How To Include A Gap Year Or World Travel On Your CV.

For anyone dreaming of travelling the world, having that huge gap in their CV or work history is a huge worry, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking a gap year to travel the world can make your CV look great and even help your career. If you know how to spin it right. Here’s how you can include travel on your CV to your benefit.

Whether you have taken a full gap year after university, a career break to recharge your batteries or even travelled nomadically long term, at some point you will need to come back home and work, even if it is for a short time until you can travel again, and when you do, you are going to need a good CV.

The big problem is a lot of employers will question those huge gaps in your work history and wonder where you have been for a year or more at a time.

So you have to have a great answer ready for them.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Travel.

The first thing to remember is that there is nothing at all wrong with travel, or to be more specific there is nothing at all wrong with taking time off work or your career to live your life in any way you see fit, whether that is to travel, go and study for a degree, have a baby or just take a break to spend time with your loved ones.

There is a culture in our society of work, work, work. You have to climb that corporate ladder, you have to put in all the overtime, you have to earn money to spend, spend, spend. It is all bullshit. Regardless of what your bosses – and corporate society as a whole – will tell you, a work/life balance is important. You are not an indentured slave chained to your desk, and you are the one who is in control of your life, your time and what you do with it.

So if you decide that you want to take some time out to travel, don’t let anyone tell you that it is wrong. Don’t let anyone tell you that it is a bad idea or that it will set you back. It isn’t and it won’t.

There are many ways travel can be a huge benefit to your career and a good boss will recognise that. You just have to show them and spin it right on your CV.

Fill In The Gaps.

Gaps in your work history are CV hell, and potential employers will not look on them favourably so you need to fill them, and there is nothing wrong with filling them with your time spent travelling. So the gap in your work history will look something like this.

12 months spent travelling South East Asia. (January 2016 – January 2017).

Charge Nurse, Emergency Division at Acme Hospital. (January 2017 – August 2017).

  • Duties include standard clinical tasks.

5 months spent travelling in the Middle East. (August 2017 – December 2017)

Clinical Lead, Emergency Division at Acme Hospital. (January 2018 – August 2018).

  • Duties include standard clinical tasks.

6 months spent travelling in Central America. (August 2018 – January 2019)

Obviously I have used examples from my own career and the job roles will be specific and individual to your own career but you get the idea. The point is your potential employer will not see any gaps and will know exactly where you were and how you spent your time.

Spin Your Experience.

It isn’t good enough to just say that you were travelling for 12 months. There are a variety of experiences from your travels that you can include as positive job attributes too, and no the ability to sit in hammock and drink mango juice or stay up all night at a full moon party won’t cut it.  I’m talking here about any volunteering, any part time work that you did, any skills that you turned into a business to work independently. All of these experiences can be used on your CV to highlight skills that you possess or have learned that will be of a huge benefit to any employer.

When these are included your CV can look a little more like this:

12 months spent travelling South East Asia. (January 2016 – January 2017).

ESL Instructor at Acme Academy in Chiang Mai, Thailand (March 2016 – July 2016)

  • Duties included teaching English as a second language to large classes of adults.
  • I was responsible for formulating and delivering lesson plans in a clear, structural and timely manner.

Charge Nurse, Emergency Division at Acme Hospital. (January 2017 – August 2017).

  • Duties include standard clinical tasks.

5 months spent travelling in the Middle East. (August 2017 – December 2017).

Volunteer at Acme animal shelter, Israel. (September 2017 – November 2017).

  • Duties included ensuring all enclosures were thoroughly cleaned and secure every night, ensuring that feeding regimes were implemented daily and implementing time management strategies to ensure best practices in care were maintained.
  • Dealt with members of the public in the front office, answering queries about the charity, selling memorabilia and helping to raise funds and awareness.

Clinical Lead, Emergency Division at Acme Hospital. (January 2018 – August 2018).

  • Duties include standard clinical tasks.

6 months spent travelling in Central America. (August 2018 – January 2019).

Founder and Editor of Generic Blog About Me. (August 2018 – Current).

  • Created and launched the travel website ‘Generic Blog About Me.’
  • Built a brand and marketing strategy to build the website into an online business platform.
  • Implemented a social media strategy to engage with a growing audience.
  • Implemented SEO principles throughout the site to increase SERP visibility and grow an audience of over 5000 readers per month.

All of these things many travellers do when they backpack their way around the world can be used as great experience on your CV, and can be used to show that you took your travels seriously, learned a lot from them and can use those skills to benefit your future employer, even if you did spend most of your time island hopping and partying. (Just don’t tell them that!)

But if anything you did on your travels can be applicable to the role you want, then put it down and spin it right!

A quick important note though, no, Instagram ‘influencer’ is not a real job and holds no transferable skills unless con artists are now advertising on job sites.

Selling Your Soft Skills.

Putting all of this experience down on your CV is one thing, but you have to think carefully about how this transfers over to real life as well. There will be job specific, must have skills that any future employer will be looking for and you can easily include these in the job description and the list of roles and duties under each position. But there are a whole range of soft skills too that you can easily insert under each position or even in a separate further information section or covering letter.

  • Communication skills are always a huge one, and learning a foreign language whilst you were travelling or even talking to locals without fully understanding the language is a huge showcase for your communication skills.
  • Problem Solving Abilities. C’mon, you mean to tell me all those things that didn’t go to plan or went wrong on your travels didn’t involve a lot of lateral, quick thinking on your part, and showed how adaptable and resilient you were to boot?
  • Dealing with stressful situations. What do you call the horde of touts that descend on you at all the touristy places?
  • Negotiation. Every time you haggled at the markets for that trinket was just honing your skills for negotiating with clients, in fact prove the point by asking for a pay rise at the interview!

All of these skills and more will help make you stand out as a candidate, and those extra little stories you can tell of your time around the world won’t hurt either if they make you look like the ideal candidate!

At least you’ll sound a hell of a lot more interesting than the next applicant who spent the last year working in McDonalds.

Use Travel To Your Benefit.

Travel makes your a better person, it forces you outside of your comfort zone and makes you a more worldly, open person that any employer would be happy to have, and there are many employers that are recognising this fact too.

It is all about how you can turn that experience you put down on your CV into an applicable skill for the role you want, but if you spin it right then taking time out to travel can really make your CV shine amongst the pile of average, everyday applicants.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Study, Work, Career And Gap Years, The Middle Way.

What To Do After Your A Levels, There Is No Wrong Path.

What Type Of Volunteer Are You?

What You Need To Consider Before Volunteering On Your Gap Year.

Why Employers Need To Be More Open Minded About Annual Leave.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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12 comments on “How To Include A Gap Year Or World Travel On Your CV.
  1. Wandering-Reader says:

    This is a great, useful post! It’s always quite tricky wondering how to fit travel experiences into the CV without leaving notable gaps. Thank you for the tips! 😊

  2. Guy R Jones says:

    This really depends on what employment you are in: if it’s hospitality, retail or bus driving then for sure the fact that you are spending months abroad will have little impact on your future employment prospects although I guess that if you are in those jobs you will in all likelihood have no spare money left over at the end of the month to even consider traveling anywhere nowadays ! In most other jobs it will be difficult – I know from my own experience working in H.R a decade ago that anyone who splashed their C.V with past travel exploits was deemed highly undesirable due to their lack of long term work commitment and let’s face it employers want people firmly resigned to the capitalist treadmill of working 49 weeks per year for the next five decades NOT free-spirited individuals.

    • Kind of true and kind of not, it definitely does make a difference as to what job you do and there are different ways of dealing with it and different spins you can put on your CV to appeal to your specific field, and some professions will find it easier than others. However the end result is still the same, you CAN travel as much as you want and you CAN spin it well on your CV. And again you are right that employers DO want the worker drones but what they eant and what they get are two different things. I learned a long time ago that tbey need me far more than I need them, and if they want what I have to offer then they will give me what I want. I have proven that attitude works, the best companies are starting to come around to that, and a lot more workers across many professions are waking up to that fact too.

  3. Andrew Greene says:

    I’m sorry but with so many gaps on your CV no employer is going to look at that and say the job is yours. No matter how you spin it.

    • Well I guess the fact I rose up the career ladder to become a clinical lead and charge nurse despite having more than half a year off every year didn’t happen then? I never had trouble getting an interview or a job.

      • Guy R Jones says:

        There is obviously a huge demand for charge nurses as there are for most jobs in the medical trade where the word “nurse” is included in the job description ! What’s even more suspect is that you manage to do all this travel on your salary even though by your own admission you only seem to work 6 months a year.(spoiler alert: charge nurses are not well paid).

      • There is a high demand for nurses, that is partly why I positioned myself in a career where I would be in high demand, that is just common sense, but that doesn’t mean that the advice isn’t applicable to ANY other job. There are always jobs and ways you can position yourself to look attractive for them in interviews. And what is suspect about my lifestyle exactly? (Spoiler alert I know exactly what nurses are underpaid)! If you read any of my site at all you would know that world travel is actually relatively cheap and can be done on most budgets, all it takes is savings and planning. I have been travelling for 20 years and LONG before I was a nurse I worked a string of crappy minimum wage jobs and managed to save up enough to take a gap year after uni and many more after that. My nursing salary actually made it easier. And furthermore, another spoiler alert for you, I have actually built up a business that earns me a lot more than my previous nursing salary too, so travel is even easier for me now! So if you think that is suspect – possibly because you think you can’t do it yourself – then I suggest you read a lot more on this site or better still, buy my Backpacking book, and learn how you can do it too!

  4. The Strong Traveller says:

    This is wonderful! 🙂

  5. Corina says:

    This is very helpful. I am applying for a job on Myanmar and this is just very useful to reinforce my capability as a research supervisor on a health program.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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