I originally asked this on travel.stackexchange.com, but someone suggested that here might be a better place for it:

I graduated from university in July 2013, and have been working as a software engineer since December 2013. My first role was a 6 month contract that ended up being extended by a couple of months. My current position is a permanent role, but since joining this company (about 15 months ago), I have been contracted to one of their clients in the Defence industry (UK).

For a number of years, I have been very keen to do some 'proper' travelling, i.e. travelling for several months all in one go, rather than the odd trip to another country for a week while on annual leave.

I thought that it was probably best to get some professional experience after finishing uni, rather than go travelling then, so that in theory it should be easier to get a job in the future.

It now looks like my employer's contract with the client that I'm working for at the moment will probably be coming to an end fairly soon, and so I'm thinking that now might be a good opportunity to go and do some travelling for a year or so.

What I'm wondering is, how much would doing this be likely to affect my prospects of getting a job when I finish travelling? All of the careers people I spoke to while I was in education told me that having too large a gap of 'unemployment' can hinder you from getting jobs later down the line... is this actually the case?

If not, why not? If so, maybe it's just a case of weighing up how much I want to travel vs the 'security' of having stable employment?

  • 2
    Not specifically about travel, but this question should have answers that apply to yours.
    – David K
    Oct 8, 2015 at 15:18
  • ...now might be a good opportunity to go and do some travelling for a year or so There are many variables here we just don't know, like - how marketable are you? May travel help your marketability? My guess - you need a little more money before going on a year-long cross-world adventure. But... who knows? Oct 8, 2015 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


My understanding is that in the U.S. unemployment gaps of over 3 months are generally frowned upon by HR departments as they show inconsistent employment history and fall outside the 'typical' employment history. (This is analogous to auto insurance, where a gap in coverage may be construed as variance in financial ability to pay premiums.)

When switching jobs related to family relocation, it appears a good rule of thumb is that about 3 months of employment gap is generally understood as normal part of adjustment/settling in at the new place and does not raise eyebrows. Between 3-6 months you might be able to blame scarcity of opportunity (in small town) or bad economy (if it's actually bad) but this might nevertheless send a message to HR that they should maybe prioritize a candidate with a more consistent pattern.

Some of this depends on the culture of the place, the number of applicants for the position, the presence or absence of personal connections through which you are applying/getting recruited, and the proverbial "fit" of your skills to the position, employment gaps notwithstanding.

So if the word "several" in your description means <=3, then I wouldn't worry; if it's 3-6, you might have to answer some questions in the interview about this; if it's >6, you might, on average, be passed over for some of the interviews you would have gotten otherwise.

All this sounds pretty sad in terms of the degree to which a person is his/her own boss in life outside of work, and how that ties in with their image and competitiveness on the job market in terms of career trajectory. Therefore, having said all of the above, I would add one simple but key point: If you are confident in your skills, if you have solid credentials, and if you are relatively mobile (geographically) and flexible (opportunity-wise), you should be able to find work regardless of how long of a gap you have as a result of personal travel. We live on a planet that deserves to be explored and appreciated. We are not getting any younger. So on the whole, I would highly encourage you to travel while you have the health, the means, and the desire. While you are away, try to maintain connections with your professional network, have an up-to-date CV on the Web, and let out feelers for new opportunities prior to the end of the adventure. That way you might be coming back to some leads in your inbox. Good luck!

  • Thanks for clarification. It depends, so rather than making a judgment I tried to provide some perspective for OP's consideration. If I had to swing one way or another, I would say that given that OP is very early in the career, this presents less of a risk, as extended travel can be fairly easily justified/explained to future employers as something he did 'soon after finishing college, after a brief contract stint where he gained some real-world experience and saved funds to support extended travel'.
    – A.S
    Oct 8, 2015 at 18:34

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