Why Travel Is Good for Your Brain, and Your Business

Airports are too slow. Too crowded. Too this. Too that.

But me? I love airports. I love the sheer variety of human beings and their stories that are played out on those concourses every hour. I love thinking about where they’ve all come from and where they’re all going. 

It probably helps that I love flying, too. :)

These photos are from a trip I took to upstate New York in July.  You don’t see things like this when you’re stuck behind your desk.

But it’s not just flying. I love driving just as much. Exploring a new road, wandering through a new town, driving across a new state. I find that equally fascinating. If you have an open and curious mind, just seeing the way the land changes across the miles can make you think.

I grew up with parents who loved to travel, and clearly they’ve passed that love on to me. I don’t even care about the hassle factor.

The expansion – and delight – that I experience with travel is worth whatever I have to do to get there.

But not only is travel pleasurable, it’s good for you.

As you’re reading this, I’m on yet another Adventure, exploring the land and lilting music of Ireland. While here, I’ve been invited to speak to a large group of entrepreneurs in Dublin about how they can build more confidence and be more successful in their businesses.

And I created that talk on the plane to New York last month.

Getting out of your familiar surroundings frees up physical and mental energy in ways that you probably feel, but may not recognize.

And if you’re an entrepreneur, travel is an especially effective way to get your creative juices going.

Have you been anywhere new lately? If not, you may be missing out.

Here’s what travel will do for your brain – and your business.

1. New perspectives

Just being in a place you’ve never been invites you to see things with new eyes. I find myself noticing people, colors, smells, sounds, architecture, trees…

And when you get home you’ll see all of that too in a completely new way.

2. New energy

The challenge involved in finding your way around, sorting out the airports and car rental, learning new roads, not to mention driving on the wrong side of the road as I’m doing here in Ireland…. All of that uses a different part of your brain, like a using a different set of muscles.

For me, that is strangely exhilarating, giving me a burst of energy that I haven’t felt in a while.

I know people who never take a vacation, of if they do, it’s a 3 day weekend. (And folks, that is NOT a vacation.) “You pay for it before you go and when you get back,”  they say. True.

And yet, the break from everyday, the shift in routine, the simple act of driving down a road you’ve never been on before means you will return to your work with more energy, and usually a deeper appreciation for what you have.

3. New awareness

Being in a different culture (whether that’s Iowa or Ireland) will remind you that there is a world outside what you know. And that it’s important to visit, explore, experience and, to the degree that you can, understand that world.

It can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that everyone thinks like we do, that everyone wants what we want, and that everyone can have what we have. But none of that is true.

And that helps when you think of your customers and the many and varied ways that they are, as well.

4. New creativity

There’s nothing like navigating a trip to bring out your creative side. I remember using a tent stake to make PB&J sandwiches for my kids in the parking lot of an amusement park, when I couldn’t find a knife or spoon. Worked just fine.

What’s one of the more creative things you’ve had to do while traveling? (Share your story in the comments below!)

5. New relationships

When I give that talk in a few days, I’ll have the privilege of meeting over 170 entrepreneurs from all over Europe, all of whom are new to me, all of whom hail from a different culture, speak with a different accent, have a different way of looking at business.

Just being in the room with that kind of variety is sure to spark energy and ideas, not to mention the possibility of new friends. But that couldn’t happen unless I was willing to travel the 3800 miles it took to get here.

And I could keep going.

If you go to the same beach every year or the same cabin, if you never go anywhere for more than a few days, if you haven’t been somewhere that makes you think – your brain could be a little stale.

When was the last time you took a trip that helped you grow? And when is the next one?

If you can’t answer that, it’s time to figure that out.

Photo credit: Jen McClurg


50% Complete