Traveling is an exciting, inspiring, and entertaining activity. We are fortunate to live in a world where traveling is easier and more affordable than ever and where more and more globetrotters are present – an expected 1.18 billion people travel out of the country each year.
While a beach vacation can be great medicine, once in a while, studies show that the most rewarding mother daughter trips — immersive, mildly ambitious, and long-lasting — can exactly rewire your brain and change the sense you find the world. And they can make you a better person.
They foster empathy
Human beings are born to be empathetic – the ability to feel another’s pain, embedded deep in our brains, is the foundation of any healthy relationship. But like so many other things, it takes constant practice.
Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University, has argued that the spread of mass media (including affordable journalism and fiction) over the past two centuries has widened this “circle of understanding”, therefore permitting individuals to get access to unfriendly lives – and to open up to others – in an entirely new way.
Yet, although we now have near-instantaneous access to the world through our smartphones, we’re too overwhelmed and distracted to really care.
Because travel forces us to “leave the protection of our comfort zone,” as Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times pointed out as a travel blogger and encounter new people and situations in the real world, it enhances our ability to empathize with of a wider range of individuals, in a much more meaningful way.
And empathy is about traveling and discovering another way. Indeed, learning a new language and becoming bilingual, particularly early in life, has been shown to increase our abilities to empathize, allowing our brain to naturally shift from one perspective to another.
They deepen your understanding of the world
Travel helps make the unknown familiar, challenging the assumptions and stereotypes that often color our view of the world.
My own experience working with street children in Tanzania has helped me to understand both the Tanzanian work culture (why consensus is essential in all decision-making, for example), as well as the resilience of children, confronted, on a daily basis, with rejection and violence.
This immersive experience, sometimes uncomfortable, allowed me to deepen my understanding of a culture and a reality barely glimpsed before, through a report absentmindedly traveled on the way to work or a safari story told by a friend. It gave me easier access to Tanzanian and African culture.
Meeting and understanding others – without necessarily accepting everything from them – always leads to interacting with the world in a more benevolent, non-judgmental way.
They increase self-awareness
Being more friendly to others also makes us more friendly to ourselves. A recent study has shown that living abroad – and questioning one’s own values, encountering new situations and people daily – can increase self-awareness. Although this study is about living abroad, not travel, any long-term immersive trip would likely have the same effect.
The ability to juggle from one idea to another, which psychologists call “cognitive flexibility,” is a related concept, linked to self-awareness and greater exposure to different perspectives. Traveling allows us to keep a certain “flexibility” of mind, by questioning our ways of doing and seeing things. In addition, they allow us, in doing so, to develop the most precious skill of all: creativity.
They make you more creative
In an age of automation and a world of work set to transform beyond recognition in the decades to come, creativity will become the defining characteristic of those who continue to thrive. It will also be essential for solving complex global problems and pursuing innovation in business and science.
Studies conducted by Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia University, have shown that executives who have lived in several foreign countries – and therefore have been heavily exposed to diverse languages and cultures – are more creative and daring in their personal approach to business. work.
Other studies in the Netherlands. And Singapore have shown that people who travel are better at solving problems in unconventional ways. In addition, a study conducted in Israel in 2012 showed that people most closed to. Other cultures scored lower on creative tests than those who were open-minded and welcoming.
They increase the level of confidence
If the conflicting opinions of a few narrow-minded people seem to define our times. So does a certain lack of trust. While the Nordic countries, including Finland. Continue to enjoy high levels of trust in all areas – from political institutions to other people. Including migrants, in many other parts of the world, especially in the United States, United. Trust in others has been declining for several years. While the United States ranked 18th – it’s clearly worth investing. in confidence.
Because traveling inevitably leads us to always confront difficult and uncomfortable situations. In which we must actively engage and rely on strangers, including those from very different cultures. It builds trust, or what Galinsky calls a “general faith in humanity”. Successive studies – both in the United States and in China – have shown this to be the case.
They root you more
There’s another reason to celebrate travel.
Travel is filled with moments that ground us. It is very uncomfortable to arrive at a new airport. Without being able to read the signs or find our way. As well as to try to use our language skills (still in their infancy) with a Parisian taxi driver. Who is struggling to understand our pronunciation of “Champs-Élysées”. But they also force us to accept the discomfort and overcome it.
Travel is very powerful because it helps us discover the humanity in others. And a better version of ourselves in the process.