Travel

13 Amazing Things Travel Does To Your Brain

*Books next trip immediately*

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2. Because you are a person living on this Earth, there is a 99.999999% chance that you really like taking trips.

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3. But travel is so much more than stunning IRL sunsets and that #daydrinking life. It’s also good for your mind and your soul. Here are 13 amazing effects travel has on your brain.

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4. 1. It boosts your creativity.

A recent study from the Academy of Management Journal found that people who worked overseas were more imaginative and inspired than those who stayed in the U.S. Why? It’s all about cultural immersion.

“People who integrate a new culture into their identities are more creative in the long run,” William Maddux, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, tells BuzzFeed Life.

His logic: Doing as the locals do for an extended period of time opens up your mind, forcing you to think in different ways and bounce around between different ideas. It’s a concept scientists very fancily refer to as “cognitive flexibility.” And the more ~cognitively flexible~ you are, the more creative you will be.

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So basically, eating roasted scorpions on your Asian adventure (or getting into whatever other local thing around the world you want) may make you a more creative, interesting person over time. Boom.

6. 2. It makes you more trusting.

Maddux also found in his previous research that wanderlusting your way around the world increases your faith in humanity. “The more foreign countries people travel to, the more their sense of generalized trust increases,” he tells BuzzFeed Life.

Reason: Seeing all of the good that exists in the world makes it easier to trust that most people, for the most part, are just trying to do the right thing … most of the time. Aww.

7. 3. It makes you a better problem-solver.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that students who lived abroad were 20% more likely to solve a computer task than those who didn’t travel.

Why: Simply seeing another culture for an extended period of time opens up your mind to the many ways of the world, which helps you realize that one thing can have multiple meanings.

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In other words, just knowing that these guys are out there riding camels while you’re stressing about how to approach your boss helps you remember that there are many ways to live this life. And, as such, there’s definitely more than one way to approach your boss. Mind = blown.

9. 4. And more humble, too.

That same Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study also found that study abroad kids were more humble than those who didn’t travel. Makes sense: How could you not be in awe of our country and the great big giant world when faced with such epicness like the Grand Canyon?

10. 5. It makes you more open to new things.

Of course chilling with snakes in Vietnam is not something that happens on the reg. So when you do get the chance to do absurd stuff, DO IT. Trying new things when you’re traveling leaves you more open to things in your everyday life, too.

Proof: The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study also found that students who studied abroad were more open to new experiences in their everyday lives than those who stayed on campus. It all comes down to the people you meet along the way: Getting to know people (or, you know, snakes) in other cultures outside of your day-to-day social network expands your horizons, which means you’re more likely to look for new things when you get home, too.

11. 6. It makes you sharper.

There’s a boatload of research that proves that being outside in nature improves your mental clarity. The reason is almost too obvious to even write, but here goes: Hanging in the great outdoors refreshes your senses in a way that no stale-air office ever can.

The latest evidence: In a new study published in the journal Environmental Psychology, researchers found that people who simply looked at a photo of nature for only 40 seconds had improved focus and performance on their next task. That’s right, they didn’t even need to go outside! (Though clearly, the effect still applies if you do.)

Your mission: Book a ticket to a nature-y place, get outside, and get smarter. Any questions?

12. 7. It can help you reinvent yourself.

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Travel as reinvention is huge. People travel all the time in search of meaning, or a fresh start, or a sense of purpose.

And the best part is, it actually works: “Taking a break from business as usual enables us to pause, contemplate our lives, and potentially re-route the path we are taking on our journey,” environmental and design psychologist Toby Israel, Ph.D., author of Some Place Like Home, tells BuzzFeed Life. “Traveling helps us look at our lives from a distance — both physically and metaphorically. And when you do that, you’re able to see it a lot more clearly.”

13. 8. It makes you less fearful of things.

You know how when you’re on vacation, you decide it’s a really good call to go cliff jumping, even though you are totally scared of heights? That fearless mindset sticks with you over time if you travel often enough.

Matt Long, a professional traveler who runs the travel blog LandLopers and has been to over 75 countries, couldn’t agree more. “Over time, I’ve conquered more and more fears, like the fear of getting eaten when swimming with sharks, and the fear of making a mistake when learning a new language, just by doing those very things. Traveling has made me so much braver, both on the road and at home,” he says.

14. 9. It makes you happier.

And not just because you don’t have to go to work and you can have a margarita for breakfast. Turns out, a new study from the journal Psychological Science found that anticipating an ~experience~ (like a vacation) before it even happens makes you happier than if you’re waiting for something tangible, like a new shirt.

The back story: Researchers analyzed peoples’ moods when they were waiting in line, and found that those who were waiting for experiences — like concert tickets or a food truck — were happier than those waiting for things.

IF THIS DOESN’T VALIDATE YOUR CAN’T-AFFORD-IT-BUT-BOUGHT-IT-ANYWAY TICKET TO EUROPE, WHAT DOES?

15. 10. It makes you kill it at work.

For real though. A recent study from the U.S. Travel Association found that people who take all of their vacation days have a 6.5% higher chance of getting promoted at work than those who stay at their desks.

BOSS.

16. 11. It makes you more patient.

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Think about how loooong it takes sometimes to get through airport security, or find decent Wi-Fi that doesn’t crap out just as your best friend is finally responding to your What’s App. Those things seem obnoxiously annoying in the moment, but guess what! They are actually ~building character~ in the long run.

“Dealing with delays, mishaps, and different cultures during my travels has made me a much more patient and understanding person overall,” Long confirms. Remember that gem of a silver lining next time you miss your flight by 11 minutes and have to sleep in the airport (*raises hand*).

17. 12. It can help you get over a loss.

When you lose something — a job, a significant other, that Skittle that fell on the floor and totally vanished — you feel like you lost a part of yourself. Of your soul. And no matter how much you search and search, it is nowhere to be found …

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…until you travel.

“Taking a trip can help restore your sense of self that you feel like you lost,” Israel tells BuzzFeed Life. Placing yourself in a new situation with new surroundings will force you to get in touch with yourself because you simply cannot be on autopilot.

So next time something hugely disappointing happens in your life (and yes, there will be a next time, because this is life we’re talking about here), T-R-A-V-E-L. It WILL help. Pinkie swear.

19. 13. It just makes you feel more aliiiiive!!!!

That feeling when you step off the plane and know you are about to experience a thousand million new things and cannot WAIT to get started and omg you are so happy you have arrived because life is so AWESOME and the world awaits and how do you not do this more often and yes, yes, YESSSS?

IT IS REAL.

20. So what are you waiting for? JET SET GO!!!

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