How to Make Gap Year Travel a Résumé-Booster

How to Make Travel a Résumé-Booster

Written by Alexandra Baackes on

Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her fifth year of living as a full-time nomad—follow along on her website.

How to Make Travel a Résumé-Booster

Your travel and volunteer work around the world can fundamentally transform who you are—shouldn’t your résumé reflect that? Use these great tips to make your travel experiences work harder for you.

When you come back from extended time spent traveling and you've unpacked your bags and are ready to make a résumé and start applying for work, don't ignore the time you spent away. A gap in work history will look suspicious to a potential employer, so instead of leaving it off, turn it into an asset. Your experiences while traveling have changed you and helped make you who you are—and you can reflect that on your résumé.

For example, if you’re applying for a job at a graphic design studio, that week you spent at a textile workshop in Laos could be woven into something impressive during an interview, right? The gap year you spent learning about new currencies and testing out budgeting apps could add up to a great cover letter for an accounting job, no? And let’s face it, international volunteer experience—like that month you spent restoring sea turtle breeding grounds in Costa Rica—certainly never hurt a résumé.

By using a few clever résumé tips, you'll be able to shrewdly insert various travel-related skills and impress a future boss. Try highlighting the following:

Practical Skills

Sitting on the beach throwing back brews shouldn't make it into the body of your résumé, but there are plenty of exotic activities that should. Consider learning the Italian language in Tuscany, getting a scuba diving license in Cairns, signing up for a month of Muay Thai martial arts training in Northern Thailand, or taking a class on Polynesian culture in Maui. These activities will not only help you connect to your travel destination on a deeper level, but will also look great in the "hobbies" or "other experience" areas of your résumé

Volunteer Experience

If you spent several days, weeks, months or years volunteering or fundraising as part of your travels, include those activities when you make a résumé. These experiences can help shape who you are as a person—you should be including them. Plus, employers always like to see that their new hires will impact the community in a positive way. If the volunteer work relates to your field (for example, maybe you're a lawyer doing pro-bono work with an international human rights organization or you're a school teacher volunteering at a daycare center for underprivileged children), put it in the "work experience" section of your résumé. If the volunteer work is unrelated to your career, add it under the “hobbies,” “community service” or “other experience” heading of your résumé.


Getting paid to milk cows on a farm, teach English, or run the front desk at a hostel are all examples of jobs that you have while abroad. They demonstrate that you're productive, ambitious, and hard working, so they belong on your résumé. Think about what skills you learned in those jobs that will help you in the position that you’re applying for. If you crewed yachts in the Caribbean, you probably learned how to provide excellent customer service and remain cool under pressure—skills that would also serve you well in, say, a management position at an office. If you kept a blog while you were traversing Central America, you likely picked up some knowledge about coding and Search Engine Optimization—skills that would be helpful if a potential employer is about to launch a new website.

Soft Skills

When traveling for an extended period of time, it’s almost impossible not to boost your independence, improve your negotiation skills, become a clearer communicator and better understand budgeting. Résumé help: Those bullet points may look like filler if you try to fit them into the work history portion, so save them for your cover letter and/or have anecdotes prepared for an interview.

Communication Skills

When you travel for extended periods of time and immerse yourself in location cultures, you learn how to connect with people from all different backgrounds and experiences. There may be language and cultural barriers to overcome—no small feat. Effective communication and working well with others—no matter their background or personality type—are not only important life skills, they can also translate well to the working world. If an interviewer asks you how you deal with conflict, a story about how you diffused a fight between two people who didn’t speak the same language at a hostel in Peru can show off your mediation skills.

Tip: After you make a résumé, if you plan on carrying it around while you travel, consider putting it in a manila folder and then a Pack-It Specter Folder so it doesn't get wrinkled, wet or dirty while you're on the road. The Pack-It Specter Folder is so compact that it'll easily fit inside any backpack, duffel or wheeled luggage.

Remember that traveling the world shows that you have initiative, drive and curiosity, which are all traits that will be attractive to a potential employer. So don't forget to follow these résumé tips and continue your exploration as you Find Your Unknown no matter where in the world you are

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Adventure Healthy: Everything You Need to Know About Travel Clinics

How to Plan a Safe Solo Getaway

Immersion Travel: Is It Right For You?