Twelve years ago, I flew to Turkey to meet with a potential client who had specifically told me not to bother boarding the plane. My boss dropped the trip in my lap just days before I had to show up because he wasn’t able to close the deal himself. Even though the client said he wasn’t going to work with us and I shouldn’t waste my time, I flew to meet him, made a great pitch, created a genuine connection with him—and got him to sign an agreement to work with my company. It ended up being a seven-figure win for my company.
There are plenty of lessons to take from that story, but the biggest one for me is the power of travel. Whether you’re making a personal connection, decompressing on a vacation or getting inspiration from a journey, getting outside of your office and your home town can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your business’ bottom line.
As an international vacation concierge, I not only professionally plan unforgettable vacations for clients but I also have personal knowledge when it comes to the benefits of those getaways.
Here are 6 ways your next trip can make you a spectacularly successful businessperson:
1. It will enhance your problem-solving skills
Whether you’re in Paris trying to figure out if you can walk from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower or you’re desperate to figure out what’s on the menu at a restaurant in Tokyo, you’ll be flexing parts of your brain that you don’t usually.
Maybe you have to get creative when you’re trying to speak to locals who don’t speak English or you’ve rented a car and you’re driving on the “wrong” side of the road. You’ll sharpen your problem-solving skills and they’ll translate well when you’re trying to handle tough problems at work once you head back home.
2. You could get some business inspiration
We all know that people live very differently in other parts of the world, but seeing is believing. Traveling abroad might help you notice a product in a store that gives you an idea about something that could be brought to the states.
You might also believe that your product would be great for another country, but then find out it’s not. This is the story of Melinda and Bill Gates pre-wedding trip to Africa that inspired them for their philanthropic work at their foundation.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
3. You’ll get recharged
Research shows that there are extensive emotional, physical, and mental health benefits when it comes to international travel in particular. So settle in for a longer plane ride.
Despite the bad news you’ve been hearing about the Coronavirus, studies show that travel can actually enhance your immune system by exposing you to new and different environments. Travel also reduces stress and when done right, can help you make friends or even business associates that can last a lifetime. If you’re feeling burnt out at work, it might be time to pack a suitcase.
4. It can improve your networking skills
When you get out of your comfort zone at home, you won’t be able to stick to your daily routines and have a circle of people you know you can lean on. You’ll have to start leaning on others for help. You’ll be asking strangers for directions to the train station, recommendations on good places to eat and even suggestions for fun things to do while you’re in town.
All of this can enhance your ability to communicate and work with others, particularly if you tend to keep to your desk and leave your office door shut.
5. You’ll rekindle your inner child
So many times, we forget about our passions outside of work as we are tied up in our jobs. We forget about the times we danced through the night at a club, spent an entire afternoon painting or used to completely lose track of time reading French philosophy and Russian literature.
Jump on the opportunity to learn how to dance the Tango in Buenos Aires, take a language class while you’re visiting Sicily, take a French pastry class in Nice or just read things just for fun while you’re on vacation. You’ll not only feel that excitement again, but you’ll be a more interesting person when you return to the office. You’ll have something more than sightseeing and the strength of the dollar to talk about when you’re at your next client dinner or board meeting.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho
6. You’ll realign with your priorities
Slowing down allows you to appreciate what matters to you. You might realize that your fancy sports car doesn’t mean as much to you as waking up early for the sunrise and being able to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee before heading out the door. That might mean that the new client you took on isn’t worth all the time and energy that you thought they were or that promotion you’re gunning for is the wrong one.
I’m not saying that vacations will make you lazy, but they could make you more innovative and help you figure out how to work smarter, not harder. After all, someone’s got to pay for your next trip to Bangkok to try some amazing street food or your next scenic drive on Highway number 1.