After studying in Ireland for three months, I travelled home to Canada for a break in December. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the question: ‘What’s your favourite thing about Ireland?’

Aside from the obvious answers (the people and the scenery), I found myself constantly raving about how easy it is to get to other places.

Now, having lived here for nine months, my answer still holds true.

As someone who hails from a nation where it takes two weeks to drive coast to coast, I can’t believe how lucky Europeans are to be able to travel so easily.

During my six-month internship at Baker Tilly, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in a department that allowed me the flexibility to pursue my passion for travel.

I’ve so far used my annual leave to explore Northern Ireland, France, Spain and The Netherlands.

While travelling is a fantastic opportunity for many reasons, I’ve come to believe there are few better pastimes for your professional development than jetting off to explore an unfamiliar country. Here’s why:

1. Building Connections

It’s a no-brainer; discussing my travel experiences has saved me from (potentially) awkward small talk with a new person.

Travelling provides you with common ground to build connections with others in a way that’s interesting and engaging.

Chances are, swapping stories about your adventures in Italy will leave a much more memorable impression on clients or colleagues than chatting about the weather!

2. Improving Soft Skills

Successfully planning and executing a trip can be tricky. Countless skills are utilized throughout the process.

For instance, time management, organisation, critical thinking, financial management and decision-making are all critical abilities needed to pull off an adventure in a new country.

Travelling is good for your personal development like no other pastime. Whether you’re looking to be a better employee or leader, a strong set of soft skills are an asset in the workplace.

3. Providing Inspiration

My time in France made me realize how I needed to brush up on the language. Hoping to bring my skills up to par, I downloaded the Duolingo language app and have been chipping away at verbs conjugations almost every night since!

This is just one small example of how travelling can inspire you.

Whether it’s picking up a new skill, tackling a project from a different angle, or taking the leap to start a business, exposure to a new perspective can be the kickstart needed to reach your professional goals. Vous comprenez?

Sound Work-Life Balance

The luxury of having a sound work-life balance during my time at Baker Tilly is not something I’ve taken for granted.

I believe it’s made me a better colleague; after a long weekend of travel, I have returned to the office rejuvenated and eager to learn.

If time and finances allow for it, I would strongly recommend using your annual leave to explore new places, meet diverse people and enjoy new experience.

Your career will reap the benefits and Netflix will always be there for when you get back!

If you’d like to learn more about Catherine Schlett, visit her LinkedIn profile here.