4 Entrepreneurial Lessons Travel Teaches Us

Semester at Sea shipLove to travel? Fancy yourself an entrepreneur? Travel is full of entrepreneurial lessons, as well as analogies for business and living. One of my first experiences was when I was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. Texas is a large state, and one has to be quite determined to journey beyond its borders. 

One rainy morning on campus I noticed a brochure with an ocean liner on the cover. I grabbed it, and in a moment of sleep-deprived yearning, I dashed off an application for a scholarship and work-study program. The voyage was called Semester at Sea. Within weeks I learned that my application had been accepted.

It seemed too good to be true. I was on my around the world.

Traveling Beyond Borders

As a young girl, my wanderlust spirit had been satisfied with reading; I loved to read about foreign countries, different cultures, and exotic food. Books had also taught me that people have the same desires the world over. It was time to put the theories to the test.

What a trip it was! For four months, I worked my way around the globe as an assistant to the dean. The ten-port itinerary was incredible: Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan. (Every semester the voyage changes its route.)

Passengers included students, of course, but also instructors and staff members from around the globe, and other adventurous adults. Sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke went on the voyage several times. When the ship pulled into port, all sorts of folks — writers, diplomats, expats — would turn up to welcome the ship and its passengers. It was pretty heady stuff for a young person.

Most of us returned home changed. Our eyes were opened. We traveled as students seeking knowledge and understanding, visiting ports for several days at a time, not as tourists on an eight-hour tour. We were often more akin to the Gilligan’s Island crew, relying on our ingenuity.

A Thirst for LearningEntrepreneurial Lessons and Hot air balloons

Fast forward a few years. What entrepreneurial lessons did I learn on that voyage that I still draw upon today?

Independence – Once in port, we were free to come and go, but the ship waited for no one. Even freedom has constraints. Independence means making choices and living with the consequences.

Self-sufficiency – New country, don’t know the language? Lost or sick? You’ve got to figure out solutions on your own, or with fellow travelers. Much the same with an entrepreneurial venture, isn’t it? Like a jazz musician, you’ve got to find your groove.

Curiosity – If you stayed in your cabin, you missed what the world had to offer. The take-away? Push fear aside and get out there, every day. Develop a thirst for learning new ideas. Curiosity is the lifeblood of the entrepreneur, the writer, the traveler. Create opportunities to summon your entrepreneurial muse.

Gratefulness – What we take for granted every day is a luxury to many people in the world. Gratefulness keeps your priorities straight. Begin or end each day with a thankful heart. It could always be worse, but it’s your job to make it better.

No matter what your life journey might be — going on a trip, writing a book, starting a new venture — you will be forever changed. Enlightened. And this is a good thing. Always stay thirsty for living.


Getting in the entrepreneurial groove? Here’s another article you might like: 5 Reasons Why an Entrepreneur is Like a Jazz Musician. And don’t forget to check out the Entrepreneur’s Resource List for a complete list of the tools we’ve found effective.

9 thoughts on “4 Entrepreneurial Lessons Travel Teaches Us

  1. Jan, loved the post. I did my junior year in Paris and learned so much that year. Not only the lessons you so clearly outlined in the post, but about about observing people, creating stories, and using culture to create a compelling environment for fiction. I have all the letters I wrote home that year and am turning them into a memoir, GIRL MEETS PARIS.

    • Carmen, what a wonderful idea. As a newlywed, my mother saved letters from my father during WWII. Wishing you success with your memoir. Sounds fascinating. Travel opens our eyes to new experiences, and forces us to think on our feet. Cheers, my friend!

  2. I, too, love to travel and I affirm the points you make. The one that sticks out to me most this morning is about gratefulness. I traveled to Peru a few years ago. Eye-opening and gratitude-building to see how people live in a third-world country. Worth remembering when I’m having a “bad day.”

  3. I also learned the ability to be outgoing and talk to people from travel, particularly solo travel. I think if you are an entrepreneur you’d need to know how to communicate and meet and talk and be personable as well.

  4. Pingback: Hunter Bailey: What Travel Can Teach You About Success – Aktuelle Pressemitteilungen & Presse News – Current Press Releases & News

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