Traveling broadens our mind and exposes us to new people, situations and cultures that we previously never knew existed. In turn, this opens us up to making new friends and learning invaluable lessons from new experiences. So, it should come as no surprise that there is actually scientific proof that traveling boosts our creativity.
Have you ever taken a trip and come back feeling slightly different? Perhaps it’s a new step in your thought process as you try to solve a problem. Or maybe you’re hit with a stroke of “genius” as a new idea develops deep within your brain. You’re not imagining it. A study published by the American Psychological Association shows that traveling can spark a person’s mind to see outside the box by cultivating a trifecta of traits that lead to heightened creativity.
But studies show not everyone gets the same effect from traveling – a lot of it depends on our ability to engage, immerse and adapt.
Engage to Open Your Mind
Professor Adam Galinsky of the Columbia Business School has conducted multiple studies on the correlation between creativity and international travel. He states that engaging in local culture and embracing a new environment and its surroundings is critical in gaining creativity. Our perspective broadens when we integrate what we’ve learned from outside influences (like new cultures) and we are able to understand what we never knew existed before. Therefore, his conclusion is that those who engage more, gain more.
What does “engagement” really look like? It means getting up, getting out, striking up a conversation with the locals and overall absorbing as much of the environment as possible.
Immerse to Stimulate Innovation
Engaging is a crucial first step, but don’t stop there. Take it one step further by implementing the meaning of this phrase: When in Rome, do what the Romans do. This age-old travel expression hits the nail on the head when it comes to immersing in a new culture.
It means letting go of our fears of looking, sounding, or feeling silly and just going with the flow. If that conversation you started with the locals progresses into an invite to their home for dinner – go for it. You’ll get a peek at how life is really like for people living in that country which is something the average tourist ever gets to see.
How else can you immerse yourself? Try new food. Eat and drink what the locals do, even if you think it’s a bit strange. Ask questions. Find out why things are done a certain way instead of just accepting it without question. Partake in local customs. Get off the beaten path. Get lost. Do the things that the rest of the tourists aren’t doing. Being as “local” as possible helps us to gain a deeper understanding of a place, its inner workings and its people.
Adapt to Gain Self-Confidence
Finally, traveling and learning to adapt to unfamiliar situations in an unknown territory works wonders for self-confidence. Drawing on these feelings of confidence can result in having the guts to make one of your future ideas a reality, which directly promotes creativity.
How does traveling help you gain confidence? Your ability to meet and engage with people from a background other than your own enhances your sense of self. The satisfaction that comes with successfully communicating with people outside of our own country expands our abilities to think outside of the box and bring more creative solutions to the table. The more flexible and adaptive you are, the more creative you’ll become in every aspect of your life.