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Travel broadens the mind - but conducting travel research surveys can encourage over-zealous number-crunchers to reach some bizarre conclusions.

That's what we're inclined to think at TNT after poring over the conclusions of a new survey into the benefits of student gap-year travel.

Researchers from student shipping specialist 1StopShip questioned 1000 backpackers across the UK to find out how they rated their travel adventures.

A healthy 39 per cent viewed travelling as a positive experience - among them Emily Moult, who spent 12 months teaching English as a foreign language in France.

"I reflect fondly on my year teaching abroad and think of it as a serious life-changing experience," says Emily, a former Leeds Metropolitan University student. "Not only did I get to see new places, but I was also able to improve my language skills and gain a whole host of new skills, all of which helped me enormously when it came to getting a full-time job."

Oddly, though, the research team concluded that travel does NOT broaden the mind - mainly on the basis that a tiny 14 per cent claimed their gap-year travels made it harder to get a job because they lacked experience compared with non-travelling candidates of a similar age. Maybe they were the same 14 per cent minority who admitted their stint overseas left them dreading work and feeling unprepared.

The researchers found that nearly 60 per cent of backpackers said their time spent travelling didn't help them develop positively as a person. But can we travel lovers assume that up to 40 per cent thought it DID help them develop?

There were other negative findings too. Some 28 per cent of backpackers said they changed for the better during their travels - but reverted to old ways when they returned to home soil. Around 29 per cent of people confessed to growing sick of their backpacking buddy's endless stories - ah, we can believe that! - while 12 per cent stated that their friends returned with a false sense of superiority.

More than a third - 34 per cent - said they struggled to make the transition into a nine-to-five lifestyle, and 19 per cent reckoned their boss viewed time spent travelling as a negative.

We suspect this all boils down to the fact that anyone in their right mind would rather explore the world than work - so it's no surprise that 23 per cent admitted they were already planning to travel again after starting their first job.

Ian Brown, from 1StopShip, said: "While the research may seem a little damning when it comes to taking a gap year, we know from our customers - a good proportion of whom are young, recent school leavers or graduates - that there can be huge benefits too. We would advise anyone looking to genuinely enrich themselves, or make a positive impression on prospective employers, to consider incorporating both work and travel, such as teaching or temping overseas. This can ensure you acquire new skills, whilst also experiencing a new culture and seeing new places."


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Lies, damned lies and backpacker statistics
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