Borders and Burpees: 10 job skills you gain from travel

Borders and Burpees: 10 job skills you gain from travel

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Emily McLaren recounts the life skills she gained thanks to her backpacking experience abroad.

I recently got back from a year abroad, where I had the pleasure of having my first backpacking experience. I learned a lot – some would even say that I developed skills which would be admirable in the workforce. What are these skills though? I came up with a slightly different list.

On behalf of every backpacker, I’d like to present a list of 10 ‘skills’ for which I feel we should all qualify. Although, if you plan on getting a job at any stage in the near future then I wouldn't recommend using this list. Being able to drink excessive amounts isn’t impressive to the average employer – unless you plan on being a professional wine taster that is.

10 skills gained from backpacking

1. Punctuality – because if you didn’t catch the only bus taking you to your next adventure, you’d be stuck in that small town a lot longer than you had clean underwear for.

2. Resilience
– pushing your body to the limits by having one too many drinks and getting only three hours sleep but still managing to wake yourself up in time for your free breakfast. It’s an unspoken cardinal rule in backpacker world that if there’s a freebie going, you take it!

3. Problem solving
– aimlessly exploring the city, getting extremely lost and having to determine how to get back to your accommodation with nothing more than a trusty old brick of a phone to help you (about as useful as a chocolate kettle) all requires superior problem solving skills.

4. Organising
– perhaps that’s too generous a word; organised chaos, on the other hand, is a great backpacker trait. Having the contents of your bag in a way that makes perfect sense to you, but to everyone else it’s just a plain old mess.

5. Negotiating
– becoming a master at negotiating the price down or agreeing to do a clothes swap. Trust me, finding a girl with the same taste and similar sized clothing to you isn’t as easy as it sounds.

6. Research skills
– sourcing out all the bars which do happy hour and going to them on the corresponding day, or finding out which musuems or events have free admission on which days.

7. Decision making
– to go out or to go ‘out out’, that is the question.

8. Interpersonal skills
– it’s impossible not to acquire this skill when you’re sharing a room with as many as 19 people at times and having people in your personal space on a daily basis.

9. Flexibility
– getting so used to plans changing and falling apart that you become ‘flexible’, which in some cases might mean that you no longer have enough energy or strength to care.

10. Teamwork
– going from shyly smiling at someone in the corridor to three days later when you’ve got private jokes, you’re sharing food, behaving like siblings and calling yourself a ‘team’. 


Reprinted with permission from Borders and Burpees.

Emily McLarenEmily runs her own travel and fitness blog. Having grown up in the expat world, she now travels independently around the world. You can keep up with all her travels and fitness posts at www.bordersandburpees.co.uk.


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