How International Travel Makes for Better Employees

How International Travel Makes for Better Employees

There’s a great big beautiful world out there, and several of us at Lawrence & Schiller have had the opportunity to explore it. Leaving comfort and fear at home, we’ve strapped on our backpacks and stepped out in the great wide unknown, only to come home richer and fuller than we ever could have imagined.

We’ve peered behind the curtain of secrecy as we’ve looked out across the DMZ. We’ve wept for humanity at places such as Auschwitz and Cambodia’s Killing Fields. We’ve stayed awake all night with the Scandinavian midnight sun. We’ve eaten…well, we’ll spare you the details (and, consequently, your lunch).

These experiences are more than just fun stories we’ll someday tell our grandchildren. They serve to make us better citizens, better people and even better employees. An article by Forbes spells out how travel makes for better business leaders; it bolsters communication, decision-making, teamwork, and problem solving skills. But it also encourages adaptability and creativity, both vital for a career in the ever-changing world of advertising and marketing.

Because whether in a train station in Bangkok or an ad office in South Dakota, being able to think on our feet is a necessity. Travel teaches us (often the hard way) to be ready for any changes. Even buying a candy bar can be trying when we don’t speak the language of the clerk, and the wrapper is written in what looks like chicken scratches. We have no choice but to think outside the box, because what’s considered ordinary in our host countries is most likely already outside our own understanding. Staying in our comfort zone is simply not an option because, chances are, our comfort zones are thousands of miles away.

But living outside our comfort zones naturally leads to creativity, which is maybe why creatives have been traveling for millennia. St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Hemingway drew much of his inspiration from his time in Spain and France. Bill Bryson’s travel memoirs are international best sellers. We travelers are forced to see everything from a different perspective, which lends itself to fostering creativity. An article in The Atlantic even breaks it down scientifically. “Spending time abroad may have the potential to affect mental change…new sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”

As an added bonus, traveling particularly helps those of us here at L&S, as two of the largest industries we work with are hospitality and tourism. As travelers working at L&S, we can more effectively understand what other travelers are looking for because we’ve been in their shoes. We know the stress involved in planning our next big trip. But we know the excitement it brings, too, and that the joy far outweighs the hassle. 

We know the joy of discovering the back-alley pub only the locals know about. We know the awe of gazing upon some of the world’s most powerful works of art and architecture. We know the giddiness of checking off a new place on our travel bucket list. We know just how amazing a hot shower and the right pillow can be after a long day of adventuring and exploring. And because we have experienced and know these things, we can more effectively communicate the wants and needs of travelers to our clients.

So when you’re looking to really give your business a unique creative edge, find a traveler. When a resume comes in, after you’ve looked at their education and considered their experience, ask them where they’ve traveled, for it’s in discovering where they’ve been that you’ll learn just how far they’ll go.

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