A while ago, I took some time off work (months to years) to travel, and now I'd like to use this personal experience in my job searching process.

How does one include experience that wasn't gained through an organization or an institution, and portray it accurately to the organization you're applying to? Are there any tips to include it on your resume?

  • 3
    What is your profession as in most of the professions around the world don't have anything to do with your traveling experience May 30, 2017 at 7:39

5 Answers 5


I've seen numerous non-work related entries in resumes along the lines of:

May 20xx - Jan 20xy Backpacking, Southeast Asia Travelled in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Worked for a NGO and visited Buddhist retreats.

Aug 20xx - Jan 20xz Sabbatical Bought a boat and went sailing in the Caribbean. Also took time of when having my first child.

Do not attempt to 'excuse' or 'justify' that you took time off; merely state the experiences gained as if they had been work related.

Save going into detail about how and why the breaks were taken for the interview.

Having non-work entries on a resume can make it stand out - which may be good or bad. However, since the periods are months to years, they probably at the very least need to be commented.

  • 1
    yeh, i've had interviewers who "want to know" what I did in my gaps. when i tell them i was travelling around this or that, they often like it - many times people want to hire interesting people to work with, and travelling extensively - esp if it is for months/years at a time - makes you interesting.
    – bharal
    May 31, 2017 at 6:55

I'm making two assumptions here, firstly that the profession you are working in is not one that relates to traveling (or anything you did while traveling) and secondly that the role is a permanent one.

With those in mind any CV landing in my inbox that emphasized travelling "experience" beyond simply explaining employment gaps would get binned. This may sound harsh, and please understand that I'm in no way judging someone as a person because of their personal interests but I'm not reviewing CVs looking for friends I'm trying to fulfill a business need - Recruiting is expensive and time consuming so I don't want to do it more frequently than necessary. A CV that emphasizes taking "months to years off" to go traveling would (rightly or wrongly) give me the impression that I could hire you and then six months later you'd disappear on your next adventure and I (and the organisation) would be back to square one.

When I was first starting out in the world of work I received quite a bit of advice around making sure that I listed my hobbies etc on my CV to show I was a rounded person or some such. Now YMMV (especially in different industries/professions) but from my experience in IT and software development, both from applying and recruiting for roles I would say that's completely useless advice. No one who has hired me has ever so much as hinted that they even noticed any such information and despite having reviewed dozens of CVs over the years (probably more than that) I have never, ever, read the personal information section and found it contributed positively towards my impression of the candidate or my decision to interview or hire them. Conversely I have been made to feel wary about a candidate when such information is excessive in length or detail.

So now I stand by the mantra that unless something is relevant to your ability to perform the role being applied for it's just squandering your very limited space to advertise your ability to do the role.

  • eh, one of my first interviews years ago for a great gig literally centered around the last 10 months I'd spent travelling around asia. this is in IT. you'll find the more interesting people and roles will often want interesting candidates. these are the roles that aren't centered around frantic business requests and inept management.
    – bharal
    May 31, 2017 at 6:57

A resume is to communicate your value to someone hiring you. You need to focus on:

  1. What is it that the organization seeks in hiring you?
  2. How do you provide a specific (and brief) enough resume to communicate your value effectively

Non-Profits / NGO's / Government

Be aware that some organizations hire based upon your social attitudes. Typically these are not commercial companies. So, if you're headed in this direction, you need to ensure that you communicate the social value of what you learned while on travel and how it relates to the employer. For example, you traveled to India and learned how citizens interact with their government. This might position you well for an NGO that was interested in political movements.

Commercial Entities

What is the commercial value of your travel? "Worldliness" from travel experience does not necessarily translate into commercial success. However, meeting people, sharing experiences, finding innovate ways to eat / transport yourself / organize people may translate into sales, marketing, business development, or technical sales support in foreign nations. Did you learn a language? Develop a specific cultural sensitivity to an ethnicity or religion that could be valuable for a commercial entity.

Focus on the Value

Focus on the specific value that your travel offers. If it does not offer any, don't try to inflate it. You'd be better off soul searching as to what it offers than creating something feeble on your resume.


I believe you are forgetting something important here: the motivation letter:

When I apply for a job, I describe why I think I would be a good candidate for that job. This might include skills which are not visible on my resume, like travelling, social behaviour, ..., and all those things are mentioned in the motivation letter (the letter where I apply for the job).


Depending on your profession and on what stage in your career you are, most resumes have two standard sections detailing education and professional experience. (But this is not set in stone, so you can expand this at will; say you're a programmer you can include relevant projects, and if you're an artist you can list the shows you participated in.)

Including personal experience such as travel does not really seem to fall into any of these categories. (I have never seen a resume listing 'Trips by year' or something.) What you can do is include it in a section on your interests or hobby's, and add a brief list of trips that you think gave you relevant experience for whatever position you're applying to. If you're able to explain how your personal trips are important for your professional development you can consider adding a 'career goal' to the top of your resume which mentions your travels. Finally, you can mention it in the cover letter to which you attach your resume when applying for a position. Then you'd have to specify how your travels are relevant experience for the position you're applying to. (For instance if this is a position that involves a lot of traveling.)

In the end you need to ask yourself what you want to communicate. If you consider traveling to be just a part of your personality you can mention it during an interview if your interviewer asks you to tell a bit about yourself; if you think it gave you relevant experience for a position you can consider including it in any of the ways I indicated above.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .