I Am At My Creative Best When I Travel


It is no big surprise really, that travel enhances creativity. Jack Kerouac wrote his best work while On The Road.

Apparently business travel is no different.

The common notion that business travel is one of those things businessmen do out of necessity, and not out of any particular liking for it, is hogwash. Conversely, for most young businessmen today, travel is one of the biggest job incentives. And that is great news for companies. Because, in addition to enabling executives to explore a number of destinations- on company expense- business travel also equips them with a host of cognitive skills. Not the least of all, creativity.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT

An eight-year long study, conducted and recently completed by psychologist Adam Galinsky from the Kellogg School of Management, found that “people who could identify with two cultures, rather than just one, had higher promotion rates and better reputations, were more entrepreneurial and produced more innovations at work. Biculturalism, it seems, is good for business”. The study attributes a number of reasons to this; the most crucial being that adapting to another culture results in more ‘integrative complexity’- the ability to combine multiple perspectives.

However, the study points out that just showing up is not enough. Your creative benefit depends on how open you are to learning new sets of rules and norms. And the people who get the most benefit are those who identify with their host and their home culture. Travel inspires creativity by causing the ‘outsider effect’, but the key is to have an open mind and be willing to try local customs. Travellers are also advised to stay relaxed, but engaged with the world around them.

SOME CREATIVE CAPABILITIES ENHANCED BY TRAVEL

Willingness to be uncomfortable. Both travel and creativity require you to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, and urge you to get out of your comfort zone.

Ability to decide easily, and make decisions based on limited information. Travel forces you to sort, filter and critically assess information easily so you can simplify decision-making.

It makes you realise you are more resilient than you think. When you’re travelling, you have no choice but to keep going. You find you’re able to bear greater challenges.

If you’re not flexible while travelling, you’re going to be frustrated a lot. You are forced to take risks and do something unplanned.

It teaches you to adjust your expectations.

Experiencing life in another place can provide fresh solutions for problems you’re facing at the workplace.

Travelling makes you think beyond black and white.

You acquire the ability to adjust your pace, and make you more responsive to the flow of life around you.

You start to embrace the random.

You get math smart! Travel calls for all kinds of quotidian math- calculating currency conversions, estimating costs, and juggling timetables.

WHAT BUSINESS TRAVELLERS THINK

Melissa Galt, Success Coach and Relationship Marketing Specialist

Travel is critical to expanding our awareness of other countries, cultures and customs and understanding where our influences come from. Travel has informed my business, my political beliefs, my creativity, and much more. It is the cornerstone to being aware, awake and alive and living tuned in, turned on, engaged and connected to this glorious world we live in every day.

Tracey Bell, Tour Operator of Tailored Safaris in East Africa

The new experiences, cultures, smells, flavours, sights, colours, etc, that one is exposed to when travelling, provide such new stimuli for creativity. Being in a new place encourages you to open your eyes and notice things about your environment that you don’t necessarily notice in your day-to-day life. In my own experience, while I am travelling I find myself purchasing crayons, paints, scrapbooks and other random arts and crafts supplies to record my adventures and communicate the stories creatively. This is not how I communicate in the real world (that world in which we exist in between travels). My best writing occurs when describing a travel experience, not when writing a report stuck behind a desk at work. Senses are stimulated, you are in a positive frame of mind, and you generally feel relaxed and free while you are travelling, all of which allow creative expression to flow unabated.

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