We may fantasize about vacation because we feel a deep need to escape from work — but what if going on vacation actually made us better at work? Experts say it absolutely does. Here's how:
1. Travel keeps you curious.
Travel and wellness expert Erica Gragg, known for founding the popular Escape to Shape and Destination Detox programs, says that travel amounts to exercise for the brain that benefits the employee in the workplace environment too. "Exploring new destinations and activities makes you curious for even more, and that curiosity can carry over into asking intelligent questions and striving to learn more back home," she says. Think of the envelope-pushing and business-building applications in the boardroom for all that brain expansion.
2. Travel increases your patience.
In a good way. "Airports and bus terminals can certainly try your patience with crowds, lines, and reschedulings," Gragg says. "Understanding the slower pace of life in other cultures like Spain, Greece, or Italy also helps cultivate patience." And that's a trait that can make you a better listener, manager, and team player.
3. You come back refreshed.
Even jam-packed vacations take you out of your day-to-day rut. And when you return, even your commute can look different — which helps fight the ever-looming possibility of burnout, says Gragg. This is especially relevant in the age of expectations that working people respond to digital communications around the clock.
4. A vacation is an exercise in gratitude.
The simple pleasures — yes, pleasures — of our work lives can feel like unsurmountable burdens when we do the same tasks day after day in an unbroken streak. But a vacation can break that streak and expose us to the joys not just of our lives at home, but of our jobs themselves. And that makes us want to perform those jobs with more attention, sense of duty, and pride. "A week away, no matter where you, are can make you grateful for the simple things you take for granted — be it running water, toilet paper, familiar foods — and even your desk, favorite mug, and snacks in the office fridge," Gragg says.
5. It gets you outside your comfort zone.
Daily routines are important to productivity, of course, but repetition can also result in ruts. Contiki president and millennial travel expert Melissa da Silva says, "That joy of getting into a daily rhythm can quickly devolve into boredom and stress. Travel sparks the joy of spontaneity — a great discovery tool for life — and teaches people how to deal with uncertain, unfamiliar situations. That's a marketable skill for professionals."
6. It helps us develop cultural awareness and sensitivity.
Being able to speak other languages is an important business skill. But apart from that practical advantage, vacationing abroad helps people appreciate other cultures, ways of living and working, and societal norms, too. Da Silva says, "[Vacationing professionals] bring these skills back to the workplace and are able to navigate the globalization of business better."
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