The Amount of Travel vs Creative Potential

Here’s another graph that illustrates something I believe: the more you travel, the greater your creative potential.

One of my favorite creatives, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, famously takes one full year out of seven to recharge his creativity somewhere remote. Ernest Hemingway wrote while in Cuba, Paul Gauguin painted in Tahiti and Mark Twain wrote “Innocents Abroad” on board a ship. These guys knew what they were doing.

Creativity is an act of mixing. It’s about putting together two things you’ve seen or read or know about and creating something new out of that connection. Unique connections create unique ideas! That means the more varied your sources are, me more chance you’ll have to come up with original ideas.

“…it’s much easier to create something new if your building blocks are different. Playing with existing sameness is a game of diminishing returns.”

– John Hunt, worldwide creative director of TBWA network

Imagine how great it would be to have building blocks from all over the world! That’s what traveling gives us. By traveling, we fill our brains with so much different stimuli. The more we travel, the more diverse and unique our pool of references become. That gives us a greater creative potential.

Getting out of your comfort zone also sparks your brain into a different, more creative mode. This is supported by many scientific studies, including one by Lile Jia, a PhD graduate student in psychology at Indiana University at Bloomington. As the psychology website AllPsychologyCarreers.com reports, “…spending time in different environments and cultures actually broadens and opens up thinking as unused neural networks within the brain fire and respond – in ways they wouldn’t respond if sitting back in the office or driving the same road home each evening.”

So, whenever you can, go visit a place you haven’t been to. Go to a country where you don’t speak the language; a place you never thought of visiting. If you can’t get on a plane right now, make sure to go eat at that Peruvian restaurant you noticed two blocks down, but never really tried. Do something different.

Here’s something for you to do today to spark your creativity:

  • Have lunch at a restaurant you never tried before. Invite someone, but go alone if you have to. Just make sure you go somewhere new – then use something from that experience to have an idea.
  • Take a different route home after work and notice the things you hadn’t seen before. Little changes in our routine can help us see things differently.

Have you ever felt you were more creative at work right after a vacation? Or have you ever had an “eureka” moment while away? Leave us a comment! And go ahead and click the share on Facebook button!

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