Have you ever thought about taking a course to boost your self improvement? Learn a different skill? Expand your network? Or discover diverse opportunities to take a new path in life and maybe even have your own business?

If say yes to this questions, then you have probably looked for numerous courses online, maybe a MBA abroad or other opportunities, watched a bunch of different videos on YouTube on self development but are not sure about what to do. You know you don’t have much time left. Well, what if I told you that you could improve your skills, knowledge and much more just by traveling?

Yes, you heard it right, please let me tell you my story.

I was 23 years old when I first went traveling for the very first time. At that time I was working for a huge consultancy company as an accountant and I was putting all time and energy towards my career. Back then I wasn’t quite sure about what I really wanted to do in life but the idea of being promoted for working hard and learning fast was good enough to keep me there.

Things started to change when I saw myself losing opportunities to work in different projects because I didn’t speak a second language. The thing is, other people in the office had other valuable experiences abroad and were more eligible to do the job than I was. As simple as that.

Once I realized that I started to look for different ways to catch up and learn other skills. I even tried to attend to some language schools after work but work itself was keeping me away from learning other things. I had just graduated from college and I started feeling that I could be losing better opportunities for not having the time to look for them.

That was when I asked my boss to give me 6 months off work to travel and learn English (I couldn’t speak a word at that time and was a good excuse to leave and don’t lose my job). So I packed my bags and went abroad for the very first time and the learning experiences began.

With very little money to pay for accommodation during that time, I couldn’t afford to take all the courses and I wanted. I didn’t have much time left and I needed to find another solution. That was when I found a hostel to work in exchange for accommodation. They offered me a position as a housekeeper and I could live there.

I figured if I took the time and effort to do my best at the hostel I could learn all sorts of things, including my English pronunciation and meet interesting people that would eventually help me out on the way. And that was exactly what happened to me. By facing real life challenges and interacting with other people I was able to learn skills there were beyond my most optimistic thought about the trip.

In the first 3 months:

– Became the Head of Housekeeping and the Head of Maintenance. I was responsible for all checkouts and 100 bed changes that would happen on the daily operation. I learned about cleaning standards & procedures from the hospitality industry in the US and also about storage & safety of products. Also, I developed my team management skills.

– I was a Tour Guide & a Sports Teacher as well, where I learned how to organize and lead excursions and group activities. I learned how to build confidence to speak in public and I could expand my knowledge about the place I was living. Improved my verbal communication skills, ability to interact with other people and solve last minute problems.

In the last 3 months:

– Ended up leaving my job to extend my trip for 12 more months.

– Jumped to Reception and learned how hospitality systems work, how to build a customer service & relationship guide. I learned how to answer/forward phone calls in different languages, I was able to pick up and understand where the call was coming from just by the hearing the caller accent.

– Learned how to sell products & services.

– Saved money and took a course on International Business Administration, learned about US economy and foreign policies.– Met over 20,000 people from more than 200 countries. I learned about other countries & cultures main issues, weakness and differences. I changed my perception and view about world.

– Learned how to perceive and think about other opportunities in my life.

– Changed myself and my own values in life.

– Became vegan and started following permaculture.

And the last, but not less important thing: I became fluent in English even though I’ve never been to a language school in US. 🙂

After my trip, I was a totally different person which I’m very proud of today. My experiences took me out of my comfort zone, forced me to think differently, learning from other people and building my own version of myself.

 I realized that everything I lived so far could never been taught in a book or in a classroom. All these uncomfortable situations I had to face built my confidence to take bigger challenges. I was in my most creative time and was motivated to create something so I could put in practice everything I had just lived.

When I got back from my trip, I took the skills I learned, the people I met and the knowledge I got to start my own project called Worldpackers. That was about 3 years ago and the rest is just history. And now I can say that if I’ve never traveled before, I wouldn’t have the hustle or even the qualities to be an entrepreneur and take a company ahead.

I’m happy for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had and I hope you can take the risk yourself, travel the world, do something different and build your own version of yourself.

The world is always changing and you should change too. If you want to improve your skills and boost your career, let me give you just one advice: start traveling. Get out of your comfort zone, identify your blind spots and exposes yourself to real life challenges.

At the end, life is all about experiences! What are you waiting for? Learn how to better yourself now!

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