Can travel make you smarter?

Sometimes you feel like a dunceI realized something just now. It just hit me. I was reading this article on the Twenty-Something Travel blog, about travel making us smarter, and realized how dumb I’ve been. I was complaining on Twitter that I just didn’t have anything to write about here, that I had lost my inspiration and motivation.

And then I figured out why.

I haven’t traveled in a really long time. This is the Part Time Vagabond blog, meaning that yeah, part of my time is spent at home and at work, while part of it is spent traveling. But I haven’t really traveled in a long time, just for the pleasure of traveling. I haven’t been anywhere new. I flew to Arizona a few weeks ago for my brother’s wedding, but I’ve been there before. I took an impromptu road trip a few hours north here in Maine, but it was short and we didn’t get to do too much.

When the siren song of the open road calls you, and you don’t answer, do you get dumber?

I think the more important question is, how does travel make you feel? Do you feel smarter (or dumber)? Are you more creative? More interesting? Funnier? The life of the party? Are you just a better person because you travel?

What it really boils down to is that people who travel on a regular basis are generally more open to new people and new situations. Travelers deal with situations that most “normal” people aren’t prone to, so their reasoning, deductive, and survival skills are all enhanced. Plus, feeding the natural desire to travel allows travelers to more effectively solve problems. Jonah Lehrer delves deeper into this topic in this article, but suffice it to say, travelers better themselves through the simple act of traveling.

Travel itself obviously does not make you smarter. Similarly, lack of travel does not make you dumber. It’s the lack of a change — in scenery, in pace, in lifestyle, in exercise — that leads to a stagnation of the mind. And it’s that stagnation that effectively makes you dumber; or at the least, less able to effectively deal with life.

What this tells me is that it’s time to get out of my routine and into my hiking boots. It’s time to get smarter.

Chris Cavallari

About Chris Cavallari

Chris is a longtime digital content producer based in Maine. Since 1999, he has been an early adopter and active participant in blogging, podcasting, and social media, and has been guiding small and mid-sized businesses in leveraging video, social media, and digital publishing to the fullest. With an avid love of travel and the outdoors, Chris started in 2009 to give him a platform to showcase his outdoors and travel adventures, and to help educate others in doing the same.