We all travel for different reasons. Some of us are on a plane every other week traveling to a new destination for work; others might set foot on an aircraft once in their lives. Whether we’re journeying to an event on a whim, or to get out and explore new things, traveling is one of life’s great joys, allowing you time and resources to do fun and exciting things while working to better yourself as a person.
While it may seem too good to be true, scientific studies are pointing to the fact that traveling might actually help make you smarter as well as being a great way to relax and unwind. How does travel make you smarter, you may wonder? This “magic” happens in a number of mind-opening ways…
You meet new people
No matter what you do in life, you’re going to meet new people. Some of those people might go on to completely change your life for the better; others may change it by being challenging in ways you never anticipated. Regardless, the people we encounter, both positive and negative, help shape us into who we are. If you travel, the number of new individuals you may encounter increases exponentially. Travel puts you in the perfect position to meet new people and expose yourself to new perspectives and ideas. Using public transportation, walking city streets, staying in someone’s Airbnb rental exposes you to encounters with locals. If you only travel with tour groups you might not get the advantage of meaningful time with locals, so consider your travel goals before booking. We tend to form ideas and opinions about people from other places based upon relatively little information, while spending time in their country and enjoying authentic conversations with locals allow you to form opinions based upon first hand information. You may be surprised what you will learn about other cultures and their historical experiences. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself.
You try new experiences
When you spend all of your time in the same place, you may have moments feeling you are in a rut! When you aren’t undergoing any new experiences, how can your brain expand? Traveling is one of the best ways to shake up your routine and force yourself our of your comfort zone. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, it’s difficult not to try new experiences since everything there is new and foreign to you. While this might seem frightening, look at it as an opportunity to grow as a person and broaden your perspectives. Your memory will retain the experience better if you involve as many of your senses as possible…that means smell the smells, hear the sounds, and generally eat all the spaghetti you can!
You learn how to take care of yourself
Chances are that, as an adult, you’re quite good at taking care of yourself already because you have a set routine that you live by. When you go to a new place, there is no “routine” for you to live by, meaning that it’s up to you to make sure you get yourself fed and somewhere to sleep. You also learn how to take care of yourself in a spiritual sense — you learn how to let go of the daily stressors you feel and focus on what really matters. What places are you drawn to? Places to relax and read, think? Or places that challenge you physically? Places where museums and historical sites are abundant? Think about why you tend toward certain destinations and what that suggests about who you are. Observe how you plan and execute your travels and what that says about who you are. Learning more about ourselves is a gift we give those around us: authenticity.
You Read, You Visit Museums, You Attend Local Events
The richest education is to pair research/reading with “hands on” experience. That once a year “field trip” you had in grammar school was just a taste of what getting out of your easy chair can do for your brain. Pack your Rick Steves but also pack The Agony and the Ecstasy for your visit to Rome and Florence, or whatever nonfiction or historical book will expand your experience at your destination. The more you direct a concert of research with travel goals, the more you might possibly feel the music playing on the wind that knows no boundaries: the human race needs every member united to create peacefully abundant histories, because we are all more alike than different. Our hearts all reach for the same things like love and understanding. Peace. Make your quest to “be smarter” via travel a humble endeavor to discover how learning goes hand in hand with compassion and forgiveness, trust in science to keep our planet healthy, and spiritual faith to uplift our souls and keep our vision clear.