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Traveling is good for your skills development.

5 Skills you learn along the way. (By Elmarie Pretorius)

It’s funny how sometimes random quotes pop up in your head that make you think. This was the case with IBN Batutta’s quote: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”.

When I sat at the airport, for the fourth time this month, this time on route to Namibia to present a series of skills training sessions for a client of ours, I thought about traveling and what you can learn from it. There are some truly valuable lessons traveling can teach you to help develop your skills and enrich your career growth. 

Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, takes you out of your comfort zone. It enriches our lives with different experiences and exposes us to different people, cultures, language and also opinions and views. Even if you don’t travel abroad but merely to Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town, there are diverse cultures, unusual habits and different ways of doing things in companies and in cities.

Thinking about this made me realized what I have learned through my travels over the years:

  1. Communication is a vital part of traveling and misunderstanding someone can have unpleasant repercussions. To travel to a city or country where the language is the same as yours helps a lot, but certain things like the interpretation of body language and tone of voice can easily be misinterpreted. Through traveling locally and abroad you learn to communicate across the board in a universal language because of the experiences you have gained. Suddenly you have more respect for just how important good communication skills are.
  2. Unfortunately, traveling always requires Time and Stress Management. Planning is key when you are traveling and when you do it correctly, cuts out unnecessary stress. If you don’t plan you might miss flights or transfers. You might end up with ‘dead zones’ where you sit around or rush from one place to another where instead,  you could have been productive. Traveling takes a lot of time, but if you plan you can manage your stress and be productive at the same time.
  3. Through traveling you learn to appreciate the diversity of cultures. As previously mentioned, you don’t have to travel to India or Turkey to learn different cultures, but people of different local cities or towns have uncommon habits and ways of doing things. There are also contrasting corporate cultures locally that can upskill your adaptability towards diversity.
  4. Travelling opens up networking opportunities. Along with your travels, you will meet new and interesting people. People who can teach you things and can help you gain experiences. People who you can include in your networking web which is an invaluable part of doing business.
  5. Creative ideas and thinking are sparked by new experiences. Although you can go to a place multiple times, not one single traveling experience is ever the same. Look around you for inspirations and awe. Learn to take away lessons from encounters every single time you travel.

Traveling is one way of learning and up-skilling yourself. I am constantly reminded of how many lessons I have learned from my travels and traveling makes me even more self-sufficient. Sometimes there is even a lesson to be learned in the pure exhaustion of traveling when you return home. To learn to appreciate the smaller things and to be able to come back to a place where you can recharge and rejuvenate your mind and spirit is priceless.