Social media and blogs seem to have no shortage of people who have quit their jobs to travel the world, or alternatively, pursued corporate success with conviction, motivation and perhaps tunnel vision.
If you want to be inspired by travel or business, there are thousands of articles and blogs about either topic.
But what if you want both?
A little bit of backstory.
I was a dedicated student, one of those people where anything less than a perfect score was considered unacceptable.
I had a five-year plan in my mid-teens and for my final high school project, when I’d decided to become a human rights lawyer, managed to interview several politicians inside Parliament House.
Eventually, I was accepted into law school at my first-choice university.
Those in my life were sure that I was on a fast track for professional success.
However, I also desperately wanted to travel. Having grown up in a multicultural area, learning about other religions, cuisines and traditions, I was desperate to learn more about what lay outside the boundaries of my relatively small town.
The books I’d devoured during my childhood and teen years also made me desperate to experience the sights and places described in their pages.
In fact, I think it is very common for people who crave business success to also crave adventure and travel.
I think many of the same traits that motivate people to climb the corporate ladder also motivate people to explore countries far afield and cultures different to their own.
Often, successful people have a drive to do and see more; to be more – this can translate into a drive to climb the corporate ladder and achieve commercial success, but it can also mean that you desire finding out more about the world and pushing yourself to be more brave, confident and worldly.
Neither travellers or successful business people are known to sit on their laurels – by contrast, they are always striving for the next achievement or experience.
Curiosity is also a common theme amongst people who succeed in business and those who travel frequently.
A penchant for asking why rather than simply accepting the status quo, leads not only to a desire to find out more, but also to learning and improving on existing thoughts and practices. In today’s ”disrupted” world, people who are open-minded and willing to think well outside the box make great business-people as well as travellers.
Plus, there is a thirst for knowledge which I believe runs deeply through travellers and people who strive for corporate success.
I developed a love of learning initially through books, and then through conversations had with interesting people, formal education, travelling and finally my peers in my chosen field. I believe this love of learning has served me well both abroad and at work.
As you can see, I believe it is not uncommon for people to have a simultaneous love of their careers and travel.
However, there can be some challenges in balancing these two things.
It is absolutely possible to balance a love of travel with career success, however it is not always easy.
Often, vacation time is incredibly limited in corporate jobs, and the idea of taking an extended break away from your role may seem impossible.
There always seems to be the next thing to learn, and you worry about falling behind should you take time to indulge in travel.
For me, however, travel is not an indulgence or something that you choose over your career.
It is absolutely possible not only to find time and ways to do them both, but to set it up so that they are both complementary to each other.
In my view, a love of travel can be the thing that helps you on your path to corporate success, and corporate success can help be the means by which you travel.
Here’s an honest guide to how you too can balance a love of travel and corporate success.
Can I Succeed at my Career and Travel the World? – Yes You Can.
#1: It’s all in how you sell it
Honestly, if you go into a job interview and tell them that the reason for your year-long career gap is that you went to Thailand and spent six months drinking cocktails on a beach, you’re unlikely to be hired.
Similarly, if you tell your boss that you need a year-long sabbatical to hike mountains and find yourself, the answer is likely to be no.
On the other hand, if you sell the “gap” in your experience as time spend understanding and learning about other cultures, which is great for cross-continental business; or that you want to take a career sabbatical to challenge yourself and learn about new practices and languages, it is much more likely to be accepted.
Don’t think about what benefits travel brings you when talking to a potential or current employer.
Think about what benefits it brings them.
Never apologize for your love of travel, just put on your sales hat and sell its benefits.
#2: Make yourself invaluable
This is probably the most valuable lesson of all, and it may not be an easy one to hear – but it is the truth.
If you want to be able to take additional liberties (such as a career gap or extra annual leave), you are going to need to make yourself invaluable to the organisation.
It’s not enough to be “okay” at your job, because there are plenty of okay people at their jobs who don’t want to take additional leave or disappear for a year.
On the other hand, if your sales are 20% better than the next person in your role or you are known for having brilliant ideas that significantly reduce overhead costs, then you have a much better chance of getting additional perks.
It’s all about having something to bargain with so that your organisation considers a small inconvenience is worth it to keep you working for them.
Likewise, even if you are not planning to take any additional leave or entitlements, but simply want to take your assigned leave guilt-free (which I know can even be frowned upon in some settings), make sure that your work and organisation is in no way impacted by your decision to do so.
Even if it means some longer hours the week before or after, or extra planning, make sure your company sees no negative impacts from your taking of leave.
Once this becomes a pattern, your employer is unlikely to have any issues with it in the future.
#3: Make the most of your leave, and business trips
A simple way to balance wanderlust and a drive for career success is to make the absolute most of the framework that you’re given.
Nearly every employee has long weekends and some amount of annual leave.
Try to use these as much as possible to travel – for example, get in early to take leave on one side of Easter or around Christmas, which means you get more consecutive days for fewer used-up annual leave days.
You’d be surprised how much more opportunity this can give you to travel and take longer trips.
Similarly, get out and about in the cities you visit for work.
I know that sometimes the last thing you feel like doing after a long day is sightseeing.
After a long meeting, it is easy to want to just go back to your hotel and watch a few hours of mindless TV.
However, your inner traveller will thank you for taking the opportunity to go out and explore a new place.
Even cities that aren’t typical tourist attractions nearly always have fun things to do and see.
#4: Find ways to stay in touch with your field while travelling
Another way to balance travel and career success is to use travel to find opportunities to stay in touch with the latest happenings in your field.
Not only does this help you stay abreast of changes, but it also sounds great in meetings and job interviews.
For example, perhaps you could attend a conference in your field while you are travelling, or volunteer in a related industry.
Other options include working on a paper while abroad, or doing freelance work in a similar field.
Another go-to is to do an immersive language course overseas – language skills are highly sought after in nearly all industries, and are also a brilliant skill for any traveller.
This way, when you return, you will have plenty of examples for how to respond to questions about the gap in your CV, and you will have improved your knowledge and professional skills as well.
#5: It’s all about relationships
When it comes down to it, relationships are one of the most important components of success in life generally.
Of course, our friends and family are always important to us, but then networking is also crucial to career success.
Likewise, relationships are crucial to successfully balancing a love of travel and corporate success.
Try to never, ever burn bridges with the people you have worked with or for.
Be courteous, professional and competent in all of your interactions; this means treating all of your peers and co-workers well, and trying to leave on good terms.
For example, when I left my previous job, I gave eight weeks’ notice (six more than I was contractually required to) so there was plenty of time to do a thorough handover.
It is crucial to stay on good terms and keep up with your connections, so that you can return to work.
No matter how much you might want to yell, ‘I’m going to trek the Himalayas! I quit!”, never, ever do this.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to foster connections while travelling.
The business world is increasingly globalized and you never know who you are going to meet.
If you sense that someone might be a good connection for you down the track, don’t be afraid to connect in a professional capacity (LinkedIn makes this so easy) and reconnect down the track.
With these practical tips, you can find success in your career while also quelling your thirst for travel and new experiences.
Do you have any tips that would help in maintaining a balance between travel and a corporate job?
Georgie Mack is an Australian blogger who loves history, budget travel and red wine (preferably all on the
same trip). When she’s not writing about her adventures, gallivanting about the world or researching her
next trip, Georgie works as a lawyer, although she’s currently on a year-long career sabbatical living in