Since the beginning of time, human beings have been traversing the globe in search of new sources of food, water, land, adventure, and promise. Traveling was the only way to see what existed in the rest of the world, inspiring many to journey far beyond their home fields to witness what abounded in the tales about the planet beneath our feet.
Today, although we can see just about anything we want through our phones in seconds, that kind of imagery and access just doesn’t compare to actually traveling there personally. As our worlds become more and more consumed by technology and a sedentary lifestyle as we work from home, the urge, the pull, and the desire to get out there and see the world has never been greater. But, more than just a vacation or a frivolous “getaway” from everyday life, traveling has been touted as a personal development activity that is unrivaled.
That’s right, countless studies have confirmed that traveling can make you a better, happier, and more productive person. Thomas Gilovish, a psychology professor from Cornell University, confirmed that people experience the same amount of happiness when they travel as when they make a desired purchase. Beyond seeing new sights, experiencing new cultures, learning new thought processes, and broadening your horizons, traveling will make you a happier, more fulfilled person. That’s why it’s such a beneficial activity for the people of the ever-changing business world.
As a businesswoman myself, I’ve discovered that traveling at least once per month keeps me in check – it keeps me empathetic and receptive to my clients. It helps me learn more about the world outside my window, so I can predict market trends and embrace them before my competitors.
Traveling undoubtedly makes me a better businesswoman, and here’s why
1. Understanding Alternative Lifestyles: We may think we know everything today from our social media feeds, when in reality, we know very little about the lives and realities of others around the world. The only way to find out? Walking a mile in that person’s shoes. Whether it’s touring the Vietnamese countryside, talking with fair-trade artisans in South America, or road tripping across the United States to learn more about our farmers, actually experiencing their reality helps me understand myself, local and international markets, and the people around me.
This understanding aids me in overcoming blind-spots in my company missions and customer service as I am able to tailor my responses to the people I am talking with.
2. Regular Challenges and Problem-Solving: Traveling, especially in the middle of coronavirus, is a challenge. Lines are longer, regulations and restrictions can make boarding trains, planes, and buses more complex, and people are feeling overall stressed and tense. These challenges, although frustrating at first, are invaluable mental and physical growth opportunities. Remaining stagnant in a safe and predictable business world can cause a business person to fall behind the competition. Challenging yourself to think in new ways, solve problems on the go, and remain calm under pressure will make you an agile business shark.
3. Gratefulness Check: As Harvard Health so aptly stated, “Giving thanks can make you happier.” Gratefulness is a major part of contentment and happiness in a human being. Giving back, helping others, and doing something for someone other than yourself can fill your heart and soul with a joyfulness that no physical purchase can satisfy. Therefore, traveling is a great way to stimulate this gratefulness as you see the world and begin to appreciate what you do have and where you have come from. From my travels around the planet, I have become so much more grateful for my personal abilities, educational access, and freedoms as a woman in my home country. Every time I travel, it helps me check this feeling of gratefulness so it’s never without reach.
4. Never-Ending Creative Stimulation: Nothing was more creatively inspiring than walking the streets of Tokyo, Japan. There are entire cultures, customs, norms, and thought-processes that are foreign to the Western world. Standing in the midst of Japanese creation and development was the most creatively stimulating thing I have ever done. How they cater to consumers and personalize products was incredible, not to mention the accessible technology that makes delivery of these services and products that much more seamless. Traveling allows the creative side of my mind to grow and develop beyond my current confines.
5. Cross-Cultural Communication Skills: Every business owner knows that communication is the foundation of any successful platform. Whether you’re communicating with clients, partners, or your employees, it’s important to be able to state exactly what it is you want to say. If you’re struggling to communicate in your mother tongue, try venturing to a foreign land where you have to learn alternative ways to communicate. Using your hands, your body, your apps, and your imagination, it’s possible to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. These skills can then be applied back home to your current business to ensure flow of information is occurring effortlessly.
Treat Your Business to a Travel Trip
Stop seeing travel as a deviation from your business and focused mindset. Rather, start to view it as a complementary experience that will make you a happier, more compassionate, and more receptive business leader. There’s a reason travel has been part of the entire human experience – don’t shut it out of your busy business life.
Make time, make room, and of course, make memories.