Perhaps you learned priceless life lessons while camping at Yosemite National Park or backpacking across Europe after high school or college. Or maybe you felt a certain pride while overcoming the challenges of taking your family on vacation. Travel often tests us, and it can make us stronger, more adaptable and more alert.
A recent article on the Forbes.com entrepreneurs’ blog suggests frequent business travel can improve professional skills regardless of age or occupation. Here are five ways you can benefit by hitting the road, from improving problem-solving skills to using technology like online expense reporting.
1) Learning to manage in changing environments. Whether you’re alone, with your family or accompanying a work team, travel requires quick decision-making and prioritizing in new and changing environments. Perhaps you’re in a new city, setting up a business lunch that needs to accommodate several food preferences, including those of a client who is vegetarian and an assistant who must eat gluten-free.
2) Developing planning skills. At home, we’ve already streamlined much of our day-to-day activity, perhaps by working out the best route to the office and planning regular work and leisure activities. While traveling, this kind of structure can go out the window, forcing you to make plans or overwhelming you with choice. Travel can keep your planning skills sharp and flexible, helping you adapt to changes in your regular work environment.
3) Familiarity with current mobile technology. Mobile tools are evolving quickly; learning to manage your responsibilities from a smartphone, tablet or laptop can keep you and your organization up to date. For example, online expense report software like Chrome River can improve your organization’s accounts payable process. An automated, mobile-friendly platform allows employees to log travel expenses while on a plane or in a cab. They can even approve expenses and third-party vendor invoices while on the go.
4) Solving problems. From a sunburn to a stolen wallet, something may go wrong on any trip. Regular travel teaches you to find solutions to problems instead of throwing up your hands.
5) Working on a team. Travel shows the value of team-oriented leaders. In the face of shifting challenges, control freaks are likely to either implode or provoke a mutiny. Even if you’re traveling alone, your trip will go more smoothly if you can effectively negotiate and interact with others, from airline attendants to the hotel’s concierge.
Travel offers opportunities to test ourselves, and frequent business travel provides development opportunities for professionals. Please share your feedback and experiences in the comments section. What lessons has regular business travel taught you? How has mobile technology changed your travel experiences?
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Wow! This Chrome River is great. Word has spread [in our firm] and people that were not invited to be in the pilot group rollout have asked to be included!