Pack Your Bags: The Brain Benefits of Traveling

Get ready to catch the travel bug, grab your travel pillow, and pack an overnight bag as you discover the many benefits of traveling. By traveling more frequently, you make unforgettable memories, have grand stories to tell, and gather plenty of photos to share. Visit a National Park in your state, take a train to a new city, or jet set across the country—your brain will thank you.

Creativity Takes a Road Trip

Several studies, like one by Indiana University, show links between traveling and exhibiting more creativity and creative problem-solving skills. And when you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Traveling somewhere outside of your own backyard exposes you to new—well, everything. You can learn about the architecture of old buildings, try a sport like bouldering or skiing, or talk to a local at a coffee shop about industry and economics. You might even see something to spark your creativity, like vibrant street art, a serene willow tree, or sand dunes and red rock.

Stop Creative Blocks by Planning a Trip

There’s nothing that dampens the creative process more than an abundance of stress. When you’re feeling pressure from relationships, work responsibilities, finances, and even everyday life, your creativity can feel stunted, blocked, or altogether dried up. Stress can affect your overall well-being in a multitude of ways, but travel can be your escape. Distance from your everyday grind can be extremely positive for your mental health, body, and brain.  Ask the Scientists has a wonderful article on all the scientific reasons for you to plan a vacation. Seeing a new landscape, trying new food, or visiting a new museum can all re-inspire you. If you’re a creative person feeling stuck, soak up some sunshine in a new city to see your creative ideas thrive.

Cognitive Flexibility

According to Mental Health Daily, cognitive flexibility is the brain’s ability to transition from thinking about one concept to another. Switching between one train of thought to a different one requires your brain to change from one set of stimuli to another. Cognitive shifting is simple for some people who switch focus easily and are open to new perspectives. But this isn’t the case for everyone. If you struggle with mental flexibility, or have a hard time changing your way of thinking when you discover new information, traveling more might help increase your creativity and cognitive flexibility.

As you plan your next trip, actively prepare your mind to be open to new experiences, interact with the locals, and soak in new sights and sounds. Over time, you’ll probably notice it’s easier for your brain to adjust and readjust again. Just like a muscle needs an array of exercises to grow, your brain needs new environments and stimulation to expand.

Become a Travel Master

To quote American author Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Simply put, travel (whether you’re visiting a new town or a new country) opens your mind to new cultures, new traditions, and new ways of life. So, pick a destination, dig out your suitcase, and do something your brain will love.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)

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