This week the world of career breaks and extended travel hit the big screen; in the form of Eat Pray Love. Last winter we had George Clooney living the life of an expert business traveler in Up in the Air, and now Julia Roberts is taking on extended international travel; what a boost for the travel industry! If Hollywood has embraced it – then so will the rest of the world … right?
Eat Pray Love is the runaway best seller about how one woman ‘found’ herself by going to other parts of the globe. Most people think it is a ‘chick flick’ about relationships and broken hearts. However, I choose to look past all of the sappy stuff and see it as a book/movie about travel; specifically career break travel.
Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts in the movie) is a thirty-something who left her regular life and magazine writing job in America to do extended travel for a year. Sounds like a career break to me! Granted, she did already have the book deal lined up before she left the US, so in some ways this was a working trip. However, she gained much insight into her life and career while breaking away from her normal work life in the US for an extended period. She immersed herself into cultures and really tried to learn from them going far beyond the ‘normal’ tourist trail.
To prove to you that it’s not just a love story, here are five career-break travel lessons you can learn from the story of Eat Pray Love:
Elizabeth Gilbert did not pack her year of travel dashing from country to country racking up her ‘countries-visited count’. Instead she chose slow travel, immersion with locals and cultures. By visiting only three countries and really living in them among the locals, she was able to experience them in a much more meaningful way.
Enjoy the local food
Don’t be afraid to really jump into a culture and its food! In Italy, Elizabeth made a point to not care about what she ate, but instead to try everything put in front of her. By immersing herself in the cultures of India and Indonesia, she was also naturally expected to eat what the locals were eating.
Choose an itinerary with personal meaning
Elizabeth chose her itinerary very carefully – based on things she had always wanted to try, but never really given herself the permission to do in her ‘everyday’ life. Whether that is eating your way through Italy, learning a language, or trying on meditation – the important thing is that this is your time to explore. If you’ve always wanted to try something – this is the perfect time to dip a toe into a new hobby (or career) – while in another country.
Build your abilities as part of your travels
Elizabeth approached her travels in such a way as to learn and further herself both tactically and emotionally. In Italy she took language lessons. In India she practiced meditation, and in Bali she originally went to help a medicine man learn English as she learned from him how to balance devotion and pleasure for a less stressful life.
You don’t always need a plan
When Elizabeth showed up in Bali she had no plan and had done no research. She hadn’t planned her accommodation; not even her visa. However, like everything in travel – it works out. By leaving herself open to possibilities, Indonesia was one of the most rewarding places she traveled to and set changes into motion in her life beyond her expectations.
One sixth thing I have to add to this list of travel lessons:
Career break travel doesn’t ruin your career, but instead it can enhance it.
Elizabeth Gilbert became a best selling author AFTER she traveled for a year. Her career successes were based on her travels. She didn’t ruin her writing career, she improved it by seeing the world and doing extended travel!
Why can’t you?
Whether you love or hate the movie, you can still take these great travel lessons away and put them to use as you plan your next big trip!