the moment and deal with things as they come. At the end of the day, when your clothes get robbed in Costa Rica and you are left with just the outfit you have on (yes, this happened to me), life goes on and you thank your lucky stars they didn’t take your passport, or the phone that you rely on to notify mum that you are alive/ still have your kidneys or anything else that holds grave importance to your life. That time I decided to go zip lining on my own in Costa Rica and had to run through the jungle from a troupe of howler monkeys throwing sticks at me, trying to figure out where the “officina” was (I also speak zero Spanish, which is not so handy when you are dead lost with no Spanish dictionary or translation apps).

Diving in a cenote, Mexico. Photo source: supplied.

7. Gives you a chance to pursue other interests You finally have the time to pick up the knitting needles, stack of books, javelin stick or whatever your hobby of choice might be and not worry that you should be doing your tax or that Lorraine wanted you to call her back.

At home I certainly don’t have time to spend doing yoga twice a day, everyday and learning to stand on my head but I got the chance to indulge this passion for 10 whole days on the trip and it’s an experience for which I will always be truly grateful.

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8. Learn about yourself and gain confidence

Taking a break from business as usual can give you a chance to pause, look back on your life from a distance and see things more clearly. You may already know yourself and what you want very well but we are constantly evolving and changing. Taking time to check in with yourself can never be a bad thing.

You will also be surprised at how much confidence you can gain when you’re taken out of your comfort zone or face difficult situations and manage to navigate your way through. When you make it through a storm in a sail boat in the Caribbean, you can surely make it through any office dilemma - fist pump moment!

9. Open your mind and learn about the world

You WILL learn more about geography, history, customs, food, culture and language first hand, when you are right there and surrounded by it. When you’re immersed in another culture it pretty much forces you to embrace it and do as the locals do (especially when you are on a tight budget and not living in the Hilton). Getting to know people from other cultures opens your mind to the many ways of the world and think about things from another perspective.

Have a look at the places we're dreaming of travelling in 2016. Post continues after video. 

Travel also opens up the opportunity to do some weird and wonderful things you definitely wouldn't do at home. Eating guinea pig in Peru (weird) or getting jammed in the back of a pick-up truck with a bunch of strangers to get to a hostel in the middle of the jungle in Guatemala (potentially completely unsafe but at the time saved an hour trek up a hill so I would classify this one as straight up wonderful) are not things you get to do regularly, so when you do get the chance, you just do it! Trying new things when you travel also makes you more open to it in your everyday life.

*Please note I do not plan to make guinea pig a part of my regular diet.

10. It makes you feel alive

I can’t even count the amount of times I thought to myself or said out loud “it’s a hell of a time to be alive”. Everyday is a new place, filled with new faces, new experiences and challenges. Each trip I have taken reinvigorates my sense of adventure as well as my love and appreciation for life. I try to approach every day as an adventure in some way and every person I meet as an opportunity to learn something new. After a break I definitely notice I do this with more enthusiasm, a skip in my step and a sugar in my tea.

If you haven’t travelled you have only read a page”

“Life is like a book.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

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