Earlier, I wrote about how many people in the U.S. were born abroad, studied, lived or worked abroad – it’s possibly about 35% of the population. That figure does not include people who have merely traveled abroad. An estimated 93% of Americans with a 4-year college degree have traveled internationally, with 70% of those visiting 3+ countries, and 28% having visited 10+ countries. In 2018 (pre-pandemic), 25% of U.S. families with children traveled abroad. Over 50% of Americans have visited one or more ancestral countries.
Global Experience and Career Success
Global experience may correlate with career success too. Over the past few months, when I see names of individuals in the news, I often look them up on online – usually on LinkedIn. Nearly 100% mention their international experience on their LinkedIn page!
Only one time did I encounter someone who did not mention international experience – and since nearly everyone has had that experience, I suspect this individual did too, but had not put it on their LinkedIn page.
For example, a local news outlet (small town) mentioned a new ice cream shop being opened by a couple who also owned a bakery. I looked the owners up on online and the first sentence of a prior news story mentioned they had “extensive international travel experience” and this had inspired the type of products they carry in their small businesses! This illustrates how international travel is a process of learning, introducing one to new ideas and concepts.
I then looked up the 20-something year old reporter. A valedictorian graduate at one of the two high schools in town, she went on to college, and while there, did a study abroad in Switzerland, a work internship in Switzerland, and another internship in India!
What is amazing is how pervasive international knowledge is to those who achieve career success – especially in professional careers. International skills are likely essential to near 100% of those in professional careers; those without such skills may see their careers stagnate.
I recommend all younger people get travel experience before their late 20s. After that, it will be hard to come by, especially if married with kids. It’s more important than ever to do these things early – not just for personal and career benefits, but because rampant inflation may make everything more expensive in the future.
(Inflation is, as Freidman noted, everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon – the government prints money, which devalues the dollar, and then pays of past debts with cheaper future dollars. This past year’s 8.3% inflation is, on average, a wealth tax of 8.3% on everyone. Depending on how you hold your wealth, your wealth may “appreciate” in value to maintain parity or climb higher in terms of the depreciated dollar values – such as a house that rises “in value”. But for cash, that 8.3% inflation rate is an 8.3% wealth tax on everyone that has cash.)
Travel for the Young
Systems are in place to provide international opportunities to young people. This includes, especially, both study abroad and international internships. But it also includes other forms, including volunteer work abroad, plus group travel experiences. Some travel groups limit attendees by age – typically up to age 30, or age 40, while some have cutoffs at age 60. This is ostensibly to ensure participants have the physical ability and endurance to engage in trip activities. Additionally, travel related insurance skyrockets in price as you get older, regardless of your own health.
Most countries have visa stay limits of a maximum of 90 days. Beyond that and you need a stay limit exemption or a temporary or permanent residency permit. These are typically targeted at younger persons – and are available for study abroad, residency via marriage, and residency via work permit.
Longer Stays for Older Adults are Difficult to Obtain
If you are over 60, you are out of luck in many countries. They do not want you to stay more than 90 days. There are some exemptions – some countries offer residency permits to those who have retirement income, and to those who can purchase an investment visa. Even employment visas can be cut off – Australia does not issue work visas to anyone over age 50, and NZ cuts off at age 55.
One of my goals is that once I get travel experience, I would like to eventually stay somewhere for an extended period. I’ve read it takes 4-6 weeks to get settled in your new neighborhood and 4-6 months to truly get a feel for the destination country, lifestyle and culture. Unfortunately, the age restrictions make this tough. For example, I have spent a year learning Norwegian (and will continue studying that for another year), but it appears nearly impossible for someone at my age to stay there for more than 90 days. (Update – unless you have sufficient funds to purchase an investment visa which then opens access to a residency visa.)
- Travel experience is widespread, especially among professionals. It’s nearly 100%.
- Travel experience is critical to career success (depends on your field and business, of course)
- Travel experience is easier to obtain when young
- All young people should pursue global experiences
- For professionals, especially, do not spend your life saving all your money for a future that may never arrive. Spend adequate sums on enjoying life today. An economics research paper found that most professionals significantly over save for retirement – and will have missed out on critically important life experiences. As the son of Great Depression era parents, this is 100% contrary to what I was taught growing up – I was to save everything and reduce spending every day. I now see this as a huge mistake – and see it as out of date advice that came from a different era in time.
Update – We discovered we had a narrow window available sooner than this fall to make our first international trip. I planned the trip and bought (refundable) tickets and hotel accommodations. Unfortunately, I recently came down with hepatitis of unknown origin. While the infection has gone, the recovery phase can take months and I am literally tired all the time, falling asleep each day, so far. Am watching how the recovery proceeds as I might have to cancel the trip; if we do go (which we hope will happen), I may have to curtail my expectations due to my energy level. Until this happened, I was out walking many miles, doing training with weights, practicing stair climbing, etc. Now I can’t yet walk around the block. This is bad news. And a critically important example as to why you should live life for the moment and stop saving for a future that may never arrive. Don’t be a brain injured idiot like me.